Keep your leg workouts fresh and exciting boost by incorporating some seated calf raise alternative moves into your sessions. A seated calf raise alternative is great if you don’t have access to a seated calf raise machine or if you’re bored of doing seated calf raises and in need of a change.
The calf muscle is made up of two components – the soleus and the gastrocnemius, which taper and come together at the bottom of the calf. Switching out seated calf raises, which target both parts of your calf muscle, with slightly more focus on soleus due to having bent knees throughout the exercise for seated calf raise alternative moves is a great way to work the entire calf muscle base. If growing your calves is the aim of your game, you should be training both parts of your calf muscle through a range of calf exercises. Below you will find a list of some of the best seated calf raise alternative moves that either supplement or replace the seated move in your workout schedule.
Top Six Seated Calf Raise Alternative Exercises
Below are six great seated calf raise alternative movements that help drive massive gains.
1. Single Leg Standing Calf Raises
Single-leg calf raises are an awesome seated calf raise alternative. The single-leg move is great for building equal strength, flexibility, and size through your left and right calves. This exercise can, for the most part, be done using just your body weight.
The following five steps will ensure you use perfect form with your single-leg calf raises.
- Stand on the edge of a step on one leg.
- Hold onto something to stabilize yourself.
- Lower the heel of your working leg towards the ground, then push up onto your tip toes.
- Hold for a second in the top position, where the calf muscle is fully contracted.
- Do all repetitions on one leg before changing sides.
Suggested reps: 12 to 15
2. Tip-Toe Farmers Walk
This exercise is like the traditional farmer’s carry, with the only difference being that you are walking on your tip-toes instead of on your full foot.
The below three steps are you need to follow for the perfect tip-toe farmer’s walk.
- Hold a dumbbell in each hand on extended arms by your sides.
- Push up onto your tip toes and take moderate, controlled steps forward for the desired amount of time/distance.
- Keep a soft bend in the knees throughout this exercise and don’t put your heels on the ground at any stage. This will encourage your soleus to work.
Suggested time or distance: 40 meters or 30 seconds
3. Squat Hold Calf Raises
This makes for a perfect alternative to the seated calf raise because of the position of your knees. Plus, it will work your butt too – what’s not to like?
Follow the below four steps for form-perfect squat hold calf raises.
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and arms out in front of you or on your hips.
- Go down into a squat and hold at the bottom of the position.
- Whilst in the squat position, push up onto your tip toes and then back down to the ground.
- Repeat all repetitions (without coming out of the squat).
Suggested reps: 15 to 20
Pro Tip: Place a weight plate under your toes to create a greater range. For this version, you may need to hold onto something to stabilize yourself.
4. Agility Ladder – Side Straddle Hop
One of the most overlooked training tools for one’s calves is the agility ladder. And the best part about agility ladders is you don’t even need one – you can just imagine one! The side straddle hop is a simple agility drill that hits your calves hard. But there are many versions, so get experimental with your agility ladder… or an imaginary one.
The below three steps are all you need to do to master the agility ladder side-straddle hop.
- Stand at the end of the agility ladder with your feet together.
- Hop your legs to the outside of the first box of the ladder, then hop your feet together into that box.
- Hop to the outside of the next box, and then hop your feet together – and so on and so forth!
Suggested reps: 2 x full lengths of the agility ladder/30 in and out steps
Pro tip: work on getting these done as quickly as you can!
5. Smith Rack Calf Raises
The smith rack provides stability, which means doing your calf raises in the smith rack allows you to load the exercise up, more than you would if you were using free weight. This makes it a very popular option for training calves.
The below five steps outline how to perform the perfect smith rack calf raises.
- Set the bar at shoulder height.
- Stand with the front half of your feet on a step inside the smith rack machine.
- Load the bar onto your upper back/traps and unclip it from the rack.
- Lower your heels down towards the floor then push up onto your toes – holding for a second at the top.
- Don’t lock out your knees at any stage of the exercise.
Suggested reps: 8 to 12
6. Jump Rope
The jump rope is a perfect exercise for creating those shredded, heart-shaped calf muscles we all yearn for! What’s more – the jump rope provides endless variations to keep you challenged. Plus, it gives you a cardio workout at the same time! Winning! For the purpose of this article, I’m focussing on the basic jump rope style.
Follow the below six steps for perfect jump rope form.
- Make sure the rope is the appropriate length for you. (Find the best jump ropes here)
- Stand with your feet and knees together.
- Flick the rope over your head and pass it under your feet by pushing off your toes into a gentle, but quick hop.
- Keep your feet and legs together as you jump.
- Land with soft knees – don’t lock out.
Suggested time: 30 seconds at a time until you are well-conditioned for using the jump rope.
Leg day is tough, and working calves is double tough; however, by incorporating just a few seated calf raise alternative moves into your routine, you can shock your body into massive gains. There are plenty of exercises that can supplement the traditional seated calf raises. It’s great to keep things fresh in your workouts, and by switching in a few seated calf raise alternative exercises, you can keep your body guessing and avoid hitting that dreaded training plateau.
Remember, when training any muscle group effectively, it is important to hit the muscles from a variety of angles and intensities. So, be sure to try as many exercises as you can and find which ones are most comfortable for you. Additionally, try different rep ranges and weights from time to time just to keep things interesting and find new ways to gain muscle.
How do you work your calves? Do you have a favourite seated calf raise alternative that you often fall back on? Let us know in the comments.