Best Calf Machines – Reviews and Exercises You should know - GGP
Best Calf Machines

Best Calf Machines - Reviews and Exercises You should know

What is a calf?

What are the best exercises for Calf Muscles?

Before getting into what a calf machine is, let us first find out what a calf is.

The calf is the fleshy back part of the leg which is just below the knee. The calf is made up of two muscles. The Gastrocnemius muscle and the Soleus muscle.

The Gastrocnemius muscle

This is the muscle that forms a diamond like bulge in the calf. It is right beneath the skin and is the bigger muscle of the two.

Soleus muscle

This muscle is much smaller than the Gastrocnemius muscle. It lies deeper into the skin and underneath the bigger muscle.

These two muscles make up what are known as the calf muscles. They converge together at the back of the heel and during any exercise, they pull the heel up facilitating leg movement.

Some of the best calf workouts to get the ultimate calf muscles are:

  • Use of calf exercise machines
  • Doing calf jumps
  • Jogging
  • Running
  • Climbing the stairs
  • Exercising
  • Squats

One of the fastest ways to get calf muscles is by using calf machines.

Exercises for calf muscles

Exercises that work calve muscles are basically leg exercises like that cause strain to the two sets of calf muscles.Here are some exercises

What does calf machines do?

Calf exercise machines are heavy steel fitness gadgets used for exercise to mainly strengthen the calf muscles. Besides the calf muscles, they are also used to strengthen the hamstring, the glutes, the thighs, torso and the back shoulders.

There are two major types of calf machines. These are the standing calf machines and seated calf machines. These two calf exercise machines are very different in the way they look but are meant to perform the same role. That of building up more muscle on the calves.

However, even though they both play the same roles, each one has its own unique functions depending on which part of the calf you want to build up. Other calf exercise machines that play the same role as the standing calf raise machines and the seated calf machines are the Donkey calf raise machine and the leg press calf raise machine.

Standing calf machines:

Standing calf machines are used while the user is in a standing position. Whatever kind of a standing calf machine used, the leg position must be completely straight and the knee angle at the slightest bend.

Standing calf machines have a bar and a calf block. The user stands with the toes pointed towards the calf block and with the hands rested on the bars. One then slowly lowers the heels until there is a stretch in the muscles. Then the same action is reversed by flexing the muscles upwards using the balls of the feet until a maximum flex is reached. This exercise of using standing calf machines mainly targets the larger calf muscle. That is the gastrocnemius.

Seated calf machines:

Seated calf machines are used while in a seated position. The key features of a seated calf machine are a kneepad lifting, a pivoting seat, a lever arm and a foot block.

Seated calf machines mainly target the inner muscle; that is the soleus and the lower legs. With the seated calf machines, the pads are placed over the thighs. Then the balls of the feet are placed on the foot block with the toes pointing forward. The weight is then lifted up using the toes until one reaches full extension. Movement is stopped when there is a contraction. Then slowly the weight is lowered using the heels to as low as possible to a stretched position. This is repeated several times.

Another example of a seated calf machine is the Leg press calf raise machine.

Leg press calf raise machine:

Leg press machine is used for calf jumps. This is a calf machine where the legs are used to push weight. A leg press machine has a sled, weight plates attached to the sled, adjustable safety brackets, and a seat. It works well on both the large and the small calf muscles and it also strengthens the hamstring muscles. With a leg press machine, you sit on the provided seat of the leg press machine. Space the feet apart and place the balls of the feet on the edge. Bend the knees and let the body move forward. Then drive the seat back as hard as you can at the same time, flexing your calves. Straighten your knees and move back to the starting position.

Repeat the process.

Donkey calf raise machine:

The features of this machine include a back pad, side handles and a foot block. The person using a donkey calf machine gets into the machine in a bending position. The pads are placed very close to the tailbone and very low on the back. The forearms are then placed on the pad in front and the feet balls on the platform of the machine.

By pushing through the balls of the feet, raise the heels and begin the movement. Heels are raised as far as possible and the movement held at the top and one squeezes the calf muscles hard until there is a contraction. Then return to the starting position again by lowering the heels till there is a stretch. This movement is repeated severally until a set is completed.

Besides the calf exercise machines, there are many other ways to workout calves without using the above mentioned machines. Many of these calf workouts can be comfortably carried out at home.

Calf Muscle Exercises at Home

Before the invention of the standing and seated calf machines, people still used to build up muscles. There are quite a number of calf workouts at home you can comfortably carry out from the comfort of your home without hitting the gym and still get the calves you want.

These are: -

Double leg calf exercise

Double leg calf exercises use the weight of the body in place of that of the calf machines to build up muscles. It works for both the larger muscle and the smaller muscle of the calf. Working out calf muscles using it is easy to carry out.

How to work out calves using Double leg calf raises

  • With legs apart, stand next to a wall so that you can balance yourself while doing the exercise.
  • With the back straight and abdominal muscles pushed inside, move your body upwards with both your feet balls.
  • Slowly, lower your heels back to the floor.
  • If you are looking to get more workout while doing the double leg raise, you can hold something heavy on the hands while doing the leg lifting.

Single leg calf exercise.

