Massive Calves - AnabolicMinds.com
    • Massive Calves


      by John Paul Catanzaro T-Nation


      In my small home gym, I have three dedicated machines for calf training: a standing calf raise unit that goes up to 600 pounds, a seated calf raise machine, and a step platform equipped with a handle for one-leg calf raises.


      These are the sort of machines that you'd see in large commercial gym, not usually in a smaller home-based setup. So why do I have them in mine? Simple – my calves suck, and I need all the artillery I can get my hands, or in this case, feet on!


      After years of hard work using all kinds of popular calf training techniques – drop sets, negative-accentuated training, explosive movements, extended sets, burns, supersets, tri-sets and giant sets, escalating density training, tempo manipulation, plyometrics, unilateral training, you name it – I'm embarrassed to say the gains have been minimal.


      The Dancers' Answer?


      My daughters are competitive dancers and they compete a few times a year. Dancers tend to have aesthetic physiques. They're in great shape. Most bodybuilders, however, would consider them a bit "small" for their liking. However, dancers sport some serious calves, often times blowing away that of the typical much larger gym rat.


      Success tends to leave clues. If you want to build a nice set of arms and shoulders, train like a gymnast. For glutes and hamstrings, train like a sprinter. For calves, bodybuilders can learn quite a bit from dancers.


      The dancer's secret for well-developed calves is simply that they're constantly on their toes. It's basically repetition after repetition of bodyweight calf raises (a position referred to as relevι in ballet) performed on a daily basis. After a while it becomes almost effortless for them, resulting in comparatively monstrous calves. While ditching the weight belt for a tutu likely isn't in the cards for most, I discovered that there is a way to experience a similar calf hypertrophy effect.


      I decided to perform 100 reps of bodyweight calf raises every day. As simple as that sounds, I did this every day for a month and was blown away by the results in my stubborn toothpicks.


      Calf 101
      To understand how this can produce such radical growth in even the most stubborn set of pigeon-legs requires an understanding of the calves' unique characteristics.


      The calves consist of many muscles, but the two primary workhorses bodybuilders are concerned with are the gastrocnemius and the soleus. The gastrocnemius receives more stimulation with the knees extended (standing calf raise) and the soleus with the knees bent (seated calf raise). That said, the soleus still receives some stimulation during a calf raise even when the knees are extended.


      The soleus has a greater slow-twitch (ST) muscle fiber makeup – up to 88%, one of the highest ST compositions in the human body – and thus, higher reps should be performed. Most traditional calf training routines, however, fail to generate enough volume for this "endurance" muscle.


      This is a shame, as a significant amount of volume at a decent intensity can result in hypertrophy. Lifting a substantial load, like your entire bodyweight, every day for a high number of reps will definitely put on muscle.


      Since you're not using huge loads, this training can be accomplished daily, and it's the frequency that coaxes your body to adapt quickly. You'll be sore at first, but it won't be that bad.


      Even though you may be used to much higher forces from a regular assault of barbell jumps (the acceleration end of the force equation) and heavy standing calf raises (the mass end of the force equation), this is a novel stimulus that can induce some real soreness along with some impressive results.


      Change of Range


      Not only are the intensity, volume, and frequency different from what's normally prescribed for calves, the range is also different. We've always been told to perform a full range of motion when training calves; in fact, many experts advocate emphasizing the stretched position.


      For someone who has difficulty performing a full squat, this is very good advice. If you automatically lean forward and/or your heels raise when you squat, you need to stretch those calves out.


      But what if you're one of those guys that can full squat no problem with an upright trunk – your knees can easily pass your toes with your heels flat on the ground? Doing some partial calf training (i.e., emphasizing the top, contracted position) may be exactly what the doctor ordered!


      The Recipe
      Start with 50 reps of heel raises and work up to 100 reps with just bodyweight. Do that every day without fail for a month. You'll be amazed at the growth and definition that you'll acquire, and as a bonus, improved balance and coordination skills.


      Actually, you can consider this as a form of prehabilitation for your ankles, which is particularly useful if you play any recreational sport and/or are plagued with constant ankle sprains.


      As simple as it sounds, proper form is very important. Situate your feet about shoulder-width apart and toes turned slightly out. Concentrate on raising the heels straight up as if they're puppet strings being pulled up by God himself.


      Make sure to contract hard at the top – think of a double biceps pose, except you're squeezing the hell out of your calves. Don't hold on to a wall or machine for support. The idea is not to deload in any manner, as we want those small stabilizers to grow as well. Simply keep your arms at your sides or your hands on your hips.


      You must be in bare feet (no shoes). Make sure to raise the heels as high as possible, and distribute your weight evenly over all your toes. Hold the top, contracted position for a full 2 seconds. It must be a definite stop at the top, and you must feel a peak contraction in the calves.


      Next, control the lowering – don't just drop like a bomb! If you fail to perform these two steps properly, the rep doesn't count. It's that simple. They must be quality repetitions to optimally benefit from this type of training. The prime movers will get hit, but so will all those little stabilizers, and in the long run, it will make a big difference in the overall growth of your calves.


      You'll need to invest up to 10 minutes a day for a month to reap the benefits of this method. Consider that each controlled repetition should take 6 seconds (i.e., 2 seconds up, 2 seconds at the top, 2 seconds down, and no pause at the bottom) and you're performing up to 100 reps per day – that equals 10 minutes.


      Results?


      You can easily put an inch on your calves in one month with this method. However, you must be consistent. Every day means every damn day. I suggest getting into a routine. Pick a time of the day that you can perform this and stick to it. Do it in the morning while you cook breakfast, or on your coffee break, or at night while you re-watch episodes of Storage Wars, much to the chagrin of your long-suffering family.


