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In the gym, you diligently blast major bodyparts, repping away on your deads, squats and presses but how high of a priority are your forearms and calves? You can argue away your lack of dedication to these “smaller” bodyparts all you want: I already train my forearms when I pull or My calves won’t grow if my quads don’t grow. Good points, all, but complete physiques are always tied together by grainy, bellowed sets of forearms and calves.
Single-Leg 45-Degree Calf Press 4/8-10
45-Degree Calf Press 4/8-10
Single-Leg Seated Calf Raise 4/8-10
Seated Calf Raise 4/8-10
Single-Leg Calf Raise x/100 (each leg)
The Workout: That leg press machine isn’t just for hogging the 45s on leg day. You can use it to perform the 45-degree calf press, which allows you to use heavy weight through a short, fixed range of motion, while also allowing for a fantastic stretch. Training one limb at a time – as you will for two exercises in this workout – allows you to use more weight than you normally would. Studies show that unilateral training results in a nearly 20 percent increase in force production in working limbs, likely because the brain senses that the limb will have to work harder to overcome gravity. So if you normally use 300 pounds for 10 reps on this exercise, assuming 150 pounds of effort from each calf, you can safely load with about 180 pounds for unilateral work.
You’ll follow this high force production move with a bilateral move, also done with heavy weight. The seated calf raise, which targets the deeper soleus muscle, is performed similarly, first with a few sets of unilateral work, then some two-calf action to finish. This increases the size of the soleus which “pushes” your heart-shaped gastrocs out, thereby stretching the overall measurement on your lower leg. As a finisher, you’ll knock out 100 reps of single-leg calf raises on each leg. You’ll rep to failure then switch legs, getting a deep stretch and a full contraction on each rep. Repeat in this fashion until you reach 100 on each leg.
Reverse Curl 4/8-10
Reverse Wrist Curl 4/15-20
Wrist Curl 4/8-10
Single-Arm Plate Pinch 4/To Failure
Farmer’s Walk 4/15-20 steps
–Rest 1-2 minutes between supersets.
The Workout: Most guys know that wrist curls belong in their forearm training. This move effectively targets your meaty wrist flexors, usually with a four-alarm fire pump. But fewer lifters give as much attention to their extensors, which run along the top of the forearms, despite the fact that this is probably the most immediately visible portion of your arms when wearing short sleeves. The extensors, and the larger brachioradialis (which is also hit during hammer curls), can be built using reverse curls using a barbell or EZ-bar early in the workout when you’re fresh. You’ll lead off with this move, supersetting it with the more isolated reverse wrist curl done over a bench. After that, it’s on to your wrist flexors with the bread-and-butter wrist curl for four sets.
Since grip strength is important on so many other moves, we’ll train it here using the plate pinch. Start using two, 10-pound plates, pinching them together with the smooth sides of the plates facing out for as long as you can hold them. Switch arms and repeat. Finally, the farmer’s walk allows you to carry big-boy weight from here to there, working your forearms with a strong, isometric support grip. This builds forearm endurance which is a huge benefit on pull days.
If these bodyparts are already strong for you, then you can perform these workouts separately on your usual training days (read: leg day or arm day). But if you really want to see some explosive growth, try putting all this detail work on one dedicated day (who needs rest?) and then hit them again separately on days when you’d normally train forearms and calves.
STACKED: Small Muscle Support
Boost your calf and forearm growth with these size-aiding supps.
Whey Protein 20 g pre-workout, 20-40 g post-workout
Casein Protein 10-20 g post-workout
BCAA 5-10 g pre- and post-workout
Creatine 2-5 g pre- and post-workout
Beta Alanine 2-3 g pre- and post-workout