At the gym, it is not hard to find someone with a well-developed upper body, or even with thighs. However, when was the last time you see someone with big and well-shaped calves. It is not typical.
Without a doubt, for a lot of people, those are the muscles groups which are really hard to gain. Even, Arnold Schwarzenegger had to spend a lot of time making his lower legs perfect. Why do calves gain so hard? Well, in most of the cases our genes are responsible, but with dedication and the right type of calf training, we can win.
A handy equipment to target that area is the calf raise machine since it lets us to focus on your lower legs locking out other muscles.
Do you think about buying one for home? Look no further because below you can find our calf machine buying guide, comparison and reviews to find the most suitable calf exercise equipment for you.
Top Rated Calf Raise Machines Reviews
1. XMark Fitness Seated Calf Raise Machine - Best Seated Calf Press
The XM-7613 is a heavy-duty home gym equipment made from 11-gauge 2” x 3” steel. Robust and stable. Thick rubber caps at the end of the stabilizers help avoid shaking and protects the floor.
On the Dual Olympic plate weight posts, you can put on a maximum of 6 plates per side. However, there is no need to use too heavy plates because of the leverage which generates more resistance than other machines do.
You can adjust the height of the thigh pad quickly. Also, it rotates while doing calf raises so it is much more comfortable than using a static pad. You can also set the distance between the seat and the thigh pads quickly.
It comes with Ultra-thick 3" Duracraft cushioning which provides convenient and reliable surface while working out.
Problems? Guys taller than 6.4 feet find it a bit short.
To sum up, XM-7613 is a gym quality unit with advanced functions providing excellent lower leg workout experience. It is best seated calf raise machine for everyone.
2. Powertec Fitness Levergym Squat and Calf - Best Standing Calf Machine
As you can see from the picture above Powertec has a unique design, but for a good reason. It can be used for both squats and calf training making it a more versatile piece.
What makes it an outstanding item is that it is fully adjustable which is rare. This way you can find the optimal positions to your height to work calf muscles effectively.
What kind of adjustments can you make?
You can modify the foot plate to different angles as well as the plate load mechanism to suit them the best to your body type and height. This way it puts less stress on your knee joints and you can focus on the exercise better. Last but not least, you can avoid injuries.
It comes with a sliding handle at the top that lets us begin and finish the exercise and the top phase. This way you can stop your training quickly and safely.
It is also a heavy-duty calf gym machine that has a 500 lb weight capacity. Hence, advanced lifters can use it to lift heavy, and you do not have to be afraid of outgrowing it.
It is constructed with 2" and 3" steel tubing with a 12 gauge wall thickness. All the other parts are made from industrial grade materials. So, durability is not a question. Powertec gives a lifetime warranty on the frame, 5 five years on moving parts.
As the name of the product suggests, this is a combination of a leverage squat and calf raise machine. The squat function let us lift without a spotter safely.
The idea is excellent, but unfortunately, the machine puts the body in such a state that is not healthy for someone having lower back problems. I think, using a squat rack or leg press machine is a much better way to squat. Although, this function might be useful to vary your lower body strength training.
The footprint is 58L × 55W × 61.5H inches, so it is rather compact. The assembly is not complicated, but we are talking about a 210 lb machine, so after assembly, it is not easy to move around.
To sum up, for calf workouts Powertec is a suitable buy for any level of fitness. It is a reliable piece providing excellent leg strenghtening experience (except the squat feature).
3. Valor Fitness CC-5 Seated Calf Raise - Good Price/Value
CC-5 has a heavy duty steel construction supporting up to 400 lb. It's a durable and robust leg machine that is suitable for even pro athletes.
To fit all users, the knee pad can be adjusted both vertically and horizontally. The knee pads are covered with thick high-density foam padded upholstery giving a comfortable and safe surface to exercise.
Thanks to the wide stabilizers the item is stable and does not wobble, particularly on a rubber gym mat. However, you can use the floor mounting holes if you want extra stability.
The assembled dimensions are 55" x 27" x 35" so it is not that big. And, it weighs 78 lb so relocating CC-5 is also not that difficult.
To sum up, it is an average level machine which should be suitable for most of the people. And, quite affordable.
