Donkey Calf Raises

Thanks James, the list of exercises looks great.

Just one question on calf training though: you don’t include Donkey Calf Raises in your list. On his website, Larry Scott offers a purposely designed machine for performing them without a partner.

What are your thoughts on this exercise?

Barry H.

My Answer: Donkey calf raises are a great exercise, but I would have to disagree with most bodybuilding enthusiasts that the donkey calf raise is the best calf exercise.

First let's tackle the machine Larry Scott created. I've never run across a gym that has this machine, so I can't tell you how effective it is in developing the calves. I did, however, try to simulate this machine by using:

1) a low pulley machine attached to
2) a weight belt
3) over a calf block and
4) bench

All I can say I was not impressed with the feel of the exercise, especially given all the trouble of set-up. The reason why you can't approximate the donkey calf raise through a machine is that the line of pull on your body is downward and behind you. It's really not giving you that much resistance or tension.

Regular donkey calf raises are better, because the weight of your partner is directly above your calves. The weight of your partner is pushing down on your hips and legs and adding to the stretching of your calves.

There's one problem, and this is the reason why I didn't include donkey calf raises in my list of 68 Exercises for Symmetry and Strength: your calves can handle an incredibly high amount of weight, even in a stretched position. This is why you often see photos of old time bodybuilders like Arnold with 2 people on them. Which is ludicrous, because only one guy can sit directly over his partner's calves.

Think about: you walk every hour of every day. Your calves can handle your entire body weight and perform high volumes of lifting that weight.

So if you do donkey calf raises, what happens? You bend over and your calves are only lifting the weight of your legs. Then your partner sits on top of your ass, and he's replaced the weight you just lost by bending over. Unless you get a super heavy weight to sit on you, there really is not that much benefit to the donkey calf raise that the 45 degree leg press can't offer. The leg press calf raise offers the stretch, plus the ability to add extremely high amounts of weight.
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