The seated version of barbell calf raises isn’t very popular, but it should be. Not only does it require no special equipment, but can also allow you to hit a part of the calf muscle you might be missing. Below are three benefits to doing seated barbell calf raises like this.
Hit the Often Ignored Soleus
There are two muscles to the calf – the gastrocnemius (gastroc) and the soleus. The gastroc is the two-headed muscle that creates the “diamond” shape you see on the back of your lower leg. The soleus is the wide, flat muscle behind it that gives the calf width.
The gastroc is hit whenever you extend the ankle with a straight leg. This is important to note because most calf exercises are done in a standing calf machine, by doing calf raises in a smith machine, toe presses on a leg press, and so on. This means most of the calf movements that the everyday lifter does are going to target the gastroc.
However, the soleus is hit when you extend the ankle with the knees bent. This means to get full calf development, you have to not only do your standing calf exercises, but some sort of seated one, too. Adding seated barbell calf raises to the mix will ensure not only bigger, but more well-developed calves.
No Special Equipment Needed
The obvious benefit to doing seated barbell calf raises in the seated position is that you need no special equipment. Normally to perform seated calf raises, you need a special apparatus. However, with this exercise, all you need is a barbell, bench or box to sit on, and (preferably) a block of some sort to place the balls of your feet.
Use Improved Range of Motion
While barbell calf raises allow you to work your lower leg anywhere, you can run into issues with the standing version, as you can need a bit of balance to do them off a block high enough to ensure proper range of motion (ROM). And if you do them off the floor, you’ll have better balance, but limited ROM. This is a non-issue with the seated variation, though. Because you’re sitting down, there’s no need to keep yourself steady. Just load up the barbell, get into position, and get to work.
Ways to Add Comfort to Seated Barbell Calf Raises
It doesn’t matter how tough you are, this exercise is going to hurt your legs. You can minimize this discomfort by wrapping a towel or pad around the bar to cushion it a little from digging deep into your quads. Some also find it a little more comfortable to use an EZ curl bar instead of a straight bar, placing their knees in the upside down bends of the bar.
Though it’s rare, that doesn’t mean this exercise isn’t effective. In fact, it might be one of the best exercises you’re not currently doing. Adding it to your routine not only ensures more well-rounded calf development, but that you’ll be able to use a full range of motion, too. Don’t forget to wrap a towel or pad around the bar for comfort, or even try using an EZ curl bar. Incorporate it into your workout and in as little as just a few weeks, you should be seeing all new growth.