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what the hell is wrong with my calves?

hey guys. you can probably tell by the post title that i am one of the lucky millions that have calves that resemble a toothpick. and no i am not making excuses and saying that my calves are weak because of genetics. the problem i have is this, the inside head of my gastrocs are much longer than the outside. the only thing i have done to try to even out this imbalance is turning my toes in on my exercises. i train my calves twice per week, with moderate to high reps. i am making some progress in overall size and width but the imbalance between the heads annoys the shit out of me. do you guys have any advice as to what i could do to help fix this problem? thanks.

Can you provide more on what you’re doing for your calves? Are you watching your form (not “slinging” the weights, but controlled FULL reps)? I usually find that to be the issue when someone says that their calves are not responding.

Mine were too until I bought those funny looking Strenght Shoes. I did sprints in them like crazy & my calves are awesome now. Took about 4 months of training.

I used ot have awful calves,… then I added a second day each week where I just work my Solei,… Amazingly they’ve come up quite a bit in the past 6 months! :slight_smile:

first of all i didnt say my calves are not responding. i clearly stated that they are growing in overall size and width. however, the outer head of the gastroc is much shorter in length than the inside. why is it that way and what can i do to even out the imbalance? second dont assume that my form and technique are not proper because of your past experiences with other trainees. anyone out there with some sound advice?

Calves are predominantly slow twitch fibers. I would try ding that 100 reps thing we read about in a previous recent issue. Of course, my calves suck but if I really wanted to focus on them that is what I would do.

i do standing calf raises on a machine or on the smith machine, i also work the gastroc on the leg press and hack squat machines. i ocassionally mix in donkey raises as well. for the soleus i do seated machine calf raises. i perform about 4-6 sets for the gastroc and soleus each twice per week. toes in for the gastrocs.

Try training one leg at a time. Also, EMG analysis has shown the toes in/toes out doesn’t significantly alter muscle activation between the heads of the gastroc. Foot spacing,i.e. wide stance and narrow stance, has more to do with it. On two legged toe raises, use a narrow stance, with feet together and try to focus on keeping the weight on the outside of the foot (pinky toe). That MAY help, but it’s mostly a genetic thing…

Opt for the treadmill next cardio session. I run my balls off and it keeps my calves strong and thick.

Genetics plays a big role in determining the length of a muscle belly. On the same note, take a look at any anatomy chart and you will notice that the medial head of the gastroc is slightly lower the the lateral head. The extent of these distances is solely based on genetics. Conversely, if there are size differences between the heads, there a few things you can do. Firstly, bring your stance in when doing all calf exercises. This means put your feet side by side. Secondly, try pushing off the lateral ball of your foot when doing calf work. This is the one behind your pinky toe. You may also want check if you are flat-footed or have fallen arches. If you do have one of these conditions, your foot is pronated and the majority of force when walking, running, etc. is being transferred excessively to the medial head of the gastroc as opposed to being shared equally by both heads. Any questions,let me know. Good Luck.

I was about to write the exact same post that jdogfunk just did. I completely agree with everything he just said- try it out.

I have the same type of calve. It is not a problem once you put on some size. You calves with most likely end up looking like Ken Waller’s. Check out “Pumping Iron” Work on the Soleus to push out the gastrocs. I like low reps for the soleus and High for the gastrocs.
Best of Luck.

p-dog: I wasn’t trying to knock you down. I just was using a generalization so that a more specific idea could be presented, in terms of what your current routine looks like.

Dawg is rather correct: try saturating your calves with the 100-reps. Really consider prioritizing calf training now if this is a concern. By the time we start considering calf/forearm training - these muscles are usually "toughened" from everyday use. So to "wake" them up, you have to saturate them with reps, and work them from different angles. Here's something that really worked for me: karate and boxing. I'm up on the balls of my feet, which means my calves get quite alot of work.

thanks for the advice guys. yes i do have flat feet i forgot to mention this earlier. since i do have this condition is there anyhting else i can do besides what you have already mentioned?

You may want to consider getting arch supports if you don’t already have them. You can pick up 'em up at an athletic shoe store or you can go to a podiatrist and have them custom made to your foot.

i have never considered getting any support like that because my feet have never given me any problems. however they are clearly flat, my grandfather and mother both have the same problem. do you think that the arch support will help me build my calves, or is it just for general health purposes? if they will help build muscle i will try em. thanks for the info.

In the long run I believe they will help your ankles, knees, and also help that lagging lateral head of the gastroc. Arch supports will help you push off more evenly between the both balls of your feet and will also help your posture. Since your feet are pronated, your probably placing excessive wear and tear on the various joints in the medial foot and ankle. These conditions in your feet may even begin to make there way up into to the knees and hips (this may be down the road though - depending on how old you are). With pronated feet, the medial capsule of the knee can also experience additional wear. Mechanically, this is due to the fact that a foot with little to no arch causes the knee to bow in slightly. Over time, this may lead the medial meniscus and articular cartilage to unevenly wear down because the load is not being shared evenly throughout the knee structure.

I personally have no arches and experienced the same problem with the size discrepancies between the gastroc heads. Without my arch supports my medial arch usually fatigues well before my calves. Arch supports won’t give you a quick fix, but over time you will definitely notice a difference in your calves. You can pick up a general arch supports at an athletic shoe store for ~$20-30 or you can go to a podiatrist and spend a few hundred dollars to have them custom made to your feet. I have used both and they are both equally as effective. Any more questions, let me know.

thanks a lot bro. i have the same problem as you. when i train calves i feel it in my feet more than my calves. it is a real pain in the ass, because no matter what i do high reps, low reps, feet in, feet out, heavy weight, light weight, slow cadence fast cadence, i still feel it more in my feet. i have a great mind muscle connection with all of my body parts except calves. i just dont feel all the stress in my calves when i train them.

soleus is mostly slow twitch (used for walking and standing upright)

gastroc is mainly fast twitch (used for running and jumping)

train accordingly