When it comes to parts of our anatomies that are notoriously difficult to add muscle mass, size, and definition to, it has to be said that for most people, their calves cause them some extremely big problems.
Unless you have been blessed with genetically great calves, in order for you to really increase their size and bring them up to par with the rest of your body, you are really going to have to focus on them and do all that you can to build them up.
Arnold Schwarzenegger, when he was competing, was often criticized in the early stages of his career, for having small and weak looking calves, especially when they were compared with the rest of his body. Most bodybuilders with small calves, feel sorry for themselves and neglect them, choosing instead, to focus on trying to make the rest of their bodies, even bigger, so that it hopefully distracts people’s eyes away from their calves.
Arnold, however, did quite the opposite, and instead focused much of his time and energy, on working his calves even harder than ever before. A year or so later, the next time he stepped on stage, his calves, and indeed the rest of his legs, looked absolutely phenomenal. If you’re looking to get bigger calves, obviously this isn’t going to happen by itself overnight, as it is something that you need to take control of yourself. If your calves are lacking and you want to do something about that, take a look at the following tips and tricks on how to get bigger calves, and before you know it, you’ll have a set of calves that look like two ham joints!
Give them their own day – In the infamous words of Millhouse, in one particular episode of The Simpsons, the calves are one of the most difficult parts of the body to add mass to.
As the calves are so difficult to bring up, you will need to pay extra attention to them and really push them to their limits. The problem with the calves, is that, when most people train legs, they will simply finish their workouts off with a quick set or two of calf raises to failure, and that will be that for calf training. In order for the calves to grow, however, you are going to have to treat them like you would any other body part that you are trying to bring up, and give them their very own training day dedicated solely to them. Instead of finishing off leg training with a set or two of calf raises, you should instead set aside a training day dedicated solely to your calves. There are many different calf training exercises that you can perform, so familiarize yourself with them, and then create a calf training schedule. Obviously it doesn’t have to be crazy, but make sure you include several different exercises made up of several different sets, and always train to failure.
High reps to failure – As mentioned on this blog, when training calves, you should always train to failure because you will be looking to really fatigue the muscle and maximize its time under tension.
Studies have found that leg training, especially calf training, is most beneficial when you perform high reps to failure, which will mean choosing a moderate weight and simply increasing the reps you perform. Instead of 8 – 10 reps, for example, aim for 15 – 20 reps and don’t stop until your muscle really is fatigued and that what most of fitness models and bodybuilders does.
Make sure you stretch them – This is true both before training, and indeed during training the calves as well. Before you begin calf training, make sure you stretch them because you want to ensure that they don’t cramp up and that they aren’t susceptible to being pulled or torn.
As well as that, for anybody wondering how to get bigger calves, stretching at the bottom of the lift, by executing a full range of motion, is another sure-fire way of really getting the most out of your training. With calf raises for example, you really want the muscle to contract, so make sure you raise your heel fully off the ground or platform, and hold the contraction for a second or two.
Train them regularly – As well as giving the calves their own dedicated training day, another way of helping to bring them up and allowing you to get bigger calves, is to train them as regularly as you like.
For example, after training chest, before you head home from the gym, grab the calf raise machine and bust out 4 sets of 15 – 20 reps of calf raises. Repeat this, or a similar exercise, the next day, and the next, and so on. It is virtually impossible to over train the calves due to a lack of exercise variation, so go crazy and train them as frequently as you like.
Switch from light to heavy – Whilst it is agreed that high rep training is the best for bringing up the calves, after a while, you will plateau and you will find it much tougher to add muscle mass to them, which is why you should think about changing from a lightweight, to a heavier weight which incorporates less reps.
This type of training is ideal as it will keep the calves guessing and it will help stimulate an increase in muscle tissue growth and repair. You could even alternate between workouts, so perhaps, one workout could be light weight and high reps, whereas the next one could be a heavier weight and lower rep workout instead.
Be consistent – Finally, the last thing you need to remember when it comes to how to get bigger calves, is to always be consistent. Always train them regularly, and, once you do see improvements, don’t take this as an excuse to only train them with one exercise for leg day. Sure, you can take a step back slightly, but make sure you continue to train them regularly and intensely.