- How to build calves: 7 workout programs
- A little anatomy
- Pumping up huge calves!
- Workout plans
Do you have weak calves and do you blame genetics for this? The Calf Guided Workout program will give you a fresh look at this muscle group. Discover exercises to help you build calves!
We all either love or hate the G-word: Genetics. If genetics has gifted us in certain parts of the body, we believe that we are just lucky. But if we are faced with difficulties and difficult tasks, then we begin to curse her and practically abandon the idea of pumping up a symmetrical and proportional body, which we dream of every day.
Why are we great at pumping some muscles and not at all able to pump others?
Most often we are talking about calves. In all the years of training, I have met only a few athletes who would be happy with their calf size. Most trainers already simply do not know what else to do to build muscle mass in the calves, and they reduce all exercises for this group to several approaches at the end of the workout.
I hope this article will help at least a little for those who still dream of impressive calves. You may not be able to build huge bowling ball-like muscles, but I truly believe that just about anyone can add significant muscle mass to their calves and improve overall body proportions. You like to wear shorts in the summer … right?
Building muscle in a weak spot is a very difficult task. It takes focus, discipline, determination and attention to detail. To work with a weak point (no matter which part of the body), you will need to change the frequency, volume and technique of the exercises.
Multiple sets of calf raises at the end of a superintense hamstring and quads workout will not solve the problem. You need to radically reconsider your training program and your attitude. Your success is largely dependent on the belief that you can achieve your goal. Without it, you are unlikely to succeed.
Treat the program and techniques presented in this article as an intense series of presses or squats. Full range of motion, stretching and squeezing muscles, and careful attention to rest periods will help you achieve the results you want. Be patient, persistent and let’s get started!
A little anatomy
The lower leg musculature includes three main muscle groups. Let’s take a look at each group and its function.
Calf: This muscle with two heads (medial and lateral) starts behind the knee at the femur and is attached to the heel using the Achilles tendon. The heads are responsible for the famous diamond-shaped muscle that every trainer dreams of, and are most involved when exercises are performed with straight knees.
Flounder: This muscle is located under the calf at the back of the lower leg. It is most involved when the knees are bent.
Anterior tibial: The muscle that gets the least attention is located in front of the lower leg and is responsible for dorsiflexion of the foot (unbending the foot and raising its edge). The importance of the tibialis anterior muscle is that it is partially responsible for balance in terms of strength, muscle mass and injury prevention.
Pumping up huge calves!
Now that you know about the anatomy and mechanisms of movement, let’s figure out how to get impressive calves. The movements and exercises presented are designed to maximize your performance every time you go to the gym. Remember to always use the correct technique and not lift too much weight so as not to jeopardize your safety.
Standing Calf Raises
Calf Raises are a proven exercise for building overall muscle mass in the calves, especially in the calf area. To perform it, fix your shoulders under the cushions of the simulator and stand on the balls of your feet on the block below, with your feet apart approximately shoulder-width apart.
The legs should be completely straight except for slight bending at the knees to take stress off the joint. During the exercise, the knees should remain bent.
Move slowly downward, lowering your heels towards the floor. When you reach full range of motion and feel a deep stretch in the calf muscles, reverse the movement, climb up on the balls of your feet and squeeze the muscles as much as possible.
As you climb onto the balls of your feet, do not strain your toes – let your feet do all the work. Also, do not wiggle at the bottom or do this motion throughout the entire exercise. Many athletes perform this exercise in this way and get almost no results from the effort expended. The result will be only if you perform the exercise at a calm, even pace.
If your gym does not have a proper weighted calf raises, you can use other options. Try lifts on the Smith machine. Place the footrest under the weighted bar and do the exercise as above. No stand? Use loose pancakes or step.
Seated Calf Raises
Another great exercise in any calf workout program is the seated calf raises, which develop the soleus. Thanks to this exercise, you can add width (when viewed from the front) and thickness (when viewed from the side) to the calf.
