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10 Facts on Training Calves:

Calf muscles are often overlooked in training, but theyre essential to athletic movement

Historically in anthropology, weak & skinny calves=weak body

They also pump blood back to heart, which means weak calves=weak peripheral blood flow
1. The calves are comprised of multiple muscles

The calf muscles point, flex, and stabilize the foot

Posterior, there is the gastrocnemius& soleus in the back

Anterior the tibialis, peroneus muscles, & extensor digitorum
2. The calf muscles perform multiple functions

They're constantly active while walking, standing, running

To train them, you need to train both plantar flexion (pointing the foot)

And dorsiflexion (flexing the foot)

If your balance is particularly bad, also stabilization
3. The calf muscles are a mix of fast twitch and slow twitch muscle

The Gastroc is about 50/50 fast twitch & slow twich

The Soleus about 70/30 slow twitch & fast twitch

What does this mean?

The calves evolved for REPS/strength endurance

They rarely ever grow from low reps
4. The two main calf exercises are standing calf raises, and seated calf raises

Standing calf raises can be done with bodyweight, with various machines

Seated calf raises are almost always done with a plate loaded machine

Both should be done for high reps in the 10-20+ range
5. Train with a full ROM

Rise up high as you can, pushing through the big toe

CONTRACT the calf at the top

Descend into a full stretch

Training calves should BURN

You need to feel them working on EVERY REP

Most people train calves by putting way to much weight on the machine and then bouncing all their reps

Do not be that chucklefuck putting 4 plates on the calf raise and doing 3cm reps

This does fuck all for calf growth

Don't be that guy.
7. Calves are very genetic

If you have long achilles tendons, you'll probably never have big massive calves (ala the sprinter)

But, Long achilles=more explosive power

Short achilles, you may have huge calves without ever training them, because of how long the muscle belly is
7. Calves do tend to respond to high volume

Arnold claimed he did something like 20 sets for calves almost every workout for a year to bring them up

Ballet dancers train them every day, and never lack for calf muscles
I say its largely genetics

If you have "natural" calf muscles, you might train them 2x weekly with low or moderate volume and they grow

You have bad genetics though, you might need to do 20-30 sets weekly

You'll need to experiment and see what works best
8. Don't just focus on REPS

Like any other muscle, use progressive overload, especially with any machines you use

Oftentimes people only focus on pump work (doing lots of sets and reps until they fatigue)

Train the calves to get objectively stronger, using heavier weights
9. The calves Pump Blood back to the heart

"veno-muscular pumps in the lower body apply upward pressure on the veins to keep it moving at an efficient pace and in the right direction.

These pumps include the ankle pump and the calf muscle pump"…
10. The "best" calf workout that is straight-forward to perform

2-4 sets standing calf raises, 10-20 reps

2-4 sets seated calf raises, 10-20 reps

2-4 sets anterior tibialis raises, 10-20 reps

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