The calves and forearms are muscles that have two things in common: They’re difficult to stimulate growth in and people frequently omit training them altogether. While they may be seen as ‘less impressive’ than other muscle groups, neglect in training them takes away from the overall aesthetic quality of your physique. You see this all the time on the internet and people love to bring others down because of this flaw. “Oh, look he doesn’t train legs.” or “Wow, someone skips leg day.” These are a few examples of the things people say either on the internet or in reality, which may not even be true! Calves are notoriously difficult to bring up to par, even in the professional bodybuilders. But to the lay man, small calves equate to a factor to point out and ridicule.
I understand your frustration and sometimes outright embarrassment on this issue; people can be very cruel and it may affect you mentally at times. You must realize that, yes, your calves may be falling behind but you can rectify it and see results in as little as 6 weeks with hard work and dedication. It will be painful and very uncomfortable for the days that follow your calf training, but since you’re taking the time to read this article, you must want it badly enough to go through these challenges.
Here are two common reasons why calf growth stops:
- Laziness – Trainers adopt an apathetic attitude toward calf training because they hide behind the excuse that they can wear long pants most of the time. They do the minimum number of sets and reps, sometimes even skip a few and then claim that their calves have been trained.
- Ineffective training – Your calves are used so regularly that they become somewhat immune to whatever new stresses you put it through. This is only because you don’t understand how to train them properly!
Calves may not be glamorous muscles to train, but once you have developed them fully it becomes a wonderful achievement for you. Here are some tips to get your calves growing:
- Intensity – Imagine yourself training your favourite muscle, whatever that may be. It is probably your best, most prominent muscle group because of the focus and attention you give it! Apply that same intensity to your calf training, treat it as you would your favourite muscle and see the difference it makes. With your favourite muscle, you can always squeeze in one more heavy set or rep; do the same for your calves.
- Stretch reps – When you walk or run, your feet are parallel to the floor before contracting. That is exactly what they’re used to doing which means that they’ll respond poorly to exercises that operate only in this range of motion. When you step on the seated or standing calf raise machine, make sure that your starting position is when your heels are as close to the floor as possible. From there, complete the motion by slowly bringing the weight up until your heels are well past being parallel to the floor.
- Slow down – Take a full 10 seconds to bring the weight from the top of the movement to the bottom, then hold it at the bottom for 5 seconds before bringing the muscle to full contraction; also taking 10 seconds to do so. Doing this for each repetition is unlike anything your calves have ever experienced, and it will tell you that by giving a very painful burn. This is exactly what you want!
Calf training is very difficult to stick with unless you find the motivation to see it through. The pain barrier is something many people struggle with, but persistence is key when it comes to bridging the gap between your calves and other muscle groups.