Calves are an important muscle group; but they often get neglected for the larger “mirror muscles.” Even though they often go unnoticed, working out your calves can have huge benefits to your overall strength.
Unfortunately, the core, triceps, and calves are three of the most challenging areas for both men and women to build muscle mass over the long term. Building strong, well-defined calves isn’t impossible; it just requires a little bit more focus, and a calf raise machine to get the ball rolling.
If you’re looking for the best calf raise machine to add to your home gym, it’s important that you find something compact, adjustable, and effective.
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How Do Calf Machines Work?
The first thing you need to understand about how a calf machine works is why, exactly, the calves themselves are so resistant to exercise. The simple truth of the matter is that the calves are difficult to exercise because they’re already working, more or less non-stop, all of the time.
The body requires the calves to work for virtually all of our walking and ambulation. They are necessary to move the human body as we go about our daily lives. They must constantly move the human body while carrying virtually the entire weight of it from one place to another.
Calf machines enables you to target this individual muscle group by forcing them to lift a load that’s heavier than usual.
The Best Calf Machines For Your Home Gym
There are different kinds of calf machines that we’ll discuss here:
- Standing calf raise machine
- Seated calf raise machine
- Tibia dorsal calf raise machine
While there is some slight variation to how these different calf machines operate, they all operate under the same basic principle: Putting your calves under an increased amount of weight.
The Standing Calf Raise Machine
Standing calf raise machines operate by requiring you to step onto a platform with your toes aiming straight ahead of you. After stepping onto the platform, you’ll place your shoulders underneath a pair of shoulder pads that can be adjusted to match your height.
After you’ve set yourself up, the standing calf raise machine is self-explanatory; push yourself up off the balls of your feet until you’ve pushed the weighted shoulder pads up as far as they can go, in a controlled motion with no jerking.
Here’s a clip of what you can expect from using a standing calf raise machine.
The Seated Calf Raise Machine
A seated calf raise machine operates in a slightly different way. With a seated calf raise machine, you’ll position yourself comfortably in the seat with your back straight, put your feet on the platform with your toes pointing forward, and then lower two pads over the top of your thighs.
These two pads serve a very simple purpose: They’ll keep your body, and especially your legs, stationary as you move through the exercise.
Once you’ve lowered the thigh pads into a comfortable position, you’ll unlock the weights and begin doing your reps by simply raising and lowering your feet as you keep your back completely straight, and thus isolating and working your calves. When you’ve done your last rep, lift the weights, and lock the machine back into its resting position.
Here’s a clip of what you can expect from a seated calf raise machine.
The Tibia Dorsi Calf Raise Machine
A tibia Dorsi calf machine looks unassuming but packs a big punch. You’ll slide your desired weight plates onto the sidebars beforehand to use a tibia Dorsi calf machine. Then, from either a sitting or a standing position, you’ll slide your foot between the platform and the pad above it, with your toes pointing forward and down.
If you want to do seated calf raises, you’ll need to get a chair or a bench. The advantage of doing seated calf raises on a tibia Dorsi calf machine is that you’ll have the option of working both calves simultaneously, or you can work just one in isolation. For standing calf raises, you’ll have to work one calf at a time.
Here’s a good clip of a tibia Dorsi calf machine in action.
Things To Consider Before Buying A Calf Machine
Before we get to our product reviews, here are a few things to think about before choosing the best calf raise machine for your home gym.
Budget & Space
As with any fitness equipment purchase, these two considerations are a no-brainer. Whichever calf machine you choose to add to your home gym, make sure it works with your budget and that you have enough space in your home gym to operate your new calf raise machine safely and effectively.
Calf Raise Preference
The other basic question you need to ask yourself is whether you prefer standing calf raises or seated calf raises. A seated calf raise machine will require you to do seated calf raises, and a standing calf machine will need you to do these while standing. A tibia Dorsi calf raise machine will give you the flexibility to do either one.
A standing calf raise machine will distribute the weight load evenly across your back, whereas a seated calf raise machine directs the weight load lower, straight to your calves.
Plates Vs. Stacks
As it pertains to the calf raise machine, the question of plates or stacks is straightforward. Calf raise machines that use weight plates will require a little more work and setup time, simply because you’re going to have to get the desired weight plates and slide them onto your machine.
