Are you making the most out of your calf training? If you’re like most guys, you probably aren’t. You’re probably making the most common calf training mistakes that many other lifters do. However, we’re pretty sure that you would like to develop a pair of pride-worthy bulging calves which are one of the most important contributors to an impressive well-balanced physique.
And vice versa, owning a pair of flat and depressed calves, especially if your quads and hams are huge, can make you feel rather odd and insecure. So, what can you do to unlock the growth potential of these stubborn muscles?
Unfortunately, hitting the gym 5 times per week and eating right isn’t enough on its own to give you the results you want.
First of all, calves can often be a weak point as a result of genetics, more specifically your genetically determined calf muscle insertion. Have you noticed that some people can build great calves with relatively little work?
Guys with different muscle insertions can get wildly different results from the same training routine, so knowing your body’s anatomy is a big plus if you want to get more bang for your buck while training the calves. So let’s say that a good calf training must begin with a proper anatomy lesson.
The calf muscle begins right below the knee and runs down behind the shin before stopping at a certain higher or lower position. Those with short calf muscles and a longer tendon insertion will have a harder time getting their calves to pop, while the others can reap significant progress in a short amount of time.
However, this doesn’t mean that guys with higher muscle insertions can’t build great calves – it just means that you will have to employ certain tactics to maximize the development and get optimal gains.
And that journey begins with recognizing possible mistakes you’ve been making so far. Calf training mistakes are pretty common, so don’t worry and read this article to learn how to give your calves the boost they deserve.
Here are the 5 most common calf training mistakes
1. Not lifting heavy enough
This is by far the most common mistake people make when targeting their calves. Your calves have a lot of work on their hands all throughout your day – remember, they support your entire bodyweight during all physical activities, 24/7. So if you want to challenge these bad boys to grow, you will have to work with some heavier weight.
Failing to do so will prove as insufficient for stimulating hypertrophy and won’t cause significant growth. A good way to start is by performing seated calf raises – this is a highly effective exercises that gives you the opportunity to safely overload the muscles with heavy weight without placing undue stress on your back.
2. Low volume
We’re not proposing that extremely high volume works best for hypertrophy in every case, but we can guarantee you that by lifting heavy for very few reps you’ll never get where you want to be, given the extended periods of work your calves are subjected to every single day.
Your calves are very comfortable with low-intensity work with a short range of motion, so performing calf sessions in that manner won’t push them to grow.
So instead of that, give them something they’re not accustomed to and feel free to perform your calf exercises with heavy weight for up to 30 reps per set.
That being said, make sure to get a maximum range of motion on each rep and hold each stretch for one second and each contraction for two seconds. After you reach full-rep failure, perform another set of shorter, faster repetitions.
3. Not contracting the muscle properly
Even though this sounds like a no-brainer, it has to be said because many guys fail to do it right. When you are training your calves, you need to focus 100% on the muscle contraction.
Use full range of motion and perform both the positive and negative portion of the movement in a slow, controlled manner, and don’t forget to squeeze the calves as hard as possible.
Stretch and contract your calves maximally on each rep. In addition, to boost the pump and increase mobility, fully stretch your calves between sets and immediately after training them with heavy weight.
Perform stretches with your toes pointed in followed by stretches with your toes pointed out, in order to elongate both the lateral and medial heads of the muscle. This will also speed up recovery and stimulate growth even further.
4. Training calves only once per week
One of the most common calf training mistakes people make is not training the calves frequently enough. Again, since your calves are used to getting a lot of work on a daily basis, you might find out that training them only once per week might not be enough to spur significant growth.
Also, if you only train calves on leg day, keep in mind that by the time you get to do the isolation work, they will be pre-exhausted from other leg exercises.
So many times, the answer to the “stubborn calves” problem is just adding a second day of calf training during the week, which should give you the opportunity to overload them properly and more effectively, thereby encouraging bigger growth.
5. Low testosterone levels
Are you keeping an eye on your T levels? Because if you’re not, that might prevent you from building the body of your dreams, as well as hindering your calves development.
There are a number of things you can do to boost your testosterone levels naturally, and some of the best ways include adding more heavy compound movements to your routine, improving your diet by adding testosterone-enhancing food choices, and of course, taking a high quality testosterone boosting supplement.
Elevating your T levels will have a great effect on your overall performance and gains, so don’t think twice about this one – even if your testosterone production is solid at the moment, it won’t hurt to stimulate it even further!
Here’s a simple simple workout to build bigger calves.