Greatest Previous-College Calf Exercises & Workouts

Of all of the muscle mass within the human physique, the calves are one of many hardest to develop. They’ve a repute for being cussed, and lots of people imagine that they’ll’t add mass to this significant muscle group.

However, when you look again on the golden age of bodybuilding, you’ll see that most of the champions of the day had nice calves. They didn’t moan about unhealthy genetics or fear about overtraining. As an alternative, they only labored their calves laborious and infrequently. The end result? Large calves have been as widespread as massive biceps.

Don’t conceal your calves underneath lengthy sweatpants. Construct decrease legs you will be happy with with these confirmed and finest old-school calf exercises.

Calf Anatomy 101

For such a small muscle group, your calves are surprisingly complicated. They’re truly made up of two principal muscle mass, which is why there are a number of several types of train it is advisable to embrace in your calf-building exercises. Realizing a bit extra concerning the anatomy of your calves will enable you to perceive why some workout routines and exercises are higher than others.

The muscle mass that make up your calves are:

1- Gastrocnemius: that is the biggest of the 2 calf muscle mass. It’s a biarticular muscle which implies it crosses two joints. Due to this, the gastrocnemius has two features – ankle plantar flexion (pointing your toe) and knee flexion. The first muscle liable for knee flexion is your hamstrings, however gastrocnemius gives help.

2- Soleus: the soleus muscle is your decrease, smaller calf muscle. It lies beneath and under your gastrocnemius. Soleus solely crosses your ankle joint, and its perform can be plantarflexion.

Gastrocnemius and soleus have completely different origin factors however share the identical insertion. They arrive collectively at your Achilles tendon, which attaches onto your heal bone, correctly known as your calcaneus. Regardless of this shared anatomy, it’s potential to emphasise one muscle greater than the opposite.

Plantarflexion of your ankle along with your knee straight focuses in your gastrocnemius. However, whenever you bend your knee, soleus turns into extra lively. Due to this, most good calf exercises embrace each standing and seated calf raises.

Calf Muscle Anatomy
Calf Muscle Anatomy

The Greatest Previous-College Calf Exercises

Listed here are three traditional old-school calf constructing exercises to attempt. Every one was both utilized by a well-known golden period bodybuilder or impressed by one. If it is advisable to add mass to your decrease legs, any of those superior exercises will get the job achieved!

Earlier than you begin, spend a couple of minutes warming as much as put together your muscle mass and stop harm. A couple of minutes of straightforward cardio, adopted by some dynamic stretching and a few gentle units of every train ought to be ample.

#1. Previous-College Calf Exercise

As a younger bodybuilder, Arnold Schwarzenegger had very small calves. The truth is, it was the rationale he didn’t win a few of his earlier competitions. To cover this downside, Arnie was steadily pictured standing in knee-deep water!

Arnold Schwarzenegger Calves
Arnold Schwarzenegger Calves

To face this downside, the Austrian Oak used to chop the bottoms off his exercise pants so his calves have been at all times on present. This was a supply of embarrassment which motivated him to coach is decrease physique tougher and extra usually. This method helped Arnie construct superb calves, and this exercise is impressed by him.

Do that exercise 2-Three occasions every week to shock your calves into new development.

  1. Donkey calf raises: 5 units of 15-20 reps
  2. Standing calf raises: 5 units of 10-15 reps
  3. Seated calf raises: 5 units 10-15 reps

Train descriptions

1.1 Donkey calf raises

This old-school calf train was one of many Terminator’s all-time favorites. It takes your ankles and calves by way of a wide variety of movement to offer a deep stretch and pump. Doing this train might increase a couple of eyebrows on the health club, however when your calves begin to develop quicker than ever earlier than, you’ll be glad you probably did it.

Find out how to do it:

  1. Stand with the balls of your ft on a 4-6″ block, so your heels are free to maneuver.
  2. Maintaining your legs straight, lean ahead, and brace your arms in opposition to a bench or dumbbell rack. Ask your coaching associate to take a seat astride your hips.
  3. Decrease your heels down towards the ground so far as potential, after which stand up on to your tiptoes. Repeat for the prescribed variety of reps.


  • Don’t let your associate sit in your decrease again. This might result in harm.
  • You may also do that train by yourself, sporting a chin/dip belt for resistance.
Donkey Calf Raises
Donkey Calf Raises


1.2 Standing calf raises

It is a traditional calf mass-building train. Your calf muscle mass are very sturdy, so don’t be afraid to go heavy. Arnie reportedly labored as much as doing units with 1000 lbs. on this train!

Find out how to do it:

  1. Modify the peak of the machine and step onto the footrest. Place the balls of your ft on the sting, so your heels are free to maneuver up and down.
  2. Place your shoulders underneath the pads and rise up. Brace your abs and lock your knees.
  3. Stand up onto your tiptoes after which decrease your heels as far down towards the ground as you possibly can. Pause for a second on the prime and the underside of every rep to maximise muscle stress.


