Calves are one of the most stubborn body parts for many of us. Personally they are something I love to hate. Fondly I can remember reading my Arnold’s Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding and just staring at pictures of him flexing those giant calves and knowing I wanted a pair.
Great calves draw the eyes when you wear shorts. They are a hallmark of an athlete, or at least of someone who has figured out how to make them grow in the gym. Nobody wants to be that guy at the gym with the great upper body but always wears track pants to hide those skinny shins and calves.
So what can we do about it? Blast the hell out of those calves and watch them grow!
Fire Down Below Workout
The calves are a unique muscle because they get so much regular work. For that reason they need to be stretched well before, during, and after workouts. There are two reasons; one is general muscle growth and recovery while the other is to stretch the fascia that covers the muscle. Fascia tissue is like a tight sheath. If you don’t stretch it out then you are limiting the room to grow!
Now there are only so many options for calf exercises. But besides what you do, how you do it plays a part. We want to focus on heel position as well as rep speed. For our lower rep sets you should go nice and slow down and up taking 3 to 4 seconds each way and getting a full stretch and contraction. For higher rep sets we are looking for a faster pace where you still hit the full range of motion but you explode up and aim for a maximum pump.
For heel position vary it each set. For your first set have your heels straight behind your toes, the second have them angled out, and the third angled in. You can mix it up in another manner if you want but never do 2 sets in a row with the same heel position. This will ensure maximum angles are hit.
- Reverse Calf Raises – 2 sets of 15 to 20 reps at a slow pace – for this exercise stand with your heels on a 45lb plate. Raise your toes as high as possible and hold. Then lower them down to touch the floor to complete one rep.
- Standing Calf Raises – 3 sets of 6 to 10 reps (slow)
- Standing Calf Raises – 2 sets of 15 to 20 reps (fast)
- Calf Raises on a Leg Press Machine (or Donkey Calf Raises) – 2 sets of 6 to 10 reps (with knees bent 15-20 degrees)
- Calf Raises on a Leg Press Machine (or Donkey Calf Raises) – 2 sets of 15 to 20 reps (with knees bent 15-20 degrees)
- Seated Calf Raises – 2 sets of 6 to 10 reps
- Seated Calf Raises – 2 sets of 15 to 20 reps
- Stretch the calves, quads, and hamstrings
Don’t work your calves more than twice a week. Just because you walk on them everyday does not mean the muscles recover any faster to the brutal work you are going to give them.