If I'm standing to do upper body work, am I also working my legs (specifically calves)? Thank you.

  • this is the OP (with a real account).This is a lovely and very complete answer, but sadly anything that uses my calves deliberately hurts. My physical therapist has ruled out any of the traditional approaches to tendonitis and is pursuing a theory that the tendonitis is being caused by my tight calves, which in turn is being caused by something tight farther up the chain. The idea now is to avoid straining the calf muscles while I work on the problem area. I wish I could take your advice. In the meantime, I am just trying to find ways to exercise that won't make things worse.
    – Anna
    Sep 25, 2021 at 11:32
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    Sep 27, 2021 at 11:14

2 Answers 2


The lower body muscles will be very slightly active in order to maintain balance in any standing exercise, however the calf muscles are very strong and the calf loading involved in a standing upper body exercise will be negligible compared to the loading that would occur in a deliberate calf exercise.

In short, it's almost certainly fine, but if trying to avoid calf loading due to injury, just use pain as a guide. If and only if a standing exercise causes you calf or heel pain, then try to find a seated substitute exercise instead.


In a way, you work them isometrically if you can maintain a good “form”.

If you want to train legs, you should perform exercises that specifically target them and involves concentric and eccentric contraction. In the case of calves, you can do exercises like calves raises or even squats with tip toe at the bottom or top of your squat.


  • Actually, I'm hoping to avoid using them, as I have achilles tendon problems and I'm trying to find ways to exercise that won't exacerbate the problem.
    – Anna
    Sep 24, 2021 at 17:44
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    I see. Then you can try sitting down. You should resolve your Achilles issue and not avoid it. Calves raises is a good way to load your tendon again. Loading them can allow you to regain pliability of the tendon and remove the scar tissue. You can check out Alfredson Protocol.
    – Jun
    Sep 24, 2021 at 18:07

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