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8 Amazing Seated Calf Raise Alternatives – For Bigger Calves

Seated Calf Raise Alternatives

Unless your name is Erik Fankhouser or Tom Platz, there’s a very, very good chance that in terms of muscle mass, your calves may be a part of your physique that you struggle to add size to.

Some body parts are very responsive to training and will respond to all manner of exercises and workouts, yet there are others that are more stubborn than a mule, and the calves are certainly a prime example of that.

If you want to add mass to your legs and build a set of wheels to be proud of, hitting the calves and bringing them up is certainly recommended.

Other than seated calf raises, however, what else is there to do to work the calves?

Well, that’s what we intend to find out now.

Below, we’ll be listing 8 seated calf raise alternatives that are ideal for adding size and definition to the calves.

My Favourite Seated Calf Raise Alternatives:

To help you switch up your calf training and to build a set of wheels to be proud of, below, we’ve compiled a list of several effective alternatives.

Take a look, and see how many you can implement into your training routine.

1. Single-legged Standing Calf Raises:

Single Leg Calf Raises

If you really want to isolate each specific calf muscle and build a symmetrical physique, training each calf muscle individually rather than both at the same time is the way to go.

Single-legged standing calf raises are also great for flexibility and mobility.

Best of all is the fact that you can do these exercises with just your body weight as resistance.

Here’s what to do:

  • Start off by taking a step and carefully standing on the edge of it on one leg, holding yourself stable at the same time.
  • Next, lower the heel of the leg that you’re working, down slowly towards the floor before pushing your heel upwards and standing on your tiptoes
  • Hold for a second until you feel the calf muscle squeezing and then repeat for as many reps as needed.
  • Finish off by switching legs and repeating the process with your other leg

Recommended reps: 12 to 15

2. Seated Dumbbell Calf Raises:

The Seated Dumbbell Calf Raise

Yes, yes, we know we’re looking at the alternatives, but even though this exercise is performed while seated, it is still different from the seated calf raises you’re probably used to.

Requiring a set of dumbbells, a chair, and a step of some sort, this exercise is great when done at home, as well as at the gym.

Here’s what to do:

  • Start off by sitting on the edge of a bench, or on a chair, with a dumbbell placed on each thigh just above the knee.
  • Place one foot on a step and lift your heels, making sure to keep the toes planted firmly on the step.
  • Squeeze each contraction and repeat until you feel the calf muscles begin to burn and fatigue.
  • Next, switch legs, place the dumbbell on the opposite thigh, and work the calves of that leg too.

Recommended reps: 12 to 15

3. Single-Leg Calf Jumps:

Single Leg Calf Jumps

Great for isolating each calf muscle, this is a great calf finisher:

  • Start off by standing on one leg with your knee bent a little.
  • Rise up onto your tiptoes and then push off of the ground, bending the knee slightly as you jump.
  • Land on this same foot and repeat the process for as many reps as needed.
  • Repeat on the opposite leg.

Recommended reps: 12 to 15

4. Tiptoe Farmer’s Walk:

The farmer’s walk is one of the most practical and functional exercises you could ever wish to perform, and it’s very easy to do.

A staple in CrossFit boxes and strongman gyms across the globe, if you tweak the exercise and perform it on your tiptoes, it proves why it is the alternative you could ever wish to perform.

Here’s how to do the tip-toe farmer’s walk:

  • Take a dumbbell in each hand and let both arms hang freely by your sides so that your arms are nearly fully extended.
  • Now, carefully standing on your tiptoes, take slow and controlled steps forwards for your chosen number of steps.
  • Be sure to bend the knee very slightly, and be sure to stay on your tiptoes so that you can feel your calves begin to burn and being worked as you take each step.
  • Repeat until failure, or until you’ve covered your desired distance and you’re all set.

Recommended time: 30 seconds

5. Box Jumps:

Dynamic Warm-Up: Calf Raises + Jumping Air Squats + Box Jumps

It isn’t just calf raises that work so effectively for people looking to work the calf muscles.

There are actually a whole host of different exercises out there which will hit the calves just as well, including box jumps.

Box jumps require very little equipment other than a suitable exercise box, and they also provide you with an awesome cardio workout as well.

