T Nation


Hey now that I am in college the choice of workout facilities has gone from a Gold’s Gym to the piece of shit hole, in the wall, training room. I have been able to get creative except for calf exercises. There are no calf machines and no leg press machines. Anyone out there with some nice variations to the normal calf exercise please post Thank

Hindu Squats

When I work out at home, I gotta get creative to do calves. For standing calf raises, I get on a three inch high platform(I use one of those step aerobic things)- you could use a couple of plates on top of one another, hold onto something with one hand, dumbell in other hand and do standing calf raises(one leg at a time). You’ve gotta have dumbells? For seated calf raises, I use the same elevated platform, sit on a bench and put a heavy dumbell on my knee, use my hands to balance it there and do one legged seated calf raises. They probably aren’t the best movements, but they will work if you don’t have those fancy machines.

1 leg calf raises holding a db.

You will need something to stand on for a stretch (a block, the spotter’s stand on an incline bench, etc). Either using body weight or with dumbbells do single leg calf-raises while standing (try 10 per leg) and then do raises with both legs to failure. Follow that with the same exercises, however, this time bend over so that your torso is parallel with the floor.

If the gym has a smith machine, you can get additional loading by using that instead of the dumbbells.

I’m sure others will have better suggestions, but these have worked well for me in the past.

No calf raise machines and no leg press? That definitely makes training calves more difficult, but not impossible. Try one-legged standing calf raises using heavy dumbbells and/or barbells. These definitely are not as user-friendly as calf machines, but they still work. You just have to go heavy.

Jump rope.

Donkey calf raises are always an option. If no one weighs enough, have 'em hold a dumbell while they sit on you, or do the exercise one leg at a time. Pre-fatigue your calves by jumping rope for a few minutes before starting your sets. Alternatively, you could do calf raises on either a hack squat or Smith machine, or even with a regular barbell on your shoulders (like a squat). Wouldn’t get the full range of motion with this last one, but it’d be better than nothing.

single hand dumbell calve raises off of blocks, use the other hand for balance somewhere. squat bar calve raises off of blocks using straight leg motion. although painful, uses a cushion if you can, sit on a bench and place weights on top of your knees, keep your feet on blocks and raise the feet up using bent leg motion. laters pk

If your gym has “hex” style dumbells (they won’t role) hold one in your hand and throw the other on the floor (then you can do single calf raises on the handle of the db). An added advantage is that this motion has a more natural strength curve. And just in case you were trying to do these freestanding, don’t you need to hold onto something to stablize yourself.