How to do a 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 (or to jump higher, reduce your risk of an ankle injury, and generally increase your athletic performance), you can’t ignore your calves. And single calf raises are one of the great ways to work them.
From flexing and stabilizing your ankle to helping to absorb the shock of jarring actions like running or leaping, your calves are essential for both facilitating movement and keeping you on your feet.
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.
Perform a single calf raise with the following steps-
- 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 to your 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.
Bonus tip: Avoid the temptation to crank out reps quickly. Time under tension is one of the key elements to potentate muscle growth.. Maintaining a slow, controlled tempo ensures that you target your calves.
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.
Target muscles: calf muscles—gastrocnemius (primary)and soleus (synergist).