Step up to a full-length mirror and turn around. Then place all your weight on your left foot, and turn your right heel 45 degrees to the side and flex your calf. (Don’t tell us you don’t know the pose we’re talking about because you probably do this every time you wear shorts in the gym.) Are you satisfied with what you see? Does it look like someone jammed a grapefruit inside the back of your lower leg, or is there nothing there to flex?
Which Approach is Best?
The Internet fitness boom has given us loads of quality information, but when it comes to calf training much of the current wisdom leaves us scratching our heads. Take a long, hard look at any of the popular programs available today and you’ll find the majority tell us one of two things. Either we’re not supposed to train our calves because they’re worked hard enough by what we already do, or we’re advised to keep everything status quo — burning out our calves with 20–30-rep sets on standing and seated calf-raise machines.
Machine training is great for calf work because it allows you to isolate the muscle and train it as hard and heavy as you want, but what about adding a little athleticism to the mix? If you’re bored with banging out set after set of machine raises, there are myriad other ways to give your calves their due, most of which offer exponentially more benefit than standard gym exercises in terms of improving your overall athletic ability and mobility while adding all the mass and definition you want. Read on to see the moves.