How Do I Gain Mass in my Calves?

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    Feb 08, 2011 12:19 AM GMT
    Ok, I've been weight training for about 4 years now, and I'm happy with my progress in every area except for one: no matter what I try, I never seem to be able to gain muscle mass in my calves. Any suggestions?
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    Feb 08, 2011 12:32 AM GMT
    Take up bicycling...mountain or road or combo.
  • KinesiologyMa...

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    Feb 08, 2011 3:50 AM GMT
    dude its one of the hardest thing you can do
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    Feb 08, 2011 3:52 AM GMT
    The calf machines in the gym. I built mine back up, and damn if they ever look good. Yippie, i had gotten to a point of chicken legs...so i changed it with massive weight now....starting low at first of course....but i've done it. It's tough, but keep hitting em. Plus i might add the soreness, and fatigue are really strong patterns for me...I massage them too. Yes myself. It keeps them supple which is what the gym trainer always tells me. If the muscle is tight it won't grow.
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    Feb 08, 2011 3:54 AM GMT
    KinesiologyMajor saiddude its one of the hardest thing you can do


    Ditto.

    In the gym, my calves get stronger, but not bigger. Many others I know are similar. Calf muscles seem to be a marvel of efficiency. I'm pretty sure it's because they are in constant use as long as you're standing/walking/running, so it's much harder to throw them for a loop.

    Only thing that's worked for me has been outside the gym: bike riding on hilly terrain (plenty of that in SF).
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    Feb 08, 2011 3:57 AM GMT
    Run on sand at the beach.
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    Feb 08, 2011 8:44 AM GMT
    May sound odd... but I'm kind of the opposite of most, legs for me are 'over' proportioned for me... I would agree with the biking and the running in sand, but if you want other options my major 'bulk' came from jump training (basically its a group of slow and explosive muscle exercises) my best results are from a combination of heel raises and isolated/joined jumps

    Heel (or hell) raises - standing still and smoothly raising you body weigh by arching you foot and raising your heels together, its kind of like a SLOW rolling motion forward, emphasis on slow (its not about number its actually about balance and strength). Once at the top slowly drop yourself back down but NEVER let your ankle touch the ground, control that decent just as much as the accent (the muscles remain flexed basically the whole time you are doing this, the moment you touch down, you basically have relaxed your muscles which is not what we are looking for in this portion, this is an endurance push). You can add weight too it but I would start without and move into a light weight, this is almost totally a calf focused exercise... and while it sounds easy try it, the slower you go the more of a burn you start to get as your increase the number.

    Combine this with one leg jumps (to isolate a leg) and double leg jumps - simply stand near a wall (you may want some space around you just in case - personal experiences suggest its just good planning...). Orient yourself so you have one shoulder about 1-2 hand width away from the wall and you are oriented perpendicular (and you though you would never need math terms in daily life), take the leg furthest from the wall and put it just slightly behind the foot closest to the wall (this one is going to be 'idle' and is only for balance as you take off and leave). Now that you are basically in a slight step you are going to drop yourself into a variation of a squat, you active foot should be flat to the floor (do not be on your toes!) and leg should be well flexed supporting you weight with your tight as close to parallel with the floor as possible, your knee will be just above you toes or slightly forward. Your other leg will be imitating this stance slightly, but with this leg you are going to be on your toe - again this leg is idle, its basically along for the ride so the more work you do with it the less effective this is going to be.

    Your centre of gravity should be over you active foot. If you need drop you hand on the idle side and put it just in front of the active foot for balance if you need a sec or just need to adjust your stance. From here you are then going to rocket yourself upwards trying to convert as much of you force you are pushing down with into an upward thrust, the idle leg just extends almost in a limp state only acting to keep you moving straight up if you have a bad start (keep it in contact as long as the active foot) . As you push off hard from the flat foot, you are going to move you foot from flat into a heel raise smoothly working through the motion above basically (this is the 'twitch' version). Don't roll onto your toes, thats just asking for trouble; you want to leave the ground the front ball of you foot (your toes will leave last anyways but they should not be supporting any of your weight at this point, they are relaxed and getting ready for your landing). While you proceed upwards try to straighten your body, getting all the height you can. Then there is no where to go but down so try to catch yourself with the same foot you pushed off with, try to make the landing as smooth as possible sinking back into the stance you left (as close to a reversal of you up motion - this is where the whole space can be kind of important).

