Many people blame their lack of calf development on genetics when they should be putting the blame on themselves. Calves are probably the most neglected body part on weight lifters. Some times it's not that people don't train them at all it's they don't train them with enough weight, they don't train them with enough frequency and some just don't know how to train them. Well, in this article we will cover the dos and don'ts and go over a wide variety of exercises and rep ranges on how to train them and get the most out of each workout.
Before we begin we need to get down the proper form for training calves. Form means everything in training calves more than any other body part. In order to achieve proper form you just go all the way up on your toes as high as possible and go all the way down as far as you can. I have seen so many people doing less than a ï¿½ rep and complain why their calves won't grow. It's a must that proper form be used for each and every rep when training them.
Now that we have our form down let's talk about the amount of weight that needs to be used. Arnold, who by the way has great calves, says that you should use a weight that is about 2 times your bodyweight. I see all too often people using a weight that is half of what they weigh. Think about it like this, the reason calves are so hard to get growing is this, you walk and some time run on them every day so they are a very tough muscle group to start with. So in order to get them to grow you must force them into growth with a good heavy weight. But remember the above paragraph about form. Go as heavy as you can and still use proper form.
When training calves heavy a lot of people assume that it means they can cut back on the amount of reps they do. Calves for the most part respond well to high reps, although I do know one guy who does about 6-8 reps and his calves are perfect but that falls under the "great genetics" category. I recommend people use 15-20 reps when training calves and if you want a really killer do a 100-rep set. I never drop below 12 reps even when training them with the heaviest weight. If you can push yourself through the pain barrier and do 5 sets of 15-20 reps with a good heavy weight then your calves will start turning into cows.
Something that some people don't know or they don't realize the importance of is foot position. There are three different positions: toes pointed forward, pointed out and pointed in. Each position really hits a different head of the muscle and allows you to create a really well developed calf.
Toes pointed forward - this hits pretty much the entire calf muscle.
Toes pointed out - this really nails the inner part of the muscle, which gives the calves a wide look.
Toes pointed in - this one gets the outer part of the calf.
Stretching is another key to good calf development. Stretch before training them for 2-3 min, stretch after each set and when you're finished training them. Stretching is important for each body part but calves are a body part that a lot of people seem to neglect.
Now that we have discussed the proper form, weight ranges, rep ranges and different feet positions let's talk about the many different movements that can really blast our calves into some great growth.
Standing Calf Raises - nothing adds mass to the calve like good heavy standing calf raises. But as good as it is if proper form is not used then they are basically useless. Perform them using proper form and a good rep range. On these I like to go as heavy as 350-400lbs for 10-15 reps. Just remember to go all the way up and all the way down for each rep.
Donkey Raises - not many gyms that I have been in have these anymore but if your so lucky to have one in yours then use it. This one is almost as good as standing raises for adding mass. When I have access to one I perform them in the same manor as standing raises.
Seated Calf Raises - this movement is the best shaper of any calf movement. This gives the calves that wide look. It is not a great mass builder but it blasts both outer and inner head of the calves like no other. I like to do these with around 200-250lbs for 10-15 reps. If you want to really make them burn then drop the weight and blast out 25-30 reps.
One leg calf raises - I really never see anyone perform this movement. I really like this movement because it allows me to be more controlled and really focus on each leg one at the time. It's performed by holding a dumbbell in your right arm, standing on your right leg and performs a calf raise (just the opposite for the left side). By doing them slow and controlled the burn is great and it has added so much hardness to my calves. I like to do them with a 50-60lb dumbbell for 15-20 reps.
Calf raises on the leg press - I love to do this one as a burn out. Now on these I use the proper form (of course) and rep out at 25-30 reps. I have really never count the amount of weight I use for these. This is a good finishing exercise.
Standing raises with no weight - To me this is the best finishing movement you can do. After blasting my calves to the point where I can barely walk. I will do 3 sets of 20 reps and do them so slow and go as high up on my toes as I can and then stretch at the bottom as low as I can. This forces so much blood into the muscle you won't believe the pump you will get. To me this is a must exercise.
Here are a few sample workouts that I highly recommend trying, unless you're scared to grow!
Work out #1
Standing Calf Raises - 5 sets: 10-15 reps
Seated Raises - 5 sets: 15-20 reps
One Leg Raises - 3 sets: 20 reps
Standing Raises with no weight - 3 sets: 20 reps
Work out #2 - the 100 reps set
Perform 3 sets of the following:
Donkey Raises - 50 reps
Seated Raises - 50 reps
Well I hope that this article will be insightful to some of you. Just remember that your calves are just like any other body part. You must train them with just as much intensity and focus as you would your biceps or chest. Don't neglect them what so ever. Calf muscles do grow at a slower rate on most people so just be patient. Now get out there and blast them into new growth.
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