What Are the Best Calf Exercises?

What are the best calf exercises?

The calf is composed of two large muscles: the gastronecmenius and the soleus, which are connected to the heel by the Achilles tendon. The gastronecmenius has two heads (the inner and the outer) and is located on top of the soleus. Calves are responsible for flexing both the foot at the ankle joint and the leg at the knee joint.  So, how do you strengthen your calves?


What Are the Best Calf Exercises?

One study attached electrodes to participants as they performed a number of calf exercises to determine muscle activation levels. Here are the results:

Calf raises emg

Not surprisingly, calf raises are by far the most effective calf exercise. There are two things you can do to make calf raises even more effective. First, donkey calf raises were found to lead to more muscle activation than traditional (standing) calf raises. Here‘s a video on how to do donkey calf raises. Also, keeping your feet parallel works best for both the inner and outer gastrocnemius.

Calves foot position emg



Consider giving donkey calf raises a shot. Otherwise, traditional standing calf raises with your feet parallel still do a great job. Good luck.



Boeckh-Behrens, Wend-Uwe, and Wolfgang Buskies. “Fitness-Krafttraining.”Reinbek bei Hamburg 20013 (2000).