I know each and everyone of you has seen both a seated AND standing calf machine in the gym. But have you ever thought to yourself, ‘is there any difference between the two?’ Well, right now you’re about to find out!
Both machines/positions target the calf muscles, in particular the ankle plantarflexors. Your primary two ankle plantarflexors are the gastocnemius and the soleus muscles. Both of these muscle are EXTREMELY STRONG muscles - some of the strongest in the body! However, as we outlined in episode 18, there is a KEY distinction between these two strong guys. The gastrocnemius muscle crosses BOTH the ANKLE and the KNEE joint! Not only is the gastroc an ankle plantarflexor, but it is also a knee flexor. This means it is a 2-joint muscle; thus, it is affected by the position of BOTH the ankle and knee joint! On the other hand, the soleus muscle ONLY CROSSES THE ANKLE JOINT; thus, it is NOT AFFECTED BY THE POSITION OF THE KNEE.
So when performing a seated calf raise, we are putting the gastroc on relative slack (because the knee is bent/flexed). This means that we can preferentially TARGET THE SOLEUS MUSCLE when performing seated calf raises!
But when we stand (knee is straight/extended), the gastroc is no longer on slack. This means that we are now relatively TARGETING THE GASTROC when performing standing calf raises!