Deep Calf Stretching.

After each set of standing or seated calf raises, I’ll let my heals almost drop to the floor and hold that positon anywhere from 30 seconds to a minute.

The pain is excrutiating. I’ve been doing this add-on now for about a month and I swear that it’s adding growth.

The only thing I can think of why is, one: More time under tention. And two: Stretching the hell out of the muscle and tendon allowing room for growth somehow?

Some calf freak at the gym says he does the same thing on seated rasies at the end of the workout. He’ll hold the drop/stretched position for up to 3 min. Watching him makes me want to puke.

Anyone see why this would or would not do anything for growth?

there was an article here at tmag that recommended doing that. cant remember which one at the moment.

Thanks P-Dog.

Anyone know where I can find it?

It’s cool that you’re doing that, since the study looking at stretch and protein synthesis used the exact same movement. They found it did nothing, but they also used regular people and stretched to comfort level. It’s good to hear from someone who actually works out and can tolerate a little pain.
Doesn’t it kill your strength for the subsequent sets though?

Theoretically stretching your calf for long periods of time (I believe the time tested was 5 minutes) can decrease stiffness without decreasing force production. However, short stretches as the ones described above would probably result in force loss. I’d be interested to hear how this works in practice.

RF, any comments? Do you get weaker with each progressive set?

Gentlmen it depends. Since my calf workouts consist of anywhere from 6-10 sets, I might hold the stretch for the first 3 sets at only about 10-15 seconds. This may not seem like a lot, but then again this is right after I’ve gone to failure so calves are already screaming. It’s the slowest 10-15 seconds in the world.

I don’t notice any force decrease by doing the “holds” that are under 30 seconds. However once I get to the last 2-3 sets, I’ll hold it for at least 45-1min+, and then the last one I go for at least min and a half. Those one’s are force robbers all the way.

I can’t say for sure how much the short “holds” add to the fatigue since each set is taken to failure and then some before going to the hold.

This causes a different type of sorness. You’ve all had it before, but after doing these, it’ll be worse than you ever experienced. It’s not the contraction type sore where your calves are so fricken sore you can’t raise your heel to flex them. It’s the exact opposite. It’s the stretch. You can’t raise your toes without grinding your teeth.

I’ll keep doing this for some time to see where it takes me.

I perform very short (maybe 5 sec) stretches after just about every set I perform and have found its effects on strength during subsequent sets depend on how much rest I get after the stretch.

If I perform a set shortly after holding a stretch I do lose strength. If I rest after stretching I notice no loss in strength.

I have heard/read that stretching a muscle you are working is not a good idea and that one should stretch the antagonist muscle instead. Stretching the antagonist apparently increases force output by increasing muscle recruitment during the set through some sort of disinhibitory effect (can’t remember the specifics but it has something to do with disabling a protective mechanism that normally inhibits muscle contractions). It is also said to be beneficial because it enhances ROM.

This is how I typically stretch: (supposing I am alternating btwn sets of rows and bench press)

After a warm-up, I perform an short but intense pec stretch then move right into a working set of rows, stretch my back very intensely for a few seconds, rest for maybe 90 sec, stretch my back again a little less intensely but hold it longer and move right into a set of bench, stretch my chest short and intense, rest, stretch my chest less intense but longer and do a set or rows, etc…

So I stretch the antagonist muscle right before a working set and the working muscle right after.

I like stretching this way because:

  1. I don’t like long stretches
  2. on certain exercises stretching the antagonist before a working set makes me feel stronger and more stable during the set (particularly when stretching the back before a set of chest)
  3. an intense stretch of a working muscle right after a set gives me a great pump I don’t usually get when I don’t stretch. Stretching really makes a BIG difference in the pump for me!

I’d welcome to hear what anyone has to say about my approach.

BTW, the above applies mostly to upper-body, stretching legs is a different story…

I reckon it would just be from increased range of motion in the exercise.

Most people train their calves with about 60% ROM, and they are a notoriously stubborn muscle in some people anyway. If you really stress the extreme range with a static hold, you are perhaps getting the muscle at the point where it isnt normally getting hit. It might also change the balance of work between the two calf muscles, making it the equivalent of a different exercise - but I’m neither an anatomist nor a physicist.