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Given Up On Calves


So I've finally given up on training calves. After 3 years of trying EVERYTHING (Hi rep, hi volume, low rep, heavy weight, low volume and everything in between) MY calves have gaine .5 of an inch. Is that really it? Will i really have to wait another 3 years of beating the shit out of my calves every other day to gain .5 of lean mass?

At this point, I'd rather beat my calves with a ball pin hammer to gain scar tissue mass over lifting weight with them and pissing in the wind.

Has anyone with shitty calves on this forum ever had success with anything? I'm very happy with the rest of my goals, but i've just about had it with calves.


Go to a really good karate or Taekwondo studio. Go everyday. Your on the balls of your feet the entire time with tons of jumping


when do you train calfs in ur workouts? How heavy do you go? What exercises do you use? Whats your programming? Everyother day might be to much man, especially if you walk alot and shit. I know if give them a really good session, which for me, means going up to a heavy ass set maybe like 5 plates on seated smith raises, then go down to 2-3 plates, do 3-4 sets using the double pop technique.

That shit.....ends lives.....then i usually finish with 1 plate for 80-100 reps. Cant walk for a couple days usually. i suaully dont have enough energy or desire to always have a really good calf session, alot of times ijust throw them in. But when i do focus, i have gained .5 inch in a few months, then i generally focus on something else and just maintain them.

But usually i just use one exercise, 2x a week, so seated one time and standing the other, and just do alot of sets, really good technique, slow hard squeezing reps. Thats all i got for now, but srsly, why stop, thats just giving into defeat man.


Best thing I've done for mine has been pushing the prowler. On my heavier pushing days where I really get after it, my calves get destroyed. That damn sled was a game changer for my hams, glutes and calves. Oh yea, conditioning too yada yada yada.


calf implants


hill sprints


No matter what you do, if you've got a hopelessly small knot of muscle fibers with a high insertion into you calves, training isn't going to make them look outstanding. That being said, you can still improve them. Try 4 sets of 20 reps, one minute rest periods, with your shoes off and make each rep nice a slow with a full contraction at the top and a full stretch at the bottom.

When it gets painful keep the exact form and still go for full contraction, by this point it should feel like your cramping them. You'll need to use a calf block for this. Place all your weight on the ball of your foot and big toe throughout the movement. Hit them like this every 3 days with 100 reps of bodyweight calf raises on every off day.

Your problem might be you never fully contract your calves since it's impossible to do with shoes on



I've always had shitty little calves. They're naturally high on my shin, and for years I THOUGHT I was training them hard (lots of volume and frequency), but the growth was almost non-existent. A couple of years ago I even tried an 8 week SuperSlow blast working up to almost 600 lbs that only gave me a mere 1/8" of growth!

Last year I made up my mind that I had to prioritize calves. I had to make a real connection with them... almost a love affair. They became my main focus every day. I'd look at them from every angle in the mirror and in the shower. I'd flex them in all different positions - all to make THAT connection.

First thing I did in the gym was dump the traditional standing calf raise machine. Too many guys half-ass it anyway and so it's no use using a calf machine where your heel stretches lower that your toes on the block. So I began doing FLAT-FOOTED, BARE-FOOTED calf raises in the Smith Machine! I'd ramp up several sets until I reached 350 lbs or so, then I would explode up, hold for a moment at the top, and slowly lower until my heels were flat on the floor, then repeat until I hit failure (usually 18 to 20 reps). Then I'd rest only long enough to allow the burn to go away, catch a quick drink from my bottle, then back under again for a set to failure. I continued this as each set I was doing less and less reps due to fatigue. I'd terminate the session when I reached the point where my reps were falling below 5 or 6. Sometimes this happened within 9 sets, sometimes 12. I increased weight when I could do more than 20 reps on the first set.

