How to Do the Single-Leg Calf Raise
When it comes to building a stronger lower half, many people hyperfocus on their quads and hamstrings. But, if you’re looking to add muscle and definition to a pair of chicken legs, you can’t ignore your calves. And single-leg calf raises are one of the great ways to work them.
(Calf raises also work well if you want to jump higher, reduce your risk of an ankle injury, or increase your athletic performance)
And few moves target them more effectively than the standing, single-leg calf raise, according to Trevor Thieme, C.S.C.S., Openfit Director of Fitness and Nutrition Content. “Working one leg at a time helps prevent muscle imbalances by ensuring that your ‘stronger’ calf doesn’t do most of the work,” he says.
How to Perform a Single-Leg Calf Raise
- Hold a dumbbell in your right hand by your side and place the ball of your right foot on a raised surface (the base of an incline bench or a weight plate works well).
- Cross your left ankle behind your right, hold onto the bench or a wall with your left hand for balance, and lower your right heel toward the floor (but don’t touch it).
- Lift the heel of your right foot as high as you can, giving your right calf an extra squeeze at the top.
- Pause and then lower yourself back to the starting position. Do equal reps on both sides.
The standing-leg calf raise targets the calf muscles—gastrocnemius (primary) and soleus (synergist).
Bonus tip: Avoid the temptation to crank out reps quickly. Time under tension is one of the key elements to potentate muscle growth. For stronger or bigger calves, maintain slow, controlled tempo.
Need to make it easier?
Use lighter weight (or no weight at all), or work both legs simultaneously, rising to the balls of both feet.
Want to make it harder?
Use heavier weight.