T Nation

My Calves Suck!

Unfortunately at around 6ft. my calves are about 15in.
they look really small when im wearing shorts and compared to my upper body they look awkward. I’ve been training them with about 3-5 sets, 5-15 reps twice a week for the last 6 weeks but i wonder if they need more. nothings grown much in the last 6 weeks so i don’t know if i can blame the routine but do you have any tips for bringing up the calves faster than normal?

I know how you feel, I think that mine suck too. I never direct trained them for a long time tho, just recently started training them 2x a week and forearms 3x a week and have already started to notice a difference. If you aren’t eating enough to add size anywhere else, you wont be adding size to your calves either.

i have the same problem…but i’m skinny everywhere lol. still it is annoying because i have a “big upper body” for my weight meaning even less weight in my legs which sucks. hopefully for me the calves will come more with overall weight

so do you guys have any special routines or something you did for them that helped them grow faster than usual?

I tried doing lots of calf presses and got really strong at it, but they still didn’t grow much. I think it has a lot to do with the attachment point. For instance my calf is at its thickest near the top. Almost all the people with big calves have the fullest part in the middle.

Experiment with different rep ranges.

I personally need to push a lot of blood into my calves using high reps for several consecutive minutes.

I remember (writer) Sean Toohey posting about his calf training… he used body weight or a 20 pound dumbbell. For thousands of reps. Said he had his calves almost as large as his arms at one point, which is saying a lot.

If 6 weeks of training has not produced any change to an underdeveloped bodypart… move on to something different.

I like DC style calf raises. The really long holds just torch my calves and seem to help…worst come to worst I’m increasing strength significantly even if there is minimal size increase. It’s hard for me to tell since I’m cutting atm. No I’m not on full DC routine while cutting just the calves.

[quote]pumped340 wrote:
so do you guys have any special routines or something you did for them that helped them grow faster than usual?[/quote]

Dude

Go to the nearest beach and run or walk really fast in the soft sand.It hits the calves in so many different angles instead of just UP and DOWN.

I hate to break the news to u but genetics plays a massive role in calf development.But something to think about is this…Have u ever seen a obese person with small calves? i have not. So slap on about 50 pounds and i bet your calves will no longer be 15 inches.

Oh man, I would suggest an Arnold approach to them. Train them till you either puke or faint. Genes play a major role. They might not grow to your desired size, but dammit man damn you if you don’t try. In my case I don’t even train em anymore so I consider myself lucky.

I have the same problem of having unproportional calves. My physio told me to that my calves are too tight. I have to stretch em a lot and self-administer deep tissue massage every night. He reckons by loosening up the calves, the muscle/s will have room to grow. I do alot of running and as a result, I have tightened up my calves.

Its so hard to get big calves because they are worked all day everyday when we move. So they are really stubborn when its time to grow them.

With calves about 80% of their development comes down to Genetics. Guys I know never train them and still have huge calves. It took me 3 days a week for 8 weeks to bring out any real noticable gains, and even know they still look long and boney.

But hey if you have nothing, you got nothing to lose. Hit them twice as hard and eat more and see what happens.

I have 17" calves at 5’8" - they are OKAY.

What has worked for me very well in the past and continues to work is very high reps… and freq.

sets of 100 with BW, and rest/paume to use a heavy weight but allow me to use a heavy weight.

Plus training them 2, 3 or even 4 times a week… or as soon as they are recovered works wonders. I also stretch them fully for a while between each set -= and i am starting to think that this is the reason i have good calves… so i am playing with stretching all bodyparts. It’ll be a year before any results show but… :wink:

Brook

Ok you all haven’t read or discussed much about calves. If anyone tells me I am wrong - give me a sauce which contradicts me please.

Obviously if you put on 50 pounds you would put on calf size, but that is a dummy-statement, and irrelevent.

There are two different types of calves, generally. High-attatched and Low-attatched. This terminology is referring to how far down your leg your calves attatch toward your ankles. High means your calves look ball-like, whereas Low means they look like a triangle (one long muscle). Tall people usually have Low-attatch calves, and short people High, but obviously there is variation.

Two different training styles are used for High, or Low, depending.
High (ball-like) usually use HIT, every second day or so, even if doing a body split. 2-3 really heavy explosive sets (reps=<5) usually do.

Low attatch calves are alot more stubborn because of the “long distance runner” genotype, not wanting to weigh the runner down. They also have to train heavy. But they usually really need to smash it Arnold style (reps between 8-21). You will hear people complaining they cant walk properly the next day… too bad.

The NEXT thing to realise is that MUCH LIKE your arms, there are TWO SIDES. Many people only train one side and forget to train the antagonist ‘calf’. Yes, it can be trained with half as many sets as your main calves, but they still really thicken your legs if trained. They do not give you that ‘ripped’ look, but you want inches, right?

How do you train the antagonist (anterior tibialis + surrounding fibres)? You do calf raises from the very back of your heels. Some people can directly put weight on their feet and do raises like that, but if you aren’t one of those people you can get tendon damage from the strain throughout the toes and ankle.

I hope this doesn’t dissapoint.

Remember you wont grow your calves unless you are eating enough for the rest of your body to grow too.

Thanks.

Excellent info forevernade! I am going to focus a bit more on my anterior tibialis.

