Calves are with out a doubt the most difficult of all body parts to develop for most bodybuilders. However there are a select few who have been blessed with great genetics and can overlook serious calf training, unfortunately most people need to work extremely hard to make calves their number one body part. But never assume that genetics alone is what makes calves so big for most bodybuilders. Arnold himself had some of the best calves in the history of the sport, and he accomplished this only through hard work, dedication, and countless hours in the gym. Below are some tips that you should use in developing the massive calves you've always wanted:
1. Must Use Heavy Weights
I know you have heard this a million times and training calves is definitely no different, heavy weights is a must. As mentioned before, calves are probably the number one most stubborn body part to develop, so while training with weights that aren't extremely heavy may work for some other body parts, with calves, it probably will not. Going heavy and with a lot of intensity will probably be the only way to get your calves to grow. Try to keep in mind that your calves are already constantly supporting your entire body weight whenever you are walking. Because of this, going heavier than you might expect would be normal is actually quite beneficial. Be sure to keep weight high for the highest quality of calf development.
2. Full Range of Motion
In order to make sure your calves development properly it is essential for you to perform all calf exercises through the entire range of motion. You need to lower your heels all the way to the bottom, getting a stretch, and then raise them all the way to the top raising them high for a peak contraction.
3. Myth: Calves Can Be Trained Daily
I'm sure you've heard this more than once; however, calves (and abs) are just like any other muscle and cannot be trained everyday without running the risk of overtraining. There is a certain basis for this argument; calves (and abs) are both smaller muscles, relatively, and because of that take less time than most to recover. Calves are also used more than other muscles because they are supporting your body weight whenever you are active throughout the day. Make sure to train calves the same way you train any other body part, with a minimum of 72 hours rest between sessions, then decide from there if you think you would benefit from increasing the number of calve training sessions per week.
Standing Calf Raises
Place your feet on the platform so the balls are flush on the edge. Be sure not to put too much or too little of your feet on the platform. Slowly raise your heels, rotating the balls of your feet along the platform, until you are on the tips of your toes. Hold and squeeze your calves for two seconds, feeling the contraction, then slowly allow your heels to drop down slightly below the edge of the platform. Repeat the process. This exercise can be done with out any weights, with a barbell across the back of your shoulders and traps, holding dumbbells, or in a standing calf machine.
Seated Calf Raises
This exercise is identical in range of motion to the standing version. The main difference is that your knees are bent in this exercise, emphasizing the soleus muscle as opposed to the gastroc muscle. Adjust the kneepads of the machine so that you can sit with your knees snug to the pads. Place the balls of your feet on the foot block, with your feet about shoulder width apart, toes pointing forward. Rise up as high as you can on your tippy toes. Hold this position for a second to enhance the peak contraction in the calves. Slowly lower your heels until your calve muscles stretch down as far as possible. Hold the stretched position for a second. Repeat.
Leg Press Calf Raises
Place your feet on the platform, locking your knees, so that only the balls and the toes are on the platform. Your heels should be beneath the platform. Make sure your feet are parallel to one another and not making a V-shape on the platform. If need be, place your toes just slightly outward. However, keep your feet only a couple of inches apart. Slowly rotate the balls of your feet, lifting the weight with your toes until your calves are contracted. Squeeze for a moment then slowly lower your heels before repeating the movement.
Rocking Standing Calf Raise
This is a great option to calf training without fancy machines. From a standing squat position with a barbell on your back, perform a standard calf raise, but as you return your feet flat to the ground raise the toes off, hence "rocking back." Now a word of caution to those over-zealous types: perform with caution and get the feel of the exercise as tempo should be slow with total control. Can also be done by holding two dumbbells in your hands.