I'm a pretty skinny guy, and I've been weight lifting, working out, etc, and I've noticed some results with my upper body, but I'm as chicken-legged as ever.

So, what are some good, rather simple home exercises to work out the Calve muscles?

  • Not to discourage you from doing calf exercises but if you are predisposed to skinny legs, it is extremely difficult to put size on you calves. If you have a solid training plan, stick to it. Doing "extra" work while you are away from the gym will only hurt your overall performance because in a good program it's your resting time that's most important. Doing extra, will hurt your results. If you are taking a more haphazard approach and are unhappy with the results, find a better plan.
    – matt
    Apr 1, 2011 at 1:06
  • Naw, I've got a regular schedule, I just needed some work outs for when I can't get to the gym. Apr 1, 2011 at 3:57
  • Nice. The answer you accepted is a good one.
    – matt
    Apr 1, 2011 at 12:04

4 Answers 4


You can do standing calf raises by going on your tip-toes and then flat. You can do them on the floor or for a greater extension use stairs to get a deeper flex going down (i.e. heel lower than toes). You can carry dumbbells but for stability and safety reasons, I would suggest doing those on flat ground and not on a step.

enter image description here

  • How come you recommend against doing it on a step, because he is a "beginner" doing this exercise? Or in general, because of risk of injury? Mar 29, 2011 at 6:47
  • I recommend not doing them on a step with dumbbells because anybody can risk injury if you lose control when you flex down. The standing calf raise machine has handle bars on it to hang on to. The step is so that you can lower your heel relative to your toes whereas the ground stops you from doing that. If you don't like to do calf raises like that, a flat surface is sufficient.
    – Rhea
    Mar 29, 2011 at 13:14
  • 1
    You can always start on a smaller 2"-4" platform.
    – Simurr
    Mar 30, 2011 at 5:31
  • Doing calf raises without elevation won't build any mass. Calves are accustomed to hours of work per day. Walking, running, and climbing stairs all use the medium range of motion. You are better off gaining mass by exercising the extremas by doing calf raises on a platform. Source: Arnold Schwarzenegger in The New Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding.
    – JoJo
    Apr 12, 2011 at 7:24

You can also do a seated calf rise: http://www.shapefit.com/calf-exercises-barbell-seated-calf-raises.html

you can substitute bands for the bark or any weight on your legs. It sounds like you're focused on your legs and not just the calve muscles...which makes sense, since isolating a single muscle isn't always the best approach (since various muscles work together). What I would really recommend is doing squat exercises, either with or without weights.

Here's a link to a body weight squat example: http://doubleyourgains.com/how-to-do-bodyweight-squats-and-hindu-squats

and a pic of a prisoner squat: enter image description here


As unpleasant as they are, good old squats are about as good a way to grow your legs as anything.

Calf raises are not likely to make your calves bigger if you're predisposed to skinny legs. Of course, if you are so predisposed, you're going to be at least partially out of luck. But the only time in my life I haven't had chicken legs is my senior year of high school when I was doing lots of squats, stair running, running up the stupidly steep hill by my school, etc. And even then my biceps were almost as big as my calves.

So the answer may just be lots of squats and weighted calf-raises.


I also had small calves at one point. I started walking around as if doing calf raises to make my muscles work more. On long walks I usually do this until they heat up, then repeat after then cool down. I avoid taking them to the point where they are painful; feeling like I've had a good workout is sufficient.

Before I started this I could palm my calf and nearly touch my tibia with both my thumb and middle finger; these days I can barely clear the muscle with my hand.

Unfortunately since I started this without guidance, I don't know the potential for overworking the muscle.

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