The calves are a serious problem area for most bodybuilders. You can win or lose a contest depending on whether or not you have put some time into building thick slabs of beef on the back of your legs. Women tend to have calf issues as well; many are sporting the dreaded “cankles”. Both sexes often suffer from skinny little twiggy leg syndrome, sometimes known as “bird legs”. What do these folks have in common? They are probably all making the same calf training mistakes day to day, week to week. So how can we fix it?
To build marvelous calves, you have to put time into training them frequently and from a variety of angles. First and foremost, you can’t make the following 6 calf training mistakes and also hope to build world-class wheels. Train your legs right and you will prosper. Make too many mistakes and they will continue to lag.
The Top 6 Calf Training Mistakes
Failure to Shock Them Into Growth
Your calves are worked by basically doing anything. You wake up and get out of bed, and your calves are being used. In your daily routine, your calf muscles are probably being stimulated around 1,000 times at a very minimum. You’d have to be extremely lazy for this amount of repetitions to only be performed as it is.
Your calf training needs to be intense in a deep range of motion that you don’t get from walking around. I prefer to train my calves every workout, varying intensity and angle to gain maximum benefits. Many experts recommend treating every day as calf day no matter the focus on the larger muscles.
Failure to Train the Full Musculature
Normally, most people think of their calf muscles primarily as their gastrocnemius. This is the largest muscle in your calves, and generally, the one people train most. However, it’s important to hit all angles of your calf muscles to really make them grow. It’s important to stimulate the soleus muscles, and the flexor muscles, of your lower legs as much as you do your gastrocs.
Be sure to include a seated variation of calf raises into every workout. These hit your soleus extremely well.v Try different rep ranges to constantly confuse those calf muscles.
Calf Exercise Variety
It’s pretty difficult to train the soleus muscles and flexor muscles of your calves with a variety of exercises as there simply aren’t very many available; however, it’s definitely recommended to hit your gastroc muscles of your calves from several angles using several different protocols. This will allow you to avoid stagnation, and keep your calf training interesting at the same time.Solution:
Constantly interchange gastroc exercises; never do the same workout. You may think you’re limited to machine-standing calf raises, but there are several different techniques and exercises available to hit your calves. Be creative. Standing calf raises can be performed in a smith machine, on a leg press, on a hack squat, and in a squat rack.
Try different foot placements while performing standing calf raises to hit different heads of your gastroc muscles. Point your toes inward and outward for hitting different heads on calf raises, and also be sure to include donkey calf raises into your routine whenever possible. This exercise is easy to use with heavy weights and hits your soleus in addition to your gastrocnemius.
Rep Range Variety
There’s plenty of anecdotal evidence showing that high rep ranges work excellent for calves, but your calves, like any other muscle, will eventually adapt to performing high repetitions if you don’t include a variety of rep ranges in your workouts. Be sure to include plenty of different rep ranges in order to hit all of the fibers in your calves, and avoid stalling out growth-wise.
Make sure to perform sets with increased resistance, in the 4-10 rep range, at least once a week.
The rest of the time stays in the 15-20 rep range but toss in some 8-10 rep sets as well. This should be done every workout.
Not Stretching Enough
Stretching between sets, and before your workouts, is very important to growth, like with other muscles. This stretches the fascia, warms up the muscles, and helps the overall growth of your calf muscles. Be sure to include stretching in every calf workout.
Dynamic stretching pre-workout and intra-workout, and passive stretching post-workout. This is extremely important with every muscle group, but especially small ones like your calves.
Not Training With Enough Frequency
Hitting your calf muscles extremely hard once a week probably isn’t going to be sufficient for building muscular calves. It’s recommended to train your calves heavy at least 2-3 times a week. Especially if they’re lagging behind other body parts and ruining symmetry, including a calves day could even be a formidable idea for some people.
For starters, include calf training at least 2-3 times a week in your routine. If you have any active rest days scheduled, add some extra calf training there as well.
- Remember to stretch your calves plenty. Use the greatest range-of-motion possible on every exercise as well, and be sure to go slow.
- Don’t forget that there’s more to your calf muscles than just your gastrocnemius.
- Keep a variety of exercises in your calf-training routine, and constantly interchange different exercises.
- Vary the resistance often, using a wide variety of rep ranges to stimulate growth.
- Stretch your calves after heavy calf training – you have to!
- Constantly try different methods with your calf training. Different rep ranges, supersets, stretching exercises, frequency of training, and more are all good starts.
For more awesome info on calf training, read this: The Top 5 Best Calf Exercises