Bigger calves

  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Jul 21, 2007 2:05 AM GMT
    Hey does anyone have any tips/workouts to grow the calves and lower legs?

    I've tried everything and my calves just won't grow - they are like sticks. My thighs/quads are developing and growing but passed my knees looks like a stick. It just bugs me because I look so unproportional because of it. I don't even wear shorts in fear of getting laughed at for my chicken legs.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Jul 21, 2007 5:03 PM GMT
    I'm not a fake, dude! I just signed up last night...give me a break. I'm still working on getting my profile up.
  • atxclimber

    Posts: 480

    Jul 21, 2007 5:59 PM GMT
    Hahaha, you'll have to excuse scally, he's crazed, and generally berates people. On the upside, in this message to you he was coherent; in other threads usually his posts have the same punctuation- and grammar-free qualities, but are also real head-scratchers, like, "What on Earth did that even mean?"

    Anyway, you're doing calf raises and lunges and stuff and not really seeing any improvement? I don't really know much about gym exercises for calf building; I have big calves but it's from cycling. But I'll just spout off the info I know:

    Your calf muscles are just about all used primarily for moving the foot.

    The big guys, the soleus and the gastrocnemius, are the foot's plantar flexors, i.e. when you stand on tip-toes, pressing down through the ball of the big toe, they're the things that engage. They're the bulk of the muscle on the back of your lower leg.

    Then you have the ones that pronate and supinate the foot -- if you're standing up straight and you roll the weight towards the outer edge of your foot, that's supination (aka inversion); roll the weight in towards your inner heel and the ball of the big toe, lifting the outer edge of the foot off the ground, and that's pronation (aka eversion). Those use muscles running down the sides of the leg (you can tell; when you pronate it makes a kind of gash-like indentation along the outside of your lower leg, for example.) I think they're important for calf definition.

    Then there's the tibialis anterior, which is the antagonist to the gastrocnemius and soleus -- it dorsiflexes the foot, i.e. elevates it, and it runs down the front of the shin, alongside the tibia.

    You can work the plantarflexors, the gastrocnemius and soleus, by doing calf raises; stand with just your toes on the edge of a step, hold onto something with your hands for balance, then lower your heels down, raise them up, etc. Keep your legs straight (don't lock out your knees, though, keep a little micro-bend in them to keep the knees healthy.) You'll feel this in the calves pretty quickly.

    For the other ones, I recommend doing balance stuff. Practice standing on one foot. Get one of those Bosu things (www.bosu.com if you don't know what I mean) and practice doing unloaded squats while standing on it. Over time that kind of stuff will strengthen the muscles of the calf and foot and add definition. I get that through my yoga practice.

    That's all I got. Sorry I don't know more specific gym exercises for them, but I'm sure others on here will.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Jul 21, 2007 6:02 PM GMT
    "...i have many but not for fakes with no pic..."

    Blah, blah, blah, blah.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Jul 21, 2007 6:51 PM GMT
    Thanks, atxclimber. Yes, I do calf raises and lunges but see little improvement if any.
  • atxclimber

    Posts: 480

    Jul 21, 2007 8:49 PM GMT
    One of my friends has what he refers to as chicken legs, too, and has been working out in the gym a long time, and hadn't seen any improvement. He got a road bike and has been riding with me and says he's already noticed a small but visible increase in calf size.

    If you do have a bike, especially if it has cleated pedals (i.e. so your shoes clip into the pedals), I suggest going riding and doing a lot of short, extremely steep stretches of hills, standing up and really cranking with your legs. Don't just push down with the front leg, but pull up with the back leg, too, very strongly. If it's too easy, next lap use the next bigger gear.

    But as for gym work, let's see what Ahnuld has to say about calves.

    "Calves are considered the most difficult muscle group in the body to develop. But calves respond to training just like any other muscle -- you just have to be aware that they need to be trained at many different angles and with extremely heavy weight.

    ...

    Until I trained with Reg Park, I had touble getting my calves as big as I wanted them. I was doing Calf Raises with 500 or 600 pounds, but he was using 1,000! He pointed out to me that each of my calves individually was comfortable supporting my 250 pounds of body weight, so 500 pounds of resistance was actually a "normal" amount for them to deal with.

    ...

    The primary mass builder for calves is Standing Calf Raises, and here extra weight is really important. This exercise, along with Donkey Calf Raises, works both the gastrocnemius and soleus muscles of the calves. Seated Calf Raises better target the soleus.

    ...

    Since the calves are designed for constant work and rapid recuperation, I train them 30 to 45 minutes a day.

    ...

    The calves are tough and used to a lot of hard work, so the best way to make them grow is to constantly shock them, using every high-intensity training principle possible. For example, when doing Donkey Calf Raises, I frequently started off with three 220-pound bodybuilders sitting on my back. I would continue the set until I could not do another rep, then have one of them slide off so that I could continue until my calves were screaming in agony. Finally, I would finish off the set using only my own body weight and feeling as if my calves were going to explode."

