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How To Grow Calves in 12 Weeks

Ok ok, so below your knee resembles a chair leg and no matter what you do it isn’t changing. Will you ever grow calves? Never fear all is not lost, however this is an issue that has been plaguing bodybuilders for decades. Calves are one muscle whose natural shape and size is heavily determined by genetics, the main factor being where the insert of the soleus and plantaris begin. Some people’s calf begins right down near the ankle, a very low insert. Generally, a low insert means a much larger calf muscle to begin with. For some the insert will begin mid-way up the lower leg, or even higher. The higher the insert the less muscle you have to begin with. This is something you cannot change.

Grow Calves

I should start by explaining that I myself am an amateur bodybuilder and my calves have always, well… sucked! For many years I ran with the excuse that I’m genetically disadvantaged and so I shouldn’t be expected to grow calves. But as my knowledge of the human body and mechanisms for muscle growth increased, I realised there is no reason why they shouldn’t grow. SO I have high inserts, it doesn’t mean I can’t optimise the muscle that is there, I can add size and density. With the right stimulus and progressive overload every muscle MUST grow.

This next part is more my own personal theory about the calf muscle. Kind of anecdotal, but it seems to be working for me so here it is; I thought about the calf and how it differs from other muscles, we have been using it every single step since we took our first. It has taken us up hills, huge inclines and mountains. It has taken us on treks around shopping centres and tourist attractions for hours. It has driven us through sprints and helped us perform in countless sports. This is a muscle that has been under constant stress forever. Its is tight, tough and sinewy, it is a little workhorse and it knows how to take torture. How could I use this information to help me grow calves?

Grow Calves

How do you create microtears in a muscle that is solid as a rock and can take a beating? For me the answer was enormous volume. Even though I had told myself I’d trained my calves forever I could never really remember a time when they got sore like my other muscles. I had stuck to my standard bodybuilding style, 4 sets, 8 reps, heavy weight. For me, that wasn’t doing it.

I decided to form a program based on my theory. I believed my calves would need far more regular punishment than other muscles and I believed the only way to sufficiently torture them for soreness (microtears) would be massive volume. I would complete 2 exercises on calves every second day for a rep total of around 400 per session, however I would exceed that if I hadn’t hit failure on the final set of each exercise.  These calf sessions would be completed before my regular workouts. The workout structure I used is shown below:

Day 1 (Before my regular workout)

Seated calf raise machine –       

3 sets 50 reps (choosing a weight that would start to cause immense pain by 30 reps and forcing to 50)

4th set to absolute failure hitting a minimum 50 reps (increasing weight on the following Day 1 cycle if I exceeded 60 reps)

Toe Presses on Leg press machine-

3 sets 50 reps (choosing a weight that would start to cause immense pain by 30 reps and forcing to 50)

4th set to absolute failure hitting a minimum 50 reps (increasing weight on the following Day 1 cycle if I exceeded 60 reps)

Day 2 – Rest Calves (Still complete regular workout)

Day 3 (Before my regular workout)

Standing Calf Raise Machine –    

3 sets 50 reps (choosing a weight that would start to cause immense pain by 30 reps and forcing to 50)

4th set to absolute failure hitting a minimum 50 reps (increasing weight on the following Day 3 cycle if I exceeded 60 reps)

Donkey Calf raise Machine (or Donkey Smith Machine)

3 sets 50 reps (choosing a weight that would start to cause immense pain by 30 reps and forcing to 50)

4th set to absolute failure hitting a minimum 50 reps (increasing weight on the following Day 3 cycle if I exceeded 60 reps)

Day 4 – Rest Calves (Still complete regular workout) REPEAT

 

I noticed that although I could get that blistering soreness in my calves, they recovered much faster than my other muscles. If I wanted to grow calves, It was very important for me to hit them every second day. After 12 weeks on this program, not only was I experiencing that soreness I knew was so crucial to growth… My calves had noticeable changes. I could see a separation in the two muscles of the calf and from a front view there was a small sweep on both the inside and outside of my lower leg. For myself, I had cracked the Davinci code of calf growth.

Grow Calves