One of the most damaging myths in bodybuilding is that the calves are
a small muscle group and should, therefore, be trained every day. First of all, there is no such thing as a small muscle group
in this program. Secondly, The calf muscle complex is quite powerful and needs time to grow.
Train any muscle like a small muscle and it will continue to be small, due to overtraining. Train even your smallest
muscles like large muscles, however, allowing them ample recovery time between workouts, and they will grow huge beyond your
wildest imaginations. Look at Dorian Yates’ calves. He only trains his calves once or twice a week, and look how huge
and well shaped they are.
I only train my calves directly once a week. They get more than enough indirect training when I train thighs. Believe
me, it is plenty. I can do calf raises for reps with 800 lbs, and my calves are 19” with well defined splits and well
defined solei. Can those of you training your calves every day say that?
The calf is divided into two basic muscles- the gastrocnemius and soleus. The gastrocnemius is further divided into
two heads, the medial and lateral of inner and outer. It is necessary to find a calf program to work all three of these critical
areas for balanced and complete development.
Exercises with the knees locked (standing calf raises) tend to target the gastrocnemius; while exercises with the knees
bent (seated calf raises) tend to primarily work the soleus.
Foot position while performing standing calf raises determines which head of the gastrocnemius receives the brunt of
the load. Pointing the toes inward works the outer head. Pointing the toes outward works the inner head. Finally, pointing
the toes straight ahead works both heads together.
Standing Calf Raises (Toes straight)
This is the chief mass builder for the calves. Its primary target is the gastrocnemius, but it also indirectly works
the soleus to some degree.
The exercise should be performed standing on a board or step, with either a standing calf machine or a Smith Machine.
This board or step will allow the heels to descend below the toes, maximizing the stretch and thus the mass-building potential.
The calves should be warmed thoroughly before doing your heavy sets. Your warm-up should be done slowly, stretching
as far as you can at the bottom of the movement and pointing your toes as far as possible at the top range.
On your heaviest set it is ok to slacken your form and abridge your range of motion. Still getting a good stretch,
fire the weight upward as explosively as you can, controlling the lowering of the weight for a strict negative. If you cannot
bring your toes to a full point on your heaviest set it is no problem.
Continue to pyramid down, stretching fully and pointing your toes as far as you can. On your lighter sets the positives
should be slow and strict as well as the negatives.
Calf Raises(Toes Out)
Continue to pyramid down from the weight you were last using for your standing calf raises with your toes straight.
Keep your form strict on this exercise as you are attempting to build the maximum possible mass in one specific head of one
specific muscle. The inner head is the largest and most powerful, so it should respond very readily to this movement.
Standing Calf Raises(Toes In)
Continue to pyramid down from the weight you were last using for your standing calf raises with your toes in. Keep
your form strict on this exercise as you are attempting to build the maximum possible mass in one specific head of one specific
muscle. The inner head is the smallest and most stubborn part of the calf, so it will take some extra coaxing to grow. You
may wish to do a few extra sets if you are having trouble getting your outer head to keep up with the inner one. Upon failure
move to a toes straight position to extend the intensity of your set and continue compoundly and synergistically working the
muscle heads that have already been fatigued.
Upon complete failure of this last movement bend your knees slightly and do 8-10 more reps. This will allow the soleus
to get into the act. The soleus is almost entirely composed of slow-twitch muscle fibers. This means that it is best worked
with higher reps, and begins to be trained effectively after the more powerful gastrocnemius is already tired.
Seated Calf Raises
Seated calf raises should be performed after the standing variety for a simple reason. This movement targets the soleus,
and the soleus is almost entirely composed of slow-twitch muscle fibers. This means that it is best worked with higher reps,
and begins to be trained effectively after the more powerful gastrocnemius is already tired.
Seated calf raises will also continue to work the already fatigued gastrocnemius while giving maximum stimulation to
the stubborn soleus as well.
Preferably you should use a seated calf machine. If none is available you may either do the movement on a Smith Machine,
with a block under your calves and the barbell across your lower thighs, or sitting on the end of a leg curl bench with the
foot pads resting in the same position.
Due to the slow-twitch composition of the soleus, it is virtually the only muscle which should be trained with high
reps to build mass. Do 3 sets of 15-50 (You may reverse pyramid if you wish) slowly and strictly, going from a full stretch
to a full point of the toes.