Please Tell Me Why My Calves Won’t Grow?

September 15, 2009 by  
Filed under The Fitness Bug

If this is you, then I feel your pain, as I too have struggled with building up my calves over the years. Out of all of the guys that I have met who train (Mostly high metabolism types), this is the one muscle over any other that they struggled to build. Although they all had excuses to why it was so hard, I believe there are other factors that contributed to the lack of muscle growth in their calves. Some factors are within their control, while there are some factors that aren’t, and today we will reveal some of the key reasons why your living human pair of drumsticks won’t pump any muscle like the rest of your body.

Calve training is your last exercise

Go on, admit it… you step into the gym, work your upper body to the max, get to the end of your workout and think to yourself ‘ooh, better work the calves… don’t wanna be top heavy now’!

Well if that isn’t you, then good on you, but that has been me and I’m sure it would be the same for many of you. Without a doubt, this mind set is unacceptable and I can guarantee that this is a key reason why your calves are lacking in ‘pump’.

No drive to build them

What you need to do is stop thinking about the raw power that you will use on that bench press and migrate it to your calf raises. But to do that you have to have a real desire to build your calves, and if you don’t, then you won’t succeed and you’ll just have to hit the beach and hurt the crowds eyes with your drumsticks.

But if you do have the desire then there are two things you will have to do.

1) Set a goal and a time frame on when you want to start seeing results (be realistic)

2) In that goal you MUST make calve training a priority in your workout. Even dedicate a whole day just for calve training if you have to!

Alternate, Alternate, and Alternate your exercises

Rubiks_Cube exercise
If you are working your calve muscles religiously, yet still aren’t getting results, then not alternating your exercises could be a key reason why. I’ve definitely fallen into this trap before, and have often gotten wildly frustrated with the lack of results. I would do,

1) 3 sets of calf raises/ 15 reps

2) 3 sets of seated calf raises/ 15 reps

Not realizing that all of this repetition was killing my muscles. Your muscles have a memory and once that sets in, your muscles will get comfortable with the movements, so you have to switch it up.

Here’s the switch

I’ve talked about muscle memory before and your muscles will adapt to most routines that you do and stick to within 3-4 weeks. This is when you will usually start seeing a decrease in strength and this is when you have to change it up.

Standing Calf Raises
1 set 20 reps (warm up) 110kg
2 sets 10-15 reps 130kg
2 sets 10-15 reps 110kg with 5 second hold in top position

Seated Calf Raise
Set 1 – 40kg at 20-25 reps, slow, non-stop, continuous tension
Set 2: 60kg at 15 reps, 3 second hold at top, 3 seconds eccentric, 3 seconds concentric, then drop weight down to 40kg and do 15-20 more fast reps
Set 3: 80kg at 10-15 reps (slight “bounce” at bottom)
Set 4: 20kg as many reps as possible (up to 100)

Changing up your routine like this is when you will start to see the biggest changes in muscle mass growth.

If you keep doing what you are doing, you will keep getting what you are getting!

Damn these weak calve giving genetics

Ok, now if you suffer from weak calve muscles that have simply been handed down to you from a previous generation, then there isn’t really much you can do about that. But you are not allowed to use this as an excuse! You must work with what your mother (or father) gave you. Take myself for example. I have high calf muscles like these,

calve muscles
Which leave the bottom of my legs flapping about in the wind. But like the legs in the picture, I build them up with what I’ve got, and when they look strong like this, complaints are a few.

Do more calf exercises

Most of us all know the importance of giving recovery time to our muscles, but this mainly applies to our bigger muscle groups like the chest, back and quad muscles. Because the calves are so small they don’t really need much recovery time and you can work them more often through out the week. Do,

1) 3-4 calve workouts a week

2) Alternate the workouts doing half heavy and half lightweights

3) Heavy workouts = Heavy weights at 8-15 reps

4) Light workouts = Light weights at 20 to 100! reps

These are the main things to consider when you face a decrease or lack of growth when trying to build calve muscles. Follow these tips through when you next hit the gym, and you will start to see some real results. Also, don’t forget to keep a high carb diet, food that is high in carbs is what will give your muscles pump.

See you in the comments

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