Since my transformation I have outlined areas of my physique which I really want to improve. One of these body parts was my calves because like a lot of us they are poorly developed! Initially, I didn’t really care about my calves; it was all about the chest and arms! However over the past year I have began to feel slightly self-conscious to the point it hurts. Therefore it was time to take action, but to do that you have to know what actions are correct. Therefore I set out to learn in depth the best way to stimulate calf development and I wanted to share them with you! There are a lot of common mistakes many people make, and there are also a lot of great tips! Here they are!
Your Achilles tendon is the strongest tendon in the body which means that it can really push some weight about! What kind of exercises do you think you really engage the Achilles tendon? You got it, calf exercises! Have you seen ‘big’ guys lifting colossal weights with their calves, performing endless calf raises? If you have you will almost certainly have noticed that they do each rep very fast, explosive and not a lot else. Well, it is in fact the Achilles tendon which is taking a lot of the strain the resistance is placing on your body. This is why when you do 250kg calf raises on the leg press the arches of your feet often hurt more than your calves! In fact, it doesn’t usually hurt your calves that much doing this exercise! That is why! This really is a significant factor because it should completely change your out look of calf training.
Many people fail to achieve any kind of muscle contraction with their calf training. More than any other muscle you NEED to squeeze at the top of every single repetition to stimulate the calf muscles. By following the conventional ‘fast paced’ stacked leg press workout you are achieving almost no muscular contraction. This won’t place the muscle under much stress, which is why it isn’t forced to grow!
The calves are notorious for the lack of blood flow into the area, which is why a lot of sports men will drop to the ground with cramp in this particular area. This symbolises the lack of oxygenated blood being flushed into the muscle, failing to carry away lactic acid salts. Therefore you need to go for more repetitions than you usually would on any other body part. Personally, I would suggest using 6-10 repetitions is NEVER productive on your calves. Instead, go for 15-30 per set making sure you squeeze and contract at the top of every repetition. This will act like a pump and drive nutrient rich blood into the calves. As a result it will, over a period of time help stretch the fascia which in turn forces more muscle development in the area.
To further promote growth in your calves I have learnt the importance of stretching them. What this does is help stretch the fascia, which by now we know is very stubborn, particularly around your calves due to the lack of blood flow.
When you have a weak muscle group it is very tempting to hit it several times a week. Normally I would disagree simply, yet due to the unique nature of your calves in this instance I think it is a good idea. Aim to train your calves twice a week, so you are flooding the area with blood and stretching the fascia every 3 to 4 days.
Some people’s calves will look skinny from the side but full from the front where others will have a well developed outer head and a non existent inner head. What does this tell you? Like triceps for instance you need to target the different heads of your calves. To stimulate the outer head point your toes in and point your toes outwards if you want to hit the inner head. Aim for 3 to 4 sets per head twice a week.
Taking all of these points into account you should be able to launch a viable attack on your calves, leaving you with a good chance to win the battle! For sure, calves are probably the most ‘genetically effected’ muscle group, but anyone CAN build decent calves if you train the right way!