The seated calf machine is a wonderful exercise for building the soleus muscle. Which is the part of the calf that lies across the back of the calf and along the outside.
Actually, the soleus works anytime you do leg raises whether standing or seated but with the leg bent as in seated calf raises, only the soleus can work. The gastrocnemius is not able to help, so the soleus has to do all the work.
So, if your calves are lacking in outside sweep, the seated calf raise is the exercise for you.
Here’s how to make a lot more progress.
Focus on the muscle rather than the weight and the muscles will teach you how to train. If you just load a bunch of weight on the machine, and try to get as many reps as possible you never learn how to build calves. Focusing on the muscle and what’s happening will show you the natural path the muscle wants to follow during the exercise.
It’s best to do the exercise with no shoes so you can get all the way up and all the way down. You’ll want a pad about 4 inches high so you can hit the ground telling you the bottom of the rep. It also should be padded with gum rubber, otherwise the steel footpad is too hard on the bottoms of your feet.
Start out with the feet about 12-14 inches apart. As the heels descend, swing the heels in towards each other. Right at the bottom, the heels should be about 4-6 inches apart. Reach way down. Find new bottoms. This is one position you need the rubber on the block. It helps your bare feet stick to the pad. It’s the stretching under weight that causes longitudinal splitting of muscle fiber. This creates all new muscle. Not just pumped muscle but brand new muscle that’s yours for good.
But in order to do this you’ve got stay in that stretched position for 10 to 20 seconds. The pain is … well … you know what I’m going to say but … it’s worth it for permanent muscle. Be careful though. It’s easy to overdo this. Especially when you’re building new muscle. You can get real sore.
Then as you raise up on your toes, the heels begins to swing out. Not only are the heels out but at the top of the movement you should be entirely up on the toes with all the support being switched over to bone support. You really need the rubber pad here otherwise the pain on the bottom of the foot keeps you from concentrating on the muscle.
Once you’re up on total bone support, flex the calves harder than you’ve ever flexed them in your life. Try to get them to cramp. See how long you can stand it. This is where the “hyperplasia” growth is hidden.
A few weeks of this and you’ll begin noticing the tops of your socks don’t fit too well. Your calves will start looking good not just in the mirror but even when you look down at them.