In this t-nation.com article I explained how most are performing calf raises incorrectly – both in standing (gastrocnemius-focused) and seated (soleus-focused) variations. This is most true in the seated calf raise where many are putting in the reps, but failing to build bigger calves due to inferior technique, and often cheating without knowing it. Here’s how to combat puny and stubborn calves and get the best results from using the seated calf raise machine!
Seated calf raise technique
Why this builds bigger calves!
Pushing through your big toe using any calf raise variation (seated or standing) further activates your calf muscles (both gastrocnemius and soleus). Sure, basic anatomy would tell you that your calves don’t insert anywhere near your big toe, but consider leverage…
Look at what happens when you calf raise without thinking about your big toe. Your foot will tend to roll a little towards the outside. While the foot might still be straight and you’ll see no roll in the ankle, what part of your foot is the pressure actually going through? Usually it’s more towards the outside.
That’s because your body doesn’t give a damn that you’re trying to build your calves. Instead, it just wants to take the path of least resistance to lift the weight up.
Now, try that seated calf raise again, but this time pushing through your big toe. Your foot should be in the exact same position with the balls of the feet pressing down into the foot plate. But your focus should be on driving your big toe down as hard as you can while you raise up. Now do you feel the tension you’ve been missing out on?
Your big toe is longest and furthest away (unless you have mutant feet). Pushing through your big toe actually puts you at a mechanical disadvantage since you’re pressing down more with the inside of your foot. This prevents your body from taking the path of least resistance (pressure outside of your foot) and forces your calves to work harder.
Execute every single rep like this and you’ll be taking your calf workouts to a whole new level.
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