Guide to the Best Calf Machines with Reviews, Exercises & Workouts

Guide to the Best Calf Machines with Reviews, Exercises & Workouts
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Calves – one of the hardest muscles in your body to gain strength and build massive muscle in.

I’m sure we all have tried our best at some point to really gain some legitimate size in our calves, only to be let down greatly. Any time you see someone with large, well-defined calf muscles you can’t help but tip your hat.

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Best Calf Machines

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TDS Standing Calf Unit

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TDS Standing Calf Unit5 Starsbuy-from-amazon-button
XMark Seated Calf Raise Machine XM-7613

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XMark Seated Calf Raise Machine4.7 Starsbuy-from-amazon-button
Body-Solid GSCL360 Leverage Squat Calf Machine

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Body-Solid GSCL360 Leverage Squat Calf Machine4 Starsbuy-from-amazon-button
Powerline PSC43X Seated Calf Machine

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Powerline PSC43X Seated Calf Machine3.6 Starsbuy-from-amazon-button
Tibia Dorsi Calf Machine

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Tibia Dorsi Calf Machine3.5 Starsbuy-from-amazon-button

All it really takes, though, to put those rocks on your calves is some know-how and some serious dedication. By reading this guide and following through with the plan and equipment, you should no longer be the guy aspiring for thick lower legs.

Instead, you could begin wearing shorts proudly again without the self-consciousness that tiny calf syndrome might bring!

What are Calf Machines and why would I use them?

Your calves are under the pressure of your bodyweight every time you stand or walk. That is partly why they are so difficult to exercise thoroughly – they are well conditioned because they are almost always working.

As a result, the only way to build increased strength is to place your calves under a load heavier than what it is accustomed to.

The best calf machines are designed to allow you to add your preference of weight to a machine. Typically you will either remain seated and press up or stand up and press. Either way, you will only use your calves to push that iron. As a result, stronger and thicker calves should come.

While it is true that genes play the largest factor in the size of your calves, that doesn’t mean they can’t get stronger. Let’s not forget to mention that neglecting your calf muscles also makes you more prone to injury.

By performing strength training for your calves you could greatly increase your performance in other aspects of everyday life.

Purchase a calf machine for your home gym and you might be able to develop the thick, well-defined lower legs you have been dreaming of.

What to look for before you buy

If you are looking to add a calf raise machine for your home gym, it is necessary that you are aware of what makes quality equipment. Use your discretion as with any purchase and keep your priorities in mind.

Here are 5 things you should keep your eye on while making your decision.

  • Budget: If you have plenty of money to blow, move on the next point. For the rest of us, know your budget. It sounds simple, but far too often people stray way outside of their price range for equipment and end up skimping elsewhere.
  • Vision: Do you prefer a seated calf raise or standing? If you have never tried either, make your way to a gym and take a free tour. Each style has it’s perks, just be sure to know exactly what you want our of your equipment.
  • Space: As with any piece of equipment, each one is a different size. Make sure you have enough room to place your new machine without interfering with other pieces you already have.
  • Quality: You want longevity out of any purchase, but especially in regards to exercise equipment. Anything that doesn’t perform as long and strong as you is not worth your money. We suggest buying equipment made of steel, at least 2 inches wide, to get the longest performance life.
  • Style: Does your preference lie in free weights or weight stacks? Do you want the load distributed through your back (standing calf raise) or solely on your calves (seated calf raise)? Being knowledgeable about what feels best to you is essential.

There are tons of workouts available to you for home use that only requires your body weight. However, most individuals struggle to gain size without adding additional weight.

If you are ready to pounce and start building a real calf rack, you must check out our top 8 best calf machines!

The Power 8 – Best Calf Machines

You now have been convinced – a calf machine for your home gym is not just important for aesthetic purposes, it is also important for overall solid physical health.

Meet our power 8 calf machines, what we deem as the best on the market!

