Calf Raises on a Smith Machine


Calf raises on a smith machine

Using a Smith Machine for Calf Raises

The Smith Machine is a great tool for those who are new to weight lifting because it helps with balance and stability. The Smith Machine is also a great tool for those who have physical limitations or injuries that prevent them from using free weights.

One thing that people rarely think to use the smith machine for is calf raises. The smith machine allows you to train heavy without having to worry about balancing a bar or lifting it from the ground to get started. 

There are some exercises that demand free weights because of the extended range of motion that they offer, but a calf raise is just a simple up and down movement making it ideal for the smth machine. 

The is also the convenience of being able to load and unload a bar that is not sat on the ground!

A1 supps offer

How to Perform the Calf Raise on a Smith Machine

To set up for smith machine calf raises you will need to set the bar just below shoulder height. Put a step, low block or large weight plate on the floor for extra elevation and stretch. 

Load your plates onto the bar and then step underneath it so that it is resting on your shoulders. Keeping a straight back, place the balls of your feet onto the step or weight plate that is on the floor. This is your starting position.

Take a deep breath, and upon exhale, push upwards with your calves so that you are on tiptoes. hold this position and squeeze the calves for a couple of seconds before slowly lowering back down. 

Before your heels touch the floor, press up again. Repeat this movement for the required number of sets and reps. 

Make sure that you are getting a good stretch at the bottom of the movement and squeezing the calves at the top. 

How to Work Your Way up to the Smith Machine Raise

If you are a beginner and want to work your way up to the Smith Machine calf raise, you will need to start off with a standing calf raise.

Stand in front of a mirror with a low step and a support to hold on to. Place the balls of your feet on the step so that your calves are stretched. Slowly press upwards with the calves until you are standing on tiptoes. 

At the top of the movement, hold and squeeze the calf muscles before lowering back down. Repeat until you reach failure for 3-4 sets. 

If you find this movement too easy and are able to perform more than 25 reps per set, switch over to a one-legged calf press. This is exactly the same movement but with one leg off of the ground and tucked behind the other. 

You can perform either of these movements in the gym or at home on your doorstep or staircase. Just make sure that you are using a slow, controlled motion and can feel a connection with the calf muscle on every rep. 

The Benefits of Using a Smith Machine for Calves

The smith machine provides safety, stability and convenience for calf raises so if you have one in your gym, it is a no-brainer. 

You can set the bar at your ideal height and not have to worry about lifting it off of the ground for every set. This is important if you are training heavy and do not want to risk back or shoulder injury. 

As the bar is supported at shoulder height, it makes it easier for loading and unloading. This is just a laziness thing but if you are pushing every set to failure, the less admin the better!

The stability of the machine means that you do not have to worry about stabilising the weight ans stopping it from falling off to the side. This takes a lot of emphasis off of the core allowing you to focus and connect with the target muscles. 

There is also the issue of safety. If you really want to push yourself and take every set to failure, you can do it with the smith machine. No worrying about drop[ing the weight and no requirement for a spotter. Set the bar up properly and the safety arms underneath and you are good to go. 

Anatomy of the Calves

The calf is the back part of the lower leg. It is made up of two muscles, the gastrocnemius and the soleus.

The gastrocnemius muscle is on top and it originates from the femur (thigh bone) and inserts into the heel bone.

Calf anatomy

The soleus muscle is underneath and it originates from the femur and inserts into the heel bone as well. The calf muscles are responsible for plantar flexion, which means they help you to point your toes downwards. They also help you to walk, run, jump, or stand on your toes.

The Importance of Foot Placement for Calf Raises

Whilst most lifters prefer to go with a neutral stance, especially for really heavy calf raises, it is possible to target different areas of the calves and soleus by pointing your toes either inwards, forwards or outwards. 

Foot placement for calf raises

The Importance of Strong Calves

It's important to have strong calves because they are the muscles that help you walk. Strong calves can also help you in various sports, such as basketball and skiing.

Knee injuries are not uncommon for people with weak calf muscles. If your calf muscles are too weak, your knees may not be able to fully extend when you walk or run. This can lead to injury. or chronic pain.

Strong calves will help you do many things, such as:

-Run faster and jump higher

-Do squats and lunges more easily

-Keep your balance better when doing yoga poses or playing sports

-Keep your feet flat on the ground when walking in heels 


Alternative Exercises to Build Bigger Calves

The calves are the muscles at the back of your lower leg. They are part of the body’s lower limb and they help to support the weight of your upper body when you stand up or move around.

If you want to build big calves, there are a few simple exercises that will help you get started.

Seated Calf Raises

Seated calf raises are a great option if you have a machine in your gym. They attack the calves from a slightly different angle and allow you to add huge resistance. Seated calf raises are great for supersetting with bodyweight standing calf raises. 

Seated calf machine

Go heavy on the seated until you can't press any more, step off and try to do 12-15 reps of standing presses. 3 Sets of these will really push the calves and force hypertrophy. 

Leg Press Calf Raises

Adding in some calf presses on the leg press between leg presses is a great option for activating the calf muscles. The calves are usually capable of pressing the same as your quads can leg press so it is convenient for supersetting. 

Leg press calf machine

You can use leg press calf presses as a standalone exercise. It is a safe way to train with a heavy load and experiment with foot positions. 

Standing Calf Circuit

This is a high-rep bodyweight method of working the calf muscles. You don't need any equipment so you can do it from home. You just need a step or a raised surface so that you can hang your heels off of the edge and stretch the muscle. 

Standing calf raise

Try 15 reps of feet facing forwards, 15 of feet facing outwards and 15 of feet facing inwards. This would be one giant set. Aim for three of these sets. 


We hope that you have found this article useful. Please check out our free training programs by clicking the menu bar at the top of this page. All of them are 100% free and come with exercise guides, a training splt, diet plan and nutritional advice. 

Previous Post Next Post

Contact Form