    If you have a wall tape you can track how heigh you are getting, but while height is nice, the real goal is to make the form correct with the bulk of your weight being forced up over the active leg. The harder you can 'push' or 'twitch' that leg and move quickly through the motion the better.

    (Same for opposite leg, and if you are going to do double legs just use both legs instead of just the one... kind of duh... but better safe than sorry)

    Again the exercise is a paring of slow and fast variations of similar motions - the point is to force the muscle through explosive and cumulative endurance to help build strength and size. You can stack them, but i would take a slight breather between the two, especially if you start to seize up slightly... this is often a bad foreshadowing of things that could come....

    Big warning other than just the form thing (obvious injury) if you work you calf hard through this, don't do it to the point of a calf lock (its not pleasant). If you get one, try to stand on the opposite foot and then slowly flatten your foot of the effected leg to the floor - don't push it too fast cause thats just asking for trouble, but don't just do the ballet pointed toe because you won't unlock fast and thats where the real pain comes from. The longer you stay locked the more your going to pay after despite how much you think it hurts now; that pain sticks around in a numbing way for quite some time). Also remember to stretch out (both front and back of the leg) after you do this; just because you didn't lock in you work out doesn't mean you won't 15mins, an hour or more after you are done, stretching really reduces this especially if you worked your legs more than normal (there is a reason I call them hell raisers).

    If you want harder variations I have some... but tried and true, these work, and they have the lowest 'technique' and chance of injury
  • MisterT

    Posts: 1272

    Feb 08, 2011 9:02 AM GMT
    You have to beat the hell out of them. I have pretty good calves, bigger than my neck, and I still work them hard, i want them to be awesome, lol. I cycle, and jog trails and uphill a lot, but the weights have helped me the most. Sitting and stand calf raises, donkey calf raise are good.

    I like to use the leg press as a calf press to get enough weight, most standing calf raise machines only go up to 500lbs. My max on standing raise is about 900lbs, so the sled or leg press is more practical when i want to go heavy.

    Calves are one of the hardest muscles to grow, each one take all of your body weight when walking, and when running they take multiplied force of your weight times momentum, so it takes a lot more than that to overload them enough to stimulate growth.
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    Feb 08, 2011 10:36 AM GMT
    JJCrush saidMay sound odd... but I'm kind of the opposite of most, legs for me are 'over' proportioned for me...


    We need pictures.

    For... uh, ... pedagogic purposes.

    Yeah.

    Pedagogy.

    Mmm hmmm.

  • Karllllp

    Posts: 14

    Feb 16, 2011 6:29 AM GMT
    Yeah this is an area I need to work on as well... It's hard to build on calves.,

    I do Calf raises at the gym and it seems to be helping.

    But also I'd suggest cycling, and hill/stair runs as these tend to work the calves a little more, but also give a day or so between work outs to allow your muscles to recover, it makes it easier for them to grow.

    Also you might want to take up a 'step class' or something similar at your local gym.
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    Feb 16, 2011 6:57 AM GMT
    SPRINT, SPRINT, SPRINT, and I mean SPRINT, like your racing Usain Bolt. Not a long distance, 50 m should suffice, get some rest and repeat about 4 times.
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    Feb 16, 2011 7:05 AM GMT
    This is a big bunch of bull shit. If you don't have the genetics for big calves, you're never going to have them. You might add the appearance of a vein or 1/8" of size, but that's about it.

    Every guy I've ever known who had big bulky calves got em first and and foremost from his momma.
  • justarunner

    Posts: 101

    Feb 16, 2011 7:10 AM GMT
    Biking and a great amount of different terrain running are very helpful. One thing that a few other guys mentioned -- stretching. Its the key to muscle growth (along with self-massaging them). Your muscles won't grow if they aren't properly stretched pre/post workout, and relaxed later.
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    Feb 16, 2011 4:25 PM GMT
    MindAndMatter saidThis is a big bunch of bull shit. If you don't have the genetics for big calves, you're never going to have them. You might add the appearance of a vein or 1/8" of size, but that's about it.

    Every guy I've ever known who had big bulky calves got em first and and foremost from his momma.


    Ive never had decent calves and somehow right now they're twice the size the used to be after I started working them. I guess I mutated.
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    Feb 16, 2011 7:44 PM GMT
    Did somebody say calves. :-)

    Http://wrestlemen.com/legs
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    Feb 16, 2011 7:47 PM GMT
    do the mountain climbers: did them for football and wrestling and my calves got amazing also soccer players tend to have beastly calves so try recreational soccer
  • ChilaxinJOCK0...

