When it comes to building a well-balanced physique, calves are one of those muscles that can really frustrate you.
Most guys find it very difficult to get their calves to grow their calves and end up giving up all together.
One of the factors that contributes to this problem is the way your calf muscles are structured.
While everyone’s calf muscle goes from behind the knee to the ankle, the size of the actual muscle belly varies from person to person.
Depending on just how long it is, the volume of training as well as the exercises needed will vary.
You might think that having a calf muscle that is a few inches longer doesn’t make much of a difference but you have to keep in mind you are dealing with cubic volume.
As a result, every extra inch makes a huge difference.
Similar to forearm training, guys with shorter calf muscles will have an easier time adding size to them given that they don’t need to grow the muscle in cubic terms as much in order to get them to pop.
So, while guys with bad calf genetics might not be able to build Mr. Olympia-caliber calves, they can still improve them to a level that is far better than they currently have.
Focus on Your Worst Feature
A lot of guys like to focus on training their best body parts.
That usually means chest, back, or arms.
While it feels great to work a muscle group that you are genetically predisposed to develop more easily, it won’t serve you well in the long run.
Rather than spend all your time focusing on body parts that are already aesthetic, focus your attention on the weak parts.
For a lot of people, that means giving more time and energy to training calves.
Arnold was famous for focusing on his weakest features and he encouraged those who trained with him to do the same.
Instead of sticking calves at the end of leg day when you are already exhausted, try doing them on a different day – like arms or chest day.
Your legs won’t be tired and you won’t be mentally exhausted like you would be after squatting.
Even just the change of routine will drive some additional energy and excitement into that calf workout.
Unfortunately, it’s going to take more than just changing the day of the week you train to get those stubborn calves to grow.
To really take them to the next level you are going to want to take a closer look at your own physiology to figure out how you can tailor your routine to meet your specific needs.
For example, some guys are better suited with high volume training while others are better off with lower volumes but heavier weight.
Examining the Structure of your Calves
When you first started lifting you probably didn’t think you would get to the point where you were examining the structure of your calves to determine how to get them to grow faster.
However, as with any sport you need to really dedicate yourself and focus on these details if you want to stand out from the pack.
Fortunately for you the calves are not nearly as complicated as the chest and back muscles.
There are two muscles on the calves – the outer muscle and the inner one, also known as the soleus.
Their role is to flex the ankle so when training calves make sure you are concentrating on doing just that.
This is why training calves can be a lot easier than people think.
Unlike the back muscle that has many different insertion points and requires training at a variety of different angles, the calves move in one way.
It might seem ridiculous to say this but make sure when you train you use your calves in the way they were intended to be used.
Instead of trying to just lift the wait you should be focusing on flexing the ankle.
Top Calf Training Tips
Given how simple the structure and purpose of the calf muscles are it’s no surprise that there are only two exercises that are effective at working them.
These exercises are calf raises with your legs straight (standing) or calf raises with your legs bent.
While most people prefer the seated exercise because, well, they don’t have to stand up, it’s really the standing exercises that are more effective.
That’s because it fully extends and stretches the muscle and therefore works it more effectively.
If you really want to get a good stretch, try leaning forward during your standing calf raises.
This is also called the donkey calf raise.
Everyone remembers that famous picture of Arnold doing donkey calf raises with the women sitting on his back.
While people might think he was doing it to fool around in reality it was because he took the time to study the move and figure out the best way to do it.
We’ll leave it up to you whether you get people to sit on your back when doing donkey calf raises or simply find a machine that will allow you to do it.
The reason that seated calf raises aren’t as effective is because once you bend your knee the outer calf isn’t nearly as engaged.
In other words, you are primarily working the soleus or inner calf.
In terms of foot placement don’t copy all those guys at the gym who points their toes inward or outward.
While they aren’t necessarily dangerous they aren’t as effective as keeping your feet straight.
Another thing you want to take a look at is the footwear you have on at the gym.
Many athletic shoes get you to flex your foot and ankle however what you want is to get your calves to do all the work.
If you think your shoes might be impacting your training, then try training calves barefoot or in just socks.
Things to Remember
Keep the reps higher than normal – 15 to 20 is ideal.
Your legs can handle higher rep training in general since they are used to supporting your bodyweight all day.
On each rep make sure you are fully extending at the top and going all the way down to the bottom.
Focus on contracting the muscle on each rep – bouncing the weight or using momentum will render the exercise useless.
In terms of scheduling the workout, make sure you give them a proper time-slot for training.
One of the most important determinants of just how big your calves (or any muscle for that matter) can grow is your testosterone production.
If your body isn’t producing enough testosterone, then you can forget about making any meaningful gains.
Look, it’s frustrating to work hard in the gym every day and not see any progress and often the reason has to do with hormone levels.
Now that you know just how important testosterone is make sure you are doing everything you can to keep your levels as high as possible.
That means going to the gym at least 3-4 times per week and lifting weights.
Make sure your diet is clean and you get plenty of sleep.
Finally, avoid excessive sources of stress and take a high-quality testosterone booster that contains the key ingredients.
We’ve made a complete guide on how you can supercharge your natural testosterone production with a five star quality testosterone booster.
While calf day isn’t anyone’s favorite day at the gym it should be something you ignore.
All of the top bodybuilders in the world have great calves because they put a tremendous amount of time and effort into training them.
Remember that when you are wearing shorts people will be able to see your calf muscles – which basically makes them the biceps of the lower body (hopefully that gets you more excited about training calves).
If you’ve struggled with developing your calves in the past, simply apply the tips from this article and before long you should see some solid gains.