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Calf raises.


Motions trained: None, but calf strength is needed for most standing bodyweight exercises.

Main muscles used: Calves
   Other muscles:


How to do it: I like to use a dumbbell or stair step. Stand on one foot, lightly holding something for support. Only the ball of your foot should be touching, the heel should be in space. Rise on the ball of the foot by pointing your toes. Lower and repeat.

How to work up to it: Do double calf-raises, i.e. with both feet at once, starting out on level ground. Then try it standing on the bell (or a stair step if you like). Do it at the next level by holding a dumbbell. When that gets easy, try single leg calf-raises.

Ramping it up: Do these plyometrically to build power. From the top position, drop your weight and just as you reach the bottom, reverse direction. You might want to do this with two legs the first couple of times to make sure you kow your feet won't slip. If you get really active, watch drifting over the edge of the step or off the dumbbell!

Do's and don'ts: Don't bend your knees. Flexing your knees is not working your calves.

Comments: I really hate calf-raise machines. These are large, fancy contraptions that put a weight on your shoulders and have you do the motions described. The problem is, again, mathematics. Doing a double-legged raise means you are moving half your bodyweight. Piling your whole bodyweight onto one of these machines – which brings you up to doing single-legged raises – usually means that you have too high a load on your shoulders and back. I used to use one of those until I realized that my trapezius muscles were sore from that. Then I switched to single-legged raises and haven't looked back

Another thought is that most jumping or skipping movements rely on strong calf muscles. They plyometric version of these gives you effectively a no-impact way to train explosive calf strength.