Seated or standing calf raises are perhaps the most popular exercises for anyone looking to add size and strength to their calf muscles. If you have the free space and the budget, a machine could be useful in your home or garage gym. But what is the best calf raise machine for sale?
Our picks for the best calf raise machine
Seated Calf Raise Machines
Seated versions are the most common that you will see for sale or in commercial gyms. These normally come with a padded seat, with another padded area that rests on top of your thighs. This is where the resistance is loaded.
Standing Calf Raise Machines
Standing versions of calf raise machines are pretty rare. There are very few pure standing calf raise machines in existence. When you here this term, people are like referring to a leverage squat machine, or something else squat related that allows the resistance weight to be put on the back/shoulder area.
What to look for
When you are looking into buying a calf machine, there are a handful of things you always want to consider before purchase. Most of these considerations are personal to you and they help you decide which equipment is best for you. They are:
- Resistance Type
How much money are you willing to spend on a calf machine? Your finances are totally personal to you, so deciding what you can afford is personal. Calf machines are hardly the most expensive equipment out there, but they still require a significant financial commitment.
Remember to factor in the cost of shipping when looking at prices. While some companies will offer free shipping, not all do and it can be very pricey to ship a heavy machine to your house.
This usually only applies to people with very strong lower bodies. Every machine has a limit in terms of how much weight it can hold. Make sure the equipment you are looking at has the capacity to hold at least a little bit more weight than you are capable of lifting.
Where are you going to put the equipment. If it is going in your garage or home gym, have you measured out the space needed to fit it in? Always allow yourself a little extra room around the machine for safety and to load plates on.
If you are the only person using your machine, adjustability might not be important as long as it fits you. However, if family, friends, or clients will be using it, you will want to adjust quickly and easily. Adjustability is particularly important if you are either very tall or very short compared to the average person.
Most likely you will be looking for plate loaded machines. Calf raise machines that offer machine resistance are pretty rare and significantly more expensive. If you already have barbells and weight plates, a plate loaded machine shouldn't be a problem.
Again, a seated calf raise machine can be a pretty pricey purchase, so you'll want to make sure you are getting a good product. Big machines can falter, especially if they are shipped from across the country and used frequently. A good warranty can help to give you piece of mind.
Calf Raise Technique
Seated calf raises may seem simple compared to more complex exercises, but it is still important to use proper technique when using the equipment. The video below demonstrates correct form for seated calf raises.
To perform the lift, sit down on the bench seat and have good, upright posture. You place the balls of your feet on the raised foot platform. Make sure the thigh pad is at the proper height for you. You then press up with you heels to raise up the pad and then unlock it. You then lower it and repeat for the desired number of reps. When finished, lock the pad back into position.
Safety is important and not to be overlooked, especially if you are working out on your own at home. Follow any safety precautions in the owner's manual and make sure the equipment is put together securely. Frequently re-check the equipment to make sure everything is tight where it needs to be and perform all preventative maintenance.
Most calf raise machines just aren't built to allow you to do many other exercises. You can, however, alter your set up to target your calves in different ways. Varying up your stance is one way to do this. You can sit with a narrow or wide stance, for example.
Luckily, plate loaded machines make it pretty easy to vary the resistance. You can quickly add or remove weight plates to make it harder or easier. You can also change the tempo of the lift. For instance, a slow eccentric - lowering - followed an explosive concentric - raising - action.
There are a few ways you can do calf raises without a machine, although they require you to be more creative than if you had access to a machine. You can try it out with the following resistance:
- Smith Machine
You can absolutely do calf raises or presses without a machine, but they are much more challenging than some other body parts. When holding weight by your side or on your back, it is difficult to balance on your toes. That is why machines are so popular.
Our Final Recommendation
The Atlas Seated Calf Raise Machine Leg Unit Adjustable
The Atlas machine is the best overall value and has everything most people would need in a calf raise machine for their home or garage gym.
The machine is both seated and adjustable. The knee pads can be adjusted to 5 different positions up and down and 3 different positions forward and back.
It also comes with olympic adapter plates, which means you can load either 1" or 2" weight plates. It is solidly made with 2 x 3 main support frames and it weighs in at 76 pounds.
Calves are an important body part that shouldn't be overlooked and a dedicated machine is a great way to finish off your leg training. The best calf raise machine for you depends on budget, free space, and goals.