Gastrocnemius & Foot position

Big, bulging, diamond-shaped calves are a bloody damn impressive sight to behold. They can bring an individual’s physique to a whole new level. Yet, any bodybuilder knows that calves are one of the most stubborn body parts to grow. But what if there’s something you can do to help take them to a new level? Well, there very well might be, and it’s simple: alternating your foot position on heel raises.

Researchers looked at how foot placement during a heel raise affects the different heads of the gastrocnemius (your large calf muscle). They found that pointing your toes inward (heels turned out) during a heel raise works your inside gastrocnemius more, and having your toes point outward (heels turned in) targets the outside gastrocnemius.

So what does this mean for a bodybuilder? Change it up! Using different foot positions should be part of your routine when it comes to training the calves. Alternate your feet placement, with toes pointed in, out or straight. This can be done on any heel-raise exercise, standing or seated.
Also, consider doing higher reps (about 20) on seated calf raises and lower reps on standing calf raises (about 8 to 12 reps). The reason for this is that seated calf raises target a different area of the calf, and it responds better to higher reps.


Riemann BL, Limbaugh GK, Eitner JD, LeFavi RG. Medial and lateral gastrocnemius activation differences during heel-raise exercise with three different foot positions. J Strength Cond Res. 2011;25:634-639.

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