Why You Should Be Performing Calf Raises (6 Reasons)

Blog: https://e3rehab.com/blog/calves

Introduction & Anatomy (0:00)

Reason 1 – Achilles Tendinopathy (2:30)

Reason 2 – Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome (3:32)

Reason 3 – Anterior Cruciate Ligament (4:00)

Reason 4 – Running Performance (4:24)

Reason 5 – Ankle Dorsiflexion (4:55)

Reason 6 – Aesthetics (5:27)

Execution (5:40)

If all of this information sways you to start performing heel raises, there’s several boxes you need to check off!

Intensity – Exercises NEED to be heavy and hard. Aim for 6-12 repetitions. Not even if you’re a runner, but especially if you’re a runner to improve qualities such as tendon stiffness (must be 70% of 1RM or greater). This is also a great range for hypertrophy.

Tempo, or speed of the movement – Slow and controlled! Don’t bounce the reps. Think about 3 seconds up and 3 seconds down for EVERY repetition.

Range of Motion – Get a full stretch at the bottom and a peak contraction at the top. It is preferable if you use a deficit such as a step, stair, or some other object.

Contraction Type – Highlighted by Bohm et al in 2015, it doesn’t necessarily matter. It just needs to follow the other principles. You DON’T have to do eccentrics only, but it is one option if that’s what you prefer.

Proximity to Failure – If you’re working really hard in that 6-12 rep range, you should either hit failure or be roughly 1-3 reps shy of failure. It NEEDS to be hard!

Rest Times – 2 minute rests between sets MINIMUM. Take your time, do it right, and it’ll pay off in the long run.

Programming (7:00)

Without a doubt, you should be utilizing knee straight and knee bent variations. A study by Landin et al in 2015 demonstrated that the gastrocnemius is at a less of a mechanical advantage when the knee is flexed beyond 60 degrees. Now, either option will target both muscles, but we might be able to achieve preferential activation of the soleus with knee bent variations.

If you’re going to perform a knee bent variation, it is preferable that you are seated so that your quads are not the limiting muscle group and so that you can provide overload to your calves. An example would be a wall sit on the balls of your feet vs a seated heel raise using a machine. There are a lot of options here, though for the gym and at home – smith machine, dumbbells on your thighs, leg press, steps, and the list goes on. You just have to find options available to you that work well for you.

In terms of actual programming, I like to keep it verrry simple if it’s your first time including heel raises into your routine. Two times per week! On one day of the week, perform 3 sets of 6-12 repetitions using a knee straight variation. On a different day of the week with at least 1-2 days of rest in between, perform another 3 sets of 6-12 repetitions using a knee bent variation. That’s it! Over time, add another set or two per day, and eventually, if needed, you can work up to 12-15 sets over the course of 3 days with a day of rest in between.

Final Thoughts

Calf training is usually an afterthought for most people, but hopefully this information makes you reconsider your approach. If you have any questions, please drop them in the comments below!

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Disclaimer: The information presented is not intended as medical advice or to be a substitute for medical counseling but intended for entertainment purposes only. If you are experiencing pain, please seek the appropriate healthcare professional.

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