Donkey exercise: description, technique, photos

Arnold Schwarzenegger's “donkey” exercise is a strength exercise that is aimed at shaping the calf muscles. In fact, it consists in making lifts on socks in an inclination. It got a comic name due to association with the animal of the same name during its implementation.

The exercise became popular thanks to the famous bodybuilder - Arnold Schwarzenegger. Not distinguished by outstanding calves, the future “Mr. Olympia” often performed the “donkey” exercise with two partners on his back in order to quickly level out his genetic “lag”.

Arnold Schwarzenegger

Arnold performed the exercise with a maximum range of motion, fully stretching the calf muscles at a lower point and rising all the way up to a strong burning sensation. This allowed to achieve maximum efficiency.

In this article, you will learn basic information that will help you achieve perfect calves.

Exercise features

The exercise "donkey" is aimed at creating the volume and thickness of calves. Its main feature is the absence of compression load on the spine, as a result of which it is also used by athletes with back injuries.

Calf muscles

The main load is received by the triceps muscles of the lower leg, combining the lateral and medial heads, as well as the soleus muscle. During the exercise, the anterior tibial muscle is partially involved.

Preparing for the Exercise

The ankle is the main motor unit when performing exercises on the calf muscles. For this reason, it is simply necessary to warm it up carefully before loading. Therefore, start your workout with a simple warm-up, including circular rotation of the feet. Complete your training with a light jog and warm-up approach without using weights.

Execution technique

Donkey exercise in the gym

Consider the technique of the exercise "donkey":

  1. To perform this exercise, you need a simulator for lifting on toes in a slope. Lean forward and rest your lower back in the cushion of the simulator.
  2. Place your hands on the handles, stand on the stand, transferring the weight of the body to the socks. Lower your heels, point your socks in the right direction, depending on which zone you want to work out. Straighten your legs, but keep your knees slightly bent. This is the starting position.
  3. As you exhale, rise on your toes as high as possible. In the process of movement, the knees should remain stationary, only calves are included in the work. Pause at the top for a second.
  4. As you inhale, slowly lower yourself to the starting position.

Execution Options

Donkey exercise with a partner

Consider the main options for performing the exercise:

  1. Exercise "donkey" with a partner or weighting on the back. This option is perfect for those athletes who do not have a target simulator in the gym. In this case, a partner sitting on the athlete's hips will act as a “burden”. You can also use the load, placing it below the base of the lower back.
  2. Exercise "donkey" without weight. If you are in the initial stages of training, you need to work out the technique of implementation. In this case, the exercise option is suitable for you without using additional weights.


Donkey exercise without weights

The following are some guidelines to help you with the Donkey exercise.

  1. If you do not have a specialized simulator nearby, then ask your partner to play the role of a weighting agent, sitting on your back. Also, a hack machine can act as a full replacement for a special rack.
  2. When doing the exercise with a partner, make sure that his weight falls on the pelvic area, not the lower back. It is also important that the partner takes a static position.
  3. When doing the exercise with a partner, be sure to use the backing under the forefoot to increase the amplitude.
  4. To significantly strain the calf muscles, do a 1-2 second peak contraction at the top of the range of motion.
  5. For a complete workout, periodically change the setting of the legs: a parallel position allows you to distribute the load evenly between both heads of the biceps of the leg; the external direction of the sock transfers the load to the medial bundles; connection of socks increases the share in the work of the lateral part of the muscles.
  6. Do not allow the sock to slip off the support. This can damage the ligaments and tendons.
  7. Girls can perform the exercise "donkey kicks to the left", alternating it with the classic version of this exercise, which will allow to pump both gluteal muscles and calf in one training session. From the starting position, standing on all fours, it is necessary to stretch the left leg to the side, maximizing the knee up, and then return to the starting position. The exercise "donkey kicks to the right" is performed by analogy, the difference is only in the working leg.


Donkey exercise in the simulator

Consider the main oversights that athletes make when performing exercises:

  1. Work in incomplete amplitude (exception - the purposeful implementation of exercises with partial amplitude).
  2. Load transfer in the lumbar region.
  3. Abrupt execution of movements.
  4. Rounding of the back.

Place in the training program

It is recommended to perform the exercise "donkey" at the end of the leg training or as part of the training of other muscle groups.

The basic scheme for training the calf muscles is to perform a large number of lifts - in the range from 12 to 20 repetitions and from 3 to 5 approaches. To prevent the effect of the plateau, you should occasionally create stress on the lower legs by increasing the load while reducing the number of repetitions.

To optimize the training process, try to adhere to the following recommendations:

  1. Have a rest day between workouts. It is most effective to do three workouts per week: Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
  2. Pump calves for rest between sets. Do not postpone calf muscle training to the very end when you are exhausted. Train them while resting during the main workout.
  3. Do stretching. Do not forget about this important element of training. Stretching will allow you to work out the target muscles and prepare them for more intense power loads. Stretching exercises will prevent the stretching of muscles and ligaments, as well as increase their flexibility and elasticity.


Donkey exercise cannot be performed if you have soft tissue injuries, namely an Achilles tendon sprain or rupture. Also, in the presence of uncomfortable sensations that arise from time to time during the exercise. This may indicate the presence of tendon microtrauma. In this case, you should reduce the load for some time or completely cancel it.


So, we examined the technique of performance and features of the exercise "donkey" on the calves. Now you know everything about how to achieve beautiful and strong calf muscles.


All Articles