Stacks will be simpler because to raise or lower your weight, all you have to do is move a pin up or down the stack depending on whether you want less weight or more.
The trade-off with calf raise machines that use weight stacks is that while you do get the advantage of an easier and quicker setup there are some downfalls. These machines are expensive, take up a great deal of space, require complicated (and often professional) assembly with lots of belts and moving parts, and need more frequent maintenance.
Calf machines that use plates are cheaper, much easier, and quicker to assemble. They are lower maintenance and take up much less space. However, with many calf raise machines that use plates, be aware that you’ll probably have to buy the weight plates separately if you don’t already own them.
This one’s another no-brainer, but whatever calf raise machine you choose, make sure it’s built to last and can stand up to whatever you can dish out. We recommend calf raise machines built of solid steel, with a width of at least two inches.
The Top Calf Machines of 2020
Don’t worry because we’ve done all the heavy lifting for you. If you’re ready to splurge and buy a calf raise machine, read the following product reviews to find the best calf machine for your home gym today.
Xmark earned a spot on our list because this is a durable and high-quality seated calf raise machine. The XMark is built from heavy-duty steel. It is both skid and scratch-resistant and will stand up to the test of time and sweat with a durable ding-resistant finish.
With this machine, you’ll get a thick, extra-sturdy vinyl seat and pads that make for a stable and comfortable workout for your legs and your glutes.
This calf machine will get results across the board: Stronger calves, legs, and improved jogging performance. Over time, you can expect greater bone density and enhanced ankle strength and foot stability.
- Seat and pads are made from tear-resistant vinyl.
- Dual steel posts capable of holding Olympic-grade weight plates
- Grip handles are made of rubber and are ergonomically molded
- Pop pins make for easy weight and pad height adjustment that won’t slow down your workout.
- Measures 47.6 inches (L), by 22.1 inches (W), by 42.5 (H)
Soozier constructed this seated calf raise machine of heavy-duty steel and diamond-plated footrests. It has extra thick thigh pads and a thick seat pad designed to give you the comfort and stability you need as you work out your calves.
The Soozier has pop pins that make adjusting the seat pad and knee pads simple. It will accommodate up to 350 pounds of weight. This is a basin seated calf raise machine that is meant for use in a home gym.
- Sleeves can accommodate two-inch weight plates
- Rubber-coated safety grip makes raising and lowering the weights safe and simple
- Knee pads pivots for maximum comfort and stability
- Tapered seat pad provides a stable and comfortable workout
- Measures 48 inches (L), 23.25 inches (W), by 41.75 inches (H)
This unassuming Tibia Dorsi machine will help you isolate your tibialis as you work to add mass to your calves. Titan made this unit of steel with a black powder coat finish, which will help prevent dings and rust. This unit weighs in at 55 pounds, and the 7-inch side-mounted weight sleeves make adding and subtracting weight a breeze.
With its solid construction, this is a calf raise machine that will have a place in your home gym for years to come. The footplate also features extra-thick padding for a comfortable workout. This is a calf raise machine that will help you isolate hard-to-work-muscles so that you can have a genuinely well-rounded workout.
Our favorite part about this piece of equipment is the compact size. You can slip it under your office desk, or work your calves while watching TV on the couch. It’s incredibly versatile.
- Advanced pillow-block bearings for a smooth calf workout
- Work both feet, or just one at a time
- Unit is heavy but portable
- Steel construction will last a lifetime
- Measures 35.5 inches (L), 15 inches (W), by 12 inches (H)
- You want a basic seated calf raise machine that is easy to assemble and will take up a minimum amount of space in your home gym.
- If you’re planning on light-to-medium intensity calf workouts
- You want an adjustable machine that can provide the most comfort
- You want a heavy-duty non-slip footbar for extra stability
- You want a compact machine that can be placed anywhere in the house
- You want a machine that requires no assembly
Find The Calf Machine That Works Best For You
Each type of calf machine has its own advantages and disadvantages. The more compact versions are perfect for sliding underneath a desk and getting a workout in while you work.
Adjustable machines are best for overall comfort. And our favorite machines are durable, and built to hold and excess amount of weight.