  • Hold your core braced to take care of the soundness of your backbone. That is particularly essential if you’re utilizing heavyweights.
  • Don’t bounce out of the underside of your reps. Doing so may result in a torn Achilles tendon.
Standing Calf Raises
Standing Calf Raises

1.Three Seated calf raises

Whereas your soleus is concerned in all calf workout routines, it’s particularly lively when your knees are bent. Working your soleus individually will not be at all times needed. Nonetheless, legendary bodybuilder Arnold Schwarzenegger nearly at all times completed his calf exercises with this train.

Find out how to do it:

  1. Sit on the calf increase machine in order that the balls of your ft are on the footrest.
  2. Place your legs underneath the thigh pads and unrack the burden.
  3. Push up onto your tiptoes after which decrease your heels down so far as you possibly can. Proceed for the prescribed variety of reps.


  • Be sure that the leg pad is throughout the tops of your knees. It might be painful you probably have it throughout your thighs.
Arnold Schwarzenegger Calf Raise Seat
Arnold Schwarzenegger Calf Elevate Seat

#2. Previous-College Calf Exercise

Within the very previous days of bodybuilding, power coaching machines like standing and seated calf raises have been scarce. And but, regardless of this, the champions of the time nonetheless constructed spectacular decrease legs. This machine-free calf exercise is good for residence exercisers and anybody who desires to coach their calves even in a health club with no calf increase machines. All you want is a few free weights.

Do that exercise twice per week on nonconsecutive days, e.g., Monday and Thursday.  

  1. Single leg calf raises: Four units of 12-15 reps
  2. Goose step: Four units of so far as potential
  3. Ankle jumps: Four units of 50 reps

Train descriptions

2.1 Single leg calf raises

No calf increase machine? No downside! This train is each bit as efficient, and, better of all, you simply want a step and a dumbbell to do it.

Find out how to do it:

  1. Stand on a 4-6″ excessive step. Stand on one leg with the ball of your foot on the sting, and your heel free to maneuver up and down. Cross your ankles and use your arms for stability.
  2. Maintaining your supporting knee straight, stand up onto your tiptoes after which decrease your heel down towards the ground.
  3. Proceed for the prescribed variety of repetitions after which change legs.


  • Maintain a dumbbell in a single hand to make this train tougher.
Single Leg Calf Raises
Single Leg Calf Raises

2.2 Goose step

Goose steps are a traditional old-school calf train. They’re so old-school that almost all fashionable exercisers have by no means seen it earlier than! Painful however efficient, this train IS uncommon, however you’ll love the way in which it makes your calves develop.

Find out how to do it:

  1. Maintain a heavy dumbbell in every hand or relaxation a barbell in your shoulders.
  2. Stand up onto your tiptoes than then take a stroll round your coaching space. Don’t let your heels contact the ground.
  3. Hold going for so long as you possibly can. Your set is completed when you possibly can now not maintain your heels off the bottom.


  • Use wrists straps, so your grip doesn’t fail earlier than your calves.

2.Three Ankle jumps

The ultimate train on this old-school calf exercise is explosive and athletic. Have a look at the calves on individuals who do lots of sprinting and leaping; they’re often massive and robust. This train mimics any such exercise.

Find out how to do it:

  1. Stand along with your ft collectively and your arms by your aspect.
  2. Maintaining your knees as straight as potential, bounce up and down on the spot by pushing off your toes. Don’t let your heels contact down.
  3. Proceed for the prescribed variety of reps.


  • Soar back and forth to work the lateral (aspect) facet of your calves.
  • Too straightforward? Hop on one leg as an alternative or maintain dumbbells in your arms.

#3. Previous-College Calf Exercise

Tom Platz , generally known as the Golden Eagle, had arguably one of the best legs within the historical past of bodybuilding. His quad and hamstring improvement have been unimaginable, and he was additionally recognized for his phenomenal squatting power.

Tom Platz Calves
Tom Platz Calves

However Platz didn’t neglect his decrease legs, and his calves have been each bit as spectacular as his thighs. This old-school calf exercise is impressed by Tom Platz and contains his favourite decrease leg workout routines.


Do that exercise a couple of times per week as required.

  1. Standing calf raises: Three units of 10-15 reps
  2. Seated calf raises: Three units of 10-15 reps
  3. Leg press calf raises: Three units of 10-15 reps
  4. Hack squat machine calf raises: Three units of 10-15 reps

Train descriptions

3.1 Standing calf raises

As defined in exercise #1.

3.2 Seated calf raises

As defined in exercise #1.

3.Three Leg press calf raises

This train is a cross between donkey calf raises and standing calf raises. It hits your calves from a novel angle, which may assist set off new muscle development.