TDS Standing Calf Unit

This calf machine is a standing unit with padded shoulder pads to allow calf exercises with supreme comfort.

While it appears to be a simple design with very little special about it, do not be fooled. Some consumers have compared this machine with commercial grade units found in gyms!

TDS Standing Calf Unit

What’s to like

  • Adjustable height with padded shoulder pads
  • Ability to fit standard and Olympic sized plates
  • Plate holders on both sides for symmetrical work
  • Only requires about 3 square feet of floor space

What’s not to like

  • Narrow foot brace bar to stand on while exercising
  • No grip on foot brace bar to prevent slippage

Overall, this is a high-quality piece to add to your home gym. While it can be a bit unsafe to perform standing calf raises without a grip to prevent your feet from slipping, that is an easy fix by purchasing a roll of stair grip from your local hardware store.

If you only have standard plates, don’t worry because this machine fits it all.

XMark Seated Calf Raise Machine

This seated calf raise machine offered by XMARK is a great option for seated calf raises. You can remove the stress on your back that a standing calf raise may bring by sitting comfortable while you exercise.

With coated 11-gauge steel construction, you should have no worries of the durability with this piece.

XMark Seated Calf Raise Machine XM-7613

What’s to like

  • Height adjustable, swivel thigh pads that move with your body
  • Dual Olympic plate weight holders
  • Wide, non-slip foot brace bar
  • 3 inch Duracraft cushions on seat and thigh pads

What’s not to like

  • Users above 6’3” may have difficulty using this machine
  • Swivel thigh pad is not as steady as preferred

For the quality and efficiency of this machine, the price is hard to beat! The cushions are thick and durable and should provide maximal comfort.

The wide, no slip foot brace bar should offer security as you press heavy weight. Ever had a machine move with your body as you perform an exercise? Now is the perfect time to try it!

Body-Solid GSCL360 Leverage Squat Calf Machine

Looking for a multi-purpose calf machine? Yes, it is possible.

Check out this standing calf machine that also offers the ability to perform leverage squats. The coated, 12-gauge steel design is thick and should offer stability as you perform calf raises or even leverage squats.

You could really begin building full lower leg strength.

Body-Solid GSCL360 Leverage Squat Calf Machine

What’s to like

  • 3 inch contoured, Durafirm shoulder and back pads
  • Spring-loaded lockout feature for safety while lifting
  • Wide diamond plate foot platform for squats
  • Dual plate holders for lifting and for storage

What’s not to like

  • Rounded foot brace bar for calf raises
  • Awkward starting position for your lifts

Your back would be angled in an effort to prevent back pain when squatting. When performing calf raises, you can lift as heavy as your calves can handle.

The squat/calf raise combination is pretty unique and is really a space saver. Instead of having a squat rack and a calf machine, you can combine the two by using this piece. At an affordable price, this is a quality piece you shouldn’t overlook!

Powerline PSC43X Seated Calf Machine

Perhaps you are looking for a simple and budget friendly option for your calf raise exercises. This seated calf raise machine offers a low sale price without settling on quality.

Powerline has a reputation of producing high quality, user friendly equipment and this machine designed with heavy-duty steel meets expectations.

Powerline PSC43X Seated Calf Machine

What’s to like

  • Adjustable height knee pads suitable for all users
  • 3 to 1 ratio – lift 3 times the amount of weight put on the bar
  • Fits standard and Olympic sized plates
  • No slip foot brace bar

What’s not to like

  • Rounded foot brace bar
  • Thin thigh pads could be uncomfortable during heavy lifting

This calf machine has a pretty cheap listed price, but is still a functional and practical calf raise machine.

You should be comfortable adding as much weight as you can handle so long as your thighs can handle the pressure. The 3 to 1 ratio can also help you save money on weight plates. If you put 90 pounds on the bar, you are actually lifting 270 pounds!