    Posts: 1513

    Feb 16, 2011 7:57 PM GMT
    MindAndMatter saidThis is a big bunch of bull shit. If you don't have the genetics for big calves, you're never going to have them. You might add the appearance of a vein or 1/8" of size, but that's about it.

    Every guy I've ever known who had big bulky calves got em first and and foremost from his momma.


    THATS THE TRUTH RIGHT THERE
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    Feb 16, 2011 8:02 PM GMT
    cycling wont necessarily give you large calves, it will more likely give you stronger but slender ones! if you look at olympic cyclists such as Sir Chris Hoy, his calves are large due to gym work and not his cycling. :-) I also have some experience from this as I used to cycle around 200miles per week and my calves became defined but not large
  • MisterT

    Posts: 1272

    Feb 16, 2011 8:08 PM GMT
    Workout with me, it'll be like World War 3 on your calves, but they will get big and solid, as long as you eat right,

    My calf pic in my profile is a little older, are slightly bigger now, but more defined also. In proportion, my calves are almost an inch bigger than my neck.
  • BronxvilleNY3...

    Posts: 101

    Feb 16, 2011 8:10 PM GMT
    IMAGE HTTP ADDRESS GOES HEREhttp://www.fitness-equipment.com/acatalog/info_91455_OS_W.html

    I have found that this equipment has helped me a lot. The secret is performing the exercise VERY slowly until the muscle reaches the failure

    I do five set, and the average reps are 15 until reaching muscular failure.
    Be careful about how much weight do you put on it, I started with 90 pounds, now I am 180 pounds.

    Watch up with a tear or rupture of the achilles tendon
  • xythanshadow

    Posts: 11

    Feb 16, 2011 8:49 PM GMT
    I know I'm probably going to get laughed at, but one thing that gave my calves a great workout was dance dance revolution on my tip toes. It's high intensity fast twitch work for your calves. But I agree with MindandMatter. Calves, like forearms are highly dependent on your genetics. You can gain some size, but if you have smallish calves to start with, you're not going to be smuggling footballs in your lower legs anytime soon.
  • adidas0783

    Posts: 290

    Feb 17, 2011 6:32 PM GMT
    MindAndMatter saidThis is a big bunch of bull shit. If you don't have the genetics for big calves, you're never going to have them. You might add the appearance of a vein or 1/8" of size, but that's about it.

    Every guy I've ever known who had big bulky calves got em first and and foremost from his momma.


    AMEN! That would hold true with me.

    Also, commend your momma if you have a great ass. I know I got my butt from her as well. Hell, she would even gloat about it and tell you all that. icon_rolleyes.gif

    But genetics is big, my dad played football and was super athletic in his youth.
  • Mako_Shark

    Posts: 222

    Feb 17, 2011 6:46 PM GMT
    Genetics... like everyone says. I've never worked out my calves in my life, and it looks like I spend my days at the gym working on just my calves. Funny though, I used to walk on my tiptoes as a kid, wonder if that helped during my development phases...
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    Feb 17, 2011 7:06 PM GMT
    So I've always had large calves, I'm lucky I guess in that perspective, but I found the RJ calf exercise in the muscle building program has really boosted their size and strength.

    http://www.realjock.com/article/535

    I've been done with the program for a while, but I still keep these in my routine. I do it with a standing calf raising machine though, and while I normally do full sets of the whole stack the traditional way, I have to go to 40% of my max just to finish a full set of the RJ calf raises. Make sure you do them slowly though, the calves are designed to absorb shock so you want to make sure you are using your muscles to control the movement, not your tendons.
  • petsol

    Posts: 3

    Feb 17, 2011 7:07 PM GMT
    It's not that hard to achieve good calf muscles. Get in to the habit of training them as often as you can, and you don't need to do them at the gym and don't need any equipment for it.
    Whenever you stand around waiting for the bus or train or even on the elevator start doing one legged calf rises. Hang on to a wall for balance and do sets of 20 on each leg ... continue until they hurt. It does not take to many at first. Then just keep doing them.. it is habit forming .. you might get some strange looks from people .. but who cares !
    And as with all other workouts it's not just to get big ,it's to get stronger, this exercise will also improve your balance, the wall is only needed to start with, eventually you have the balance to do the one legged calf rises without any support.
    Keep doing them ... that's the only way !