How to Do the Calf Raise on a Machine

Learn to safely use the calf raise machine available at gyms.

The calf raise can be performed on a calf raise machine, which many gyms have available, or a similar exercise can be performed with either your body weight, or with dumbbells or a barbell.

Raising onto the toes under resistance makes the calf muscles, including the soleus and gastrocnemius, contract.

This description uses the calf raise machine to perform this exercise. The seated exercise works the soleus—the lower calf muscle—and the standing calf raise also involves the gastrocnemius.

Find out more about weight training terminology and exercise description if you need background information before you try this exercise. See more exercises.

Starting Position

Calf raise machine
(c) Paul Rogers / Cooloola Fitness
  1. Select an appropriate weight and load the machine. If you have not used this equipment previously, you may have to experiment with the amount of weight selected, always starting out with little or no weight to learn the motion of the exercise and machine.
  2. Understand how the release mechanism works before loading the weights.
  3. Sit on the calf raise machine with feet resting on the foot support (see picture).
  4. Adjust the bench so that the knees are snug under the pad.
  5. Brace the abdominals and remember to breathe out on execution and in on recovery.

Exercise Movement

Calf raise exercise
(c) Paul Rogers / Cooloola Fitness
  1. Push up from the foot platform with the front of the feet, which pushes up the knees.
  2. When you feel the pressure on the knee pad, remove the support bar (to right of picture) so that the full weight is on the knees and toes.
  3. Raise the weight so that the feet are extended at the ankle, then lower. Feel the contraction in the calf muscles.
  4. Repeat for 3 sets of 8 to 12 repetitions.
  5. If you notice any acute pain in the lower calf and Achilles tendon region, stop the exercise or reduce the weight.
  6. Residual pain that is not associated with normal muscle fatigue in the calf region should be regarded as a sign of injury, and you should stop performing the exercise and seek assistance.