Two or 3 days later I did Calf Presses on the Selectorized Stack Leg Press machine. In this position, it's almost like a Donkey Calf Raise. Same as before, I started by ramping up the weight until I got to the heaviest set that allowed for 12 to 15 reps. Explode on the push, slow on the descent for a full stretch, until failure. Then rest until the burn subsides. Now, on the next set, I'd reduce the weight 30 lbs and go to failure again. Rest, reduce 50 lbs, and failure? continue until you can only get 5 reps a set, then stop the session.

The following week, I'd repeat the Smith Calf Raises as described above.

Then 2-3 days after that I'd do the Calf Presses on the Leg Press again... only now, after a thorough warm-up I'd train each leg separately, starting off with a weight that allows 10 negative only reps! I'd do this by pushing with both feet until fully contracted, then remove one foot and let the other SLOWLY lower into a full stretch. Then repeat until 10 reps are reached. Then switch to the other foot. These are a killer and you should only do 3 sets. Add weight when you can do over 12 reps each foot.
For variety, I'd sometimes do this session where it's still negative-only reps, but I'd alternate each foot as I repped. In other words, push with both, lower with left foot, push with both, lower with right foot until failure. I'd end up each of these sessions with dropping the weight by half, and just repping the hell out of both legs together for a set or two.

Then the next week redo the Smith Calf routine.

Soreness was devastating at first. But if possible, I'd do calf raises in the shower every day, as I washed my hair or whatever. Just a couple of sets of 30 to 50 reps for a nice little pump.

Within 4 months I brought my once-shitty calves up an inch and a half! And on a small guy like me, that's substantial!


While I get a lot of comments on my calves now, they didn't really come into their own until about 5-6 years ago. Some people view this as a success, but to me, it also means that I spent 13 years being unable to figure out what to do in order to get those bastids growin'!

What I did (in case any of this sounds applicable):
-Split my gastroc and soleus into 2 seperate workouts
-Started using straight leg calf machines or leg sleds as I was always limited by the standing calf machine because it felt awkward and crushed my traps once I piled a lotta weight on
-Focused on the different fiber types of the two different muscle groups, low rep for gastroc, high rep for solei
-Did the higher rep work after legs as I knew I'd already be tired, but did the low rep (heavy weight) work after upper body (chest) so there would be no reason for not absolutely killing it

-Looked for any opportunity to stretch my calves, usually while walking my dog, if we stopped for some serious sniffing, I'd stand on the curb and stretch the entire time until we moved on.
-No bouncing, I don't care how much weight you think you're moving and how it will overload your muscles.
-Slow negatives, Explosive positives and a damn hard squeeze at the top or every rep
-Even with the low rep/heavy weight work, I'd always do a drop (usually a 5x time) for my last set to really push some blood in there and stretch everything out (not sure if I fully buy inot FST7 training, but an ocassional pump set does have its place in my book)

Certainly not the ultimate article on calf training, but maybe a tip or two may strike a chord the next time you're pounding away.



Good post Stu.
I made similar points as well!



Yeah, I think you hit 'submit' a half second before I did :slightly_smiling:



DOGCRAPP. That is all.


You reckon? I didnt have much luck with this. What about the soleus?


For me, it's more that traditional style training gave me foot problems. I'm back to being able to train calves hard without foot pain. Mine aren't great, but they are progressing again.

I'm not sure why you think the soleus doesn't get hit in DC though.


Don't train specifically calves more often than once a week. Go for 100 meter sprints. during the maximum speed sprint all you body including calves work at maximum performance which stimulates muscles in different way than just regular calves exercises in a gym.


Well unless something has changed since I last read anything DC related from Dante, his calf protocol was leg press calf raises with a long stretch between every rep. There was no bent leg exercise indicated to hit soleus. Im sure it gets a little work from straight leg stuff but nothing sufficient for optimal growth.


I could be entirely wrong, but DC allows for all different calf exercises.


Yeah, I would disagree with this. I am not gifted in the calves department but they didn't grow at all until I started training them daily even if it was only for 3-4 sets.


I never seen a basketball player with small calves .


Yes, you can disagree... but if I noticed impact on my own calves it might be helpful another person as well.. and seems he has nothing to lose any way. Why not?