Training the Calves

Training the Calves

Calves, like the deltoids and abdominals, are a very aesthetic body part. A good pair of calves look good on the beach or tennis court as well as onstage. But more that that, outstanding calf development has historically been associated with the ideal male physique. Huge deltoids, washboard abs, and powerful calves were the qualities the Greek sculptors fashioned in their classical images of warriors and athletes.

Ideally, your calf development should about equal the development of your biceps. If your calves are smaller than your arms, then you need to give them extra attention.  Calves are considered the most difficult muscle group in the body to develop. But calves muscles respond to training just like any other muscle - you just have to be aware that they need to be trained at many different angles and with extremely heavy weight.

Think about what happens when you walk and run: You turn your foot and ankle first one way, then the other; you push off, stop suddenly, turn and change direction, you climb upward, walk downhill. And with each different movement you make, the calf muscles bear your weight, raising you up on your toes, lowering you down onto your heels, helping you twist your feet in different directions.

The primary mass builder for calves is Standing Calf Raises, and here extra weight is really important. Standing Calf Raises exercise, along with Donkey Calf Raises, works both the gastrocnemius and soleus muscles of the calf. Seated Calf Raises better target the soleus.

Many bodybuilders do their calf training as an afterthought. Before or after their regular workout they give them 10 minutes or so, far less than they would for any other body part. And the they complain when their calves do not respond.

You should treat the calves just like every other body part. Since the calves are designed for constant work and rapid recuperation. Use a wide variety of  calf exercises; not just some sets of Standing and Seated Calf Raises, but enough movements to work every area of the calf muscles - upper and lower, inside and outside.

The calves are tough and used to a lot of hard work, so the best way to make them grow is to constantly shock them, using every high-intensity training principle possible. For example, when doing Donkey Calf Raises, Arnold Schwarzenegger frequently started off with three 220-pound bodybuilders sitting on his back. He would continue the set until he could not do another rep, then have one of them slide off so that he could continue until his calves were screaming in agony. Finally, Arnold would finish off the set using only his own body weight and feeling as if his calves were going to explode.

Another shock method to develop calves muscles involves doing partial reps. About one out of four of calf workouts involved doing half and quarter movements with extremely heavy weights, which put an enormous demand on the calf muscles. The more you shock the calves, the more you subject them to unexpected stimulation, the more calf development you will see as a result.

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