Tired of being top-heavy? Bored of being called ‘chicken legs’? Frustrated by useless calf development? Don’t worry, because help is finally at hand – in the form of these 5 effective steps to help you get big calves NOW!
1. Do you even lift?
Bros love to bitch about their calves. No matter what they do, their calves just refuse to grow – because of crappy genetics, crappy gym equipment and even crappy supplements. In reality, the main culprit for bad calf development is – you.
Truth be told, most bros just don’t train their calves properly. They aren’t as glamorous as your biceps, tris and chest, and most of the time, they’re covered by your baggy tracksuit bottoms. Girls don’t drool over calf development, and as a result, you just don’t train them.
So, before we get stuck into some of the more advanced techniques of calf training, it’s time to take a long, hard look at your routine. If you aren’t training your calves week in, week out, and pushing yourself as hard on Leg day as you do on Chest day, then you’ve already identified your problem.
Start training your calves dude.
2. Train your calf like it’s two muscles
…because it is. In the same way that your precious biceps are in fact two separate muscles, the calf is also made up of two distinct muscles – gastrocnemius and soleus. These weird sounding muscles actually perform two different actions. Gastrocnemius is activated by performing standing calf raises, with your knee locked-out; and soleus is active when your knees are bent.
To get the most out of you calf development, it’s a great idea to train both muscles. When planning your next calf workout, make sure to include both seated and standing calf raise movements.
3. Train heavy
Even without any direct training, the calves are some of the strongest muscles in the body. Day in and day out, they’re used to lugging around your hulking 300lb frame, across all types of terrain. Much like that really popular chick from your gym, your calves take one hell of a pounding – so to get them to grow, you need to take them to the limit.
You’ve probably seen pictures of Arnie doing calf raises with a couple of girls sitting on his back. If girls are in short supply, just stick a couple of extra plates onto the calf raise machine. Keep your form tight, and focus on slowly lowering the weight down to a comfortable stretch, before exploding back up.
4. Use the Priority Principle
The priority principle is another useful tip popularised by the Austrian Oak, Arnold Schwarzenegger. He was a huge fan of training your most important body parts at the beginning of each session, where you’re at your strongest.
Unfortunately, in this instance, ‘most important’ means ‘weakest’ – so put down the Z-bar, move away from the preacher bench, and head for the calf raise machine.
5. Increase your training frequency
If none of the previous tips have improved your calf development, it’s time to up your training frequency. In some instances, bodybuilders find their calves respond to a relatively high training frequency – performing calf exercises two or three times a week. To increase your training frequency, start with a simple 2-days a week routine:
Monday – Light Calves, 3×12
Friday – Heavy Calves, 5×5
If your calves haven’t improved after a couple of months, you can try working a 3-day routine into your workout plan.
Monday – Heavy Calves, 5×5
Wednesday – Light Calves, 3×12
Friday – Heavy Calves, 3×5
If none of these steps work for you, I’m sorry bro. You’re a genetic freak, some kind of hideous mutant with tentacles where your calf muscles should be. I’ll buy you a protein shake, and we can watch YouTube videos of bodybuilders training leg day, and cry into our shakers.
If, however, you’re in the 99.999% of weightlifters that will respond to these tips – congratulations! You’ve just discovered the secret to awesome calf development – and it wasn’t even that hard.
See you next time, bros,
Alex Nerney – CSCS, ISSA, NESTA
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[image via ShutterStock]
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