Variations of calf raises are among the most popular types of exercise for the calves, but if you don't have a dedicated machine, you might struggle to get much benefit from them.
Calf raise blocks can help with that, though, as they allow you to do raises and work your muscles through a greater range of motion, making them a good addition to any garage or home gym.
Our choice for best calf raise blocks for sale
Why you need a calf raise block
Can't you just use calf raises on a flat surface or find some other short platform to use? You absolutely can, but that may or may not be the best option for you.
Blocks allow you to perform calf raises with a much greater range of motion than if you just used a flat surface. This allows you to work all of the gastrocnemius and soleus muscles in the calf area. Can't you step on another small platform or bumper plates?
The nice thing about a calf raise block is that it is specifically designed to be used for calf raises. So while you might be able to try stepping on bumper weight plates or some step up platform, you can never really trust them to remained balance and be able to support your weight plus the weight on the dummbells or barbell you are using.
What to look for in a calf raise block
When you are shopping for a block, there are a few things you want to consider. The following help you to decide which brand and product is best for you:
Size matters for both storage purposes and for available foot space. You will want to make sure your block is big enough to feet both feet on with a comfortable stance, otherwise you will be limited to single leg exercise. Most products are designed for the majority of people to fit both feet on, but you might want to measure your stance if you are built particularly wide.
This shouldn't be a concern for most people. Because you are likely looking at a reinforced steal item, the weight capacity will likely be up to 1000 pounds or more, which is plenty for most people. Just remember the capacity includes your body weight and any external resistance, like a barbell.
If the block can be used in other exercises, that is always a plus. Since you are looking at a relatively inexpensive piece of equipment, it's not a big deal if it can only do one thing, as long as it can do it well.
Are you going to be carrying this in your bag to a commercial gym or fitness center? If so, you will want a relatively light and compact item, even if you are only using it once or twice per week. If this is for a home gym, then this obviously isn't a big deal.
How to use
Luckily, these are among the easiest pieces of equipment that you can buy. You simply do your calf raises with the balls of your foot or feet on the platform. It's as simple as that and it works whether you are doing bodyweight, dumbbell, or barbell calf raises, as long as the weight capacity is strong enough.
The video below demonstrates a standing body weight calf raise using a block and holding a pole for balance. You can see the extra range of motion the demonstrator is able use because of the block.
Depending on what equipment you have available in your gym, a block can help you perform raises with any of the following as resistance:
- Smith machine
- Resistance band
If you have never done calf raises on a raised platform like this, it will definitely take some time to adjust. It might especially be challenging at first for free weight exercises. Once you get the hang of it, though, you will find it is a much better option than a flat surface or trying to create your own with random items on the gym floor.
SF Calf Block
The SF brand calf block is easily the best value around, as it currently comes in at less than $60, including shipping. It is a simple tool, that you can't really use for anything else, but it is great at what it does.
It is one solid piece, welded together and it heavy duty with a 1,000 pound capacity. This includes user weight plus resistance, but that should cover pretty much everyone.
Can you take it to the gym with you? Yes, but it wouldn't be the easiest thing to hall around. It weighs in at about 12 pounds and is a little over 4 inches tall by 22 inches long and 14 inches high. It might not be bad to carry in for special occasions, but you probably don't want to keep it in your gym bag daily.
It would be much better for a home or garage gym or if you are a gym owner who wants to purchase one for use at your facility. Overall, the SF model is the best value around for a pure calf raise block.
Body Solid SCB26 Power Lift Squat and Calf Block Platform
The Body Solid calf block isn't as good of a value as the SF model, but it does come with the ability to double as a squat platform.
It is also very well made with steel and comes with a massive 2,000 capacity that nobody should be able to break. It also comes with a lifetime warranty.
The item is 18 inches wide by 6.5 inches tall and it weighs in at around 30 pounds. That might be doable for some to haul in a gym bag, but it is probably too big of a hassle for most people to worry about.
If you are looking for a pure calf block, then the SF would probably be your best but. If you like the idea of a combination squat platform with a calf block, then the Body Solid SCB26 is the choice for you.