Leg Exercises

6 Easy Ways to Grow Your Stubborn Calves

Attack this stubborn muscle to add some serious size to your lower legs.

Muscular calves
Ross Land / Staff / Getty

Some people are born into money, some people are born with amazing intellect, and then there are those that have been blessed with massive calves. Don’t you just hate those people? Maybe hate is too strong a word, but I certainly envy those bodybuilders that rarely need to do a calf raise, yet display thickly developed muscle from knee to ankle.

There are plenty of those guys (and gals) out there. The real kicker being that some of them might not be bodybuilders ,or even give a second thought to their calves at all. With that said, lack of genetics is not always the culprit when it comes to sporting less-than-impressive calves. Much of the time, it's also because they're trained as an afterthought rather than a major muscle.

So if your parents didn't pass down the “Mike Matarazzo calf gene” that doesn't mean you can't still build formidable amounts of muscle in your lower legs. Sometimes, it’s the hardest and smartest workers that come out ahead of the genetically gifted. If you're either ignoring calves or only throwing a couple of lazy sets in for each at the end of your workouts, it's time to start treating the area below your knees with some more respect.

Going After Crazy Calves

Most people find that their calves are resistant to growth. Every time you take a step the calves are activated, and they're burdened with carrying around your bodyweight all day long. This means that you must attack the calves fiercely to make them get bigger and stronger. Conventional training just won't do when it comes to calves, so I've listed six unique methods below that will send your stubborn calf muscle fibers a wake-up call.

1. For a period of 2-4 weeks, train your calves on a daily basis before returning to your normal program. Use about 4-6 sets per workout, doing a different exercise each day.

2. Every night before you go to bed, do a set of 100 slow, hard-squeezing standing calf raises with just your bodyweight on top of your normal program. Go for maximum burn!

3. Wherever possible, walk around on your tiptoes rather than your flat feet. Ballet dancers often have awesome calves.

4. Every time you encounter a staircase, do a calf raise up each step. On the way down, step onto the ball of your foot, as this will act almost like a plyometric movement for your calves.

5. Try doing two calves workouts per week: one with very heavy weights for sets of 4-6 reps, and one with very light weights for sets of 25-50 reps. This will attack fibers that you probably haven't been hitting with conventional workouts.

6. Do as Arnold did, and train calves in your bare feet (if your feet can handle it). This will increase the range of motion for any calf movement, and will force a very intense contraction.

Don't use all of these methods at once, or your calves could end up over-trained, which won't contribute to growth. Pick two or three items from the above list, and change things up every few weeks.

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