Last week we discussed the numerous benefits of not skipping ‘leg day’. But while many of us work our butts off on ‘leg day’ and earn well-developed quads and hamstrings, we still have difficulty building massive calves.

20160124emerson logoFor many (including me), calf muscles are hard to build. For many of us guys, biceps and shoulders or pecs are no problem. Quads and hamstrings – not easy but can be done if you don’t mind some painful squat workouts. But calves? They often seem very resistant to growth.

I would go out on a limb to say that the most stubborn and hard-to-develop body part for most people is definitely a pair of diamond-shaped calves. Even at the professional bodybuilding level, a great pair of calves is seldom seen on stage.

Ironically, a lot of people who have great calves don’t even train them, at least not directly. For them, they are blessed with those good calf genetics, but for guys like me, it’s one of life’s cruel injustices.

20160515CalvesWhile there is no secret to calf training, the truth is that if what you are currently doing is not working – it’s time to do something else. Doing more of what is currently not working will not suddenly start to produce the results you want.

I think there are a few reasons why this is the case, especially in today’s bodybuilders as opposed to bodybuilders of the past.

The top reason that fierce calves elude so many people is simply a lack of effort and an equal lack of understanding of just what the calves need to stimulate growth. The majority of trainees tack on a few sloppy half-hearted sets at the end of their quad session and then whine about how their calves won’t respond and that it’s just not in the cards for them to ever have a pair of impressive lower legs.

But instead of doing more of the same, what they actually need is to shake up their calf-training routines.

The key is to use a full range of motion, varied rep ranges, stretching between sets, short rest periods, and lots of intensity techniques.

Go all the way up and all the way down on every rep, and when you can do no more full reps, do half reps until you can’t stand the pain, then do a few more.

Supersets, drop sets, and giant sets are killer and will help make calves grow faster. Trust me, I’m seeing the gains. Be intense and work hard, with a full range of motion, and lots of stretching, and they will grow. Another thing is to treat them like any other body part, if you do 12 sets for chest, and tack on only a measly 4 sets for calves, you aren’t working hard enough or smart enough for that matter.

Other tips to build bigger calves include:

* Training them every workout day – Calf training is normally relegated to the end of a leg workout. Instead of treating your calves like a stepchild, make them your priority by training them every training day before you start your main workout. It doesn’t matter if it’s chest day or arms day, work your calves before you do anything else.

* Using low, medium and high reps – To maximally target all the fibres in your calves, do low, medium and high reps, either in the same workout or across your workout week.

– Perform sets of 5 to 8 with very heavy weights for strength

– Perform sets of 9 to 12 with moderate weights for growth

– Perform sets of 13 to 20 with light weights for pump


* Doing home calf workouts – There is no need to limit your calf training to the gym; you can easily work them at home too. Stand in front of a wall and balance on one leg. Place your hands on the wall for balance. Push up onto your toes and then lower your heel back down to the floor. Continue until you are unable to do any more reps, then switch legs without rest. Continue this back and forth until you have completed five sets.

By the last set or two, your rep count will be pretty low. Do this mini-workout on non-training days when you need an extra calf pump.

Do you know someone who needs some calf gains? Tell them about this column. If you need help on building muscle or losing body fat, shoot me an email:

Stay tuned, friends.



Around the Web