You will undoubtedly inherit skinny calves if one of your parents has them. In this case, you can’t change your genetics, but you can focus your training on your calves.
Act now to dispel the myth that you have “bad calf genetics.” These muscle-building suggestions are made to assist you in developing your weak calves.
Many claims that “if you’re not born with big calves, you’re never going to get them”. This is simply not true. There are many factors that are important in building your calves, but genetics only play a small role.
They require a lot of time, effort, and pain to see results. When focusing on your calves, you should prioritize working beyond the pain barrier, performing a full range of motion, and increasing their flexibility. In addition, you should shock them with different training programs, focusing on the exercises that work for you, keeping a journal, taking pictures, and following a proper diet.
6 Big Mistakes That Limit Calf Size
If your calves are stuck in a skinny state, then you’re probably making one or more of these 6 mistakes. Fix common calf training mistakes and turn your calves into monsters!
Every hard-working athlete desires a pair of well-developed calves. There is often a disconnect, however, between their will and their actual training.
Very few muscle groups can be as stubborn in their development as the calves, and a consistent lack of progress can force you to stop training your calves altogether.
However, before you throw in the towel, you should realize that the problem could be some training mistakes that can easily be corrected.
Yes, there is hope for your deprived gastrocnemius! Even the weakest calves can grow full with the right approach.
Below are six training mistakes you might be making and the best way to correct each one.
Read on so you can properly build the beefy, toned calves you’ve always wanted!
1: Training your calves at the end of your leg workout
Much like the rear deltoids on shoulder day, the calves are often neglected or left for the last part of the leg workout. When you’re tired and barely able to muster enough energy for a few half-baked sets.
As you may already know, muscles cannot grow unless they are trained hard. If you really want to make your calves stand out, you should start training them the way you train your back or chest: from a rested state, from every angle, until you exhaust them.
You can start your leg workout with the calves and train them with the same intensity as you do your quads and hamstrings. If you’re trying to work your upper legs too hard and just don’t have the energy to do the same for your calves on leg day. Add an extra calf day or add them to a different workout.
Whatever you choose, the point is to ensure that your calves are not neglected.
2: Limiting yourself to the conventional 10-15 rep range
Forget conventional rep ranges when training your calves. Avoid performing less than 20 repetitions per set. Aim for 25-30 reps.
This higher rep count forces you to use a slightly lighter weight, which allows you to fully contract your calves and stimulate new growth. The many reps will also lead to awesome bloat!
3: You don’t train the tibialis and gastrocnemius in the same
Many people train their calves the exact same way every workout. If you only do calf exercises in a standing or seated position, then you are working all parts of the calf muscles equally.
Your calves are made up of several muscles. Your gastrocnemius is the muscle that makes up the inside and outside of the head of each calf. When you perform standing crunches, most of the work is done by the gastrocnemius muscles.
The subtibia, on the other hand, passes directly under the gastrocnemius. The calf muscles are activated when performing calf exercises performed with the knees bent, such as when you do a seated calf raise or standing calf raises without locking your knees.
Armed with this knowledge, you can choose exercises that will work your entire calves, not just parts of them. When more muscles are activated then you will see more growth.
4: Using too much weight
Common calf training lore says that you need to work your calves heavily to make them grow. This is true! However, if you’re using a weight so heavy that you can’t perform an exercise properly, then you’re simply losing out on your gains.
If you use too much weight, you may start to break down your movement at the bottom of each rep or be unable to complete the rep with a strong contraction at the top of the movement. Excess weight can also prompt you to get help from your quads to lift it.
Not only does this poor technique place a ridiculous amount of dynamic stress on your Achilles tendon, spine, and knees, but it also robs your calves of valuable stimulation.
Not sure if you’re using too much weight? Below are some ways to find out:
- Your ankles are not in line with the rest of your leg during any part of the rep.
- You cannot perform standing calf raises without bending your knees, or seated calf raises without using your arms to pull the weight up.
