How to do Standing Calf Raises with just your bodyweight


Calf Raises are a great way of developing those pesky calf muscles that so often go underserved and uncared for. Often undervalued, calf muscles are crucial for your daily well-being. Think about it – your lower body takes a lot of weight from the upper body regularly. One of the primary muscles helping you to walk, run and even drive – are your calves. 

By taking care of them while you can, you give a greater chance of them taking care of you when you’re older. 

There are two primary ways you can do this; either standing or seated. Both have specific advantages and benefits when isolating each muscle in your calf to develop the overall calf strength and appearance. 

How to do Standing Calf Raises

You can do this one of two ways. 

One – Standing on a flat floor surface 

  1. Simply extend your toes so you’re essentially tip-toeing 
  2. Hold this position for 2-4 seconds
  3. Slowly bring your feet back to the ground
  4. Repeat this 10-20 times or until you feel fatigue and continue for 3-4 sets as desired

This is a simplistic option for a relatively straightforward exercise. For a greater stretch, try doing this on a raised platform such as stairs or a gym step tool. 

Two (and more challenging) – Standing on a step

  1. With your feet half on the step and half off (as in the picture above), lift your body onto your toes as if you are tip-toeing 
  2. Hold this position and then slowly bring your feet back down, taking them slightly lower than flat level. You should feel a stretch developing as you get beyond the flat point. 
  3. Now tiptoe back up again 
  4. Repeat this exercise 10-20 times and continue for 3-4 sets as desired. 

3 Benefits of Standing Calf Raises 

Standing calf raises by themselves will by no means make your calves bigger. After all, your calves are used to carrying your bodyweight all day and are often subjected to tension. In order to really grow your calf muscles, it’s going to take serious effort to hit hypertrophy, and will be better suited to achieving with additional weights (we’ll talk about this separately). 

  1. Calf raises work your gastrocnemius and soleus muscles – the two primary muscles which run down your calves. Raises will help strengthen and chisel their appearance helping strengthen and prevent injuries from future work outs or age related degeneration.
  2. Improves balance by increasing ankle stability – calf raises help strengthen your ankles. By increasing the stability of your ankles, your performance when walking, running, jumping or even just training legs is greatly enhanced reducing the risk of future injuries. This is particularly the case where you have suffered from pain on the achilles tendon. 
  3. Improves overall physical performance – your calves are literally the main supporting muscles for your entire body, followed by your ankles and feet. By conditioning and working on your calves, you can improve walking and running performance, squats and lunges and as a result- overall body strength. Strong foundations make for a strong body!

Commonly Asked Questions about Calf Raises

Can Calf Raises help grow my calves?

Bluntly – no. Assuming you work out and train legs and are a relatively fit/healthy person, the chances of “growing” your calves with standing calf raises are slim. You will need to add more weight, try variations (including seated calf raises and calf extensions on a leg press) to really stimulate your muscles for growth.