T Nation

Calves Look Like Sticks


I was wondering what your take is on gaining calf muscles?
I’m fairly tall and have extremely long legs. Although I managed to get some mass over the years and don’t like a stick figure anymore on my upper body, my legs still look like toothpicks.
I’ve never skipped a leg day and I always go extra hard (almost throw up after a leg work out).
Besides minor changes and even having to buy bigger pants, they still look very skinny and my friends tend to make fun of them occasionally. I think if I could increase my calf size it would make a big difference but I don’t know how to…
I’ve tried everything from eating loads, mass gainers etc. but most just goes to my upper body.
I don’t overtrain my legs either so I’m really lost…


I gained some size on my calves( and then stopped training them again cause they are so boring lol) by doing calf raises on the smith machine pushing for max reps.The fact that it does not put you in the stretch possition is perfect for making progress and I firmly believe that if you do your 5 rep max for 20 after some months your calves will get bigger


how many days a week would you recommend? I have to say I used to do them at the squat rack and even smith machine for a good 2 months straight with no change at all…


I did them twice per week

Remember I just mention my personal experience,and what worked for me might not work for you.If you give it a try load with caution,cause you car really load a lot of weight on this movement and your core might not be able to take it.Also ALWAYS and I mean ALWAYS have safeties set.I’ve heard some horific stories where the guys loaded up to much weight and got smashed,so never load a lot of weight without safeties on


Yea I always put on a safety bar regardless of the exercise and I never push my limits that far that I could seriously injure myself. As soon as I feel the slightest weird pain I usually drop the wights.

What do you think of spin bikes? I have a few friends that ride the bike a lot (non gym goers) and they have massive calfs. Was considering to buy a spin bike for home use and then ride it 20-30 minutes at least for every day?


Bike will also work as conditioning,so try and see,At the worst case senario you’ll end up with the same calves and some good conditioning


haha I guess its not a complete lose lose situation in that case! but yea I agree with that!
I’ve had a quick browse through a few websites and this one here seems to specialize in it (cardioboss.com)
I didn’t think they were too expensive. Have you ever used any of these? Or do you know if any of these are good quality?


How much do you weigh?

I don’t understand how both of these things can be true: ‘I always go extra hard (almost throw up after a leg work out)’ and ‘I don’t overtrain my legs either…I never push my limits that far’

You also mentioned something about not seeing results after 2 months. That’s because 2 months isn’t even close to long enough to see results with your calves. It will probably take years to make a difference, particularly if you don’t weigh much.


I meant that I don’t push my limits in the sense that I could injure myself by putting too much weight on for my back to crack. I always push myself by putting my max however and so long sets e.g. 12x15 squats.

I weight 85kg and I’m 192 cm tall.

Usually I see results after 2 'months of training. Obviously I don’t have the body i dream of but I lose body fat and gain a bit of mass in general


Exactly how tall are you, what did you weigh when you started, what do you weigh now? Also, how much weight have you gained in the last 6 months?

Like Flip said, calves are generally stubborn and can take time to grow. They also take time to figure out what each person responds best to. Some guys do better with more frequency, hitting them every single workout or even every single day. Some guys do better with more volume, blasting calves hard twice a week.

There are a bunch of calf routines you can try, but the rest of your training is important for context. What does your current week look like? The days, exercises, sets, and reps.

EDIT: Didn’t see the above post before I submitted. That figures.


not with calves. NOBODY does. Calves just take longer. They’re different from every other muscle group in the body. If you expect substantial growth in 2 months, you’ll always be disappointed.

And as I expected, you don’t weigh very much. Bodyweight has a strong correlation to calf size. It’s very hard to develop larger calves if they’re not consistently under a heavy load.

I will give you a suggestion that hasn’t been mentioned yet. The only thing I’ve ever done in training that I believe has directly affected the size of my calves is heavy carries. Things like farmers walks, yoke walks, keg walks, sandbag carries, whatever. Consider walking with heavy things on a regular basis to increase the size of your calves. I bet if you did a lot of walking with a heavy backpack, 4 or 4 times a week, your calves would start growing. I think calf raises aren’t a very good approach to building size. Calves require more stimulus than that since they’re so used to being loaded.


I would make heavy work/getting really strong doing calf presses on the leg press a main stay over the long term. Train them like a main lift 5x5//big pyramid to 6RM etc. Focus on getting a really full range of motion. If they are really stubborn might have to work up to 1000lbs!

Obviously also concurrently try the variety of different strategies mentioned and tons of pump and strecth work.

When doing cardio go for hill sprints or hard intervals on the rower


Thanks I’ll give that a try! So you’re against the information of cardioboss

I always try to get a good stretch after my workouts. Sometimes I forget though :smiley:

Also last question, what exactly do you mean by RM ?


Spinning great for fitness and hard sprints can build up calves also but I would still say those are better especially hill sprints. Not make or break though so if enthusiastic about bike have at it.

RM means rep max ie a weight so heavy you can only do for 6 reps


Oh right, that makes sense! Thanks a lot!

Yea the spin bike is just easy to place in the flat so I’m really thinking about getting one. Plus the prices aren’t insane which is also really good!