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Standing Barbell Calf Raise

Standing Barbell Calf Raise is a bodybuilding exercise that develops the entire calf, especially twins due to the standing position. The deep leg muscles, like the soleus, are also involved.

If you can only choose one calf exercise for your program, standing extensions will be a good choice. For many athletes, developing good calves is not easy, as these muscles, which are constantly stressed, sometimes refuse to put on weight. Added to this is that calf strength training and their development are rarely a priority in training.

If your calves have trouble taking off, you will have to work hard and work with great intensity.

Why do The Standing Barbell Calf Raise

Because this is one of the basic exercises to build calves! In reality, you will find very few others in this genre. In addition, it is easy to execute, it involves little risk and it is effective. Using the smith machine helps to avoid balance problems that might arise using a free bar.

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It is an isolation exercise to be performed rather than at the end of the session but which still has the advantage of working all the calf muscles. It is, therefore, best to practice it before a seated calf exercise. And if you have to choose between one or the other, choose the much more complete standing exercise.

Execution Of The Exercise

  • Let the bar rest on the top of your trapezoids.
  • Place your feet on the platform so that your heels are free to move in full amplitude.
  • Keep your toes pointed straight forward or slightly to the sides.
  • Extend your legs completely and keep your body straight so that your feet, hips, and shoulders are in the same alignment.
  • Lower your heels at a moderate speed until you feel a strong stretch in your Achilles tendon and calf muscles.
  • When reaching the low position, take a deep breath and hold your breath while pushing vigorously to climb as high as possible.
  • Hold the highest position for two seconds.
  • Slightly relax, lower your heels while controlling and exhale.

Targeted Muscles

The main muscles used by standing foot extensions are the gastrocnemius or “twins” and secondarily the soleus muscles. Twins are the two muscles that can be seen very clearly at the top and back of the leg; they are the ones who shape the calves. Below and in more depth, we find the soleus, thick and flat muscles that give thickness to the whole, especially at the ankles.

8 Training Tips

  1. Don’t pause at the bottom unless you’re trying to improve the flexibility of your ankles. For an intense contraction of the twins, reverse the direction when you feel a strong stretch in your Achilles tendons and calves.
  2. Hold the high position for at least two seconds to achieve maximum muscle contraction.
  3. Don’t bend your knees. If you do, you increase the work of the soleus more than that of the twins.
  4. Hold your breath during the initial phase of the movement to stabilize your bust. As you exhale down, you will tend to decrease the stiffness of your abdomen, which can weaken you and expose you to injury.
  5. For a different feeling, do the exercise by varying the position of the feet, for example by pointing the toes inward or outward.
  6. When you feel a strong stretch in the Achilles tendons and calf muscles at the bottom of the movement, quickly reverse the direction and push strongly upwards in order to climb as high as possible and to use the explosive white fibers more.
  7. Do not bounce down work at a regular pace throughout the exercise.
  8. Using very heavy loads suddenly when stretching on Achilles’s tendons can cause injury.

Safety Instructions

Use a wedge to work at maximum amplitude, this allows greater muscle development. Add weight gradually, you must allow time for the Achilles tendon to adapt.
On this exercise the heavy load rests on the spine, so be careful to keep the vertebrae aligned so do not arch or lean too far forward. Remember to stretch your calves at the end of a weight training session to keep your flexibility.

Interest Of Standing Barbell Calf Raise

Given the pressure that exercise puts on your back, it is only useful if you cannot do other, less risky exercises.


Inhale when lowering the load and exhale up. Keep your abs tight and your chest straight.

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By keeping the same structure during exercise, you can already change the orientation of your feet. If they point outwards, the internal twins are the ones who will be the most solicited. On the contrary, by pointing your feet inwards, the external twins will have more work. The same is true with the distance between the feet. Farther apart, the exercise will force the internal twins. Tighter, it will be the opposite.

It is also possible to work with a free bar, but the balance will be more difficult to find and therefore it will be riskier. An alternative to the smith machine can also be the standing calf press, a specific machine for this exercise that allows you to adjust the load simply.

Finally, this exercise can also be performed on one leg, which will increase the intensity. In this case, you can use a dumbbell in the hand on the side of the foot in contact with the floor. You can also use a smith machine or a calf press. On the other hand, be careful if you decide to do the exercise with a free bar, the balance may be very difficult to find and you could fall. In the latter case, it is safer to practice without wedges, the amplitude will be reduced but you will have less trouble standing.

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