T Nation

Calves Help Please

First post on T-Nation. I just recently joined but I have been checking the site daily for the last 3 years. The only reason I never joined is because I never had a question I could not find an answer to somewhere on the site. You guys provide a lot of great information so thank you for that.

Anyway,I’m sure I’m going to take heat for this as there are a million calves articles/threads but I have a question that I feel has not ever been answered directly. When I work my calves, I have to work them brutally hard to feel any type of pump or soreness in them after the sets. Furthermore, I only ever feel that pump in my lower calf, or what would be referred to as the soleus, and I’m never sore the next day.

No matter what exercises I do, no matter what rep scheme, intensity, or foot placement I use, I never feel my gastrocnemius working. I do donkeys, standing, seated, leg press, and unilateral work at both high and low rep schemes and I never feel it. I have been working them consistently 3 times a week for a year and I honestly can still not feel them working. I think the only reason they’ve grown a little (a very little) is from heavy (for me) squatting and dead lifting.

Please trust me when I say I’ve read every calf article on this site and have tried every remedy to no avail. Also, my diet is not great because I am a broke college student so I eat what I can when I can. Than ks for any help and sorry if this is a stupid under/over detailed post.

If you’re not already, I would do is start doing a 2-3 second pause at the bottom of every rep, and pause at the top of each rep for about a second. It’s hard to cheat this way, the pause at the bottom takes out the stretch-reflex that the calves have. Make sure your range of motion is nearly 100% most of the time.

If you don’t stretch them a lot, try increasing stretching frequency. After you warm up, between sets, after the workout. Consider foam-rolling them on a regular basis, and maybe getting them massaged. I once read that calves can have a lot of scar tissue that can somewhat limit growth, and that some soft tissue work can immediately cause the muscle to open up a bit and get bigger.

Make sure when you want them to grow, you are eating enough.

Personally I like to do 2-3 week rep phases, 15-10-5 and sort of build up in weight each workout until the last workout of each rep range is the heaviest I can do.

im a newbie so cant really say much, but i agree with what he said…full range of motion and hold at the top and bottom for a bit, it really makes it more intense for me

i found i wasn`t getting sore in my calves after my workouts, but my other muscles would be aching the next two days(legs like 5 days man). I looked up calves in the Arnie Encyclopedia of BBing and he says to train calves HEAVY,explains how they are used to much bigger loads than the rest of the body due to them taking up the loads of walking and sprinting etc. How when we sprint the load on them gets so much bigger than bodyweight etc. And how they are used to working, and most effective in the middle of the range of motion. He says to go heavy and full range.

Based on that I upped my weight on calve raises alot, i just piled it on till i found i was running out of muscle strength at around 12 reps, more weight than on any other body part, i ended up with some ridiculous(for me) poundage(2 -3 times what i was doing normally)and raising it quite easily. I was actually quite surprised how much more weight they could take. I also do the squeeze at the top for a second and hold at the bottom for a second or two.

Now my calves hurt the next few days everytime i do them, i did them last night and they are sore this morning.

maybe that helps.

[quote]Producer wrote:
If you’re not already, I would do is start doing a 2-3 second pause at the bottom of every rep, and pause at the top of each rep for about a second. It’s hard to cheat this way, the pause at the bottom takes out the stretch-reflex that the calves have. Make sure your range of motion is nearly 100% most of the time.

If you don’t stretch them a lot, try increasing stretching frequency. After you warm up, between sets, after the workout. Consider foam-rolling them on a regular basis, and maybe getting them massaged. I once read that calves can have a lot of scar tissue that can somewhat limit growth, and that some soft tissue work can immediately cause the muscle to open up a bit and get bigger.

Make sure when you want them to grow, you are eating enough.

Personally I like to do 2-3 week rep phases, 15-10-5 and sort of build up in weight each workout until the last workout of each rep range is the heaviest I can do.[/quote]

Good advice. I would only add to make sure at the “top” of each rep to squeeze as hard as you can and then go down slowly with control. Pause at the bottom to prevent the reflex bounce and then explode up as fast as you can and hold/squeeze at the peak again.

dude i remember when i was doing HIIT cardio for 15mintues on a incline my calves would have the most intense pump ever, try it out lol, if you at least want a pump that is

How often are you training them?

Ive found training calves 4 times a week to work best. Train gastrocs separate from soleus.

Full ROM is absolutely necessary and since you didnt mention anything about ROM I’ll assume you werent paying enouhg attention to it.

All good advice above… Take mine with a grain of salt as I am new, but be creative man. Clearly for three times a week at the intensity you are at it is not enough, so either increase the intensity or train them 5 or 6 times a week. One thing that I do is alternate sets with the above mentioned pauses with no pause sets.

For example first set pause at bottom and squeeze at top, next set use the stretch reflex, increase weight and repeat until it’s all you can do to get those reps with the pause. Under this scheme I do sets of ten seated (soleus) and sets of 5 standing (gastroc). This is what works for me give it a try or experiment yourself, but just do something different if what you are doing doesn’t work.

Remember the definition of insanity… Doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result…

i didnt get a chance to read all the previous posts but i remember Chad Waterbury (i think) had a great article about calves and how they are slow twitch muscle…so, doing lower rep ranges betwen 6-10, slowly, with a stretch at the bottom and a solid 2-3 second pause at top with a heavier weight is the way to go with calves…you could even do a super set, make your first set slow and heavy, and superset it with a high intesity 20rep+ calve exercise…just my 2 cents…
also, jump rope man…jumping rope is sick for your calves and just overall health, its something everyone should do…

IronWarrior

Thanks everyone for the help. I really like the idea about stretching them more, that’s something I’ve neglected lately. Also, holding the contraction at the top is something I’ve tried recently and it helps me at least feel the gastrocnemius a bit. I’ll try working them out more often too because as of right now two of my three calf workouts a week are heavy weight/low rep workouts.

My calves have always responded best to 12-20 reps with as much weight as possible. That goes for both gastrocs and soleus even though literature says they have different fiber makeup.

[quote]BONEZ217 wrote:
My calves have always responded best to 12-20 reps with as much weight as possible. That goes for both gastrocs and soleus even though literature says they have different fiber makeup. [/quote]

I’ll try doing 20 reps.

Usually I do 15 reps for 2 weeks, 10 reps for 2 weeks, then 5 reps for 2 weeks, but I’ll try 20 reps.

I think all the rep ranges might work if you use good form! I don’t think I’ve EVER seen someone else do a pause at the bottom of any calf exercise! Yea, some bastards are lucky with good calf genetics but for the guys who need their calves to grow, I think it’s mandatory to try the pause.