9 Best Seated Calf Raise Alternatives You Can Do at Home

Published by Roshan S Pillai on

Seated calf raise alternatives

Are you stuck at home, and don’t have access to the seated calf raise machine? Or maybe you are fed up with the same calf exercises and want to add some new alternatives, then this article is for you.

But before talking about the exercises, let me give you a brief description of calf muscles. Calf muscles are made up of two muscles namely, soleus and gastrocnemius. Both these muscles’ main function is plantar flexion of the ankle. However, the soleus is engaged the most when you perform calf raises with your knees bent.

So below is the list of the best alternative exercises you can do without any need for a seated calf raise machine. Most of these exercises can be done easily at home with a pair of dumbbells. So let’s start!

1. Seated Calf Raise with Dumbbells

If you don’t have a seated calf raise machine, then you can do the same exercise with a dumbbell. This is a great exercise to strengthen your calf muscles which will help you during compound movements like squats.

How to do

1 Sit on the bench or a chair if you are at home with your back straight and both feet at about hip-width apart.

2. Place both dumbbells on just above your knees and keep the hands on the upper plate of the dumbbell for balance.

3. Start the exercise by raising your heels and squeeze your calf muscles at the top.

4. Slowly bring your heels back to the floor while keeping the tension on the calf muscle.

Recommended Reps- 12-15

If you have a plate or a stepper at home, then that’s even better. You can do calf raises with more range of motion by placing your feet at the edge of the stepper.

You can go heavy on this but make sure that there is no pain in your knees during the exercise. Also, keep your legs perpendicular to the floor to make the exercise more effective.

2. Standing Calf Raises

This is an easy exercise you can do for your calves. You don’t need any kind of equipments here. Just stand on the floor and start the exercise no matter where you are. If you have dumbbells at home, then you can add more resistance to them. Or else, do it with a single leg which we discuss after this.

How to do

1. Stand straight while holding the dumbbell ( if you have any) with both feet at about hip-width apart.

2. Keep your arms and torso straight. This will be your starting position.

3. Start by raising your heels and squeeze your calves at the top.

4. Slowly bring your heels down while keeping tension on the calves to create an eccentric overload and then repeat.

Recommended Reps – 15- 20

3. Single-Leg Calf Raises

This is a little challenging than the previous one. Here the whole body weight will be on a single leg. You can focus on each leg separately, so if one side is weaker than the other, then this unilateral movement will be a good choice.

How to do

1 Place a stepper on the floor at about 2 feet from the wall and stand on the edge of the stepper.

2. Rase one leg and keep one leg on the platform. Then lean forward and place both hands on the wall for balance. This will be your starting position.

3. Start by raising your heel and squeeze your calf muscle at the top.

4. Slowly bring your heels down while keeping tension on the calf. Switch your legs and then repeat.

Recommended reps – 15-20

This exercise can easily be done at home. You can do this on stairs or on an elevated platform where you can get a complete stretch at the bottom half of the movement.

If you are in the gym, then you can also do this same exercise on a smith machine. Here is the video

4. Barbell Calf Raise

Another great alternative is seated calf raises. Most people have a barbell at home, so they can do this exercise. If you don’t have a barbell then don’t worry, there are many more alternatives for you as we go further.

How to do

1. Hold a barbell and sit straight on the bench with your feet on the edge of the plate.

2. Place the barbell on your lower quad muscles and keep your hands on the barbell for support. This will be your starting position.

3. Start by raising your feet while engaging your calves and extend your ankles at the top.

4. Slowly return to the starting position and then repeat.

Recommended Reps – 12-15

If you are trying this exercise for the first time, then start with a plane barbell and then add weights according to your strength. Don’t go too heavy right at the beginning.

If you don’t have any equipments at home, then thrust ups are a great alternative for you. So let’s discuss!

5. Thrust Ups

Thrust-ups are another great exercise you can do instead of seated calf raises. The best thing about this exercise is that you can do this anywhere without any equipments.

