How to Train the Stubborn Calves

Calves play a great role in the visual appearance of your whole physique. They contribute to your aesthetics the same way a tiny waist, broad shoulders or wide back do. And yet, in probably 90 percent of the trainees they are the most difficult body part to develop. A perfect sized calf muscles are considered those that have the proportions as your upper arm.

To work your calf muscles successfully, first you need to know the anatomy of those muscles and how they work.

– Soleus is the largest calf muscle, used for rotation and extension of the foot. The best way to hit the soleus are exercises where you keep your knees bent. The seated calf raise is a great example for such an exercise.

– The two heads of The Gastrocnemius – ( medial and lateral head ). Their function is for flexing the foot. The best way to target this muscle are the standing calf raises.

Tibialis Anterior

is the muscle on the front side of your lower legs ( it runs down the tibia). It’s used in flexing and elevating the foot. This muscle is best
worked by elevating the foot fingers towards the shin.

Why are calves so hard to develop? mainly there are several reasons that influence how your calves look:

The size of the calves depends mostly on your genetics, so if you don’t have good genetics you can say bye-bye to perfect calves. Unfortunately there is nothing you can do to beat mother nature.

Calves are mostly made of slow twitch fibers and need a lot of work to make them tired. They are high endurance muscles. Just picture this: they carry all your weight when you are walking around and the tension in the calves increases many times when you are running or jogging. This will give you an idea of how much weight you need to put on the calves in order to shock them.

Neglecting them – Because they are so hard to build and covered with pants most of the time, calves are often neglected, so they start lagging even more behind other bodyparts. You’ll have to agree that It is easier to pound the chest or arms with heavy weights and many sets than calves, even though they need to be worked with the same (if not more) intensity than other bodyparts.

This however doesn’t mean that you can’t improve your calves greatly and make them one of your stronger body parts. So what can you do to improve your “diamonds” ? In short words your calf workout should be painful in order to work. Because there are not many exercises for the calves, you have to work really intense on the basic 2-3 exercises.

1. The first rule is to use enough weight (of course you need a proper warm up before your work sets) to stimulate the muscles. It is not uncommon for people to use 2-3 or even more times their bodyweight when they load the calf machines.

2. The second rule is to use more reps. Calves are used to high volume from all that walking and running. All sets should be done to failure. Pick a weight that you can lift for 12-15 times and push trough the pain to do one or two more reps.

3. The third rule is to stretch the calves as much as you can. Every rep should be done in full range of motion. You should also stretch between sets.

Without going into too much detail, here are some sample routines:


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