Ask any weightlifter or bodybuilder what is the most stubborn muscle to grow, and the majority will tell you it is their calves. I don’t know what it is about this muscle group, but there are a lot of people running around out there that have massive upper bodies and thighs but below the knees, it looks like they’ve been skipping leg day.
Getting this stubborn muscle group to grow is the same advice that I’ve repeated for other muscles that seem to plateau. You need to change up your workouts and throw new variations that your body hasn’t seen. This will shock the system, hit the muscles from a different angle, tear up the muscle fibers and force them to repair and grow back bigger and stronger.
How to Train Your Calf Muscles
For some people, these muscles are just plain stubborn. For others, it is a laziness – not putting calf exercises into their workouts. There is no excuse for this, as impressive calves are a sight to behold (on both men and women). Don’t skip these tips if you want some good looking legs!
Follow these steps if you want to break through a plateau and really add some size to your lower legs.
Blast Them Consistently
For the next two weeks to a month, do calf exercises every day at the start of your workout.
At the moment, you’re probably only doing them once a week at the end of leg day. Clearly, this isn’t cutting it.
Try to work in 4 to 6 calf workouts per week for the next 2-4 weeks.
Vary up the exercises, like using the calf machine, jumping rope, doing box jumps, etc.
Hit Them Before Bedtime
In addition to making them a part of your workout routine, hit them again before you go to bed during the next 2 to 4 weeks. Right before you settle down, try to do a set of 100 standing calf raises. Don’t just try to pump them out as fast as possible. Really take the time so you feel the burn.
When it is possible (I don’t expect you to do this everywhere in public), try to walk around on your tiptoes instead of flat on your feet. This extends the calf muscles, making them do most of the work rather than spreading the load across your whole leg.
Climb the Stairs
Taking the stairs instead of the elevator is a great way to get a workout for your calves. Even better, if you have the time, try to do a standing calf raise with each new step that you take. You’d be surprised how much your calves will burn by the end of your climb.
Vary Your Workouts
After that initial 2-4 week period of doing daily calf exercises, going forward try to do them two times per week. During one session, do a high number of reps with lower weight, on the other, do high weight and lower reps. This will hit both the fast twitch and slow twitch fibers in the muscle, leading to maximum growth.
Obviously, you can’t (and shouldn’t) do all of the above recommendations simultaneously, otherwise, you will be overtraining the muscles. Instead, pick two or three that work best for you, practice those for a few weeks, and then vary it up again. The key is to just not neglect this muscle group!
For a complete list of exercises that target the calves for size gains, I recommend checking out this workout program from Jim Stoppani called Shortcut to Size. Of all the literature I’ve read, it is by far the best program out there to build muscle. Definitely check it out!