Recommended reps: 12 to 15

Here’s a look at how to perform box jumps:

  • Standing in front of an exercise box of a suitable height, keep your feet shoulder-width apart and your head up straight.
  • Next, lean forwards slightly so that your weight is on the front of your feet and then raise your heels a little.
  • Now, bend the knees, drive through the front of your feet, and then jump up onto the box.
  • As you land on the box, land on your toes and bend your knees slightly so as to avoid injury.
  • Step backward off the box carefully and then repeat for as many reps as needed.

6. Squat Hold Calf Raises:

Squat Hold With Calf Raises

We can’t talk about the alternatives and not talk about squat hold calf raises.

Because of the position that your knees are in, this is probably the best alternative to a seated calf raise because your body mechanics are so similar.

Not only will it work your calves, but the exercise also hits the hamstrings and your glutes too.

Here’s how to perform squat hold calf raises:

  • Begin the exercise by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart and your arms extended out in front of you.
  • Next, slowly sit down into a squat position and hold once you’re squatting with your knees just past parallel.
  • Now, while squatting, slowly push back up onto your tiptoes and lift your heels off the ground, before lowering them back onto the floor.
  • While remaining in a squatting position, repeat this movement for as many reps as required.

Recommended reps: 15 to 20

7. Smith Machine Calf Raise:

Smith Machine Calf Raise

If you don’t have access to a standing calf raise machine, worry not, because if there is a Smith machine close by, you have the perfect alternative.

By using the machine, you get to use more weight than you would a barbell, and you can isolate your calves more and take more of your core out of the equation.

Here’s what to do:

  • Set the bar on a Smith Machine to shoulder height and place a small step inside the Smith Machine.
  • Next, place your feet on the step and stand inside the Smith Machine and place the bar across your upper traps as you would with a squat.
  • Un-rack the bar and then lower your heels back down towards the ground and then push up onto your toes, holding for a second as you squeeze your calf muscles.
  • Lower your feet and repeat for as many reps as required.
  • Make sure not to lock out your knees during this movement.

Recommended reps: 8 to 12

8. Explosive Calf Raises:

Explosive/Reactive Calf Raise

Finally, we have this exercise which is perfect for overloading the calves and recruiting more fast-twitch muscle fibers.

Here’s what to do:

  • Standing in a calf raise machine or Smith machine, bend your knees slightly, stand on the step, and brace your core.
  • Now, explode upwards keeping your core straight and braced, pointing the toes forcefully as you do so.
  • Keeping the legs straight, lower your heels downwards until you feel a good burn in the calf muscles.
  • Repeat for as many reps as needed.

Recommended reps: 15 to 20

More About The Calves And Calf Raises:

Seated Calf Raise Alternatives

Many consider Arnold Alois Schwarzenegger to be the greatest bodybuilder of all time, with the greatest physique of all time.

He dominated at the Mr. Olympia contest and went on to win the title 7 times.

To win the title, judges must consider your physique flawless, and while the judges did, Arnold did not.

If Arnold had one weakness, especially early in his career, it was his calves.

His quads, glutes, and hamstrings were great, but his calves were lacking and it took away from his legs.

Did Arnie just accept defeat and focus on his stronger body parts?

No, he did the opposite, he focussed on his weak-looking calves and he worked them twice as hard and was able to add some good size and definition to them.

One of the main exercises he did was the calf raise.

Your calf muscle is made up of two unique parts – The gastrocnemius and the soleus.

These come together and taper at the base of the calf muscle on your leg.

A calf raise is basically just an exercise that requires you to, well, raise the calf muscles.

Standing calf raises are done stood up and require an individual to raise their heels off the ground while keeping the front of their feet planted firmly on the floor.

Seated calf raises are typically done on a seated calf raise machine whereby you sit at the machine, lock your legs and feet in place, and then slowly raise your heels and your calves before returning them to the starting position.

The good thing about seated calf raises is the fact that they target both parts of your calf muscle, placing a little more emphasis on the soleus because your knees are bent slightly.

In order to grow the calves, however, you need to vary your training and switch things up.

Final Thoughts:

So, if you are looking for seated calf raise alternatives, hopefully, the exercises listed above will prove useful?

If your calves are letting your physique down, try to implement more of the exercises listed today and watch them grow with each workout you perform.


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