T Nation

Roundtable: Calves and Forearms

I recently changed my workouts around to incorporate a significant amount of running. Figure 3 days a week, 2 miles a day, gradually increasing speed. This has really done wonders for my calf development.

Also, before I ever lifted weights, my father had these Chinese exercise balls. The ones you roll around in your hand. Only these weren’t the hollow chime ones, they were solid, about 1lb a piece. In my 12 year old hands, they were one hell of a workout. Playing with these things constantly got me to a point where my forearms were bigger than my upper arms. There’s my experience with high volume and varying angles. Any body else?

I’ve often thought about calf and forearm development.

I just wondered why when people who have been extremely overweight for years loose weight, they are usually left with tremendous calf development. Is this due to the work the calves do in carrying the extra body weight? A case for heavy training.

Also in thinking about where I’ve seen the best calves, it has been on male ballet dancers. Is this due to the volume of work done? A case for volume training.

Forearms. I recently started working out with a couple of guys that are finish carpenters…and they have the most tremendous forearm development, after years of hammering. Again, would this not create a justification for volume training?

Just thinking out loud, but would welcome some comments. Thanks.

Some of the best forearms I have ever seen have been on hard working carpenters who sling a hammer all day. So much for low reps and high sets for hypertrophy.

Um…where is the round table I want to sit down my calves hurt from so much walking.

Rebecca,
I think you may have a point, however, most with great development in those two muscle groups were genetically gifted with them in the first place. I get a lot of comments on my forearms and have gotten them since I was in high school. The last time I measured them years ago, they were over 17". They may be bigger now. I do absolutely NO work for them. None. On the other hand, I have high calves and they won’t grow much. Overall, they suck and I hate wearing shorts because of it. If I were 150lbs, they would look great, but being about 100lbs heavier than that, they are severely lagging and I have tried everything. That includes a couple of years walking on my toes in college and a brief period of time wearing those ankle weights when I was in high school (no jokes please).

While I may start working my forearms directly simply because I want to get them as big as they can get, I understand that genetics are the primary reason they are the size they are now. I would assume the same holds for calf muscles. It may be that people with those particular attributes are more likely to be good at those pursuits rather than those pursuits creating those attributes.

[quote]ZEB wrote:
Some of the best forearms I have ever seen have been on hard working carpenters who sling a hammer all day. So much for low reps and high sets for hypertrophy.

Um…where is the round table I want to sit down my calves hurt from so much walking.[/quote]

If you consider one nail as a set then this would fit perfectly into the low reps high sets fold and there are no round chairs at the round table, keep standing.

I once went fishing off the coast of Sarasota, Florida. The boat captain stood at the helm the entire time. The wind picked up a bit and the seas were a little choppy. My cousin turned green and fed the fish…

My brother stood for about 45 minutes and said his calves were pumped like crazy and burned. I tried to fish, avoid my cousin and find the least rocking part of the boat. The boat captain had large symetrical calves. Think wobble board for several hours.

I think that standing on a small boat in choppy seas has got to be one of the very best calf exercises.

[quote]ahex740 wrote:
ZEB wrote:
Some of the best forearms I have ever seen have been on hard working carpenters who sling a hammer all day. So much for low reps and high sets for hypertrophy.

Um…where is the round table I want to sit down my calves hurt from so much walking.

If you consider one nail as a set then this would fit perfectly into the low reps high sets fold and there are no round chairs at the round table, keep standing.[/quote]

Well now, that’s something to consider. The only problem is that they are doing this all day long. How many reps and sets is that? Any way you want to count them it is beyond tradional “size training.”

I agree with Chad Waterbury, there is no magic set/rep scheme. You can gain size in many different ways.

[quote]ZEB wrote:
ahex740 wrote:
ZEB wrote:
Some of the best forearms I have ever seen have been on hard working carpenters who sling a hammer all day. So much for low reps and high sets for hypertrophy.

Um…where is the round table I want to sit down my calves hurt from so much walking.

If you consider one nail as a set then this would fit perfectly into the low reps high sets fold and there are no round chairs at the round table, keep standing.

Well now, that’s something to consider. The only problem is that they are doing this all day long. How many reps and sets is that? Any way you want to count them it is beyond tradional “size training.”

I agree with Chad Waterbury, there is no magic set/rep scheme. You can gain size in many different ways.
[/quote]

Forget sets and reps. Just go play. Last summer, I worked breaking up concrete with a sledgehammer. I hammer till I got tired, rested, went back for more. There’s much more to being in shape than gym lifts. Get outside and run about.