Exercises For Calves – Top 3!

Finding exercises for calves can often times be difficult, and let’s face it, calf training isn’t the most exciting thing in the world. None the less, it is still a muscle group that needs to be trained if you want a functional, well-balanced physique. However, it is also a difficult muscle group to find exercises and variation to train with. Within this article I will be giving you 3 exercises that will help you with your calf training! Let’s jump right into it with exercise number one!

Exercise Number 1 – Standing Calf Raise:

Exercise number one on the list is the standing calf raise. A fundamental exercise in your calf training for a variety of reasons, from its ability to effectively target your calves, being able to apply progressive overload all the way to minor things it allows you to accomplish.

With this exercise, we have the knee fully extended and are able to get a deep stretch on the calf at the bottom. This will effectively work our calves as a whole, most notably, our gastrocnemius. Also, although machine exercises aren’t typically conducive to progressive overload, with the calves, it doesn’t take much as they are usually not trained with compound movements. So this machine exercise allows you to train them heavy, and easily add reps or weight, especially if the machine you’re using has 5 pound increments. Lastly, this machine allows us to easily get a stretch at the bottom, with a pause to help reduce the involvement of the heavily powerful achilles tendon in the movement.

When it comes to implementing this exercise, it is rather straight forward. This is because there really aren’t main exercises for the calves, so it’s not necessarily a matter of when we perform it, just the reps and sets we use, as well as the actual performance of the movement itself. With the calves, we typically want to train them with higher reps. If you’re performing this exercise first, consider doing 8-12 rep sets so we get some relatively heavy training in, maybe with your last set going into the 15-20+ rep range. If this exercise is being performed secondarily, consider performing your sets in the 15-20+ rep range.

Exercise Number 2 – Seated Calf Raise:

This exercise is very similar to the standing calf raise with regard to it’s use in our calf training. The biggest difference is our knee being bent, this will likely put more of a focus on the soleus portion of our calves as the gastroc won’t be on complete stretch. Incorporating both of these exercises are an effective way to train your calves.

This exercise has similar benefits to the standing calf raise, it’s great for targeting your calves, in particular your soleus. It is relatively easy to apply progressive overload to when keeping in mind the type of exercise it is. Like the standing calf raise, it allows for a pause at the bottom to get a good stretch to help minimize the work being done by your achilles tendon.

Implementation of this exercise is similar, lower in the 8-12 rep range if it’s your first calf exercise and higher in the 15-20+ rep range for finishing sets. Or, if it is being used as a secondary exercise, I would consider training this movement more so in the higher rep range. This because the calf muscles are type 1 muscle fibre dominant, which likely respond better to higher rep training.

Exercise Number 3 – Tip Toe Farmer Walks:

Tip toe farmer walks are brutal, if you do them properly, you will feel an immense burn in your calves. This exercise is great because it can often times be difficult to find variation in your calf training, so this is one way to accomplish that. Also, isometric contractions have their own individual benefits, including muscle activation and metabolic stress.

This exercise is a great way to add variation in your calf training, creating a fun new challenge. The isometric contraction component of this exercise is great for activating muscle fibres as they are needed to hold the muscle in place for a prolonged period of time. Also, because the muscle is held in a contracted state, this is great for creating a pump and working on metabolic stress training.

Implementation of this exercise is rather straight forward. I would suggest implementing it as your last calf training exercise to finish off your calves with a nasty pump. Grab a weight that you can walk around on your tip toes with for a good chunk of time, maybe 30+ seconds, and go until failure. I would suggest around 2-3 sets of this, however, this is relative to the overall amount of volume you are currently doing for your calves. I would not suggest performing this exercise too much as it may lead to recovery issues.

Wrapping Up:

Included within this article were 3 calf training exercises to help give you some knowledge on calf training and some beneficial exercises. From the highly effective main calf movements like the standing and seated calf raise, to the calf burning tip toe farmers walk, you have a few exercises in your arsenal to employ.

Good luck with your future calf training, I look forward to this article being able to benefit you! I thank you for taking the time to read this article, and as always, if you have any questions or comments please do not hesitate to leave them below and I will be sure to reply!


Until Next Time,


Kohl Johnson

Please refer to my liability disclaimer to ensure you know who is responsible for use of this information after reading.

Support is much appreciated if you benefited from this:

Kohl Johnson

I am a 16-year-old fitness fanatic! I have learned nothing but quality training and nutrition information from the utmost well-respected individuals in the field. Now, my only focus is to share this knowledge with you for your benefit, in the most honest way possible. We are all in this together! LET'S GO!

6 Responses

  1. Oh, this is great.  Thanks for the exercises for calves!  What I like about these exercises is they don’t require a bunch of machinery or fancy equipment.  They are simple (yet painful lol), and that’s awesome.  As my mother always said, “No pain, no gain,” and her other favorite one, “It hurts to be beautiful.”  

    • Hi there, the first 2 actually do require machines. The last one only requires dumbbells. Sounds like your mom knows a thing or two, haha. Appreciate you checking out the post!

  2. Great article about exercises for calves. I have just started a circuit training class about 6 months ago which weekly kicks my ass. Every week I am sore, sore, sore but it feels great and I am getting stronger.  The only trouble is, the classes seem to focus on biceps/triceps, shoulders, abs, back and quads.  But we rarely do anything that focuses on calves. I would like to do this on days that I am not doing my class to work additional muscle groups that are not so sore.  I really appreciate the knowledge and guidance you put into this informative article I will be referencing it frequently.

    • Hi there, sounds like a tough class! The thing with circuit classes is they often times neglect certain things (such as the calves). As long as your routine/schedule allows you to train calves when you’re not doing circuit training from a recovery standpoint, you should be good! Just pay attention to how you’re feeling and make sure you’re recovering properly!

  3. Nice article Kohl. I really did want to start calf exercises in two week as I have just started a fitness regimen which although is very good,does not include Calf exercise and I know this would definitely not help me get the toned calves I want. I like that the top the exercises for calves are not overwhelming. Do you think that someone recovering from a hamstring injury should still be able to do these exercises?

    • Hi there, glad you liked the article! I don’t know your specific circumstances nor am I a doctor so I cannot give advice on whether or not these would be ok when recovering from a hamstring injury. I would suggest consulting with a medical proffesional/doctor before doing these exercises.

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