T Nation

Calf Builders - What Am I Doing Wrong?

I am currently using exercises such as standing barbell calf raises, seated dumbbell calf raises and calf presses to try an build my calves. Is there any training principals or styles to help maximise growth in the calves or exercises I should be doing?

Yes. Lots of everything you just asked about.

What has helped my calves grow the most has been time under tension and weighted stretching. Most of my sets feature 3-5 second eccentrics, a 1-3 second pause at the bottom, and a 1 second concentric, and after I finish every set I hold a 5-10 second deep stretch. High rep pump sets work great too, provided the motion is still completely controlled to avoid using the Achilles to bounce out a bunch of useless reps. I know @The_Mighty_Stu has also recommended doing soleus and gastroc work on separate days, meaning bent-leg sets on one day, straight legged sets on another.


In my experience, low reps and heavy weight have done nothing for my calf size. While my calves have decreased in size over the years, when they were at their biggest, it was a result of higher volume, lower weight (or even no weight). I experimented with higher reps/normal paced reps and good old fashioned time under tension, and while I’m not certain which one had a better effect, I think doing both can yield some good results.


I like to blast my calves doing Standing BB Calf fluff with my heaviest weight for squats for 4 sets of 20. And sets of 30 if going slightly lighter. My calves have responded to this and donkey Calf raises for sets of 40 or 50.

How do you do the donkey calf raises?

1 Like

I do them with my toes on a 25kg plate, bent over holding onto my power rack with weight strapped onto me with a chain

1 Like

Thank you for the advice. I will start to incorporate more time under tension for my calves and more stretching of the muscle.