Maximize your calf training for those bulging calves with a great exercise in the donkey calf raise.
As a part of that sometimes dreaded leg day, it would be a huge disservice to neglect our calves. How silly would that look to have massive quads, tight hamstrings, and then underwhelming, tiny calves. Looking to those exercises that can increase strength and size can prove helpful, especially when it comes to building an often overlooked muscle like our calves. Donkey calf raises are a great way to make this happen and can really work for a number of benefits. As an effective exercise, this needs to be in your leg day routine.
Let’s take a look at donkey calf raises and see what this calf exercise is all about. From what it is, to muscles worked, and the many benefits of it, we’ll show you how to perform it to optimize growth so you see those bulging calves others will envy.
What Are Donkey Calf Raises
Donkey calf raises are a great bodyweight exercise designed to build strength and size in your calves to improve things like power, speed, explosiveness, ankle mobility, and overall calf size. The movement is relatively simple but requires care so as to not hurt yourself or put yourself in a vulnerable position. Not quite an isolation exercise, this comes close to working just your calves and is a great way to really feel a burn and promote the growth you want most (1).
The main muscles worked with donkey calf raises are your gastrocnemius and the soleus. These are the two muscles that make up your calf muscle as a whole and this exercise works to increase strength and size in both. These muscles are important for movements like running, walking, and a host of others. While not as strong, you do feel some work done in the hamstrings and also your abs. This results from the stretching motion and the stability needed to perform the exercise.
Benefits Of This Exercise
Donkey calf raises have great benefits to the development of your calves and can improve your overall physical health and performance. Benefits of this exercise include:
- Increased size and strength: By working your calves, you develop strength and size with the increased muscle activation and resistance of this exercise. Building big calves can be challenging but this exercise is here to help (2).
- Better jumping ability: With the increased strength, you can develop your jumping ability for those who need it for sports performance.
- Enhanced speed and explosiveness: Along with better jumping ability, work to increase speed and explosiveness for whatever movements may require it.
- Better ankle stability and movement: Building stronger calves can work to protect the ankles and increase stability and mobility for optimal performance (3).
- Great exercise to almost isolate the calves: While this exercise does not solely isolate the calves, it is close and offers a unique way to increase that strength and size.
How To Perform It
Here are the steps for performing donkey calf raises:
- Set-up a flat bench in front of a step or raised block. You will want this to be in a comfortable position to hold on to.
- Position the balls of your feet onto the step or block and bend forward to take hold of the bench in front of you.
- When ready, drop your heels as far as they can go and then initiate the upward movement. Really give a squeeze at the top and hold for a brief pause.
- Lower back to the starting position making sure to readjust so you remain in a comfortable and stable position.
- Repeat for your desired number of reps.
Additional tips: You can add weight if you choose for more resistance by using a belt and be sure to control the tempo to really get the most out of this workout.
Featured Supplement For Continued Gains
When it comes to your workouts, and especially this exercise in donkey calf raises, it is important to have a supplementation routine ready to go to tackle any and all of your gains. While many supplements do exist to work to boost those gains of yours, knowing which ones to take will prove most worthwhile. A pre-workout is great for tackling those energy boosts and muscle pumps while an intra-workout BCAA can help push past fatigue and offer continued energy. Something like a creatine supplement, mass gainer, and fat burner can also work for your gains, but one supplement is necessary for growth and recovery, being a protein powder (4).
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Donkey calf raises have the ability to prove worthwhile for our calf building goals and greatly affect our overall look and performance. Able to increase strength and size, while also aiding in other areas like ankle mobility, explosiveness, power, and speed, this exercise is one to really challenge your ability to grow those calves to a size others will envy. With so many benefits, it would be a disservice to not include this exercise in your routine so give it a try and see what donkey calf raises can do for you.
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*Images courtesy of Envato
- Schaardenburgh, Michel V.; Wohlwen, Martin; Rognmo, Oivind; Mattson, Erney (2017). “Calf raise exercise increases walking performance in patients with intermittent claudication”. (source)
- Cen, Xuan Z.; Liang, Zhi Q.; Gao, Zi X.; Lian, Wen L.; et al. (2019). “The Influence of the Improvement of Calf Strength on Barefoot Loading”. (source)
- Hasselgren, L.; Olsson, L. L.; Nyberg, L. (2011). “Is leg muscle strength correlated with functional balance and mobility among inpatients in geriatric rehabilitation?”. (source)
- Pasiakos, Stefan M.; Lieberman, Harris R.; McLellan, Tom M. (2014). “Effects of protein supplements on muscle damage, soreness and recovery of muscle function and physical performance: a systematic review”. (source)