A single leg calf raise is done using a single leg at a go. One leg supports the whole weight of the body. And this exercise too works on both the calf muscles.

How to build calves using the single leg calf raise:-

  • Stand next to a wall for balance and with one leg firmly on the floor, put the other behind. The knee and hips of the other leg should be aligned well.
  • With the ball of the foot, push the body upwards. Back should be straight and abdominal muscles pushed in.
  • Stay in this position for a while and change positions to repeat the exercise with the other foot.
  • With one hand on the wall, you can hold anything with some weight with the free hand for better results.
  • Each leg workout should receive the same amount of time to prevent one side of the calf getting more calf muscles and looking different from the other.

Donkey calf raise.

Long before the donkey calf raise machines, there was the donkey calf raise. To carry out a donkey calf raise, you will need the following things:-

  • Anything strong to hold on to. The object chosen must be sturdy enough to hold your weight.
  • A partner.

Calf workouts using a donkey calf raise

  • With your toes facing forward, bend over and hold onto the bench or any other strong object you choose to hold on to.
  • Let you partner climb on your back and sit at the lower back just near the tail bone.
  • Raise the heels off the floor by pushing upwards with the feet.
  • Return the heels to their last position and do the same exercise several times till you

Seated calf workouts

Seated calf raises are the same as the double leg calf raises. The only difference is that this one is done in a seated position. The only item needed for this exercise is a strong chair.

Calf workouts using seated calf raises.

  • Put your feet firmly on a flat surface, sit on the chair. Knees should be very stable and aligned over the feet.
  • With your heels raised, use your feet balls to push upwards.
  • Lift the heels high enough and then lower the heels back.
  • Repeat the exercise till you finish your count.
  • For better results, place the hands on the thighs push down.

Box exercise jumps

Box exercise jumps are done by jumping up and down on a box. This exercise builds both the muscles and helps in better flexibility of the legs.

Calf work out using box jumps

  • Get yourself a sturdy box that can withstand your weight.
  • It shouldn’t be too high or too low. Just comfortable to use for the jumps without straining your foot or ankle.
  • By using your feet balls, make a jump on top of the box making sure to land on both the toes and balls of the feet.
  • Jump down from the box.
  • Repeat this for about 7-11 times per set. It gets easier as you do it more often.
  • Do not hold anything when doing box jumps.

Skipping rope

A skipping rope/ jump rope makes sure the calves are constantly engaged. Besides building the calf muscles, jumping rope also makes you very flexible.

  • Get yourself a skipping rope.
  • With both your hands holding each end of the rope, turn the rope to a spin.
  • Jump over the rope. The rope should have leeway between it and the surface as you jump.
  • Repeat this a few times a week

Running on the spot

This exercise does not require any equipment but it is another great way of building up calf muscles. Do on the spot runs starting slow before proceeding to fast runs. Do this for about 2 minutes and repeat this 8-10 times for 3-5 days a week.

Climbing up the stairs

You can build your calves without using a calf machine by simply stair climbing. Stair climbing does not only work on your calf muscles, but it also increases the entire legs strength and its good exercise for the entire body. You do not need any equipment for this exercise. Running up the stairs or climbing the stairs every other day in a week helps to workout calves.


Jogging for a few minutes a few days every week, helps in building up the calf muscles and in regulating blood flow in the whole body. Jogging gets you firmer legs and improves the cardiovascular system.

Pros and cons of calf machines

Like in many gadgets, the calf machines have their pros and cons.

  • Calf machines offer the best calf exercises in building up calves fast and effectively
  • They give thickness to the calves.
  • They strengthen the calves
  • They work out every muscle in the legs and burn out any extra fat build up leaving just muscle.
  • They burn out calories in the body
  • Working out on calf machines, improves ankle control. The stronger the ankle, the better flexibility you have.
  • Ankle stability improves body fitness and it would be easy to do workouts without using the machines like the one leg calf raise with great balance.
  • The fact that calves are large and very visible, they create an illusion that the whole leg is big.
  • They improve athleticism. Many people are able to run long distances, jump higher, lift heavier weights for the weight lifters, sprint faster, and dance better - especially for ballet dancers.
  • There have been claims that if a person does not have the right genetics, using calf machines to increase calf size is a waste of time because they just don’t change.
  • They only target the lower part of the body meaning the upper body misses out on the buildup.
  • The weights used in calf machines are heavy and there is always that slight danger of them slipping and falling on you.
  • Sore wrists may come about because of the excessive force on the handles.0Not training appropriately on the calf machines can very easily cause muscle cramps

How do you work out your calves?

Always make sure you have a training plan before starting out workouts on calf raise machines or any other calf exercise. When choosing a calf machine to use for your calf muscles, go for what best suits your body. Also choose one that will develop the kind of calf muscles you want to have.

Final Thoughts about Calf Machine - Exercise & Reviews

Calf machine exercises are best done barefoot.

Do not be in a rush to get the muscles. Workout at a slower pace to begin with and increase the tempo as you go on. Doing calf workouts for long hours may be detrimental to your health and cause you to feel dizzy. Too much workout for a long period may also tire you to a point of not doing the exercises again for a while.

Make sure to pause in between the takes.

If you have a medical condition, it is best to seek a Doctor’s opinion before beginning.