Complete Your Physique with Calf Training
Calves need to be trained everyday since calves can make or break someone’s physique. The calf muscle is always visible, and contributes to your overall appearance. They’re typically a lagging body part that requires focus and determination to grow and develop. A lot of people just give up on the calves and never train them. My choice is to develop each muscle to its full capacity and capability. Pick something and stick with it.
However, it takes work and effort to grow the calves. The fastest way to grow new muscle is to add volume. By training calves 5-7 days per week, it becomes easier to get calves to grow. The calf muscle is used all day long to walk, move and function. This means that people’s calves can handle a lot of volume and they have to be pushed hard to achieve results. In fact, it will need a lot of volume in order to grow with the other muscles. The key to great calves is to get them fully stretched, and to squeeze hard on every rep. This will take practice and skill. A lot of lifters have no clue how to actually fire and contract each muscle group. Luckily, this is an easy, teachable skill but it doesn’t come overnight.
Calves are a conquest that must be conquered. They need to be trained hard and heavy with an emphasis on hard squeezing of the muscles. Calf training requires a lot of volume. 3 sets of 10 won’t cut it on calf training. It will take at least 10 working sets. For the skeptics out there, your favorite bodybuilders train calves with more than 3 sets unless he or she has a genetic predisposition for big calves.
In my experience, people seem to train calves differently than any other muscle but calves must be trained like other muscles. They need to be trained with solid contractions and heavy weight in the 8-15 rep range. A lot of people don’t go heavy enough when they train calves. The ones that do go heavy enough don’t squeeze the muscle the right way. That alone usually explains their lack of calf development.
Also, they often aren’t intense enough when training calves. If you want bigger calves you have to treat them like any other muscle you want to grow. The seated calf machine is most effective at isolating the calves and building thickness. The donkey calf raise and the standing calf raise are good for detail work. When training calves, the goal is to get a minimum of 200 reps.
Start with higher reps 30-50 and the work all of the way down to sets of 8-12. The purpose of the higher reps is to get calf muscles full of blood. Once heavy lifting begins the muscles will contract more efficiently. This will give the calf muscles the muscle damage they need to grow and rebuild. Calves need to be trained hard in order to grow.
Don’t Give Up on Calves
If you quit at training a body part you will only keep that body part lagging far behind. I will always remember people who are too scared to admit that they have weak points. These people usually whine when everyone else looks better than they do. They become bitter because they never assessed their weaknesses. By avoiding this uncomfortable topic, they never ascended to a new level. Instead, they spend time criticizing the people who have made great gains. I always say the best guy to follow when it comes to calf training is the guy or girl that had small calves and made them big. Genetic freaks rarely know how to train people, because they were born with great calves. In my case, I was born with a big chest. I can do 3 sets of 10 once per week and maintain my chest gains. But on calves, I am different.
The previously mentioned seated calf raise machine allows the lifter to concentrate on isolating the calves and squeezing them hard. After this is done, if you have a partner you can do a strip set after your heaviest set. Strip sets will allow you to train past failure and get a pump in the calves. By doing reps after a heavy set it will fatigue all of the muscle fibers. This makes growing the calf easier. Calf growth will only happen if the lifter is training frequently enough, and if he or she has enough discipline to squeeze the muscle hard. I see a lot of guys and girls at the gym that use a lot of weight on calf raises, most of them have small calves. The people that I see doing slow and controlled calf raises have the biggest calves.
An alternative to this plan is calf jumps. This is an explosive movement that targets the calves. Whenever you aren’t doing calf jumps, stick to under control time under tension sets. The sets need to take 20-30 seconds to complete. This has been noted to be the optimal when aiming to grow new muscle. Your muscles need time under tension to build and grow.
Power lifters who think bodybuilder Dan “Boss” Green built his body doing sets of 3-5 reps are nuts. Dan Green even said that he used the big 3 lifts for bodybuilding when he was in college. This explains how he built his base before he began power lifting. Muscle needs reps and volume in order to grow. Heavy weight along with high reps is the formula that works with great effectiveness. The majority of the training needs to include sets with adequate time under tension. Time under tension works for building muscle.
The skeptics and naysayers are the ones who either haven’t used time under tension training, or they are genetically elite. If you train like Ronnie Coleman that doesn’t guarantee that you will look like him. Ronnie Coleman is a hard worker who has elite genetics. That my friends is a winning formula. Here’s his routine:
- Calf Jumps: 4 sets of 8
- Seated Calf Raises: 10 sets 10-50 reps
- Donkey Calf Raises: 5 sets of 15 reps
- Standing Calf Raise Machine: 5 sets of 12 reps
Perform this routine 5-7 days per week if you like fast results. The calf jumps need to be done explosively. On the seated calf raises, start with 1 set of 50 then two sets of 30 and then keep going all the way down until you get to your heavy sets of 10 reps.
In summary, calves will take your physique to the next level but are to develop. With the right training intensity, calves can be developed. Calves need attention, and command other bodybuilders respect.
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