    -- Arnold Schwarzenegger, The New Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Jul 22, 2007 3:18 AM GMT
    I have the same problem with my calves. All this information will definitely help (thank you atxclimber!). Now, if only my gym had a calf raise machine...
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Jul 22, 2007 6:47 AM GMT
    My calves are about my best developed area, so I don't spend much time on them when I'm at the gym. It's genetics, cycling and landscaping for me.

    I wonder if Arnold put a couch on his back for the three bodybuilders to set on. I could probably get three elementary kids to sit on my back, that might work for me.

    Actually, I'd take one nice looking body builder on my back and a private room, please. Donkey Calf Raises are not only an exercise, but they're on page 32 of the Gay Kama Sutra.










  • MikePhilPerez

    Posts: 4357

    Jul 22, 2007 2:18 PM GMT
    rpoclt,

    Take no notice of scally. You should read his posts on other topics. The man has issues. Major issues.

    scally,

    I think you have had a lot of rejection. Get over it, and stop insulting people.

    Mike
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Jul 22, 2007 5:46 PM GMT
    Hey bud, I've had the same problem with my calves. There's nothing more frustrating than having a well-developed upper body paired with skinny lower legs. I think that's called the "punk" look. LOL

    Lately I'm having solid results by working calves on a different day than the upper legs and glutes. Try doing calve exercises with back/biceps or chest/shoulders, etc. Mix it up. I know when I get through sets of squats my calf exercises suffer because I'm so tired. Make sure to include seated calf raises as well as standing. Use the leg press for calf exercises too. Be strict about form and make sure you're extending the motion fully.

    I've also been told it's better to do more reps with calf raises compared to other muscles, around 15-20 reps to failure. Anyone else agree with this?

    Hope this helps.

  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Jul 22, 2007 6:53 PM GMT
    I do calf raises with 18 plates. I use one of the squat machines and max out the weight on it and do 15-20 reps for about 4 sets. you need a lot of weight to work calves
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    Jul 22, 2007 9:16 PM GMT
    Wear hi-heels. It's no secret that women have much better calves than men due to the types of shoes they wear. Walk on the balls of your feet for a while and you'll feel it right away.
  • atxclimber

    Posts: 480

    Jul 22, 2007 10:20 PM GMT
    I knew this girl in San Francisco, a racer (cyclist) who was this knockout blonde, 6 feet tall, and she wore high heels basically all the time.

    I asked her why, once, being as she was already very tall, and she said that normal shoes hurt her calves.

    In otherwords, she never stretched her calves, and the racing gave her a great pair of legs, but tightened up those calf muscles, and she wore heels because they let the calf muscles stay shortened comfortably.

    If it were me, I would have just stretched my calves after riding. That seems less drastic than just switching to wearing heels all the time. But maybe I'm just saying that because I don't really look very good in heels.
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    Jul 22, 2007 11:29 PM GMT
    Agree with ATXClimber..

    Wearing high heels is NOT the same as doing calve raises... When you are wearing high heels, you are relying on the high heels to say up, not by the use of your calve muscles.

    However, what high heels do is to force partiel range at end range of motion calve muscle contractions.

    You are going to use your calve muscles as a unconscious effort to fight gravity AND during gait no matter what tyoe of shoes you wear. But since high heels put your feet constantly at the end range of full plantar flexion of ankles, the unconcious calve contractions to fight gravity and during gait is all at the end range only, which is hard on the muscle. Muscle contraction is most difficult at the longest and shorted position of the muscle fibers. It is like doing bicept curls without going into full range, and only curl into the last few degrees of range of motion...

    However, it is NOT safe to operate with such shorend calve musculature. I have seen plenty of complete tears of Achilles tendons..
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    Jul 22, 2007 11:37 PM GMT
    By the way, I forgoet to mention that the calves are mostly slow twitch and combination slow/fast twitch fibers...

    Slow twitch fibers do not tend to get that much bigger... It is genetics (this is not saying training would alter its size at all...)

    Most anti gravity/postural muscle groups are either slow twitch or combination muscle fibers. This includes your enitre lower extremity, abdominals and lower back (paraspinals, NOT lats), breathing muscle groups, forearms, and rotator cuffs... The reason is you need to use thes muscle groups for prolonged period of time... And muscles such as the quads are combination, as you need it active for extensive duration but also explosive power in sprinting...

    That is why these muscle gourps can also take more FREQUENT but lower resistive training than comparable fast twitch fibers such as your pecs...

    Overtrain, of course, will injure them. That is why I never advocate my patients to train their forearms... They are not going to get ath much bigger, and then they all get Golfers of Tennis Elbows or even Carpal Tunnel Syndromes...

  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Sep 12, 2007 8:17 PM GMT
    I do calf raises mostly... my legs have always been bigger than average so I dont work them very hard. We use our calves all the time, but there are few options on isolating it for exercise... its just like the forearm in my opinion.