The Elite Physique

Ultimate Calf Training for Maximum Results

calf training for maximum results

Admit it.  Your calf training sucks.  You’ve been a slave to the iron game for years on end.  You do countless reps and sets, pouring blood, sweat and tears into your calf training.  After all your hard and dedicated work you step back and gaze into the mirror only to see your calves are still puny.  How embarrassing.

You wonder how can your calves be so inferior with all the hard training you’ve been putting into calf your calf workouts.  Let’s face it you’ve trained your calves every possible way, exercises, reps, sets, etc. You have even tried eating more, eating less, you res and you supplement. You have done everything right, and yet, still no calf growth.

fitness and physique magazine obc

My Article, Ultimate Calf Training for Maximum Results, was featured in Fitness & Physique Magazine

If this sounds like you, putting 110% into your calf training only to receive 5% results, then you may think you suffer from the common bodybuilding disease, yes I said disease, SCS – Small Calf Syndrome. I have a fix for you and it’s not a shot, a pill, or an ointment.  It’s a 100% all natural approach to calf training that will turn your calves into cows.

Due to the repeated yakking I hear about bodybuilders can’t get their calves to grow or they play the “genetics” card, I wrote this article to shed some light on calf training and how you can use it to build an awesome set of head-turning, jaw-dropping calves.

womans sexy calves

How Your Personal Calf Structure Can Determine Your Potential Calf Size

Have you ever noticed that person who has GREAT calves, yet he or she doesn’t workout? And you, on the other hand, give your calves a brutal beating twice a week and have nothing to show for it. What gives? Well, here’s a little secret. Calves are genetic; their structure is anyway.

The length of the calf muscle and the tendons insertion point governs how well you can build your calves. So, is Mother Nature evil? Perhaps, to some. To others, she blesses them. We hate you. Here’s the deal… If you have short calf muscles with a long tendon insertion you will have a really hard time building great and impressive calves because they are just genetically smaller and positioned higher.

Calf training can be frustrating because it is an extremely hard muscle to get desired result from. But, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Even if you have been zapped in the poor genetics department in regards to calves, there are some tricks you can use to get them to respond in your favor.

lower leg development

The Structure of the Calf Muscle to Improve Calf Training

To build great calves you have to understand the structure of the calf muscle. If you understand how and why the calves work you can gain control over your calf training.

There are two calf muscles and each muscle requires a different form of training intensity. When you apply the proper intensity to each calf muscle you will be able to capitalize on calf building. Easier said then done? Not really. The idea is to train hard, yet smart.

The calves are made up of two major muscles, the soleus and the gastrocnemius (gastroc). These muscles, collectively, provide calf size, shape, and width and when well-developed, bring great proportion to the legs. A smaller muscle, the tibialis anterior, is located at the front of the lower leg. This small sidekick has an important role in overall lower leg development, strength, size, power and endurance.

gastroc and soleus diagram

The Soleus

The soleus is the smaller and wider calf muscle. It lies just under the gastroc, so it’s not clearly visible. The soleus muscle is responsible for calf width.

This muscle is used in a lot of endurance activities. The gastroc typically is composed of a lot of fast-twitch muscle fibers or an equal amount of slow- and fast-twitched. This allows the soleus to gain control in many events when the gastroc becomes fatigued.

How often have you engaged in countless reps and sets of standing calf raises and still don’t have anything to show after all your hard work?  Standing calf raises build strength and power. That’s great, but if you want to build larger calves you have to work the soleus more.

How to Train the Soleus

You can build bigger calves by doing any bent-knee calf raises, such as the seated calf raise. When the knees are bent, the gastroc is not involved as much. The soleus tends to respond best to lighter poundage, more reps, and just a few sets due to its composition of mostly slow-twitch muscle fibers (red).

womans fit legs

The Gastrocnemius

The gastroc is the larger calf muscle. It provides the shape of the calves as a whole. It’s positioned at the top back of the lower leg. The gastroc extends from the knee joint to the ankle joint. It contains two heads (lateral and medial) that lie next to each other. The gastroc is clearly visible and when it’s well-developed it portrays the commonly diamond shape look or what looks like an upside down heart.

How to Train the Gastroc

You can build a great gastroc muscle with any straight-legged calf raise. Standing calf raises work, donkey calf raises, as well as doing the calf press on the leg press machine. Often times you’ll see bodybuilders bending their knees slightly to relieve pressure. While it seems logical, but drawback is that it takes focus off of the gastroc and puts more on the soleus. If you are going to train your gastroc muscles, then lock your knees so you target it only. Save the soleus work using the bent-knees calf raises.

Donkey calf raises are one of the best exercises for the gastroc muscle because of the position it puts you in. The gastroc ties in with the hamstrings. When you bend over, your hamstrings and gastroc are stretched. This allows for more localization and intensity during calf training.

The gastroc requires heavy poundage, just a few reps, and a lot of sets because of the great number of fast-twitch muscle fibers (white).

Anterior Tibialis

The anterior tibialis is positioned opposite of the calves. It’s on the front of the lower leg. Building your anterior tibialis will give your calf more proportion and depth. If you have bad genetics in the calf department, well-developed anterior tibialis can make your calves appear bigger from the side and from the front.

How to Train the Anterior Tibialis

This muscle can be worked with simple toe raises. Just place the heels of your feet on a platform such as a block or weight plates and raise your toes as high as you can.

tibialis diagram

Toes-in and Toes-out BUSTED!

Toes-in and toes-out calf training?  It’s a complete was of time.  All the muscle fibers in the calf run in the same direction making the toes-in and toes-out useless. Let’s not forget that it’s dangerous to externally and internally rotate your knees and ankles.

The ball-and-socket joint at the hip to give foot rotation. It provide zero stress on the calves since there is no calf muscle that crosses the hip joint. People who say they feel the difference when doing the toes-in and toes-out lifting is due to bad form and using too much weight because there is no internal or external rotation of the hip.

If you want to zone-in on various areas of the calves you need to angel the pressure by rolling over on your little toes (eversion) or rolling over on your big toes (inversion). Angle the soles if your feet. That’s the trick not rotation the knees. OUCH!

When you angle the pressure you can take advantage of the movement that takes place in in ankle. When you roll over on your big toes you will hit the lateral head a bit more and when you roll over on your smaller toes you will stress the medial head more. Roll and angle, don’t twist and turn.

WRONG!!!

toes in and toes out
Image by popsugar.com

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Want to Build Great Legs and Calves?

Now, I've given you quite a bit of information on calf training. It's up to you to make it work in your favor.  You can avoid mistakes and get on the right training path by downloading a copy (FREE) of my 5 Leg Training Hacks.

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Karen Sessions NSCA-CPT

Want to Build Great Legs and Calves?

My name is Karen Sessions and I am a life-time natural female bodybuilder, multi-certified fitness instructor, author, specialist in performance nutrition, and a success coach. I've been in the fitness industry since 1988! I teach people Just Like You how to transform their bodies, get in shape, build muscle, lose fat and compete in Bodybuilding, Physique, and Figure Competitions. When you have the CORRECT information you can have total confidence and turn your dreams into reality... and I can help transform YOUR body. I have helped THOUSANDS of clients reach their goals and I can help you, too

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