train stubborn calves

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. Calves are a very stubborn muscle group in some people when it comes to growth.

A perfect sized calf muscles are considered those that have the proportions as your upper arm. To develop your calf muscles successfully, first you need to know the anatomy of those muscles and how they work.

Anatomy of the calf muscles

– 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 of such an exercise.

– The two heads of The Gastrocnemius – ( medial and lateral head ). Their function is 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 stubborn and so hard to develop?

Mainly there are several reasons that influence how your calves look:

The size of your calves depends mostly on your genetics, so if you don’t have good genes 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 calves are are so stubborn and hard to develop, not to mention – covered with pants most of the time, they 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 body parts.

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” ? Simply put, 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, below are some sample routines.

3 Routines for stubborn calves

Routine 1

1. Standing calf raises – 2 warm up sets, 3 work sets of 25,20,15 reps
2. Seated calf raise – 2 sets of 50 reps (when you reach failure, stretch for 5-10 seconds then continue until you reach 50 reps)
3. Reverse calf raises (for the tibialis) – 3 sets of 15 reps.

Remember to stretch your calves between every set.

Routine 2

1. Donkey calf raises/leg press calf raise – 2 warm up sets, 3 work sets of 25,20,15 reps
2. Seated calf raise – 3 work sets of 25,20,15 reps
3. Reverse calf raises (for the tibialis) – 3 sets of 15 reps.

Stretch your calves between every set.

Routine 3  – circuit

1. Standing calf raises – 25 reps
2. Seated calf raise – 25 reps
3. Reverse calf raises 15 reps

Repeat this routine 3 times with a minute of rest after every circuit and no rest between exercises.

Although calves are very tough, you still have to give them some time to recover. I suggest at least 2 days of rest before you hit your next workout.

You might also be interested: How to Target The Stubborn Outer Calves

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