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Training Calves: Keep It Simple And Smart

Get ready to limp out of bed tomorrow. It's time to feed the calves. With a steady diet of raises, raises, and more raises, they'll grow in no time.

I don't believe in overthinking a workout plan. I keep things simple, focus on strict form, and change it up when I need to. So, when I sat down to write this brief on calf training, I decided to simply write about the first thing that came to mind:

Johnny freaking Drama.

Although Entourage fans love listening to Johnny complain about his small calves, blaming genetics and contemplating calf implants, the truth is he's not alone. Calves are notoriously tough for anyone to really sculpt and develop. They're stubborn, and that's why they've become one of my favorites.

If your calf workout consists of a couple of rushed sets of 10 reps on the way to the locker room, listen up. A more strategic approach will have you hating life and staggering to work—in a good way.

Better Form = Better Calves

Unlike some guys, I don't get hung up on hitting the gastrocs and soleus muscles of my calves with equal volume and force—although I don't avoid it, either. For me, it's most important to really stretch the calf muscle on the negative, and really squeeze the top of the movement. By controlling that motion all the way through, I've seen great results in myself and others.

If you're looking for a revolutionary workout, this isn't it. My approach to calf work is a pretty straightforward mixture of form and failure:

  1. Use a full range of motion for each rep, and make the reps slow and controlled. Don't bounce on, say, the calf raise machine. You know who you are!
  2. Go as heavy as possible, while observing Rule No. 1.
  3. Fail on every set when working stubborn muscles groups.

The Calf-Razing Workout

Alternate the below workouts for the next four weeks or so, doing each once a week, so you're training calves twice a week total. I usually try to train calves on a randomly chosen day as long as it's not my main leg day, and as long as the day I choose doesn't jeopardize that leg day with calf soreness. Whatever the day, I usually train calves after cardio or abs.

Select a weight where you fail near the top end of the prescribed rep range. If you can crank 20 reps on these moves, for example, you went too light.

By the way, these single-leg leg-press calf raises, which became drop sets to burnout using legs? Those should make it hard to walk. You're welcome.

Workout A


Workout B

* Do 8-10 reps per leg through a full range of motion. Then put both feet on the machine and crank out reps until the burn is too intense to continue. There's no need to alter the weight before putting both feet on the platform. Because you're adding your other leg, the load is considerably lighter.


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Providence94

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Providence94

Will give it a try hehehee. Calves are soooo stubborn

Dec 11, 2012 6:45pm | report
 
zane11

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zane11

Got to love training calves! :) I'll be trying it, too.

Dec 11, 2012 8:23pm | report
 
aashikrajs

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aashikrajs

Preston noble has got the best calf muscles ever!..
.any time bb.com does an article on calves,Preston is their man!

Dec 12, 2012 12:48am | report
 
jpopp23

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jpopp23

tht guys calves are weak. just sayin

Jan 14, 2013 7:54am | report
rcarver7

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rcarver7

Love the Entouorage quotes...my favorite show...I will give these calf workouts a try

Dec 12, 2012 7:37am | report
 
CaliberIsNumUno

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CaliberIsNumUno

The best way to work your calves, and what's worked wonders for me is the following...

Calf raises. You do one set for each leg. Take 4 seconds on the lift portion, hold for 2 seconds, lower for 4 seconds. Do that until absolute failure. Then wait about 5 seconds, and do'em pretty fast this time, until absolute failure.

If you do this right, just like I said, your calves'll be more sore than they've ever been the next day. Now, just do this once every two weeks or so and you're golden.

My calves are 18 inches each, so it's a proven method.

Dec 12, 2012 10:22am | report
 
stubrb31

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stubrb31

18inches of pure fat??

Jan 13, 2013 9:42am | report
fitnessjewell

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fitnessjewell

These are definitely some of my favorites! Time to work it and put these calves to good use- adding these to today's workout!

Dec 12, 2012 11:15am | report
 
RCdelta62

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RCdelta62

Will have to try this and actually stick with it!

Dec 12, 2012 12:17pm | report
 
xMiiDNIGHT

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xMiiDNIGHT

My calves are lean as hell, but I can't seem to put on mass. Unlike my buddy who looks like he is smuggling soft balls down there.

Dec 12, 2012 12:18pm | report
 
vol8615

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vol8615

Yeah midnight I have a friend like that to

Jan 13, 2013 6:58am | report
jopojr

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jopojr

what if you workout at home, and do not have a leg press machine? what other workouts are there besides a standing raise that you can do without the press?

Dec 12, 2012 12:21pm | report
 
i3lackfox

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i3lackfox

Stand on a ledge or something elevated and do single-legged calve raises. Focus on slow contractions and squeeze the calve muscle for about 2 seconds for each rep.

Aim for a total of 100 reps. If you have any kind of weight, hold it to your side for added resistance. It's gonna be tough, but don't give in to the pain, bro. Good luck!

Dec 13, 2012 2:03am | report
Nkukk

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Nkukk

dem cheeky calves

Dec 12, 2012 1:00pm | report
 
cody1001

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cody1001

holly hell.. i never realized how lucky i was to naturally have big calves until i saw this. i do one exercise a week on em, if this is what i had to do every work out just on calves i think i might just wear pants more often instead..

Dec 12, 2012 1:18pm | report
 
BPapke

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BPapke

whenever i do calves they refuse to let me walk the following day

Dec 12, 2012 4:36pm | report
 
alex192

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alex192

i feel the same way haha. I have no idea why though.

Dec 21, 2012 11:56am | report
i3lackfox

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i3lackfox

I find it useful to try to complete a total of 100 reps divided into 5 sets, with only 30-45 seconds of rest. While resting, you should stretch the calves.

Calve muscles have different fibers than, say, quads, and respond well to high reps and short resting time.

Calves endure lots of work throughout the day. You have to have a higher pain tolerance to make them grow.

Dec 13, 2012 1:35am | report
 
vol8615

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vol8615

yeah aren't they mainly slow twitch fibers?!?!

Jan 13, 2013 6:59am | report
P90XVeteran

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P90XVeteran

Nice..

Dec 13, 2012 6:05am | report
 
willguy9

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willguy9

sounds good, i think i will incorporate this

Dec 13, 2012 4:16pm | report
 
smash06

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smash06

Did workout A this morning and it was a real smoker. Hopefully I won't be ablet to walk correctly tommorrow!

Dec 16, 2012 3:18am | report
 
omarlab

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omarlab

will do :D

Dec 24, 2012 11:40pm | report
 
GiselleD1994

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GiselleD1994

my calves are so thin and sad. gonna try this out guys. :)

Dec 29, 2012 3:20am | report
 
ManMeatMcgee

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ManMeatMcgee

Donkey calf raises, hmmmm
brb first need to acquire woman.

Jan 14, 2013 3:41pm | report
 
Showing 1 - 25 of 26 Comments

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