Calf muscles are one of the most stubborn muscles to build on our bodies. It seems strange as they are one of the muscles in our bodies that is constantly in use. Calf muscles carry our weight around all day. Up and down the stairs at work, around the track at the gym, when we take a jog and across the grocery circuit. If our calves are working so hard it leaves us wondering why is difficult to build them? We can think of three reasons.
Reason One is that they are tough to train. They carry you around all day. They are already hardy and strong. They are used to handling your weight, even while it moves around. Reason Two is that they are made up of slow-twitch muscles. These muscles don’t fatigue easily, making the personal training requirement that much harder. Reason Three has to do with genetics.
This then leads to the question: Is there anything that can be done to get bigger calves? We have a suggestion of a four things you can do to work on your calf muscles.
- Train them first – not last: Calves are too often the afterthought to a hectic leg workout – whether you are doing it on your own or with a personal trainer. You’re not going to build great calves if you’re too tired to focus on them. Try training them first when you’re still fresh.
- Train heavy – but not too heavy: Remember, your calf muscles can already handle your body weight. So you’ve got to train heavier. However, if you add too much weight, you could injure yourself by say, bouncing at the top of the rep or compensating by taking some of the strain into the quads. So listen to your body when you train and train as heavy as you can manage.
- Do more reps: The slow-twitch muscle fibres in your calves need to be pushed, hard, before you see results. This means that you need to push your limits.
- Make sure you work all the angles: Your calf muscle is actually a group of two muscles – the soleus and the gastrocnemius. The latter is made up of two parts itself. The point: To grow your calves, you need to use more than one calf exercise so you get all the muscles from various angles.
Four Calf Muscles Exercises That Work!
1. Donkey calf raises
Bend over and support yourself on a bench (unless your gym has a donkey calf raise machine). Ask your training buddy to sit on your back (close to your tailbone). Now raise your heels off the floor and then lower them slowly and with control. Stop just before they touch the floor and then repeat.
2. Standing weighted calf raises
Stand on a block holding dumbbells (or a barbell across your shoulders) or use a calf-raise machine. Bend your knees and lower your heels until you feel the stretch in your calves before extending your knees and raising your heels.
3. Seated machine calf raises
Use the seated calf-raise machine. Make sure your knees are bent at 90 degrees before you start. Add the weights and then perform a calf raise
Get out your trusty skipping rope, and add long sets of skipping to your leg workouts. Besides working out your legs, you will get an amazing cardio workout too!
No matter how difficult calf muscles might seem to develop, it can still be done through hard work and proper training. Try out the suggestions above and enjoy bigger calves!