If you want trained and toned calves you need to do calf raises. The good news is, you can do them very well with resistance bands without any additional equipment at home.
In the first part of this article, we will show you how to execute a calf raise with a resistance band properly and in the second part, you find some really nice alternative ways to do this exercise to either go lighter or harder on it to really work your calves the way you need it.
Calf Raises With Resistance Band
Let’s jump right into how you do the basic calf raise with resistance bands.
Band VS Bodyweight/Weights
Doing your calf raises with a resistance band gives you several advantages over doing them with your bodyweight only or adding free weights.
- Follow the natural strength curve of your muscle! The resistance of a band will always increase the more you stretch it and that’s also the natural strength curve of your muscle, having the most power in the full contraction. With weights, you often fatigue in the expanded part of your muscle without fully fatiguing the whole muscle.
- Overload at home! if you do this exercise at home, you normally don’t have many dumbbells or can only do this with your body weight – a resistance band will give you smooth ways to add more resistance.
There are also more reasons to favor resistance bands over traditional free weights, like reducing the stress on your joints, getting more peak contraction, and many more. But we’re talking here about doing a calf raise, so if you’re interested in background info about what benefits resistance bands give you in strength training and bodybuilding, click the corresponding link.
How To Calf Raises The Right Way
Calf Raises are basically raising your heel, that’s the main purpose and also the main movement you will do in this exercise.
You will push through the balls of your foot (or feet) and raise your heel until you stand on your toes using your calves.
Yes, this exercise is really easy and there’s not much you can do wrong, but there are some things I want you to focus on to do your calf raises the right way.
If you use tube style bands with handles, you want to take the handles and hold them up, with loop style bands you can wrap the band behind your neck and holed them in front of your chest.
Important Do’s & Don’ts!!!
⓵ Keep The Band Stretched! The movement with calf raises is not very far so it’s important that you already have a good stretch in the resistance band at the beginning of the motion when your foot is on the ground. You want to add as much resistance as possible and very likely need a stronger band for this exercise to really feel your calves.
⓶ Press Toes! In the thinking progress you want to focus on pressing through your heel to give the calves as much contraction as possible and let them do the job. Imagine you want to push the top side of your foot forward and not raising up as high as you can. Some people then tend to use the hips as well, what you don’t want.
⓷ Shoulder Width! Doesn’t sound like a big thing but many people keep their legs together when doing the calf raises both-legged. You want to set your feet shoulder-width apart or, when doing them uni-sided, take care that you will have your leg under the shoulder to press int he right direction and hit the whole muscle.
⓸ Attachment Point! Always attach the band under your toes and nowhere else. When you raise your heels up there’s a good chance that the band will slip and might hit you in the back or anything.
Stand with your toes on the band, this is the part that will not leave the ground and you can be sure that the resistance band is fixed through your calf raises, no matter if you do this uni-sided or with both legs at the same time.
Alternative Ways To Calf Raise With Resistance Bands
With every version of an exercise, you will find people that really like it and others that don’t like it that much. If you have problems with the traditional way of doing the calf raise as shown above (while executing it the right way), you might want to try one of the alternative ways.
Door Attachment – if you have problems or concerns with the band attached under your foot and the feeling that it might slip so you can’t fully focus on the calf raises, you might want to try this alternative way with the band attached at the bottom of a door with a door anchor.
This variation provides more stability and can be a good alternative.
Floor Sitting Calf Raises – this variation is done on the floor and you will wrap the band around your toes as well and then press your toes while holding the band in your hands. This alternative can be nice for you if you have problems doing enough regular calf raises with your body weight to make a full set.
Chair Sitting Calf Raises – this is an alternative to get you a larger range of motion with something under your feet when you can’t do this standing. If you don’t have a box you can stand on but still want a larger range-of-motion with your calf raises you can perform it this way without the risk of slipping and falling.
Get Your Pump
So, you do feel that the above variations will not get your calves worked to the ground? Here’s how to overload calf raises even more to get as much resistance as you need.
Get On A Box! Find stairs or a solid box where you can step on with just the front part of your foot and you will be able to lower your feet more and get a larger range-of-motion and a lot more work for your calves to do.
The challenging thing here is to not raise the tip of your foot where you still stand on the resistance band. This version takes some practice but will be a game changer, even without added resistance.
Single Legged! At some point you will get to the point where adding a stronger band will get you into trouble, especially with loop style bands that get thicker and thicker with more resistance. This is the point where you fully stand on the band and the risk of slipping gets higher.
This is the point where you should switch it up and do your calf raises uni-legged and drop to a lighter resistance band. The additional weight from your body will give you a lot stronger contraction and work your calves as much as you need it.