In the Crosshairs: Outer Calves

Get dominating calves by developing the outer head


With warmer weather on tap, it’s time to start donning the shorts soon, although today’s fashions will likely dictate that those shorts cover up your massive quads. Hopefully, your calves are developed enough to show that you are a true bodybuilder. Unfortunately, this is not the case for most guys. The problem is a combination of genetics and poor training. Stop making excuses and start putting in some sweat time on your calves. After all, you can’t hide them this summer.

The hardest part

of the gastrocnemius (upside-down heart-shaped muscle of the calves) to develop is the outer (lateral) head. But research from Armstrong State University (Savannah, Georgia), led by IFBB pro bodybuilder Dr. Bob Lefavi, has discovered that doing standing calf raises with toes turned in does, in fact, place more emphasis on the outer head of the calf.

Alternatives: Leg press calf raises with toes turned in, seated calf raises with toes turned in.


OUT: Because the outer head of the gastrocnemius is the smaller and weaker section of the gastroc, the larger and stronger inner gastroc head tends to take over on calf raises when the toes are pointing straight ahead. Your best bet for bringing up the outer head is to start each calf raise exercise (when your calves are not fatigued) with a few sets done with your toes pointing in. Finish with a few sets of normal (toes pointing forward) calf raises.


The gastrocnemius is located on the back of the lower leg. It is composed of two heads, the medial (inner) gastrocnemius, which starts from the inner part of the femur (thigh bone), and the lateral (outer) gastrocnemius, which starts from the outer part of the femur. Both heads converge onto the Achilles tendon, which attaches to the heel bone. The gastrocnemius works to perform plantar flexions, which is the scientific term for extending the ankle, such as during calf raises. — Jim Stoppani, PhD