How to Do Barbell Calf Raises Properly

Some people love big calves, others would rather a more demure appearance. If you belong to the former team, barbell calf raises is an exercise you have to add to your routine right away.

Much has been said about this particular exercise. Naysayers preempt that there is no way on earth calves can respond to strength training.

They insist that while you might have some luck with the biceps and shoulders, the calves just won’t grow no matter how much stress you put them under.

Nothing is further from the truth. Calves definitely respond to strength training, especially if you know well enough to pick an exercise that wholesomely targets them.

One such exercise that assures you of great results when done well is the barbell calf raises.

HOW TO DO BARBELL CALF RAISES PROPERLY

  • Place a block or a raised platform in front of you, you can even use a couple of weight plates
  • Stand upright and place a barbell across your upper back
  • Step on the block with both the balls of your feet
  • Lift your heels off the floor slowly, then lower them back for the maximum stretch of the calves
  • Get back to the initial position and do the same for the other leg
  • Do as many reps as you wish.

WHAT MUSCLES DO BARBELL CALF RAISES WORK?

CALF MUSCLES

Your calf is made up of two important muscles; the soleus and the gastrocnemius. The gastrocnemius is the more visible of the two, it helps you flex your knee and plantar.

The soleus is located deeper into the calf. Just like the gastrocnemius, it helps with plantar flexion but also stabilizes the ankle. These two are the primary muscles that the barbell calf raises work.

CORE MUSCLES

This exercise works the core muscles too, especially if you are careful enough to maintain the right form, weight and speed. Placing the barbell on the back increases the intensity of the workout, thus invoking the core muscles.

BARBELL CALF RAISES BENEFITS

IMPROVE FUNCTIONAL MOVEMENTS

Calf muscles are a group of muscles that support a lot of activities that you do throughout the day.

From walking around doing your chores, running around the office, jumping – calf muscles have it all. Strong calf muscles will improve functional movements and make them smoother.

Barbell calf raises improves calf strength and endurance, thus giving your calves a better ability to carry body and propel it as you do your activities of the day.

PREVENTS ANKLE INJURY

The calf muscles are responsible for stabilizing the ankle. Stronger calf muscles mean proper balance of the muscles around the ankles all the way to the knee joints. This way, you avoid ankle injuries.

HELPS BODY WITHSTAND EXERCISES

You need strong ankles to do those taxing plyometric exercises. Calf raises puts the calves in a position to absorb impact from these hard exercises.

GOOD LOOKING CALVES

One of the biggest tragedies for people who wear shorts is to have a well-built upper body, and small thin legs to go with it. It might come off as disproportionate.

As the weather gets warmer, you owe yourself calves that turn heads and break necks.

Thankfully, barbell calf raises give you those well-rounded calves that balance out everything. You will have a very hard time picking clothes that do not show the calves!

ALTERNATIVES TO BARBELL CALF RAISES

JUMP ROPE

Jump rope has, since time immemorial, been used as a calf-strengthening exercise. The best thing with jump rope is, it targets muscles that the calf raises might miss – it is a ten over ten!

Not only does jump rope increase endurance, but it works on the shin and leg muscles as a whole.

But here is the best part – did you know that jumping rope helps you lose more calories than you would have ever hoped to lose doing calf raises?

So, there you have it, grab a rope and get jumping if you can not find a barbell to do calf raises with.

BOX JUMPS

Box jumps are yet another way to get good calves without investing in any hardy equipment. Just make sure, while you do this, that your jump revolves around the balls of your feet.

This will help the calves absorb the impact better. Keep the height of the box reasonable too, not too high that you strain and not too low that there really is no difference.

Another variation of this exercise is to use dumbbells if you cannot find a barbell.

BARBELL CALF RAISES MISTAKES TO AVOID

GOING TOO FAST

When you treat this move as a cardio move, you mess up its purpose. Slow your movements so the calf can stretch better.

WEARING SHOES

This might sound weird but hear this out – this exercise is supposed to help your calf absorb the strain.

When you wear shoes especially those with springs and cushioning, your calf misses out on the impact of the training. Thus, unless you really have to, leave the shoes out of this.

CONCLUSION

A study published Physiological Reports had 30 students with no prior training do calf raises with different weights.

They used lighter weights to do 20-30 raises on one leg, and considerably heavier weights to do between 6-10 raises on the other leg. Both calves recorded an increase in muscle at the end of 8 weeks.

Therefore, the biggest takeaway from this workout is that it works, it is possible to use strength training to increase the appearance and muscle mass of the calves. That is all that matters.

Having known this, you just have to be consistent, maintain the right form and either go for heavier weights and few reps, or lighter weight and more reps.

You will be well on your way to some of the most enviable calves that way!