Tibia Dorsi Calf Machine

Tibia Dorsi Calf Machine

An often-neglected portion of your lower legs is the portion in front of the shin. It is important to exercise your dorsi to create balanced strength and development in your lower legs.

This calf machine is dedicated to those areas you don’t often hit but that are important. Do not overlook the importance of this machine!

What’s to like

  • Pillow block bearings allowing for friction free movement
  • Long, thick padding for support while exercising
  • Heavy duty steel design

What’s not to like

  • Max weight plate size is 25 pounds – up to 3 per side
  • Only exercises the muscle beside your shin

This is a cheap machine in comparison to others that are similar on the market. It is comfortable to use and has a smooth operating motion.

While this machine does not directly exercise the calf muscle, it does give you the ability to create a balanced and rounded too to your lower legs. Also, limit your chances of shin related injury!

Valor Fitness CC-5 Seated Calf Raise

Valor Fitness CC-5 Seated Calf Raise

Most people find seated calf machines to be among the most comfortable on the market. This machine features high density foam beneath its upholstery to keep you nice and comfy while you’re working on your legs.

It’s a simple machine, and it’s easy to hop on it and start your workout.

Valor makes top of the line equipment for excellent prices, which is exactly why they’ve become such a popular fitness brand. It’s fully adjustable both horizontally and vertically, allowing you to set it up exactly the way you need it when you’re ready to work on your calves.

What’s to like

  • The bottom of this machine features several small holes you can use to mount it to the floor. This will prevent the machine from sliding around while you’re using it, making it easier and safer to set it up in one place and keep it there.
  • It’s easy to adjust and customize the setup of this machine. If your calf machine is too big or too small, you aren’t going to be able to get a proper workout. You’re able to make these adjustments in small increments for optimum performance.
  • This machine can hold up to 400 pounds. This is an ideal amount of weight – virtually everyone will be able to use this machine for a long time.

What’s not to like

  • The foam pads at the knee area are very soft. This might sound like a good thing, but you need to remember that it’s much easier to damage soft foam with rigorous use.

This is an ergonomically designed machine that comes at an excellent price. It’s a lot more affordable than similar calf machines on the market, and you won’t find another deal as good as this one.

Valor’s products are always built to last and their designs always utilize the latest innovations in workout equipment technology.

Powertec Fitness Levergym Squat Calf

Powertec Fitness Levergym Squat Calf

At first, this calf machine seems a little complicated. In truth, it might take a little bit of tinkering around for a beginner to get it all figured out.

It’s not like other squat calf machines – it’s a fully adjustable workout system that will have different ideal settings for every user.

Since leg machines need to be tailored to the user’s height, it’s best to select a machine like this will allow you to really tune into your individual needs. If you find other calf machines to be difficult to work with, this one might be perfect.

What’s to like

  • The plate load mechanism and the foot plate adjust to different angles. The angle you use will be based on your height and your body type. When you set them correctly, they take all of the stress off of your joints – especially your knees. This makes you less prone to workout injuries when you’ve customized your setup.
  • The top of the machine incorporates a sliding handle that will allow you to start and stop from the top of the exercise, rather than the bottom. You can get off and on at any point you please, making it easy for you to make adjustments while you’re working out.
  • The squat arms can handle up to 500 pounds. It doesn’t matter how light or heavy you want to train – this machine will be able to support you throughout your whole fitness journey.

What’s not to like

  • If you’ve ever experienced a lower back injury related to working out, it might seem like this machine will make it easier for you to build your calves with squats – this is not the case. If you need a piece of specialty equipment, you’ll need to look elsewhere.

This machine gets your calves, your glutes, and your arms all at the same time.

If you’re looking for a highly versatile way to work on your calves, you’re going to love this machine. It’s a great option for a home gym when you’re limited on space.

Most people don’t have a ton of room in their home gyms, which is why it’s a great idea to choose a multifunctional piece of equipment like this one.

