Machines have been vilified for allowing you to work in only a single plane of motion. Indeed, if you did all of your training on machines, you’d be doing yourself a great disservice. That said, machines can help you finish a muscle group you’ve already smashed with free weights; and a lot of machines—like the standing calf raise—are perfect for overloading stubborn muscle groups that don’t seem to want to grow.
Here are two great ways to use a standing calf raise machine to its full potential.
1. Add a triset on the standing calf raise machine to the end of your next leg day.
- Hit 20 reps with your toes pointed straight forward, 20 with your toes pointed out, and 20 with your toes pointed in. You don’t need a ton of weight for good results.
2. Try a set of superheavy shrugs.
- Since grip strength isn’t a factor, you can go heavier than you would on barbell shrugs. Get into position as you would for a calf raise, but don’t let your heels hang over the edge; stand squarely on the platform with your shoulders under the pads and perform a shrug, lifting your shoulder girdle as high as you can. Do three to four sets of 10–15 reps.
* You should be able to shrug more than you can calf raise; try using the whole weight stack.