Although a simple exercise, Calf Raises are a staple in any lower-body training program—for good reason. The calf and other lower leg and ankle muscles generate speed when running or skating and are critical for ankle stability. These muscles are strengthened when you flex your foot away from the shin (plantarflexion) with added weight.
Despite its benefits, the Calf Raise rarely reaches its full potential, because often only the ankle joint is used. Try to imagine a time in any sport when an athlete stands in one place and rises onto his tiptoes. This almost never occurs, because athletic movements are multi-jointed.
To apply the Calf Raise more directly to athletic performance, University of Minnesota strength coach Cal Deitz has Golden Gopher hockey players perform the exercise along with a hip and knee bend. This places the athlete in a sport-specific position and engages other joints used when skating or running. The calf is then strengthened in a position actually experienced in sports, which helps translate to improved performance in the rink or on the field.
- Assume position on Calf Raise machine with slight bend at hips and knees
- Drive up onto toes, fully extending hips and knees
- Descend in a controlled manner; repeat for specified reps