Calf training is tough, no doubt about it. Compare it to training you utilize for body parts such as chest or biceps. When it comes to those areas, you can clearly see the muscle group being stimulated. Motivation is always there because people who take interest in your training or physique will often ask to see these body parts. And since they’re visible in just about any mirror you walk past or photograph you take, you are constantly reminded of them.
Calves are a whole different story. First of all, they are usually concealed in your pants. Even when you’re completing, you have no clue when they look like. When a bodybuilding show arrives, you don’t know if you’re winning handily or being destroyed in the comparison poses on calves, because you can see neither your own calves, nor those of your competitors! Nobody ever asks you to see your calves, and you forget about them any day you’re not training them. Let’s plan a five-point approach to training calves correctly, running the gamut from warm-up to cool-down, which helps us to solve the problems involved with calf training.
To start the day, you’re going to want to utilize some slow, focused repetitions in the higher rep range, from 15 to 25 repetitions per set. Choose seated calf raises for this movement for 3 to 4 total sets. The focus of this set is to draw blood into the muscle group, period.
It’s power training time. Climb aboard the leg press machine and complete 5 sets of very slow, very heavy toe raises from the locked position. Use a repetition range of 6 to 10 repetitions.
Welcome to Smith machine time. Reps will be a bit faster for this exercise. It’s okay to deliver some speed and excitement to your cal training and get those fast-twitch muscle fibers firing! Four sets of this movement will get the lower legs blasted and sore as can be.
Slower and tougher is the name of the game now. You’ll be completing four sets of seated or angled calf sled raises for your final weighted movement. Rep range can vary from 10 to 20 as your comfort (or pain) levels dictate!
This isn’t an exercise, per se. Rather, this is the culmination of the day’s training that will result in you wrapping up the day with some very slow, deliberate calf stretching for 1 to 3 minutes at a time, with and without a dumbbell for additional weight, on a step or ledge in your gym. You aren’t trying to grow new muscle with this movement. Rather, you want to draw blood into the muscle group, breaking up lactic acid and exposing the parts of the calf muscle to as much deep stretching as possible.
Change out the exercises to fit the options available in your gym, as well as your personal preferences. The bottom line is that you should be hitting your calves from a variety of angles, with high, medium, and low repetition ranges to keep your calves growing.