T Nation

New Gym Equipment Advice for Calves

Greetings All,

I live in Tamarindo, Costa Rica and recently took over the management of the Gym in town.

Like most gyms around the world, space is at a premium and I need to be selective in what equipment I choose as inclusion of one piece usually means exclusion of something else.

With the large exception of a power rack, I’m pretty satisfied with my set up. However, I have nothing directly targeting calves.

What equipment do forum members recommend for calves? Most of my members curently are using either the leg press or smith machine (with a 4" wood block I’ve provided). I’ve read the posts targeting calves and most of the routines involve standing machines. Are seated calf machines out of vogue? I likely only have room for one additional piece of equipment so I would like to hear opinions with this in mind.

Thank you in adavance, and I look forward to your opinions. If any of you find yourself in Tamarindo, be sure to stop in!

Seated, or bent knee, calf exercises arent as popular because they target the soleus muscle as opposed to straight knee exercises that target the gastrocnemius.

Source: www.fitstep.com/Advanced/Anatomy/Calves.htm

If you dont have enough external loading, then single leg calf exercises off of a step with a DB in hand are pretty good.

You could also do single leg donkey calf raises with someone sitting on you if you arent bothered by looking gay.

I’d either go for a seated calf machine, to allow for fully rounded calf training (straight legged calf exerciss are easy enough to do without a machine, using DBs or a BB), or I’d get a tibia machine:


Training the tibialis is a greate way to alleviate shin splints, work on total ankle stability, and work some rarely trained muscles.

I like the standing calf-raise machine myself. Sure it’s easy enough to do with dumbells, but it’s nice to have the machine too. As far as the seated machine, I only see folks at my gym using that for resting their gym bags on and I’m not sure most people know the donkey calf-raise machine exists as it’s over in the corner next to the abductor and adductor machines…and guys tend to not travel near those machines. I used the donkey machine once and got a sore back so I just do standing now.

I’d get a donkey calf raise machine. Easily the best type of calf machine out there.

get a seated machine as members can currently do straight-legged calf movements with the leg press machine. also, for the same effect as the donkey calf raise, you can simple get into the leg press and set up as you normally would if setting up for some calf-sets, but bend your torso forward until you feel a stretch in the hamstrings and calves, then begin performing repetitions with your calves. this is very similar to the traditional donkey calf raise.

If space is cramped, cut back on the number of machines and make more room for free weights, benches and power racks.

Than put up posters how they could be used to replace the machines you threw out.

Do this gradually and keep your customers informed, or you might end up loosing half of them.

Thank you everyone for your feedback. I appreciate the advice. It has also raised a few new questions (see below).

In the interim, I have purchased a squat block from Body Solid. I like this option because it can be used with the Smith Machine or on its own to do donkey calf raises. As far as looking gay, based on the posts on this site, I think most guys would put Siegfried and Roy on their back if it would make their calves grow.

[quote]OKLAHOMA STATE wrote:
I’d get a donkey calf raise machine. Easily the best type of calf machine out there.[/quote]

Do you have a photo of a donkey calf raise machine? As another poster stated below, I would think that a leg press sled with have the same effect (especially if you lean forward a bit as the other poster suggests). If not, can you please explain the effect that the greater angle of the hips has on working your calves.

[quote]OKLAHOMA STATE wrote:
I’d get a donkey calf raise machine. Easily the best type of calf machine out there.[/quote]

I second that motion. The best AND the safest — no compressive pressure on the back or traps.

If not that, one of the Icarian or Omega incline calf raises where the pad sits against your butt and lower back. The Cybex (?) Rotary Calf Raise is another good example.