Squat Calf Raises Exercise Guide: How to, Benefits, & Alternatives

squat calf raises

Squat calf raises are an effective way to break your calf growth plateau. 

The calves are one of the most difficult muscles to build with resistance training (1). However, you target your calves through walking, running, and jumping, so they get some work consistently. Still, research proves they’re tough to grow. One exercise that may spur calf muscle growth is the squat calf raises. 

You must go the extra mile to grow your calf muscles more. Some concepts to play around with include using heavy weights, a full range of motion, slow eccentrics, and adding variety to your exercises. The goal is to hit your calves with exercises that stimulate them in a way that’s different from walking and induce growth.

Calf raises are among the most popular leg routines for building calf muscles. Another popular routine that recruits your calves is the barbell squat. Squat calf raises combine these two exercises to give your calf muscles that big pump that encourages growth.

Are you interested in adding some inches to your calves? Then, consider adding squat calf raises to your leg day workouts. This exercise guide shows you how to do this exercise, its benefits, and other calf-building alternatives you can try out.

Technique and Muscles Worked

The squat calf raise is an exercise that targets your core and lower body muscles. It adds intensity to your regular squats by increasing the involvement of the muscles in your legs. This exercise builds the abs, obliques, quads, glutes, hamstrings, and calves.

You can do your squat calf raises using your bodyweight, a barbell, kettlebells, or dumbbells. However, we’ll look at the barbell squat calf raises for this guide. Below is a step-by-step guide on how to do them.  

  1. Assume a barbell squat starting position with the barbell on your shoulders and your feet shoulder-width apart. This is your starting position.
  2. Keeping your back straight, drop into a squat till your knees get to a 90-degree angle.
  3. Raise past your starting position and transition to a calf raise by standing on your toes.
  4. Hold the position for a second and then return to the starting position to complete the rep.
  5. Repeat for multiple reps and sets.


The squat calf raise is a great way to vary your leg day routines and build your calf muscles. Below are the benefits of doing a squat calf raise.

Calf Muscle Growth

Squat calf raises are a combination of two exercises targeting your calf muscles differently. Using a barbell for this movement also adds external resistance to the training, allowing you to use heavier weights. As a result, this exercise induces better muscle growth in your calves.

Bigger Range of Motion

Walking, which trains your calves, uses only a partial range of motion at your ankle. With calf raises, the range of motion increases. Squat calf raises give an even bigger range of motion, and research shows that this is key to better muscle growth in lower body muscles (2)

Improved Balance

Going from a squat to a calf raise during squat calf raises will test your balance. So, consistently doing this routine will improve your balance. Squat calf raises also build the calf muscles, which are crucial in balancing.

Hits Calves From Multiple Angles

Squats build your calf muscles from a different angle than standing calf raises. Squat calf raises combine these exercises to recruit your calf muscles in multiple ways, leading to muscle hypertrophy in the soleus and gastrocnemius – the calf muscles. 

Better Lower Body Performance

Squat calf raises target and builds your lower body muscles, improving performance in lower body exercises like deadlifts. Doing squat calf raises improves your form during other lower body training routines, too, since your calves are heavily involved in lunging and squatting movements. 

Squat Calf Raises Alternatives

The major problem with training calf muscles is that your calves are already used to stimulation due to walking, leading to a plateau. Research shows that varying your exercises is an excellent way to break out of that plateau and training monotony (3). Here are some other calf-building movements you can try out apart from squat calf raises.

Stair Run

A stair run is an excellent exercise for training your calf muscles. It flexes and extends your foot as you run up the steps. In addition, this can improve your conditioning

Seated Band Pushes

Seated band pushes build your calves using progressive resistance with a resistance band. Bending your ankles and flexing your calves during this routine helps to induce growth. Due to the portability of resistance bands, you can do them anywhere.

Elevated Standing Calf Raises

Elevated standing calf raises work for your calves by increasing the range of motion. This exercise adds more intensity to your regular standing calf raises.

Kettlebell Farmer’s Walk on Toes

The kettlebell farmer’s walk is an excellent exercise for your calves. This variation where you do the walk on your toes is an effective way to strengthen your calves and improve your balance. 


What is a squat calf raise?

The squat calf raises combine a squat with a calf raise to build your calf muscles. Check the exercise guide above for more information on how to do this routine.

Are squats with calf raises good for you?

Squats with calf raises add intensity to your regular squats. This helps improve your stability, prevent training monotony, and strengthen your calf muscles.

What are the benefits of squat calf raises?

Squat calf raises are excellent for improving your balance and helping build calf muscles. This routine can also improve your form for other lower body exercises like the deadlift and squats. For more benefits of this exercise, check the exercise guide above.

Did you enjoy that exercise guide? Check out some of our others to hit other muscle groups:

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  1. Trappe, T. A., Raue, U., & Tesch, P. A. (2004). Human soleus muscle protein synthesis following resistance exercise. Acta physiologica Scandinavica, 182(2), 189–196. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-201X.2004.01348.x 
  2. Schoenfeld, B. J., & Grgic, J. (2020). Effects of range of motion on muscle development during resistance training interventions: A systematic review. SAGE open medicine, 8, 2050312120901559. https://doi.org/10.1177/2050312120901559 
  3. Krzysztofik, M., Wilk, M., Wojdała, G., & Gołaś, A. (2019). Maximizing Muscle Hypertrophy: A Systematic Review of Advanced Resistance Training Techniques and Methods. International journal of environmental research and public health, 16(24), 4897. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16244897
As a personal trainer and writer, Terry loves changing lives through coaching and the written word. Terry has a B.S. in Kinesiology and is an American College of Sports Medicine Certified Personal Trainer. He enjoys playing music, reading, and watching films when he's not writing or training.