T Nation

training calves

Does anyone have a special calf workout that gives them nice results? My calves seem to have hit a plateau. Upper body and thighs growing like crazy but my calves are lagging behind. Right now I’m training them twice a week

Day 1:
-Seated Calf raises, 3 sets of 12-20 reps
-Incline (Hack machine) 3 sets of 10-12

Day 2:
-Standing Calf raises, 4 sets 6-8 reps
-Single leg standing, 4 sets 6-8 reps
-Leg press machine, 3 sets 10-15 reps

I’m going medium weight, mid to high reps on day one(monday) and strictly high weight on day 2(thurs). Besides mass I’m trying to achieve better separation/definition between soleus & gastrocnemius. Can I add in another day to break through this or will that affect my repair time?

Any secrets, hints, tips, criticism welcome.

there are a few articles on calf training if you do a search.

there are a good 3-4 calve programs here on the mag.

Yeah I have been reading some of the articles. Still, I would like to hear what works 1st hand from people on the forum.

10 reps, rest 20 seconds
15 reps, rest 15 seconds
20 reps, rest 10 seconds
15 reps, rest 5 seconds
10 reps

Pick any calf exercise and use this format with the same weight throughout- for instance, i use 115 pounds on the seated calf machine (plate loaded) its the best most intense 2 minute calf workout i’ve found. you’ll have to experiment for yourself how often each week you can do it based on recovery etc… good luck!

What tempo do you use? That scheme sounds intense…me thinks I’ll try it.

ND: yeah, this is my favorite “intensity routine” i actually never paid attention to tempo, just tried to make it hurt as much as possible. ie: by the time i get to the last “set” of 10, depending on how much burn i felt i would slow it down or speed it up… trust me, you do this properly and the next morning you’ll feel it- the doms usually lasts about 3 or 4 days the first time i do it if i haven’t for awhile:)

I have horrid genetics in the calves but I have managed to pack six inches on them since first training them. (They were pipe cleaners - 10"!) They are still weak and need another inch or two, but at least I can say what has worked. Very high reps never did much, nor did ultra heavy weights in the lower rep ranges. What I found that works is not nearly as glamorous as the fancy routines, it’s just this: 10-15 sets of 10-12 very strict reps with a moderate weight and 30 seconds between sets. I perform this two to three times weekly using as much variety as possible with the movements, though my favorite is definitely the calf raise on the leg press. And I have never seen fast growth in that area, it’s always very slow, though consistent. Hope that is helpful…

Check out the “Diamonds in the rough” Article

Calves require a lot of work. If you think about it you step thousands of times a day with the force of more than your bodyweight. This makes the calves fibers very dense and they need a lot to stimulate them.

This past year Ive added some nice size and shape to mine doing this.

Seated calves: put one plate on then add 5 or 6 10s. Now do drop sets to 50 reps, two sets, works best with a spotter just to rip the 10s off.

In between sets do slow standing calve raises really pinch at top.

Leg press or some sort of sled calf movement: This one go real heavy and very slow and deliberate (3-4 sets). Go very heavy but dont sacrifice deep stretch and very high pinch at top. The stretch is very important in calve training. I work this in reps of 6-12.

Ill use the same technique for 4 weeks and then switch up the machines, but working in this basic format. Its worked great for me.

Also consider a couple sets of 100, with only as much rest as needed to keep going, this will fry them.

Good luck on those cows!


bosshogoutlaw, you can always try Chad’s ABBH approach to building calves.

Start by calculate your 1RM on both Standing & Sitting Calf Raises.

Week 1 do Workout A1 and 3 or 4 days later do Workout B1.

Week 2 do Workout A2 and 3 or 4 days later do Workout B2.

Week 3 do Workout A3 and 3 or 4 days later do Workout B3.

Workout A

  1. Standing Calf Raise 10x3 @ 80% of 1RM
  2. Standing Calf Raise 10x4 @ 80% of 1RM
  3. Standing Calf Raise 10x5 @ 80% of 1RM

Workout B

  1. Sitting Calf Raise 5x10 @ 60% of 1RM
  2. Sitting Calf Raise 5x10 @ 65% of 1RM
  3. Sitting Calf Raise 5x10 @ 70% of 1RM

At the end of Week 3 you can flip-flop the exercises to the opposite rep scheme.

Be prepared to lift some heavy weight and feel it the next day. I don’t do much calf work, and my 1RM on the Standing Calf Raise was 335, more than double my body weight. You’ll experience hypertrophy and strength gains, both.

Why not try explosive standing calf raises?
I find these really hammer you’re calves. The DOMS was intense to say the least. I like them because they allow me to use a big weight, fast with a big ROM which for me equates to pain and growth.

The article is by John Paul Catanzaro

after years of trying fancy programs to get my calves to grow i have determined that simply periodizing my calve training along the same lines as the rest of my training seems to work the best.

Try this…Take a 25 or 30 lb dumbell in each hand (you figure out the weight). Go to a basketball court (or similar distance). Do a combination walk and “calf raise” for as long as you can stand it. Then do it again. As you press down on your toes on the back foot, raise up on your toes on the lead foot. I did this with great results as a teenager and still have nice calves at age 52. You’ll look like an idiot but who cares. You can add traditional exercises but watch for overtraining.