Calf training is not easy. The calves are made up of two major muscles, the gastrocnemius and the soleus. The former is the larger of the two and is readily visible from the backside of the leg. The latter crosses the knee joint. These little buggers are the most stubborn muscles to add mass to because of the resiliency of these muscles. Just think about how much daily work the calves get by simply walking.
From day one, bodybuilders have been perplexed by the best method of how to grow the calf muscles. These days, recreational lifters call themselves hard gainers and give up. They may throw some calf raises into their workout routine, but not much else.
The reason that most calf development is not where most want it to be is because they are working their calves improperly. Calves need specialized training because of the complexity of the muscle groups involved. Genetics aside, add serious mass to the calves takes proper training and three sets of calf raises will just not cut it.
Calf Training Secret #1: Train in Bare Feet
Sounds odd, doesn’t it? Well, it works and gives you much more control over the movement and the muscles worked, which is what you are looking for in muscle development.
Calf Training Secret #2: Follow Each Set With Toe Raises
I keep short rest periods between sets of calf exercises, but also keep the blood pumping by stretching the muscle with calf raises during the brief rest period.
Calf Training Secret #3: Increase Repetition Count
This secret gets a little tricky. This does not mean that we want to perform 100 reps. That would be great for muscular endurance, but we want to keep the rep count to greater than 8-12, which is where we are the majority of the time. I like to stay in the 15-20 rep range with a higher set every once in a while.
Calf Training Secret #4: Switch Foot Positioning
Sometimes, the smallest change to your workout makes the biggest impact. Turn your feet a little and see how the muscles are worked differently.
Calf Training Secret #5: Donkey Raises
Donkey raises are just a plain old calf exercise, but they are rarely done by most weight trainers. Everyone wants to do standing calf raises, but donkey raises will lead to serious growth on your calves.
These so-called “secrets” may seem like common sense, but they are often overlooked and will stunt calf growth.