T Nation

Why Train Calves?


Many have said here on the boards that calves are mostly genetic, and you're unlikely to see much significant progress by training them. That said, people still include them in their routines.

I'm wondering why? Why not use that time and effort to develop muscles that respond more favorably to training?

I currently train calves every week, and while I've seen some progress over the years, my calves are already genetically large. I'm wondering if it might be smarter to use that slot for something else.


To get them as big as possible

I don't understand the logic.

If your calves suck why train your weakest link less?


I'm talking about return on investment. If you can invest $1,000 and earn another $1,000 on your investment, why would you invest the same $1,000 only to earn $10 on the investment?

People are constantly complaining about how their calves fail to grow, despite years of training them. So why not use that time and effort to focus on muscles that actually respond to training?


What? Sure, you are at the mercy of your own genetics regarding how big they will get and how fast they will grow, but are you really pitching the idea of not training a bodypart simply because it's "mostly genetic"? In the bodybuilding forum, nonetheless? If you'r calves are a weak bodypart, then fucking of course you should train them if you want them to grow.


I don't understand your logic. You train your calves when they're already big enough but you think someone who's calves are small and don't respond well shouldn't waste their time training them? Maybe I just misunderstood you. Can you clarify?

If your calves are big enough and your not training to jump higher or run faster then I see no point in training them. I have naturally big calves and the only time I trained them is when I was trying to get my verical up last year for basketball.


I really don't think anyone takes time away from their other training to train calves, they are done in addition to their other training.

At the end of a squat workout, I have completed everything I plan on doing, my legs, core, and lower back are dead, I train calves. Its either do some calf raises or leave at that point, I don't see what you think people are doing to their calves that detracts from their other training.


If your calves are small and don't respond to training, why are you wasting your time training them?

That's the point of the question.

Why spin your wheels training a muscle that is never going to grow much, if at all, due to genetic limitations?

People are always posting here about how frustrated they are at their calves not responding to training, and how they feel calves are all genetic. If that's the case, why do they keep trying to train them instead of using that investment on muscles that actually do respond?


Train them because progress comes slowly, but it's much better than no progress at all.

My arms grow faster than the rest of my body. By your logic, since I get the biggest ROI by training my arms, I should ONLY train arms.

It doesn't work like that. To keep things as much in proportion as possible, it's best to make your weakest links your highest priorities, not your lowest.


I'm not talking about training your calves vs. leaving the gym early. Why not use that same time/effort on another muscle that actually responds? If your legs, core, and lower back are dead, why not use that extra slot for your delts or bis or tris, or whatever trainable muscle you're currently weakest on?


If you are gifted in the calf department and they are inline/above the rest of your development you probably don't need to keep training them. Erik Fankhouser probably doesn't need to train his calves ever again and they will be his best bodypart no matter what he does to the rest of his body.

Your investment comparison makes me chuckle a bit though because that's what we do every day. Quickly doing some math if someone ate all steak for the entire year and was hitting 400 grams of protein a day from it(using 9 g/cooked oz) they'd have to put down about 1000 lbs of beef over that time, I think most people here would be pretty happy to put on ten lbs of muscle tissue(more than likely fifteen-twenty lbs of overall body weight). Just giving you a hard time here but that's what I thought of with your return on investment.


I agree with you, as long as they do in fact respond to training. It may take a little longer and more effort, but if you're still seeing growth then it's worth the investment.

However, that's not what I hear from most people. They keep complaining that their calves don't respond at all, or that they respond so slowly that there is no noticeable growth even after years of effort.


You train calves because you train every muscle on your body, be proportionate, symmetrical, be huge, be epic. Big legs and little calves look comical.


Perhaps someones calves aren't growing because they're training them wrong?

Or perhaps they could be training them sufficiently but are not gaining body weight, which IS necessary to see growth in the calves.


I've never heard of someone's calves not growing at all after years of training and if thats the case then they are probably doing something wrong IMO. From what I've been reading, people who's calves haven't been responding much simply start training them up to 4 times a week and voila... growth. Its certainly helped me when mine weren't growing. And like Lanky wrote, if its a weak point make it a priority.


It's also nice to show off that bodypart that responds so well to training... if they're already large, why not make them freakishly large?


This thread has made me sad that I have small, shitty calves. Sigh.


From a recent thread on the Get a Life forum:

Again, I'm not talking about people who actually see noticeable improvement in their calves after training them.

I'm talking about people who despite years of training their calves correctly, see very little if any growth. I'm also talking about people with genetically huge calves who despite years of training their calves correctly, see very little additional improvement.

Why don't those people spend that time and effort on proportionally weak muscles that actually DO respond to training, rather than complaining about their calves failing to respond to training?


If their calves aren't growing from training them correctly, then they are probably not gaining any body weight, which is necessary to see growth in the calves.


I train those muscles on different days, I do as much as I can do and still recover. The reason I don't train certain muscles more is because I can't train them more, which is what I was getting at. The amount of time it takes to train is not a huge issue for me, if I need more time I take more time.

So, the reason why I said, "its either train calves or leave" is because its the only muscle that still needs to be trained, so I am going to train it.

P.S. I started training my calves about 4 months ago and have made substantial gains, my calves are bigger now than they used to be and they wouldn't be had I not spent an extra 10-20 minutes a week training them.


I'm not going to lie, for the first 1-2 years of my training, when training calves, I turned into a little pussy. That shit hurts.

And I'd be willing to bet the people claiming absolutely zero growth in their calves suffer from the same pussy syndrome I had when it comes to calf training.