Find out how to do it:

  1. Load up the leg press and climb aboard. Place the balls of your ft on the sting of the footrest after which straighten your legs.
  2. Level your toes after which flex your ankles so far as you possibly can. Proceed for the prescribed variety of reps.
  3. Bend your legs and thoroughly put the burden down on the finish of your set.


  • Hold your knees locked out all through your set.
  • Take care that your toes received’t slip off the sting of the footrest.
Calf Press On Leg Press
Calf Press On Leg Press

3.Four Hack squat machine calf raises

This train is similar to common standing calf raises, however, in accordance with Platz, it really works your calves from a barely completely different angle, which is essential for constructing greater muscle mass. It’s additionally a superb option to improve coaching quantity with out having to resort to doing extra units of the identical previous workout routines.

Find out how to do it:

  1. Face the backrest of your hack squat machine. Place your shoulders beneath the pads and the balls of your ft on the sting of the footrest. Straighten your legs and carry the burden.
  2. Maintaining your core tight and your knees straight, push up onto your tiptoes, after which decrease your heels down so far as you possibly can.
  3. Hold going till you may have accomplished all of the prescribed reps.


  • Brace your core to maintain your backbone secure.
  • Hold your knees locked out all through your set.

Vital calf coaching suggestions

Use these tricks to get one of the best outcomes out of your calf-building exercises.

1. Use a full vary of movement for every rep

Stand up as excessive as you possibly can onto your tiptoes, after which decrease your heels down so far as your flexibility permits. This will increase time underneath stress and muscle activation, that are each essential components for maximal muscle development (1).

2. Use a gradual, managed tempo

All sorts of calf increase will likely be extra productive when you keep away from utilizing momentum to carry the burden. Take two seconds to stand up and two seconds to decrease again down.

3. Finish your units with partial reps

Full vary reps ought to make up the majority of your calf coaching, however partial reps are helpful for getting a giant pump and ending off any untapped muscle fibers. Do your set as regular after which, on reaching failure, simply pulse up and down an inch or two in the course of your regular vary of movement. Use this intensifying on the final set of every train solely.

4. Strive turning your ft out and in to focus on completely different elements of your calves

Turning your ft in might improve outer calf improvement, whereas turning your ft out might improve interior calf improvement. Use this system on standing calf raises.

5. Work your calves each time you practice

If you wish to shock your calves into rising, do 5 units of standing calf raises in the beginning of each exercise, and 5 units of seated calf raises on the finish. Do that each time you hit the health club – even on higher physique days.

Mike Mentzer
Mike Mentzer

Often requested questions

Do you may have any questions? We’ve bought the solutions! In case you can’t discover the reply you need under, drop us a line within the feedback part, and we’ll get again to you as quickly as we are able to.

How usually ought to I practice my calves?

That’s a tough query to reply, as some old-school bodybuilders solely skilled their calves as soon as every week, whereas others, like Arnold, used to coach them six-times every week! In case your calves aren’t rising, coaching extra usually might assist. So, if you’re at present working your decrease legs twice every week, and also you aren’t getting the outcomes you need, add one other exercise.

Can I practice my calves in naked ft?

Sure! Loads of old-school bodybuilders used to coach their calves in naked ft. They believed that, with no footwear to help their ft, their calves needed to work tougher. Earlier than you whip off your footwear and begin doing calf raises, examine along with your health club that they’re okay with barefoot coaching. Some might have points concerning hygiene or well being and security.

Can I do health club and residential exercises for my calves throughout the identical week?

Most undoubtedly. That is truly a superb concept. Prepare your calves along with your legs 1-2 occasions per week, after which do 1-2 residence exercises to spice up calf development. Previous-school calf exercise #2 is good for residence coaching.

Is calf dimension and form genetic?

Genetics play a job within the dimension and form of each muscle – not simply your calves. In case you practice laborious, eat proper, and your calves nonetheless aren’t rising, your genetics could possibly be the issue.

That’s why some bodybuilders resort to calf implants. Nevertheless, it doesn’t matter what your genetics are like, you possibly can nonetheless make your calves greater when you work laborious sufficient.

How massive ought to my calves be?

Unsure how else to say this – the old fashioned guys believed that your calves, neck, and biceps ought to all measure the identical. If this nonetheless doesn’t make sense simply delete this query/reply. Thanks! 

In response to some old-school bodybuilders, your calves, arms, and neck ought to all be roughly the identical dimension, so in case your biceps measure 16″, your calves and neck ought to too. Whilst you may not be capable to obtain this commonplace precisely, it’s a very good goal for most individuals.


Lots of people suppose they’ll’t construct massive calves, however most often, that’s as a result of they haven’t actually tried! It takes effort, willpower, and persistence to construct spectacular calves – greater than a few units of calf raises on the finish of your leg exercise, that’s for positive.

Cease hoping your calves will develop. As an alternative, prioritize your decrease legs and work them laborious and infrequently with one of the best old-school calf exercises. In time, your calves will develop and will even turn into your most spectacular muscle group.

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