Time and time again I’ve mentioned that changing the slightest bit of an exercise can drastically change the muscular development and focus of the movement. Todays ‘vs’ focuses on the calf raise, both seated and standing, and was inspired from a conversation with my friend, IFBB Pro, Courtney West.
To start off, what is a calf raise? As shown in the picture above, a calf raise is any movement where you start with your heels lower than your toes (this is usually accomplished on a platform of some sort) and press upward until your feet are fully extended.
So what is the difference between doing the exercise standing or seated?
Standing Calf Raise
For starters it’s important to point out that when standing doing a standing calf raise, your quadriceps are extended. This is important to note because your thigh muscles all attach to your tibia and/or fibia (the bones in the lower part of your leg). So how tight or loose those muscles are effects the tension in the muscles and bones in the lower part of the leg where your calves are. Doing the exercise standing will better focus on your gastrocnemius than a seated calf raise- but keep reading because you may be surprised which is better for building large calves.
Seated Calf Raise
When you do the seated calf raise, your hamstring is in an extended position. This is important to note because this pulls your lower leg closer toward your butt and changes the point of tension in your tibia and fibia. Doing this will focus on the entirely underrated soleus muscle. Your soleus is the muscle that is underneath the gastrocnemius, and runs all the way from your knee to your ankle. Developing your soleus will add girth to your leg and push your gastrocnemius out to add an illusion that it’s larger than it actually is.
So what’s the verdict?
What your fitness goals are will determine which of these exercises is better for you. Both exercises are good for different reasons, and BOTH exercises will hit the gastrocnemius AND the soleus. But if you’re looking to increase the size of your calves, you should stick with the seated calf raise. I suggest the standing calf raise for women who want to tone their legs without adding too much size to them. Keep that in mind next time you’re working your legs!
seated calf raise vs standing calf raise.