Calf Raise Leg Press

Start Position
End Position

Starting position:

  1. Sit down and place feet onto the designated footpad of the machine with feet shoulder width apart.
  2. Allow the heels to hang down from the designated footpad, maintaining the balls of the feet in direct contact with the pad.
  3. Release the safety latch and push the resistance upward, extending the knees while keeping a slight bend in them.

Upward movement/concentric phase:

  1. Push the footpad with the balls of your feet.

Downward movement/eccentric phase:

    1. In a controlled fashion, slowly allow the your ankles to dorsiflex, bringing the footpad back to starting position.
Do not hold your breath. Exhale during the concentric/phase phase and inhale during the eccentric/lowering phase.


Exercise Data

  • Primary Muscles: Gastrocnemius, soleus
  • Synergists: Peroneus longus, peroneus brevis, plantaris, flexor digitorum longus, flexor hallucis longus, tibialis posterior
  • Stabilizers: Tibialis anterior
  • Type: Strength, hypertrophy, muscular endurance
  • Mechanics: Plantar flexion
  • Equipment: Leg press machine
  • Lever: 3rd class lever
  • Level: Beginner to advanced
  • FAQ'S & FACTS ABOUT Calf Raise Leg Press

    What Is A Leg Press Calf Raise?

    A leg press calf raise is a resistance exercise, which targets the calf muscles. This exercise is performed at a leg press machine pushing off of the bottom of the footpad.

    The concentric portion of the lift is plantar flexion. The eccentric portion is dorsiflexion as the resistance is lowered.

    The purpose of the leg press calf raise is to strengthen and develop the gastrocnemius and soleus muscles.

    Why Do A Leg Press Calf Raise?

    Leg press calf raises strengthen and develop the calf muscles, the gastrocnemius and soleus. Performing calf raises at the leg press machine allows the lifter to execute plantar flexion from a different angle. In addition, the leg press calf raise allows the lifter to perform calf raises with legs extended without the axial loading associated with standing calf raise or pressure on the lower back associated with the donkey calf raise.

    Leg press calf raises promotes the aesthetics of the calf muscles as the gastrocnemius make up a significant portion of the backside of the lower leg.

    In addition to serving as an exercise that enhances the aesthetics of the legs, leg press calf raises also complement weightlifting and sport performance.

    Anatomy Of A Leg Press Calf Raise

    The gastrocnemius consists of two muscles bellies, a left and right one, that are superficial on the upper region of the posterior lower leg. Its origin is located at the medial and lateral condyles of the femur on both sides of the knee for each muscle belly. The two muscle bellies form one common tendon at its insertion, located at the calcaneus (heel bone) via the calcaneal tendon (also referred to as the Achilles tendon). The gastrocnemius plantar flexes the ankle when the knee is extended as with the leg press calf raise. Because it also crosses the knee joint, the gastrocnemius can also flex the knee when the foot is dorsiflexed.

    The soleus lies underneath the gastrocnemius. Its origin is located at the upper ends of the tibia and fibula and interosseous membrane. It shares the same insertion as the gastrocnemius, forming the Achilles tendon into the heel bone. The soleus plantar flexes the foot and is an important postural muscle during walking, running and dancing.

    The peroneus longus and brevis are located on the lateral side of the lower leg along the fibula bone. The peroneus longus is superficial and its origin is located at the upper region of the lateral fibula. The muscle belly ends above the ankle and forms a long tendon that runs under the foot and inserts into the first metatarsal (behind the big toe) and medial cuneiform. The peroneus longus plantar flexes and everts the foot. It also plays an important role in foot stabilization when standing. The peroneus brevis lies underneath the peroneus longus. Its origin is located at the distal fibula shaft with a muscle belly that runs lower than the peroneus longus. Its tendon runs behind the lateral malleolus (visible “ankle bone”) to insert on the proximal end of the fifth metatarsal (behind the “pinky” toe).

    The plantaris is a small muscle that some individuals may not possess. Its origin is located at the posterior femur above the lateral condyle. Its insertion is located at the calcaneus (heel bone) via a long, thin tendon that also forms the Achilles tendon. The plantaris assists in knee flexion and plantar flexion.

    The flexor digitorum longus is a long, narrow muscle that runs downward behind the lower leg. Its origin is located on the posterior side of the tibia. Its tendon runs behind the medial malleolus (visible “ankle bone” on the inside of the ankle), splits, and inserts into the distal phalanges of toes 2-5 (every toe except the “big toe”). As the name as the muscle indicates, the flexor digitorum longus flexes the toes as well as plantar flexes and inverts the ankle.

    The origin of the flexor hallucis longus is located half way down the fibula and interosseous membrane. Its tendon runs under the foot with its insertion located at the distal phalanx of the toe. The flexor hallucis longus plantar flexes and inverts the ankle. It flexes the big toes. It is an important muscle in the “push off” phase of walking.

    The tibialis posterior is a thick muscle deep to the soleus. Its origin is located at the upper region of the tibia and fibula. Its tendon passes behind the medial malleolus and under the arch of the foot, inserting into tarsal bones and metatarsals 2-4. The tibialis posterior is an important muscle that stabilizes the arch of the foot. It is particularly important for people with flat feet to strengthen this muscle. The tibialis posterior plantar flexes and inverts the ankle.

    The tibialis anterior, a dorsiflexor that also inverts the ankle, helps stabilize the arch of the foot and stabilizes the ankle joint during this exercise.

    Variations Of A Leg Press Calf Raise

    Seated calf raise, standing calf raise, donkey calf raise, Smith machine calf raise.

    How To Improve Your Leg Press Calf Raise

    Performing seated calf and standing calf raises will place greater stress and activation on the calf muscles compared to the leg press calf raises as the load is placed directly above the ankle joint. Although leg press calf raises help develop the calves, incorporating additional exercises in your calf regimen optimizes the strength and development of the calf muscles.

    Focus on the concentric portion of the contraction, concentrating on “squeezing” as the ankles plantar flex (as you push the foot pad away).

    Emphasis on eccentric contractions, prolonging the eccentric portion of the contraction, may also be incorporated in a training program focused on increasing strength. This should be implemented accordingly and with adequate muscle recovery as eccentric contractions cause substantial damage to muscle tissue.

    It’s important to note that your repetition and set volume will depend on your goals (e.g. strength, hypertrophy, muscular endurance). It is also important to allow adequate recovery days in between back and shoulder training days to allow muscles to repair.

    Common Mistakes When Doing A Leg Press Calf Raise

    Fully extending/locking the knees can place negative stress on the knee joint. Keeping a slight bend in the knee during this exercise can help protect the knee joint.

    Using momentum to lift the weight (e.g. bouncing at the bottom of the movement) minimizes the potential of force production of the involved muscles and can increase the risk for injury. It is important that both the eccentric and concentric phases of the exercise are controlled.

    Injuries Or Ailments & Their Effects Regarding Leg Press Calf Raises

    If the lifter has a compromised range of motion with the ankle joint and/or performs this exercise incorrectly, this exercise can increase the risk of injury and/or exacerbate a previous injury.

    If proper technique and recovery are not adhered to, ankle, Achilles tendon, and/or knee injuries may occur.