T Nation

Fast Twitch, Speed, and Calves

I can’t seem to find the information I want on this subject. I’ve always been a very fast runner all my life, and can jump reasonably high. I’d like to improve this as much as possible still.

Calf raises for instance, should I be focusing on high reps or low reps? Should I be going very slow for the ROM or a constant speed? I assume building even more fast twitch muscles will increase my speed, so that is a goal with my legs. I am not looking for larger calves at this time.

For squats I have been doing 8x3 going slightly below parallel each rep. I don’t have a super wide stance. I’ve heard that if you keep a more natural stance, with feet just about shoulder width apart, you can gain power in your vertical leap.

Any articles on training calves/squats for speed and jumping around here? Sorry if this has been covered before.

Check out Kelly Baggett’s stuff for vert/speed training. I think Thib has a vertical jump article ‘six weeks to a bigger vert,’ or something. Ask in the speed/vert training thread if you have any specific questions.

When using squats for jump training, I like to use them as a general strengthening exercise, meaning I want them to hit the muscles that need work, even if this means they don’t mimic the specific movement of jumping.

For me, and for many people, the quads aren’t the weak link, the glutes and hamstrings are. I brought up my glutes and hamstrings using wide stance low box squats, but narrower stance squats will also hit the glutes and hamstrings. Make sure you go down low enough (the glutes are hit at the bottom of the lift).

Your sets and reps look fine. Just make sure you are working up to a max effort (90% or more).

As far as calves, what is important is their “isometric strength”, or stiffness.

To improve isometric strength, do heavy isometric holds at the top position of a calf raise and at the bottom. Use holds of about 20-30 seconds. Make sure you aren’t in the donkey calf raise machine when you do these (this machine hits your soleus more because of the bent knee position; you want to hit your gastrocnemius).

A good source of info is:

Read everything on that site.

Thanks for the responses guys. There are a lot of great articles on that site.

One last thing: My sets for calves have been 3x50 reps on a seated calf raise machine, similar to this:http://www.bodypowerusa.com/bodysolidpics1/images/GSCR349_Calf%20Raise.jpg

From the research ive gathered tonight, I assume that set/rep volume is wrong for my goals, and I should maybe switch to 3x10 with a very slow and full range of motion? What should my general volume be for this for a bigger speed?

get a pair of “jumpsoles” i added some speed and 8 inches on my vertical

Haha, jumpsoles.

Yeah, do some sort of standing calf raise instead of the seated kind, holding on to a dumbbell or plate for weight. It will transfer better to jumping ability.

3x10 would be fine to do. You don’t have to do them super slow, just hold them at the top for 5-10 seconds and at the bottom for 5-10 seconds to work the isometric function. This will also strengthen the calves more, as it takes the stretch reflex out of the exercise, so your muscle does the work instead of your achilles tendon.

Calves aren’t nearly as important for jumping as posterior chain and quads so don’t make a big deal out of them.