I had 2 points about calves:

  1. as mentioned above the DC calf training style is fairly different than the approach I see most people use. If you have had problems building calves it’s worth a try for the shock if nothing else.

  2. I like to train calves very low rep sometimes and I see very few people ever do this. I might do a 5 x 5 one day seated or in the smith with the heaviest load I can handle really focusing on exploding upward. I also sometimes use a pre-exhaustion set for example sets of 40-50 on the smith than move to seated with no rest for a set of 3-5.

just some ideas

[quote]GhorigTheBeefy wrote:
I like DC style calf raises. The really long holds just torch my calves and seem to help…worst come to worst I’m increasing strength significantly even if there is minimal size increase. It’s hard for me to tell since I’m cutting atm. No I’m not on full DC routine while cutting just the calves.[/quote]

what is the DC routine for them?

[quote]King of Kings wrote:
pumped340 wrote:
so do you guys have any special routines or something you did for them that helped them grow faster than usual?

Dude

Go to the nearest beach and run or walk really fast in the soft sand.It hits the calves in so many different angles instead of just UP and DOWN.

I hate to break the news to u but genetics plays a massive role in calf development.But something to think about is this…Have u ever seen a obese person with small calves? i have not. So slap on about 50 pounds and i bet your calves will no longer be 15 inches.[/quote]

i used to be fat with pretty normal/decent sized calves but now that i got way too skinny and am building back up they’re not too great…hopefully they will get better though. i’ve seen a few fat people with skinny calves, it looks so ridiculous lol

edit: oh and i dont think most people can go to the beach every time they need to train calves :wink:

[quote] Brook wrote:
I have 17" calves at 5’8" - they are OKAY.

What has worked for me very well in the past and continues to work is very high reps… and freq.

sets of 100 with BW, and rest/paume to use a heavy weight but allow me to use a heavy weight.

Plus training them 2, 3 or even 4 times a week… or as soon as they are recovered works wonders. I also stretch them fully for a while between each set -= and i am starting to think that this is the reason i have good calves… so i am playing with stretching all bodyparts. It’ll be a year before any results show but… :wink:

Brook[/quote]

so you do 100 reps with bw, and then do rest pause training? also isnt stretching before any lift bad?

[quote]forevernade wrote:
Ok you all haven’t read or discussed much about calves. If anyone tells me I am wrong - give me a sauce which contradicts me please.

Obviously if you put on 50 pounds you would put on calf size, but that is a dummy-statement, and irrelevent.

There are two different types of calves, generally. High-attatched and Low-attatched. This terminology is referring to how far down your leg your calves attatch toward your ankles. High means your calves look ball-like, whereas Low means they look like a triangle (one long muscle). Tall people usually have Low-attatch calves, and short people High, but obviously there is variation.

Two different training styles are used for High, or Low, depending.
High (ball-like) usually use HIT, every second day or so, even if doing a body split. 2-3 really heavy explosive sets (reps=<5) usually do.

Low attatch calves are alot more stubborn because of the “long distance runner” genotype, not wanting to weigh the runner down. They also have to train heavy. But they usually really need to smash it Arnold style (reps between 8-21). You will hear people complaining they cant walk properly the next day… too bad.

The NEXT thing to realise is that MUCH LIKE your arms, there are TWO SIDES. Many people only train one side and forget to train the antagonist ‘calf’. Yes, it can be trained with half as many sets as your main calves, but they still really thicken your legs if trained. They do not give you that ‘ripped’ look, but you want inches, right?

How do you train the antagonist (anterior tibialis + surrounding fibres)? You do calf raises from the very back of your heels. Some people can directly put weight on their feet and do raises like that, but if you aren’t one of those people you can get tendon damage from the strain throughout the toes and ankle.

I hope this doesn’t dissapoint.

Remember you wont grow your calves unless you are eating enough for the rest of your body to grow too.

Thanks.[/quote]

well i’m about 6ft but how can i really tell if its low attached or high?

also could you give an example workout? i’m not 100% sure how you would work the anterior tibialis

[quote]pumped340 wrote:
so you do 100 reps with bw, and then do rest pause training? also isnt stretching before any lift bad?
[/quote]

Well NOT stretching before a lift hasnt worked so far has it?! ;p

Do you know why static stretching is supposed to be ‘bad’? I have a sneaky feeling you dont…

The idea of static stretching between sets is to stretch the fascia… and all i know is, that there is definitely something to be said for fascia stretching, and that my calf is the one group that i have stretched between sets religiously - and it is a good bodypart for me… maybe genetics - but it really doesnt hurt to try in this case.

I am not doing 100 bodyweight reps any more… but it was definitely what gave me my initial size, which i built up from 14 years old. It is unlikely you will be able to do 100 bw raises TBH, but you should progress to 3 sets of 100. It will fucking hurt more than anything in your life (again - those high reps, that pump - fascia stretching anyone?) but it works.

Forget about the rest pause, i dont think you need to bother with that one.

Brook

You could gain 100 lbs, that would make them grow.

Other than that, I have no idea how to grow them, mine have always been huge and ripped. I don’t even work them, ever, and they still look like Frank McGrath’s forearms with all the veins and stuff.

I did stretch them alot when I was younger, putting my toes on a step and trying to get my heels to touch the floor. Maybe that helped some.

I agree with everyone.

Walking on beaches, genetics, walking up steep hills for 20 minutes at a good pace, combined with some calve work in the gym.