7 Calf Exercises & Techniques for Better Calves
If you’ve ever tried to make your calves grow, then you know they don’t respond as quickly to training as other muscles. And you’re not alone, even Arnold Schwarzenegger had difficulty growing his calves.
The reason is that your calves get a workout with every step you take. So they’re used to working hard. That means you must find unique ways to make them work harder in order to grow.
I had stubborn calves too. But I was finally able to make them grow once I discovered a handful of specific calf exercises and techniques.
If you use these 7 tricks you will go from scrawny calves to full-grown cows!
1. Get Positive Results with Negative Reps
Eccentric training is when you lengthen your muscle while it’s under tension. In other words, you lower weight while contracting your muscle.
For example, during a standing calf raise, the negative part of the exercise is when you let your heels down. When you lower the weight slowly you create more small tears in the fibers than when you lift it. As a result, your body repairs those tears and makes your calves bigger.
During calf exercises, lower the weight under control for 5-10 seconds and repeat for several repetitions.
2. Stretch It Out
As it turns out, stretching during and between calf exercises leads to more growth. That’s because you actually stretch out the sheath of tissue surrounding the calf muscle.
That sheath of tissue is called the fascia. Over time, it becomes tight and constricted. Especially in overworked muscles like the calves.
Therefore, by stretching your calves vigorously during a workout you loosen and expand the tissue. And you give your muscles more room to expand and grow.
During calf exercises, allow the weight to fully stretch your calf muscle at the bottom of the rep. Then, stretch your calves for 30 seconds each between sets.
3. Alter the Angles
Different parts of the calf are stimulated by different positions of your feet and legs.
For example, angling your toes inward works more of the outer portion of the calf. Whle angling your toes outward works the inner portion.
In addition, keeping your legs straight during calf exercises works more of the upper portion of your calf (gastrocnemius). Whereas, bending your knees works more of the lower portion your calf (soleus).
For that reason, be sure to incorporate all the angles in your calf exercises for maximum growth.
4. Early and Often
Most people do calf exercises as an afterthought at the end of their workout.
For better results, train your calves first. That way, your energy and strength are at their highest and you can work your calves harder. This is a technique called the priority principle.
In addition, your calves typically recover quickly. So train them again as soon as they’re not sore.
5. Load Up
In order to subject your calves to forces they’re not used to, you need to use heavy weights.
For at least one exercise per workout, load up as much weight as you can. Just be sure you’re still performing safe reps with good form.
6. Reps on Reps
Another good trick to shock your calves is to use super high reps. In this case, you will use a lighter weight that you can do for 20 or 25 reps. Then do multiple sets back to back.
For instance, perform one calf exercise per workout where you do 100 total reps! When you can’t do anymore reps, rest for about 15 seconds and keep going. Continue this until you get to 100 reps.
This is called the rest pause technique and it’s a great way to increase training intensity.
7. Turn Up the Volume
By now you’re aware that you have to hit your calves hard to stimulate growth. So far we’ve used heavy weights and super high reps to shock them into growth.
Another strategy is to increase the number of sets you do in each calf workout. Shoot for at least 30 sets per workout. And you can divide this up amongst several different calf exercises.
7 Calf Exercises & Techniques for Growth
To summarize, here are the main points you can apply to your next calf workout:
1. Use negative reps
2. Stretch between & during sets
3. Position your feet to hit all angles
4. Train your calves first
5. Use heavier weights
6. Do a set of 100 reps
7. Shoot for 30+ sets per workout
How Do I Know These Calf Exercises Work?
I used to struggle to grow my calves too. And, admittedly, sometimes I still let them slide. But whenever I do, I can turn to this calf exercise list and make them grow again.
My results after using these calf exercises (@jeremyfoxfitness)
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Give these calf exercises a try and see the results for yourself. And if you want more great workout tips you can get my free Workout Guide sent to your inbox.