Exercise to Isolate the Soleus

Exercise to Isolate the Soleus

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Isolate your soleus with a bend in your knees. The soleus muscle is located on the back of your lower leg. The muscle begins on the top of the back of your lower leg bone and inserts into your heel. When you flex your ankle, the soleus contracts. This is true in any movement where weight lands on your toes, such as running, skipping and dancing. However, when your knees are straight, the gastrocnemius, another muscle in your calves, is more powerful. The gastrocnemius does not contract when your knees are bent, so to isolate the soleus, the bent-knee position, as in a dumbbell seated calf raise, is best.

Step 1

Place the block of wood on the floor approximately one foot from the weight bench or chair.

Step 2

Hold a dumbbell in each hand with your arms extended along the front of your body.

Step 3

Sit on the bench. Rest the dumbbells on your thighs approximately three inches above your knees. Continue to hold the dumbbells. Place your toes and the balls of your feet on the wood. Touch your heels to the floor if you are able, or lower them as far as possible.

Step 4

Exhale and lift your heels as you flex your ankle. Raise your heels as high as you are able while you feel the contraction in your calves.

Step 5

Maintain the contraction for one to two seconds. Inhale and lower your heels as you dorsiflex your ankle.

Step 6

Repeat Steps 4 and 5 for your desired number of repetitions.


  • Warm up your calves before you strength train with a five-minute full-body movement. Select exercises such as walking, cycling, running or stair climbing. Choose your dumbbell weight based on the number of repetitions you want to complete. If you cannot complete at least eight, decrease the amount of weight. If you are able to complete more than 15, increase the amount of weight.