Even among the greatest lifters, there is one major problem: they often spend too much time building muscular upper bodies and give too little attention to their legs — more precisely, their calves.But it’s not a surprise as most guys mistakenly believe that a huge, ripped torso are the only things that girls look at. Yet, it’s not the only reason many people don’t have well-shaped calves. Another problem is many folks don’t know how to build them.
Train Calves At The Beginning Of Every Workout
If you take a closer look, you see many people start with primary muscle groups like shoulders and chest. Only after finishing primary group exercises do they take care of their smaller muscle groups. Why so? Because everyone else does. After many years, this became the standard among lifters.But scientists reported in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research that it’s not effective if you need to improve calf muscles.The scientists assigned people into two groups. The first one started to train bigger muscles and then went to smaller ones, and the second group did vice-versa. After a period of 12 weeks, both groups developed stronger calf muscles, but the group that started training smaller muscles at the beginning of their workouts achieved more in calf strength tests.
Simply put, by training a specific body part when you’ve got more energy, you increase its chances of growth.
Engage A Full Range Of Motion
Some people like to add lots of weight and do incomplete exercises by making the excuse that “I use bigger weight than you!” However, as researchers have found, it’s a worthless excuse.
To learn how a full range of motion affects muscle growth, the researchers asked advanced lifters to perform the military press. Each participant performed the exercise with a different range of motion. The first did a partial rep, the second did an incomplete rep, and the final one with full range of motion.As we can see, by concentrating on a full range of motion, you can achieve more than those who only care about reps and weights.
High Rep Range To Ensure Muscle Growth
Many athletes do lots of primary muscle sets and only a small amount of the secondary muscles, such as forearms and calves. However, the secondary muscles also deserve time and attention.
In the European Journal of Applied Physiology, researchers explained how increasing set count benefited muscle development. First, researchers performed muscle biopsies on participants who were all on an empty stomach. After completing biopsies, participants were divided into three groups. The first group was asked to complete one set, the second group three sets, and the last group told to do five sets of the same exercise.Then, participants had another biopsy taken so that the researchers could analyze the data. They saw people who did five sets had the most increased protein synthesis, while the group that only did one set experienced the lowest level of protein synthesis.So, if you want to build calves even faster, keep in mind that you need to add a full range of motion and more reps
Incorporate Donkey Calf Raises
In the golden age of bodybuilding, there were many bodybuilders like Arnold Schwarzenegger and Dave Draper who enjoyed donkey calf raises. The sad thing is that today’s modern gyms rarely have donkey calf-raise machines.
But if you find one, you should definitely use it. In a study of electrical activation of the calves, donkey calf raises were found to give more benefits than any other type of calf exercise. Here are the results on how different calf-training machines affect electrical activation of calf muscles:
- Donkey Calf Raises: 80%.
- Standing One-leg Calf Raises: 79%.
- Standing Two-leg Calf Raises: 68%.
- Seated Calf Raises: 61%.
Other calf muscle exercises are also beneficial (especially standing one-leg calf raises), so you should mix them up. By incorporating more exercises, you’ll hit calves from different angles and further optimize their growth.