Place the pads on your knees (not your hips) and place your feet on the platform at the bottom, shoulder-width apart. As with the standing exercise, use full range of motion – you should feel the muscles stretch and squeeze your calves strongly at the top. Don’t swing your legs!
If you don’t have a seated calf raises in your gym, try organizing one yourself. To do this, you can use either a Smith machine or a weighted barbell. For convenience, wrap a soft pad around the bar or place a thick, folded towel over your thighs during this exercise.
Place a stand, step or plate under the balls of your feet and lock your knees under the bar. If using a Smith machine, lift the bar up and off the rack (it’s also a good idea to install safety pins just in case).
When working with free weights, ask your partner to place the weighted barbell across your thighs and keep your hands on it for balance and safety. Do the exercise as above.
Leg Press Machine Calf Raises
Another great exercise for general muscle building is the calf raises on the leg press machine. Typically performed on a 45-degree leg press machine, they are a great option when the machines you need are busy or unavailable.
The secret that distinguishes this option from the others discussed above is to maintain an angle in the buds as close as possible to 90 degrees. When done correctly, the muscles in the calves will stretch incredibly.
Sit on the machine, place your feet shoulder-width apart and bend your knees slightly – just like doing this exercise while standing. Lower the weight to stretch the muscles, then slowly lift it up for an intense contraction.
Many athletes put on a lot of weight and do the movements incompletely (the biggest mistake in calf training). Make sure there is enough weight, but not too much, when you can only raise the stove halfway. Full stretching and full contraction is the only way to make the exercise effective.
In many ways, they resemble the previous version. You may have seen a video of this exercise performed by Arnold or Franco during the Golden Age of bodybuilding.
You will need one or two brave friends to complete this exercise. Simply stand on a pad on the balls of your feet (as you would for simple standing lifts), bend at your hips, and place your hands on the bench or bar on the Smith machine. Your partner should climb on your back in order to add the load. Perform on straight legs, full stretch and full contraction.
One leg calf raises
One of the best ways to build muscle in your calves is one-legged calf raises, which are rarely used, however. Very few people perform these exercises, but if you still decide, you will significantly strengthen and pump up your shins.
Why? Because many athletes do not reach their full potential due to a mismatch in strength and muscle development in the shins. Once this moment is eliminated, you can move on and begin to build muscle mass evenly on your calves.
These exercises can be done with or without a dumbbell in your hand (if you are a beginner, we recommend starting without a dumbbell to practice the movements). Find a stand and place one leg on it as you would with standard standing lifts (straight leg, slightly bent at the knee, straight back).
If you are using a dumbbell, hold it on the side of your working leg, grasp an upright stand for stability, and perform the exercise with strict technique (fully stretch the muscles and lift up on the ball of the foot for a full contraction).
If you find yourself doing more reps on one leg than on the other (which is very common), do a few more additional reps through strength on the weak leg. Help yourself a little with a hand without a dumbbell, pulling up a little on the rack, which you hold on to. The muscle will work very hard and you will soon notice that the mass is building up evenly.
An exercise that everyone keeps forgetting (or ignoring) is heel raises. Primarily used by runners, it will not only add muscle mass to the front of the lower leg, but it will also help strengthen that area by balancing both sides.
This, in turn, will improve your technique and reduce the risk of injury to all of your lower leg muscles, resulting in a more harmonious and balanced body.
Just place your heels on a support and lower your feet down to stretch your muscles. Get up on your heels and bend your feet up, pointing your toes at the ceiling. You don’t need weights for this exercise, because perhaps you will recognize that this is your new weak point. Try not to swing back and forth – strictly follow the technique and you will feel how the muscles work!
Do one of the programs below 1-2 times a week with at least 4 days of rest between workouts for maximum results. You can alternate exercises and choose the one that suits you best.
Do 1 or 2 warm-up sets of 15-20 reps on the first exercise. Rest only 45-60 seconds between sets (use a watch if necessary). Change your calf exercise program twice a week.