Of all of the waste of time exercises that people do in the gym, calf raises and all of its iterations, are probably the worst of all of these exercises. And of all the machine-based exercises, no other machines are as much of a waste of space, iron and cable as the various calf raise machines.

Stop doing calf raises. Just don’t do them.

In the abstract, in isolation, the calf muscle may be getting stronger. But this strength gain is meaningless because it there is little, if any, transfer to improving movement or actual function. The goal should be to train movements, not muscles.

The calf doesn’t work in isolation to produce any movement that we make, so there is no reason to perform an exercise that isolates the calf muscle, insulates it from the other muscles that it works with to produce functional movement. There is no reason to train any muscle in isolation.

The calf raise is the biceps curl for the legs. There’s an old saying they use in golf that says, “Drive for show, putt for dough.” When it comes to leg training we can adapt it too, “Calf raises for show, squat and lunge for dough.”

Walk into any gym, anywhere and you will see plenty of people doing all kinds of leg raises, but you rarely see the squat and lunge being performed, let alone performed correctly. And for goodness sake, do not superset calf raises with other purposeful exercises like plyometric jumps or squats and lunges.

The calf raise is an less-than-ordinary exercise that should be consigned to the scrap heap of exercises, exercises from a by-gone era when we just didn’t know any better.


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