Calf Exercises To Build Strength And Muscle

Calf Exercise

Standing calf raises are a must to work the gastrocnemius muscle

Calf training for many people tends to be more of an afterthought with their workout than anything.

They sometimes hit calves at the end of training legs – if they have time and aren’t already completely exhausted that is.

If that’s how your calf training tends to go do, it’s time to make some changes.

Let’s look at four steps that you should be taking if you hope to see great calf development. Apply these to your program and you can be on a fast track to results.

Train Calves On A Non-Leg Day

First, you’ll want to schedule your calf training day on a day that you aren’t doing other leg exercises.

The reason is simply due to that fatigue factor.

If you train calves first in your session so you have maximum strength, your other lower body lifts will suffer.

And likewise, if you train calves last, well you might just skip over them entirely.

Instead, train calves either on your upper body days or on days you are just doing cardio training. This way, you can devote a full focus to that muscle group.

Do Both Seated And Standing Calf Raises

Next, you’ll also want to ensure that you incorporate both seated as well as standing calf raises into your program.

This is because by doing only standing calf raises, as many people do, you’ll only hit the gastrocnemius, leaving out the soleus.

By doing seated calf raises, you can ensure that you hit both the target muscles in this area of your body.

As you do each of these variations, also consider turning the feet in, out, or keeping them parallel.

Adjusting your foot position as you continually go about your training will help you ensure you’re hitting the target muscles as you should.

Go Beyond Parallel

Speaking of foot position, this brings us to the next point that must be made for optimal calf development – going beyond parallel.

If you typically do your calf raises from a standing position on the ground, it’s time to change this.

Instead, let the heels drop lower than parallel, which then increases your overall range of motion.

Calf Extensions

Vary your weight and number of reps to avoid a plateau

By doing this, you’ll force the muscles to work harder, getting greater strength gains.

As you do this however, note that you should never bounce down and up into the calf raise.

Doing this will put you at a higher risk of strain, especially while using this extended range of motion, so keep the movement very slow and controlled.

This will also ensure that you are placing maximum tension on the calf muscle itself.

Vary Your Rep Range

Finally, the last quick tip to remember about your calf training sessions is that you should vary your rep range.

This means doing some sets with a much lighter weight, going up into the high rep range and then adding in some sets using a much heavier weight, doing lower reps.

The calves will respond best to variety as they are a highly adaptable muscle group, so if you are constantly doing the same thing over and over again, it’s only a matter of time before you hit a plateau.

Try and vary the rep range either in each session you do, or across a few sessions – whichever you prefer.

So there you have four tips to help ensure that you get the most from your calf training.

For optimal results, you should be aiming to work the calves at least twice per week, if not three times. Just do be sure that you allow for one day off to rest and recover between each training session.