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Single Leg Calf Raises

What Is A Single Leg Calf Raise?

How To Do Single Leg Calf Raises

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Single leg calf raises are a unilateral calf exercise that targets one leg at a time, making them an effective way to correct muscle imbalances and strengthen the calves, ankles, and feet against injury. This intermediate level exercise is a challenging choice of calf raise that requires balance, co-ordination, and core stability. Single leg calf raises can be done as a bodyweight movement or with extra weight by holding dumbbells.

There are two major muscle groups in the calves, but it's also important to strengthen the smaller muscles and connective tissue around the feet and ankles. Single leg calf raises work both muscles in the calf (the gastrocnemius and the soleus), and also strengthen the feet, toes, and ankles, helping to improve stability.

Single leg calf raises can be done with dumbbells, but it's best to build up your strength and balance in this exercise by mastering bodyweight single leg calf raises first. Once you are confident with the technique, co-ordination, and balance, you could add external load.

Training calves with single leg calf raises will translate into important movement patterns like running, plyometrics, and any unilateral strength exercise (like lunges and Bulgarian split squats).

Check out some other calf raise variations: Calf raises, Seated calf raises, Leg press seated calf raises

Commonly Asked Questions About Single Leg Calf Raises

Is It Better To Do Single Calf Raises?

Both single calf raises and bilateral calf raises are excellent exercises with different benefits. Single leg calf raises help to target imbalances between the two calves and improve stability as well as strength. Normal calf raises allow the calves to be exposed to heavier loads which can increase strength and muscle gains. Try including both in your workouts!

How Do You Do A Single Leg Calf Raise?

Single leg calf raises can be done standing on the floor, or on a step, with or without dumbbells. Cross one leg behind the other to balance on the front leg, then press up onto the toes and lower the heel back down again.

What Weight For Single Leg Calf Raises?

It’s best to start off doing single leg calf raises as a bodyweight exercise until you are confident with the technique and balance required. You can then add weight by holding a light dumbbell in each hand. Start with 10kg dumbbells and only go heavier when you can complete your reps with good form.

Single Leg Calf Raise Tips

  • Keep your core braced and head up throughout the movement.

  • Do bodyweight only single leg calf raises until you are confident with the technique.

  • Once you can do sets of bodyweight single leg calf raises with good form, consider adding weight by holding dumbbells.

  • To achieve more range of movement, you can stand on a step and drop the heel of the working leg below the level of the step.

How To Do Single Leg Calf Raises

  1. Stand with your feet hip-width distance apart, either on the floor or with your heels on the edge of a step or stable platform.

  2. Cross your left foot behind your right ankle, then find your centre of balance over your right foot.

  3. Brace your core and keep your eyes forward as you slowly raise your right heel off the floor or step.

  4. Pause at the top before lowering back to the starting position, or taking your heel below the step.

  5. Lower both heels until you feel a stretch in the calves, then press into the balls of your feet to lift onto your toes.

  6. Finish your reps and change legs to perform your reps on the other side.

  7. If you are using dumbbells or kettlebells, hold them by the sides of your hips using a natural grip.

If you’re not sure if any of the above exercises are suitable for you, please consult your doctor before you start it. Need guidance on how to perform the exercise? Ask a personal trainer at your gym.