Donkey Calf Raise Exercise: Build Stronger Calves

Donkey Calf Raise Exercise
Donkey Calf Raise Exercise
Image Credit: Men’sHealth (see video below)

Calf raises are a staple in most leg workouts, but have you ever heard of the Donkey Calf Raise? Don’t worry, it doesn’t involve any real donkeys.

This exercise is a great way to target the calf muscles, particularly the gastrocnemius muscle, and help you achieve those toned, defined calves you’ve always wanted. But this exercise isn’t just for aesthetics.

Let’s dive into the benefits, muscles targeted, equipment needed, steps to perform the exercise, mistakes to avoid, and have a little fun with the Donkey Calf Raise.

Benefits of the Donkey Calf Raise Exercise

The Donkey Calf Raise is an effective exercise for strengthening and toning the calf muscles. It targets the gastrocnemius muscle, which is responsible for the shape and definition of the calf.

Strong calf muscles can also improve your overall athletic performance, particularly in sports that involve running, jumping, and other explosive movements.

What Body Parts are Impacted by the Donkey Calf Raise Exercise

As mentioned before, this exercise primarily targets the gastrocnemius muscle, which is the larger of the two calf muscles. However, the soleus muscle, which is located underneath the gastrocnemius muscle, also gets engaged during this exercise.

By working both of these muscles, you can develop stronger and more defined calves.

Equipment You Need to do the Donkey Calf Raise Exercise

To perform this exercise, you will need a sturdy elevated surface such as a step, block or weight plates, and a bench. You can also use a calf raise machine if it’s available in your gym. Make sure the surface you use is stable and can support your weight.

Steps for Completing the Donkey Calf Raise Exercise

Step 1: To perform calf raises, you need a sturdy elevated surface like a step or a weight bench. Place your toes on the edge of the surface and keep your heels hanging off, with your feet hip-width apart and toes pointing forward.

Step 2: Next, position a workout bench in front of you and stand facing it. Put your arms on the bench, gripping its edge with your hands.

Step 3: Make sure to maintain a straight back and engage your core. Gradually lift your heels off the edge of the surface as high as possible using your calf muscles, while keeping your knees straight and avoiding momentum or other muscle groups.

Step 4: When you reach the top of the movement, hold the position for a second or two, and contract your calf muscles. Then, slowly lower your heels back down to the starting position, allowing your calf muscles to fully stretch.

Step 5: Repeat the exercise for the desired number of repetitions, starting with three sets of 10-12 reps. As you progress, you can increase the weight or the number of reps.

This video shows how to complete this exercise. 

Mistakes to Avoid while doing the Donkey Calf Raise Exercise

Here are a few common mistakes to avoid while doing this exercise:

Arching your back: Make sure to keep your back straight throughout the exercise. Arching your back can put unnecessary strain on your lower back.

Bouncing: Don’t use momentum to lift yourself up. Make sure to use your calf muscles to lift yourself up and control the movement on the way down.

Overextending: Don’t overextend your ankle at the top of the movement. This can lead to injuries and unnecessary strain on your calf muscles.


The Donkey Calf Raise is a fun and effective exercise for building strong and defined calves. It targets the gastrocnemius and soleus muscles and can improve your overall athletic performance.

With the right equipment and proper form, anyone can benefit from this exercise. And don’t forget to have a little fun with it – after all, it is called the Donkey Calf Raise!

Don’t forget to stretch those hamstrings with the hamstring stretch.