TDS Super Seated Calf Unit wth Pillow Block Bearings

TDS Super Seated Calf Unit with Pillow Block Bearings

This is easily one of the best budget buys in the way of calf machines. This one won’t break the bank, and it easily performs all the basic functions the average fitness enthusiast would expect.

This isn’t fancy, and that’s why it’s perfect for people who want a simple workout on a machine that doesn’t cost a ton of money.

Some of the features on this machine are surprising, even though the machine itself isn’t complicated to use. It’s the kind of quality you would expect to see at the gym, and it’s practically a steal when you take a look at the price tag.

What’s to like

  • Despite the fact that this is an inexpensive calf machine, it’s still designed to handle up to 800 pounds of weight. This is a lot more than even some of the most expensive calf machines can hold, making this a major selling point for people who like a serious workout.
  • All of the machine’s feet are coated with a special rubber grip that prevent the machine from sliding across the floor. This is a necessary safety feature – no one wants their machine wobbling or shifting while they’re using it.
  • This machine is adjustable to accommodate any height. Whether you’re really short or really tall, you’ll be able to make this machine work for you.

What’s not to like

  • Because this is a budget machine, it’s very simple. It’s not as easy to customize and it doesn’t have as many adjustable features as a luxury calf machine.

This machine makes it very easy to build a garage gym on a budget. When you need a calf machine but you don’t want to spend an arm and a leg, you’ll be happy to have this one.

It’s not fancy, but it does feature an impressively high weight limit that will allow you to use this machine forever without outgrowing it.

When making your decision on the best calf machine for your families use, keep in mind the 8 important things to look for. These are the best machines available on market!

The Best Calf Workout!

Adding size to your calves is certainly no easy task. Keep in mind that the most important factor in exercising your calf muscles is to be persistent.

Like and exercise routine, it takes time to see results and your calves are no different!

Now that you have a calf machine available, it is time to turn the plan into action! Below you will find the 3 best calf exercises that you can perform at home.

Seated or Standing Calf Raise

For this exercise, use a weight that only allows you to perform 12 repetitions, max.

Load your bar and place your feet on the foot brace bar evenly. Press the weight upward using your calf muscles and squeeze at the top for 3 seconds. Then, lower the weight, slowly, as far downward as possible. Repeat by explode the weight back up with your calves.

Perform 4 sets with a maximum of 12 repetitions for best results.

Single Leg Calf Raise

For this exercise, perform this set until the muscle burns out – until you can’t go anymore!

No weight is mandatory, but if it is available grab a weight plate or dumbbell. Step on a wooden block or some sort of elevated surface about 2 inches high. Only allow for the pad of your foot (right below your toes) to touch the block. Extend your calf upward and hold at the top before lowering back down

Perform 4 sets on each leg and do not stop until burnout.

Jump Rope

For this exercise, a set will be a 30-60 second jump rope window.

Grab a jump rope (everyone should have one of these) and begin your set. During this exercise, try to use only your calves to lift your body enough for the rope to go under.

Perform the jump rope exercise for as long as your fitness allows. For most, 60 seconds will be the maximum length of time.

The Workout

If you want to do casual calf workouts, use the workouts listed above at your own pace. However, if you are in good shape, let’s take it a step further.

For this fast-paced workout, we will superset all 3 of the above workouts. Do one set of seated or standing calf raises. Then move on to the single leg calf raises, and finish with the jump rope set. Do not rest until all 3 exercises are complete.

Going through one cycle of these three workouts will be one set. Once one set is complete, congratulations, you only have 3 more sets to go!

Why Wait

Tiny and under-developed calves can be a bit of an eyesore if the rest of your body resembles a miniature Hulk.

Properly exercising your calves can also make your daily movements much easier and reduce injury. Try to perform calf workouts at least twice per week, preferable 3 times, for best results.

You now know what to look for before you buy yourself a calf machine. The question now to ask yourself is “What am I waiting for?”

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