How to Do Seated Calf Raises

As easy as it may look, the seated calf raise strengthens the muscles that not only make you a better runner, but also support basic functions like walking and taking the stairs.

“Our calves are one of the constantly active muscles for movement and balance,” says exercise physiologist John Ford, ACSM. “The stronger and more conditioned your calves are,” Ford says, “the more efficient you will be at other exercises, including running, jumping, and biking.”

In other words, strong calves lead to a stronger, more efficient body.

How to Do a Seated Calf Raise

  1. Sit tall on a bench or chair with your feet flat on the ground, holding two heavy dumbbells on top of your knees.
  2. Keeping your core engaged, lift your heels off the ground as high as possible.
  3. Slowly lower your heels back down to the ground and repeat.

Bonus tip: You don’t need a seated calf raise machine to do the exercise. It’s easy to do calf raises with dumbbells, a barbell and resistance bands, or even household items like gallon jugs or books.

How to Make Seated Calf Raises Easier

Ford suggests performing the exercise with less weight, or use a resistance band.

Put the band across the top of your legs with the ends secured under your toes. Place your hands over the band to make sure it stays in place while you do the exercise.

How to Make Seated Calf Raises Harder

To give your muscles more work, simply add more weight. You can also elevate the balls of your feet with a block to increase your range of motion.

Seated Calf Raise Variations

calf muscles | seated calf raises

While seated, you can point your toes in or out to target different muscles of the calves (the soleus and the gastrocnemius).

Seated calf raises with your toes pointed toward each other targets the outer calves.

Seated calf raises with your toes pointed away from each other targets the inner calves.