4. Powerline PSC43X Seated Calf Machine - Affordable
If you cannot afford the previous models, then PSC43X is a more suitable item for you. Not as professional as the former ones, but for home usage, it is still a good buy.
It also has adjustable knee pads that can be modified vertically. Horizontal adjustment is not available, although the pad turns, so it provides a bit adjustability.
An exciting feature is the 3 to 1 ratio meaning you lift 3 times more than the load you put on the plate holders. This is beneficial if you only have a few plates yet, or if you can already lift heavy since you do not need a lot of weights. The bar supports both Olympic and standard plates.
There are two features that not everyone likes. The rounded non-slip foot brace bar
but if you lift heavy, it may hurt your soles. The other is the thin thigh pads which also a bit uncomfortable under heavy lifting.
To conclude for home use this machine is worth to buy, but I would not suggest for heavy lifters.
5. TDS Tibia Dorsi Calf Machine - For Strengthening the Front of Your Shin
All the gym stuff above are for building your calves. But, what about the front of your shin? That area also takes place in moves and required for a balanced and stable lower body.
Well, this simple yet effective device is made for that.
Tibia calf machine comes with pillow block bearings that help to have a full range of motion and frictionless movement.
The padding is long and thick. It does not hurt your feet but keeps them in the right place.
The bar supports only Olympic plates, and since it is close to the ground, you cannot use weight with large diameters. Customers use it with maximum 20-25 lb plates. But, there is no need to apply heavy loads for this exercise.
Bottom line: If you need a comfortable and well-functioning machine to strengthen the front of your shin, TDS is the best buy.
A bit of anatomy
It is essential to know what are the muscles of your lower leg to pick the right gym stuff for you. Actually, it is made up of two muscles.
- Gastrocnemius which has two heads and are the big ones. They are the ones that are visible.
- Soleus which is a flat muscle under the gastrocnemius. Hence, it is smaller.
Calf Workout Machine Types
While there is various equipment out there, the two most known calf exercise machines are the seated and standing. Both have its advantages and disadvantages.
Standing calf raise machines
- Because of the standing position, your calves get more load.
- You can target the gastrocnemius muscles, the big ones better, leading to muscles strength and size gain.
- Suitable for lifting heavier weights with lower reps, but also for high reps with light weights.
- You cannot unlock other body parts. Your shoulders are under pressure, also your back, core and arms are used.
- They are high home gym equipment.
Fitness Seated calf machines
- Because you are in a sitting position, you can lock out the other parts of your body focusing only on your lower legs.
- It targets the soleus muscle better.
- They are more compact and affordable than standing ones.
- Doesn't work the gastrocnemius muscles so well.
So, considering that the two muscles of the calves are gastrocnemius and soleus, the best would be to have both machines, but that is quite an investment.
From my experience, a standing calf exercise machine is more versatile and lets us various feet placements so I would get that if I only had money for one. Also, it works the gastrocnemius, the big muscles sufficiently.
If you have not used any of them before, I suggest you go to a commercial gym and try both before purchasing to see and feel how it works for you.
What to look for when buying
The type of resistance: You can get a machine with weight stacks. Hence, you do not need to own weight plates to use it. However, it has a limit so you may outgrow it in the future. I prefer a free weight machine since it supports my development in the long run. Although, you need to have plates to use it. Units in most of the cases support standard plates. If you have 2″ Olympic plates, you can use adapter sleeves.
Standing or seated? That is your choice but as I said before if you can afford only one get a standing calf unit.
Adjustability: The sitting versions come with adjustable knee pads to locate the optimal height for your legs.
Will you have enough space? - Check out the dimensions to know if you have enough space to use it comfortably. (Add a few feet around it.)
Maximum capacity: The higher the maximum weight the product stands, the better. It is a sign that the piece of equipment is made from heavy-duty, long-lasting materials. Possibly, the frame must be made of steel.
Padding comfort: Check out customer reviews to know if the heavy shoulder padding gives a convenient training experience. Optimal padding does not hurt your knees and shoulders, but keep them in the "right place" during your calf workouts.
Do you have more questions about calf machines? Ask below.