How to do

1. Stand starting with both feet at about a shoulder-width apart.

2. Start moving down by bringing your hips back with a slight bend in the knees. This will be your starting position.

3. Jump up by using your calf muscles and land back to the starting position.

Recommended reps – 12-15

Many athletes and sports players do this exercise to improve their power and reach. It is a plyometric exercise that improves performance in various sports like basketball where you need to jump a lot. So if you are an athlete then start doing it right now!

6. Donkey Calf Raise

Donkey calf raise is another alternative exercise that can be done at home. You can do this exercise alone or with a partner. Many old-school bodybuilders use to do this exercise with their workout partners. You can find some videos of them on youtube. So you can also try this out!

How to do

1. Place both arms on the bench and keep your back and legs straight.

2. Keep your feet on the plate or a platform for a better stretch. This will be your starting position.

3. Start by lifting your toes with the help of your calf muscles and squeeze your calfs at the top.

4. Slowly return to the starting position and then repeat.

Recommended reps – 15-20

You can add resistance to this by making a workout partner sit on top of your hips as shown in the above video. You can also use plates by attaching them with the belt.

7. Band Seated Calf Raise

This exercise is great if you can’t feel it on your calves when performing exercise. Doing exercises with a resistance band helps to improve mind and muscle connection. You can do this at the beginning of the calf workout to activate those muscle fibers.

How to do

1. Sit on the floor or a bench. Take a resistance band and roll it over the mid part of the legs and keep your legs straight.

2. Hold the band and create resistance. Then start by moving your toes forward and squeeze your calves at the end.

3. Slowly bring your toes back to the starting position and then repeat.

Recommended Reps – 18-20

Make sure that you are focused on the right muscles during the movement. It’s very important to concentrate on the exercise to get the most out of it.

8. Weighted Toe Walks

This is a great functional exercise to build calves. You just need to roam around your room with kettlebells or dumbbells in your hand. Here, your core muscles will be activated the most to keep your body stable. So it’s a great athletic exercise which you must try.

How to do

1. Hold two kettlebells or dumbbells in both hands and stand in a room with a space to walk around.

2. Stand on your toes and walk on the floor while without touching your heels on the ground. Maintain constant tension on the calf muscle as you walk.

Rounds- 6-8

This is an isometric exercise where your calf will be engaged throughout the movement. You must do this kind of exercise to create a new stimulus for your muscles to grow.

9. Jumping Rope

This is one of the famous exercise which you might be familiar. Even I remember me and my friends use to do this every time during the childhood days.

This is a very effective exercise to increase the strength and size of your calf muscles. Both soleus and gastrocnemius muscles are activated during this movement.

How to do

1. Hold a rope in each hand and stand at a hip-width stance. Keep your hands on your sides to be in a jump rope position

2. Start the exercise by jumping and simultaneously moving the rope at the same time as shown in the above video.

Recommended reps- 40-50

You can do up to 100-150 jumping ropes if you know how to do. Some even do more than that. It all depends upon your stamina.

If you are new to this, then practice doing jump ropes slowly. If you do this regularly then you will be able to do it easily without any problem. You can do this at the end of your workout as a finisher or at the beginning, as a warm-up set.

Final Words

So these were some of the best alternatives to seated calf raises. You should train your calves regularly with more volume because calf muscles are mostly slow-twitch ( about 70%). However, you can do some heavy exercise like a barbell or dumbbell calf raises as well but do more high-volume training.

You don’t have to do all of these exercises in one workout, rather select any 2-3 exercises and do that for about 3-4 days a week with more volume (15-20 reps at least) to get a thick and bigger calf.

If you found this blog helpful, then do share it with your friends and on social media so that more people can get the information. Also, if you know of any other alternative exercises, you can share them in the comment section below.


Roshan S Pillai

Roshan Pillai is an ACSM Certified Personal Trainer with more than 6 years of experience in lifting weights and guiding people to get fit. He is the owner and editor of fitnessproworkout.com, and has worked as a fitness coach in gyms and is passionate about fitness and helping people to get in shape.

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