This page is all about the calf muscle exercises you need to build the calves you want.
Building the calves is a daunting task for many people.
If you have small calves and are looking to build them, I can tell you right now that the task is not easy…
I'm going to make it easier for you by sharing all my secrets with you. These are the same secrets I used to build my calves from 14 inches to over 17 inches.
The task of getting larger calves is almost impossible if you have bad genetics AND you have no idea what you're doing. BUT you've now found the right place.
With the information you'll find below on the best calf muscle exercises and the several related articles here at Weight Lifting Complete, you'll be well on your way to building the calves you want.
3 Major Muscle Groups of the Lower Leg… Most People Only Work on One of These:
Most people work one of the major muscle groups of the calves… when they decide to work them. Others forget about the calves and don't even know they are there.
If you start working all 3 major muscle groups of the lower leg, you'll build your calves SO MUCH FASTER. The calves will look full because you've focused on every muscle in the lower leg.
Here are the 3 major muscle gorups of the lower leg:
This is the largest calf muscle and the one that most people work. This is the one that you see when flexing and looking down at your calves.
Standing calf raise exercises, donkey calf raises, and all variations of those two calf muscle exercises will work the large gastrocnemius muscle. If the leg is not bent and you do a dalf raise, the gastrocnemius is being worked.
The soleus another large calf muscle. If you looked at someones calves as you were standing behind them, you would see the soleus muscles running down both sides of the lower leg.
The soleus gives the calves depth and thickness because the soleus lies beneath the larger gastrocnemius muscle.
The soleus is worked during calf muscle exercises in which the knee is bent. So any variation of seated calf raises or squat raises will work the soleus.
The tibialis anterior is almost always ignored. It's the huge frontal muscle that you can see if you flex your toe upwards and watch the area below the front part of your knee.
This muscle goes all the way down the front part of your lower leg. If you haven't been working your tibialis anterior, you've been missing out!
Reverse calf raises of any type will work the tibialis anterior.
If you want to build the calves to their fullest potential, you MUST include calf muscle exercises that work each of the 3 major muscle groups listed above.
Calf Muscle Exercises
The links you see below take you further down this page to videos of each type of calf muscle exercise.
Tibialis Anterior Exercises
The gastrocnemius is the most well know calf muscle. You can work this muscle through standing calf raises, donkey calf raises, and all of the variations of those exercises.
Let's look at some videos…
You can use a barbell, smith machine, hip belt, dumbbells, and more to perform variations of the standing calf raise.
The leg press calf raise is probably the single best gastrocnemius exercise you can do! The leg press calf raise is a form of the donkey calf raise. A donkey calf raise simply means you are bent at the waist.
The soleus is often forgotten, but it definitely shouldn't be if you are trying to buld those calves. The soleus is worked when you are bent at the knee. Seated calf muscle exercises and squat position exercises work the soleus…
You can use a barbell in a power rack, a smitch machine, dumbells, and seated calf raise machines. Anything will work as long as you are in a seated position.
Squat raises are one of the best calf muscle exercises you can do, yet not too many people know this exercise exists.
You can also perform this exercise with the weight sitting across your thighs. You can use a smith machine, a barbell, a dumbbell, or two dumbbells to do this exercise. I suggest you use a calf block also to get a better stretch!
Tibialis Anterior Exercises
The tibialis anterior is the huge muscle on the frontal area of your lower leg.
Many people never work this muscle group through direct weightlifting exercises.
If you need to work on your lower leg area and want to build bigger calves, you need to make this muscle a focus of your calf workouts too!
The best calf muscle exercises that work this frontal area of the lower leg are reverse calf raises.
You can watch a few different versions of the reverse calf raise in the videos below…
Work hard on reverse calf raises and your tibialis will explode with growth.
When you work all portions of the lower legs, you will greatly improve the visual appearance of your calves.
You can perform reverse calf raises either seated or standing. If seated, place the weight on your thigh area close to the knee. If standing, you can use dumbbells, barbells, or a hip belt to add extra weight.