How To Do The Standing Barbell Calf Raise (Simple Home Workouts)

Last Updated on August 14, 2022 by TJ Daniels, Certified Personal Trainer

Getting strong calves with plenty of muscle can take effort, but if you are willing to put the time and effort in then you will be able to reap the awards in no time.

How To Do The Standing Barbell Calf Raise (Simple Home Workouts)

The calf muscle is made up of two main muscles known as the gastrocnemius and the soleus. In order to promote calf muscle growth, you need to work both of these muscles.

However, a lot of people simply don’t have the time or money to go to the gym or invest in gym equipment, but that doesn’t mean that you have to miss out on training.

Training your calf muscles can be easy as many of these exercises can be done at home with or without equipment depending on your preference and resources.

In this guide, we’ll be taking you through everything you need to know about the standing barbell calf raise and other calf raises that can easily be done in the home.

This allows you to make up your mind on which kind of calf raise is best for you, so you can build your muscle in a way that is comfortable and suitable for you. 

Standing Barbell Calf Raise

To complete the standing barbell calf raise, you will need to make sure that you have the space needed within a squat rack. Most gyms will have this, but you can also set one up in the comfort of your own home.

To start this exercise, you need to make sure that you are standing straight with the barbell held either behind or in front of you.

Lift your heels slowly as you would in any other calf-related exercise. 

Having a squat rack is important as this ensures that you are steady and will help alleviate the weight of the barbell. 

It’s essential that you keep your body straight throughout this exercise. This not only reduces the risk of pain or injury, but will ensure that your calf muscles are being worked when you raise your heels. 

Other Calf Raises That You Can Do without A Machine

If you decide that a standing barbell calf raise isn’t for you, there are other calf raises that you should consider trying. Here are the best calf raises that you can do without a machine. 

Donkey Calf Raises

First, donkey calf raises are a popular choice because they can easily be achieved within your home and are simple to do. 

The best place to start is by acquiring a wooden plank and chair or bench. Put the plank on the floor and stand beside the plank, making sure that your toes are lightly sitting on the plank while your heels are firmly on the floor. 

Lean yourself forward slowly and place your lower arms on the bench before raising your heels. This will work your calf muscles, and you should feel that strain. 

There is a lot of versatility with this exercise meaning that you can change your position slightly to target certain areas of the calf muscle. 

Dumbbell Seated Calf Raise

The second option is the dumbbell seated calf raise. As you can guess from the title, it will require you to have your own weight plates. 

To get started, sit down on a bench while placing the weight plates on the floor next to you, placing your feet on top of the weight plates. It’s always best to start with a lighter weight first and then build up the weight as you become more comfortable and experienced. 

Place another two plates on your lap and position your hands on top of them to keep them in place. Lift your heels while keeping the weight plates on your lap, and you should feel the tightness in your calf muscle as it is being worked. 

Seated Barbell Calf Raise

A similar exercise to the dumbbell seated calf raise is the seated barbell calf raise. This calf raise works in the same way, but you need to use a barbell instead of weight plates.

Position the bar and put it on the floor in front of you around 12 inches away from the bench. 

Your feet should be slightly apart and placed on top of the bar before positioning the barbell on your lap approximately three inches from the knee. 

Lift your heels while keeping the barbell in place and this will begin to work the calf muscle. The barbell will provide resistance, so make sure that you are choosing a weight that is suitable for your skill level. 

This is one of the best ways to do a calf raise without a machine as it provides some of the most effective results. 

Standing Dumbbell Calf Raise

Lastly, the standing dumbbell calf raise is another suitable option and a great one for those who want that extra bit of resistance when doing their calf raises.

What is great about the standing dumbbell calf raise is that it is one of the easiest exercises on this list but is still very effective.

Put yourself in the starting position which is standing with your feet apart and your arms straight down your sides while holding dumbbells in each hand.

Lift your heels slowly until you are standing on your toes and then slowly place your heels back on the ground. 

The higher you lift your heels, the more you will notice that your calf muscles are being worked as they will become tightened. 

It’s important that you make sure that your arms stay down during the exercise and resist the urge to lift them. This is because the dumbbells are providing more resistance as you raise your heels.

Always start with lighter dumbbells before progressing to heavier weights, especially if you have never done this exercise before. 

Frequently Asked Questions

How Do You Do A Standing Calf Raise With A Barbell?

Doing a standing calf raise with a barbell is easy as you simply need to stand upright with the barbell supporting your upper back. Raise your heels from the floor while your toes are pointing forward and contract your calves before slowly returning to your starting position. 

Can I Do Calf Raises On Flat Ground?

The easiest form of calf raises that you can do is on flat ground. The great thing about calf raises is that you don’t necessarily need equipment if you don’t have any on hand. That being said, you will see results faster if you do have equipment as it adds extra resistance and builds up your strength. 

Will Calf Raises Make My Calves Bigger?

One of the benefits that calf raises have is that they can help make your calves bigger. This is because they work the gastrocnemius which is the largest muscle in the calf. Therefore, calf raises are a great addition to any regime. 


In conclusion, calf raises can be done at the gym or in the home, and are one of the best ways to build muscle in your calves.

Whether you are wanting to alternate which muscles you are targeting, or specifically want to work on your calves only, they are an integral part of your workout that can make a big difference in the long run. 

Regardless of what your goal or reason is for starting a fitness program, make sure you are mixing in some leg and calf workouts to stay balanced.

TJ Daniels, Certified Personal Trainer
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