Calf Strengthening Exercises

by PhysioAdvisor Staff

Exercises > Strengthening (Muscles) > Calf Strengthening Exercises

The following calf strengthening exercises are designed to improve strength of the calf muscles (figure 1). You should discuss the suitability of these calf exercises with your physiotherapist prior to beginning them. Generally, they should only be performed provided they do not cause or increase pain.

Calf Anatomy

Figure 1 – Calf Anatomy

Begin with the basic calf strengthening exercise. Once this is too easy, progress to the intermediate calf strengthening exercises and eventually the advanced calf exercises.


Calf Strengthening – Basic Calf Exercise

To begin with, the following basic calf strengthening exercise should be performed approximately 10 times, 3 times daily. As your calf strength improves, the exercise can be progressed by gradually increasing the repetitions and resistance provided it does not cause or increase pain.

Resistance Band Calf Strengthening

Begin this calf strengthening exercise with a resistance band around your foot as demonstrated and your foot and ankle held up towards your head (figure 2). Slowly move your foot and ankle down against the resistance band as far as possible and comfortable without pain, tightening your calf muscle. Slowly return back to the starting position. Repeat 10 times on each side provided the exercise is pain free.

Calf Exercises - Resistance Band Calf Strengthening

Figure 2 – Resistance Band Calf Strengthening (left calf)


Calf Strengthening – Intermediate Calf Exercises

The following intermediate calf strengthening exercises should generally be performed 1 – 3 times per week provided they do not cause or increase pain. Ideally they should not be performed on consecutive days, to allow muscle recovery. As your calf strength improves, the calf exercises can be progressed by gradually increasing the repetitions and resistance provided they do not  cause or increase pain.

Generally you should perform only 1 or 2 of the following calf exercises, provided they are pain free, beginning with Calf Raises (figure 3). Once this calf strengthening exercise is too easy, progress to the next exercise Calf Raises Over Step (figure 4) and so on.

Calf Raises

Begin this calf strengthening exercise standing at a bench or chair for balance. Keep your feet shoulder width apart and facing forwards (figure 3). Slowly move up onto your toes, raising your heels as far as possible and comfortable without pain, tightening your calf muscles. Then slowly lower back down. Perform 3 sets of 10 repetitions provided the exercise is pain free.

Calf Exercises - Calf Raises

Figure 3 – Calf Raises

Calf Raises Over Step

Begin this calf strengthening exercise standing with your heels dropped below the level of a step as demonstrated (figure 4). Ensure you have something to hold onto for balance. Slowly move up onto your toes, raising your heels as far as possible and comfortable without pain, tightening your calf muscles. Then slowly lower back down. Perform 3 sets of 10 repetitions provided the exercise is pain free.

Calf Exercises - Calf Raises Over Step

Figure 4 –Calf Raises Over Step



Physiotherapy Products for Calf Exercises & Rehabilitation

To purchase physiotherapy products to assist with calf exercises and rehabilitation click on one of the above links or visit the PhysioAdvisor Shop.


Physiotherapy Exercises

Other Calf Exercises


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