      If you're understandably skeptical if this type of high volume bodyweight training will do anything for muscle size, try performing 100 reps of chin-ups or dips every day for a month and see what happens. My T Nation colleague Chad Waterbury – a guy who knows a thing or two about hypertrophy – has written about this concept in the past and believe me, it works!


      Remember, it doesn't take any equipment to do. Literally, nothing is required – no machines, no shoes, nothing, just a bit of effort.


      Once you've gone through a full month, throw on an additional 10 or 20 pounds using a weighted vest and go at it again. (Some guys will need to do this sooner if they find it easy after a couple of weeks.)


      Keep building until you reach a level of development you're satisfied with, whereupon you can maintain your newfound growth with 2-3 sessions a week. Even just one session a week will do the trick if you return to machine work for your calves, which you'll likely welcome to break up the mental and physical monotony.


      It's amazing how I'd gone about the war on my calves all wrong! Instead of more weapons in my arsenal, I actually needed fewer. All these fancy calf machines like the ones taking up space in my basement really aren't necessary; heck, I found you don't even need shoes!


      What you do need, however, is a bit of time, patience, and lactate tolerance, and you can transform those young, immature, and disproportional calves into some massive full-grown cows that are on par with your other body parts.

      Source: http://www.t-nation.com/readArticle.do?id=5261887
      Comments 15 Comments
      1. kohai66's Avatar
        kohai66 -
        I love calf articles, mostly because nobody can agree with what lifting method is best for calves. I agree with the article's perspective on training like a gymnast or sprinter for developing these respective areas.
        However, as a guy who was blessed with muscular calves, I have had several lifting partners that were runners that did both heavy weights and also workouts like these. Unfortunately, none of them ever broke 15in. barrier. Due inpart to some very long muscle bellies. Until they met me.
        I had them do which ever calf work that was best for them that gave them the best satisfaction, but I had them start abusing their fore legs. What does this mean? It means toe raises for the Tibialis (thank you shin-splints), AND doing exercises for the smaller muscles that invert and evert the sole of the foot.
        I know this works cause I was stuck at 15 to 16 range and was running and getting shin-splints, I started doing toe raises and added an inch.
        Enter sticking point 2. Then while doing martial arts and noticed some of the guys had freakily developed lower legs from all the kicking, and I started working these muscles and added more size, putting me up to the 18 inch mark and getting my workout partners past their 15 inch plateau.
        So, to summarize, work the calves (soleus and gastrocnemius) so you feel good about the work you have done, but make sure you keep the balance and FOCUS on the fronts, sides and internal muscles.
      1. hugry4more's Avatar
        hugry4more -
        Needed this
      1. JReinhal's Avatar
        JReinhal -
        My calves have been comically small my whole life. I'm definitely going to give this a shot.
      1. Sardonumspa's Avatar
        Sardonumspa -
        So its basically a standing calf raise without standing on some sort of platform or ledge??
      1. JReinhal's Avatar
        JReinhal -
        Originally Posted by Sardonumspa View Post
        So its basically a standing calf raise without standing on some sort of platform or ledge??
        I performed this yesterday. I used the edge of a stair. It seems the goal is to use as little balancing help from your hands as possible; thus activating more of the stabilizing muscles.
      1. Vitaly's Avatar
        Vitaly -
        Originally Posted by Sardonumspa View Post
        So its basically a standing calf raise without standing on some sort of platform or ledge??
        It happens to all of us.... Please look at the picture - he's using a block.
        About Ballet and calf size. My son was as skinny as they come; he danced since he was 9 until 33. His Calves are huge! Moreover, his wife has even proportionally bigger calves.
        Maintaining the balance. Stay close to a wall so that your butt slides along the wall up-down.

        PS. 1.Just in case... If u are new to calf raises, start easy; definitely not every day - u may not be able to walk next day!
        2. Brewster suggests 2x8 SLOW warm-up sets plus 2x20 fast once.
        3. Some recommend alternating toe 'in' and 'out'.
        4. Chad Waterbury suggests hopping on 1 leg
        5. Choose your poison; here is another article from page-7:
        ......serious-calf-growth
      1. edje007's Avatar
        edje007 -
        Just tried it on monday....still hurting 2days later...love the feeling...let's see what happens the next couple of weeks
      1. edje007's Avatar
        edje007 -
        Just finished my second session...pfff...hurts like hell....hope the pain will deliver the gain
      1. kohai66's Avatar
        kohai66 -
        Originally Posted by edje007 View Post
        Just finished my second session...pfff...hurts like hell....hope the pain will deliver the gain
        Give yourself some motivation.. Measure your calves before and after... The post workout pump... Is serious motivation
      1. hugry4more's Avatar
        hugry4more -
        I've been doing this for bout 3 weeks now and I still can't get past 60 reps. Seeing tiny bit growth though so it looks promising.
      1. edje007's Avatar
        edje007 -
        Originally Posted by hugry4more View Post
        I've been doing this for bout 3 weeks now and I still can't get past 60 reps. Seeing tiny bit growth though so it looks promising.
        nice to hear that, my calves hurt like hell...lets hope our calves finally start growing my friend
      1. edje007's Avatar
        edje007 -
        in just 5 days the look fuller and more defined...love it
      1. hugry4more's Avatar
        hugry4more -
        ^^ agreed
      1. hugry4more's Avatar
        hugry4more -
        Make sure to still do seated raises though to train the other muscles
      1. edje007's Avatar
        edje007 -
        Originally Posted by hugry4more View Post
        Make sure to still do seated raises though to train the other muscles
        was thinking of the same thing...I'll do it tomorrow...thanks mate

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