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February 15, 2022 9 min read
The calves are the one of the most challenging and often neglected muscles on the human body. This is probably due to the unfair popular opinion that the calf muscles are not as important as other muscle groups.
But they are undoubtedly important to your fitness performance.
And the seated calf raise is one of the few exercises that target and build the calves.
It's an isolation exercise that is specifically designed to target the calf muscles.
You see, the calf muscles are notoriously difficult to grow, and exercises like the seated calf raise are designed to remedy this. The seated calf raise is a beginner-friendly exercise that intermediate athletes and gym-goers can also perform.
The seated calf raise is a heel-raising exercise done while sitting comfortably in a chair. It is of a lesser intensity than its standing variation and requires less balance, stability, and inclusion of the upper body muscles.
Unlike many other exercises that require a certain level of strength and stamina, the seated calf raise can be done by anyone who is looking to grow their calf muscles for better power output and a better physique.
It is easy to learn and even easier to perfect, given that you follow the rules strictly. The seated calf raise is an especially fantastic option for people who suffer from injuries to the legs, hips, or upper body.
Calf raises are encouraged as rehabilitation exercises, so it is not surprising that many use the seated calf raise to facilitate their recovery and integration for more challenging exercises.
Calf muscles are no doubt one of the most challenging muscles to build.What makes the calves notoriously difficult to grow is that they are already quite developed given that we spend a large part of our lives on our feet. In fact, the average adult takes between 4000-7000 steps a day.
But that's not all, because we jog, run, and jump too, all of which are actions driven by the calf muscles.
The calves of an adult are already about 80% fully developed, so it is no wonder that no amount of running or leg exercises yield huge results in little time. The amount of time spent on your feet has caused your calves to grow without specifically training them.
So to grow your calves to their maximum potential, you'll need to train them consistently and provide a muscle pump for maximum fullness. How does the seated calf raise help you achieve this?
Contrary to what many gym-goers think, the calf is not one solid bulk of muscle.
It is actually two muscles, namely the gastrocnemius and the soleus muscles. These muscles are located on the back of the leg, connecting to the heel via the Achilles tendon. The gastrocnemius and the soleus muscles might function as one major muscle, but each of these muscles is unique and perform different functions.
The gastrocnemius muscle, also known as the leg triceps, is the larger of the calf muscles.
It originates on the back of the thigh and knee, runs down the posterior part of the leg, where it joins the smaller soleus muscle before it attaches to the Achilles tendon at the heel. The gastrocnemius muscle provides the bulk size of the calf. If you are trying to grow your calf muscles, the muscle that should receive bulk stimulation is the gastrocnemius.
The gastrocnemius muscle is also an essential part of the leg movement and propelling force.
It is no wonder that it is called the ‘runner’s muscle.’ When you walk, run, or even flex your foot, you activate and utilize the gastrocnemius. This muscle plays a huge role in your ability to pull your heel up and extend your foot downward. Due to this, the gastrocnemius muscle is more activated during the standing calf raise exercise.
However, the seated calf raise engages the soleus muscle more than the gastrocnemius.
The soleus muscle is harder to see superficially than the more evident gastrocnemius muscle. It is a flat, broad muscle that lies just underneath the gastrocnemius. The soleus muscle originates from the bones of the lower legs, joins the gastrocnemius, and attaches to the heel via the Achilles tendon.
It contributes to your ability to perform simple activities like walking, running, dancing, and skipping.
The soleus muscle also ensures your stability, preventing falling while erect. Essentially, the soleus might be smaller, but it is an equally important muscle.
The seated calf raise can be performed with dumbbells or a machine.
Either way, as long as you make use of the proper technique, your calves will be burning at the end of your routine. The seated calf raise is a scalable exercise, and it is best if you start with your body weight. This would not only get you used to the proper form but make it easier to perform more challenging modifications of the seated calf raise.
The common seated calf raise is done using resistance such as weight plates or dumbbells.
This seated calf raise variation is just as effective as the machine variation. The dumbbell acts as resistance on your muscles, forcing them to attain and stretch to accommodate your leg movements. It is a great exercise for toning and strengthening your calves.
To perform the seated calf raise:
The calf raise can be performed at home if you have dumbbells, however the calf raise machines found in most gyms provide a greater opportunity to overload your calves and stimulate growth. While the standing calf raise machine is commonly used, the the seated variation can make it easier to isolate the calf muscles.
To do the machine seated calf raise:
The seated calf raise looks deceptively easy, but to see evident changes in your calves, you need all the help you can get. For the best results, pair your training with the MASS STACK for lean muscle gain and muscle fullness.
The seated calf raise might look harmless, but without the proper technique, you might be setting yourself up for a calf strain. Perfecting the seated calf raise requires attention to your form and the proper lifting technique. It also requires that you keep some important cues in mind as they would help you keep your technique in form.
Some of the tips to help you perfect the calf raise includes:
Depending on your fitness level and strength, the seated calf raise might be a challenging exercise for you. To make it a bit easier to perform, get rid of any resistance involved in the original variation.
Taking resistance out of the equation leaves only one piece of equipment: A chair or bench. The seated calf raise can be performed as a bodyweight exercise.
To do this:
When you get comfortable with this modification of the seated calf raise, it will be easier to move on to more challenging modifications. Start with the bodyweight modification and work your way up by adding a step, dumbbells without the step, and then dumbbell with the step.
The seated calf raise is a splendid addition to your leg day workout routine. It completes your toned physique and is a great way to increase your performance in and outside the gym.
The seated calf raise can also be combined with other calf exercises for strong and chiseled legs.