Calf muscles are probably one of the most frustrating body parts to grow. You might have done endless reps and training sessions to grow your calf muscles but have failed over and over again. There is no question that genetics play a big role in the way your calf muscles are shaped. If you have a short calf muscle with a long tendon, the chances are you will have a harder time in bringing up your calf muscles than someone with a longer calf muscles and a short tendon. But lots of improvement is possible with hard work and a well planned exercise program that prioritizes calf muscles.
Before we get into detail on the exercises and different angles on isolating the calf muscles, let’s talk a little about the anatomy of this muscle group:
Calf muscles are made up of 2 main muscles and one smaller muscle.
The Gastrocnemius muscle is the larger one of the 2 main calf muscles that makes up the bulk of the calf. You may have a high inserting or a low inserting gastrocnemius muscle. A high inserting gastrocnemius basically means that the calf muscle is shorter thus harder to develop. A low inserting gastrocnemius, AKA a low hanging calf muscle, is easier to build and appears larger. Standing calf raises is one of the common exercises to build this muscle.
The Soleus muscle is the part of the calf that is visible from the side angles and sometimes gives the illusion of an upside down triangle from the rear angles. A common exercise to isolate the soleus muscle is the seated calf raises.
This muscle is still undergoing research to find out its main role besides being a back up for when you tear your Achilles tendon.
D: DO NOT UNDERESTIMATE – Tibialis anterior:
This opposing muscle to the calf muscles should not be neglected in order to create a balance in strength and stability of the lower leg. This muscle can be trained by performing toe raises using a weight plate placed on the toes and isolating the muscle by raising the toes and lowering them back down.
There is no doubt that it will take more than a few straight sets to help your calf muscles grow. in fact, you will need to incorporate many plateau-breaking training techniques into your calf routine to shock your calf muscle into hypertrophy.
You also have to take advantage of different angles to hit your calf muscles, such as toes pointing in and toes pointing out as well as the traditional toes straight versions.
Example training routine for calf growth:
Plateau breaking technique: double drop sets
After completing a good warm up set, start with a weight that you are barely able to get 15 repetitions with, drop the weight and squeeze in another set of 15 reps and drop the weight one final time to squeeze in another 15 reps to finalize your 1st double drop set.
Repeat this for 2 rounds per exercise:
Beginners: repeat 1 round of double drop sets for 2 different exercises
Advanced lifters: repeat 2 rounds of double drop sets for 2-3 different exercises
Exercise options to pick from:
- Standing smith machine calf raises
- Seated calf raises
- Donkey calf raises
- Leg press machine calf raises
- Standing calf raises
- Hack squat machine calf raises
- Single leg body weight calf raises
- Reverse calf raises
- Toe raises
Attention: make sure to incorporate different angles of the foot to hit different parts of your calf muscles after finding out the lagging part of your calf muscle.
Melih F. Cologlu ACPT
Team Grenade sponsored athlete
Owner of www.covermodelphysique.com