- You feel pain in the arch of your foot or in your Achilles tendon.
5: Failing to fully isolate and contract your calves
Just like any other muscle, your calves get the most benefit from an exercise when you perform them with a full contraction, slow negative, and a full stretch.
Many people like to break the weight or simply perform a few reps in the middle 50% of the range while neglecting the full contraction at the top.
According to experts, the hard contraction at the top of the movement is where the real growth is stimulated. Optimize the contraction as much as you can at the top of each repetition by lifting the body onto your toes and pressing as high as possible.
Once you reach the top, flex the muscle hard. It requires conscious effort and mental concentration.
The exercise does not end once you have reached the maximum contraction. Keep the tension in the muscle while slowly returning the weight to its starting position.
Taking your time during each rep will increase the amount of time your calves are under tension. Even if you’re using the same weights and reps you normally do.
At the end of each repetition, gently – without ballistic movements – stretch your calves as much as you can without shifting the focus of the stretch from the calf to your Achilles tendon. You want the stress to stay on the targeted muscle and not on your connective tissue.
6: Using improper foot placement
We’ve all heard that turning your toes in, out, and straight will work your calves from different angles. Much of this is true but only to a certain extent. It’s true that turning your feet forward will work the inner and outer heads of your calves in the same way.
It’s also true that turning the toes out will shift the focus to the inner heads of your calves, and that turning the toes in will shift the focus to the outer heads. That being said, your toes don’t need to be pointed in or out more than an inch to change the focus.
Performing toe kicks at extreme angles not only prevents you from achieving maximum calf activation. But also puts an unusual amount of stress on the joints and connective tissues of your knees and ankles.
For best results don’t experiment too much with the corners of your fingers. Combine them if you want but don’t use extreme corners. An inch in or out will work just fine.
How to grow bad calves
Mantra 1 – Prioritize calf training
Train them either on their own or schedule them before an upper body workout.
Mantra 2 – Work Your Calves Several Times a Week for Volume
When training for volume, it’s best to train them several times a week with at least one day of rest between workouts. It’s a good idea to work your calves 2-3 days a week, as their daily workout doesn’t give them enough recovery time.
Mantra 3 – Use a full range of motion
One of the reasons that the calves can’t respond like most parts of the body is that they are constantly used in everyday life. But not through their full range of motion, and as a result, lack the flexibility they need. Reaching their maximum potential is only possible in a small part of the muscle.
Try performing the donkey and seated calf without shoes.
Mantra 4 – Calf Training and Rep Range
The science behind calf pulls is that the gastrocnemius (the back of the calf muscle used in exercises where the legs are kept straight. For example, it is used in donkey calves, standing squats, and seated in the leg press) responds well to a lower rep range, such as 8-20 reps, and the tibialis (the back of the calf muscle that gives it thickness and is used in movements where the knees are bent. For example, the tibialis major is used in a seated position) responds well to a higher rep range, over 20 reps.
Mantra 5 – Shock Your Calves by Changing the Angle of Your Foot
A few other ways to shock your calves are to turn your feet slightly in or out during the exercise.
Mantra 6 – Find exercises that work for you
It’s also important to find exercises that work well for you. The best way to decipher the best exercises for your body type is to ask yourself. “Do you feel like you’re getting a good workout on a particular machine or exercise?” Let’s say your calves are hard to develop.
Mantra 7 – Track your calves’ workouts and progress
It’s also a good idea to keep a log of your workouts. Record the date, how long it took you to do the workout, and what you did for your workout that day. This will help you track your progress in the future, and when you look back a few months down the line, you’ll be able to see that your workload is actually increasing. Another way to track your progress is to measure your calves every two weeks.
Mantra 8 – Evaluate changes by taking pictures
Take pictures of your whole body to see if your calves really look different than they did a few months ago. Looking in the mirror is not the best way to assess your progress.
Also read: Slim calf workout