Calf Raises: Knee Bent vs. Knee Straight

running Feb 09, 2024

Ever wondered how your calf raise technique can impact different muscles in the calf group? Let's explore the science behind knee-bent vs. knee-straight calf raises! 🦵💡

🔍 Muscle Trio:

The calf muscle group comprises three main players – the medial gastrocnemius, the lateral gastrocnemius, & the soleus.

Bent knee calf raises

📉 Decreased electromyographic (EMG) activity in the gastrocnemius at greater knee flexion angles (more knee bend) (Arampatzis 2006) 

🩹Standing with a bent knee increases strain on the Achilles tendon. Yeh (2021) notes that a bent knee allows for a greater ankle dorsiflexion range. Fonaro (2022) supports this, demonstrating higher strain in the soleus component of the Achilles tendon during bent knee calf raises.

Straight knee calf raises

🚀Reid's (2012) and Signorile's (2002) findings indicate significantly higher gastrocnemius activity in the extended knee condition, while soleus muscle activity remains constant across joint positions.

Contrary to the belief that a specific knee flexion position selectively targets a single muscle, Hébert-Losier (2011) argues that no knee flexion position is exclusively selective to the soleus (SOL), medial gastrocnemius (GM), or lateral gastrocnemius (GL) alone.


  • 🔑Soleus activity is unchanged by differing knee flexion angles

  • 🔑Gastrocs activity is decreased with more knee bend

Clinical implications

  • Why not both? We suggest utilizing both exercises to provide diverse stimuli to the calf & Achilles tendon

  • For early gastrocnemius strains, opt for seated or bent knee calf raises initially, gradually progressing to standing, straight leg variations.

  • To manage Achilles tendinopathy, consider progressing to bent knee variations (seated or standing) to intensify the strain on this structure.

👋Like & share this if you found it useful!

Download Our Measurz App For FREE And Perform, Record and Track 500+ Tests With Your Clients Today.

Try Our Measurz App FREE For 30-Days

Want To Improve Your Assessment?

Not Sure If The MAT Data-Driven Approach Is Right For You?

Get a taste of our MAT Course and data-driven approach using the MAT with a FREE module from our online MAT Course.

We hate SPAM. We will never sell your information, for any reason.