How often do you hear someone complain about their calves or lack thereof.
Calves can be one of the more difficult muscle groups to train.
And there is a factor of the reason why this is the case.
I’ve never had big calves, honestly, I’m just not a big guy, never have been and I’m not too worried about it.
I enjoy how I train, I’ve always had a performance before aesthetics approach to my fitness regime.
So for me anyway, my little calves are no more of a problem than my little biceps.
I’ve outperformed guys 30-40 pounds heavier than me in CrossFit and BJJ competitions on more than one occasion.
But that hasn’t stopped me from experimenting with building bigger calves, I posted a video recently experimenting with calf raise for 30 days which I’ve added to the bottom of this article so stick around and check that out.
So why is it so hard to train calves?
A big reason is the fact that we’re walking around on them all day. They are already very developed muscles.
So when you go to the gym and knock out a few sets of 10-12 calf raises they’re not even getting warmed up!
That’s the first big mistake I see people making with calf raises.
Calves need big rep ranges.
You are going to see more growth when you train at sets of 25-50.
So make that your first change at the gym.
The next thing you want to do is chase the pump.
And sorry for those of you out there who see this as such a betrayal, I wouldn’t normally talk in such gym bro terms.
But chasing the pump is telling you you’re working your muscles to the point of growing.
And of course, you need to use the full range of motion.
Simply doing calf raise with your feet flat on the floor will not cut it.
You need to stand on the edge of an elevated surface.
Bring your heel down below the corner and extend all the way up.
Full range of motion is what you should be focusing on with any muscle group.
What good is going to come from just working through the easy part of the movement?
If you are going to cut corners you can’t expect results.
How long it takes depends on the person, how often are you training them?
Are you eating enough to encourage muscle growth?
The two biggest problems I see with anyone struggling to build muscle are those two things.
Every time and it is usually both things.
The calves are no different from any other muscle in that case.
You need to train a muscle group 2-3 times a week to see a development in size.
You also need to fuel that growth.
If you’re not putting enough calories in you will not gain weight, just like with weight loss.
If you eat too much you will always be pushing mud uphill if your goal is to lose weight.
Check out this article I wrote on how to build muscle, it’s relevant to every muscle, not just calves.
So if your calves really are a big concern.
Train them as often as possible, keep in mind you need to let muscles recover if you want them to grow.
But why not train them every second day? 2 days in a row 1 day off.
You can easily train them 4-5 times a week and get enough rest.
Even if you’re training your upper body that day, finish off with 4 sets of 25 calf raises.
You do that for 4 weeks you will start to see a difference.
But it’s going to take 3-4 before you start to see really noticeable improvements on any muscle group.
This one is a little trickier to answer as there are a few things in play here.
If you have slim calves, to begin with, and you haven’t done a lot of running, your muscles improve in strength and in turn will grow.
But running is training your muscles for endurance and when you look at most runners they tend to be slim built.
And typically the longer the distances you are running the lighter you will become.
Makes sense right, the body is going to develop to the stresses you put it through.
And likewise, if you are carrying extra body fat and start a new regime with a lot of running.
You will find your calves shrinking but toning up.
This is because the excess fat is melting away leaving the muscles more exposed.
If you incorporate rest days in your running routine you are going to give the muscles time to recover.
But you’ve got to think about the type of stress you are putting on a muscle group and what the body is going to do to bounce back from that.
If you look at sprinters they are a hell of a lot more muscular than long-distance runners.
Their muscles have been built for a more explosive purpose.
To hit high spends your body needs big powerful muscles.
But these muscles require more energy to perform and hence no one can maintain top speed for too long.
So if you want to try and get the best of both worlds you would be better off incorporating sprint intervals in your training thing a 5 mile run 3 times a week.
For starters, don’t do them every day.
So let’s say how many you should do a week.
And the answer for that is as many as you can do and recover from.
I would recommend doing between 100-200 per session.
4 sets of 25 are going to give you 100, easy maths. 4 sets of 50 is 200.
If you can do 200 5 times a week you will be well on your way to some decent growth.
Keeping in mind the rules we spoke about earlier.
Full range of motion is super important to remember.
It can be as easy and taking a Kettlebell and standing on the edge of a step, you don’t need fancy equipment to train your calves.
As long as you can give them adequate rest, train them as often as you see fit.
Play around with your foot placement as well.
Do a few sets neutral, a few with toes pointing out finishing off with toes pointing in.
Training any muscle group every day is bad.
If you don’t rest you don’t grow, it’s as simple as that.
So like I promised, here is my youtube video showing you what I did and why.
But long story short, by doing 100 calf raises every second day for 30 days I saw better results than any of the other people trying similar challenges on youtube.
So those are the main things that you need to get right to grow big horseshoe calves!
Make sure you get yourself a copy of my EBook ‘Train Wherever The F*ck You Want’ It FREE and you can download it right here.