Calves - Turning Them Into Cows!
How important are calves? When you are out at a club or bar no one will ask how much you calf raise will they? Usually when you talk about anything bodybuilding related to anyone calves don't even get a mention. But why? In my opinion calves are the one muscle that can complete a physique, but can also go unnoticed at the same time!
Because I have been training for so long now and have seen so many great physiques and outstanding body parts I have now started to be more critical about an individual's body and yes this includes my own.
But this article is about the impact calves can have on a persons physique and how you can go about bringing your calves up from a body part where you don't mind covering up to making them look like cows on the farm where you just want to wear shorts everywhere to show people yeah you got calves!
My Own Calves
I am known to have great calves and no matter what people say about me or my calves they will almost automatically start with the word genetics and then finish with that same word almost as they are using it as an excuses as to why I have big calves and they do not.
Every time I hear this I just smile and say they weren't always like this. In fact I never used to have big calves when I started training. When I won the Australian Teenage Nationals I didn't have huge calves, they were shaped but they were high, and small and from the outside almost non existent!
After that show in 2002 it was fast approaching summer and I was at the gym one day and saw an awesome set of calves on an older guy; he was about 40. I was standing there as Mr. Australia and I was more impressed with these guys calves than I was at my title.
It was then and there I decided I want to have some cows hanging out of my shorts (so I just trained them). I trained them all the time, everyday, even when they were sore. This didn't last too long because they got too sore so I sat down and worked out a blue print to get my calves massive and it worked.
Anatomy of the calves
It is now 3 years later and I have only just started training calves again. Over the last year I trained calves once a month because I have been dieting and they took a smashing from cardio but I have decided they are at the stage where I need them to be freaky again.
My overall body has gotten bigger and I believe I have awesome symmetry but on top of symmetry I believe you must have some real noticeable body parts that will stand out, and there is no better body part to emphasize; you can make people's physiques look very incomplete if they don't have calves and you have outstandingly developed ones.
I don't believe it is hard to make your calves grow, I just think people worry about it too much and then train calves with the mindset that they will never make their calves grow. You go in thinking like that and I wouldn't even bother reading on.
You can make your calves grow but you must be prepared to go beyond your normal pain barriers, calves can tolerate a lot more than many other muscles due to the fact that they are under tension the whole day. They can withstand a beating so just going to the gym sitting on the seated calf raise and pumping out 3 sets of 15 isn't going to cut it.
Exercise Guides: Seated Calf Raise
Watch The Video - 00:20
Below I have outlined 4 basic rules to making your stubborn calves grow, accompanied by examples and variations I will provide you enough ammunition to go to war on your calves, to make them grow so big you will be complaining about calf rash, where you can't walk without the 2 touching each other. READ ON!
4 Steps To Follow
1 Stretch In-Between Sets
After every set you do for your calves make sure you stretch each leg for a minimum of 15 secs. I believe for calves' stretching in-between sets is more effective than flexing them as they tend to become very very sore! You may flex in-between sets also as I tend to do both but I would recommend if you were doing one or the other to do stretches.
This helps the lactic acid build up escape therefore making your next set a little easier and also at the same time allows you to stretch out the calf so you have some hope in lengthening them also.
2 Train Calves Everyday
Yes you heard me right; if they aren't sore train them. I don't mean give them a 20 set hiding every time you train them but you must go by how they feel. If they are not seen and you are in a rush, minimum 2 sets on calves before you go. This must be done because you must understand; all day we stand up, then sit down, we walk around, jump up and down, stand up on our tippy toes to look for something.
Everyday your calves get a workout; you must now realize that to give calves an actual workout in the gym you must go above and beyond the normal workload they would withstand on a normal day... day in day out.
3 Walk Around On Your Tippy Toes
Don't laugh, I have just started to walk around on my tippy toes when I am training calves. This means from the time I start my first warm up set for calves I walk around the gym on my tippy toes, in-between sets, loading weights and changing machines. It is all done on tippy toes.
Try it. It's just another way to keep your calves overloaded and keep the stress on the muscle group that has a large pain thresh hold. After trying this specific step I want you to email me and tell me how truly sore your calves are.
4 Never Give Calves An Identical Workout Back To Back
You must keep your calves guessing. Train them instinctively, if you walked past a mirror earlier in the day and you were disgusted with how they looked, when you are at the gym take your calves to school and smash them, give them 3 exercises with 5 sets each and throw everything you have got at them.
Then the next time they aren't sore and you see them in another mirror and they had a nice pump to them and some shape, reward them with some high rep, contraction and pump focused supersets or drop sets.
You must listen to your body and train calves accordingly
Make your calves grow
So the 4 things that you must remember, now that you have decided to make your calves grow, are:
- Start to stretch them between sets, train them everyday, this can be done before your workout or after it doesn't matter.
- If your training partner likes his small girly calves then get to the gym about 15 minutes earlier and train calves before he gets there, soon enough he will be arriving 15 minutes early with you because your calves will be so big making his look like little birdie legs, and...
- Remember to walk around like a ballerina for your whole calf workout, don't worry about what others are thinking of you, because when your calves are growing they will start to walk like you and by then its your turn to laugh at them.
- The last thing to remember is to train them differently all the time, below is a list of ways you can really train your calves hard and intensely.
- Drop Sets
- Super Sets
- Tri Sets
- Rest Pause
- Static Holds
Make sure you are constantly changing your rep range. Calves will grow from anywhere from 4 to 100 reps. Make sure you vary this. If you want more on density keep the rep range lower but if you're trying to make your calves look like they are carved out of stone then focus on a higher rep range really emphasizing the point of contraction.
I hope this helps you bring up your stubborn lower legs. Id love to hear your feedback plus any other lagging body parts you might want some ideas for to help bring up to speed. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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My calves are not big, but since I started working them, they've been very responsive, I do not train them specifically hard, but I always have specific sets for them twice a week, will they hit a plateau soon? I would go and train them as hard as you tell me, but from the work I give them, they've been shaping all right.