Ever asked your gym partner, “how often should I train calves?”
If you had to guess the muscle group that is under trained by most people, what would you guess?
If you said calves, you’re probably right. With all the big upper body muscles, it’s often easy to neglect your calves.
If you haven’t noticed much calf growth, you’re probably trying to figure out the best way to train them and how frequently.
How Often Should I Train Calves?
Twice a week is enough to notice growth. However, they are a muscle group that can be trained even more than that. Proper tempo and contractions are the best way to grow those stubborn calves. Don’t forget high reps.
Calf Training Frequency – How Often to Train Calves
How often can you train calves? Like all other muscle groups, training twice a week is the best way to see growth. Try choosing 2 calf exercises per leg day and doing 4 sets of each.
With calves, it’s better to use lighter weight and high reps. Take each set unti failure, which will encourage calf growth.
If you still don’t notice growth, calves are a muscle group that can be trained 3 times a week as they are smaller.
The calves are made up slow twitch muscle fibers which means they don’t grow fast. If you aren’t noticing growth in your current training, add sets and reps.
Train Calves Properly
A lot of people like to throw on heavy weight and bounce their calves up and down, expecting growth. This is not the best way to grow your calves.
Our calves are slightly worked all day through walking and running. This means that they need to be trained with high reps in order to grow.
Calves can be trained at 20-30 reps per set. Many people won’t go above 15 reps and this is why their calves are lacking.
At the top of each rep, squeeze the calves for a second or two and slowly return down. Train with full range of motion to completely stretch out the calf.
Focus on training with lighter weight to allow high reps. If you have pain in your feet or can’t complete reps without bending your knees, then the weight is probably too heavy.
Running is a great way to train your calves. Doing the stairs or putting your cardio machine on an incline will even further work them.
Jumping jacks, skipping rope, and HIIT workouts are other ways to switch up your calf training.
Think about how you are prioritizing your calves. If you save them until the end of your leg day, this may be a reason why they aren’t growing.
At the end of a tiring leg day, you won’t have much energy or desire to properly train the calves. Consider doing them at the beginning of the workout and seeing if that makes a difference.
The calves are made up of the gastrocnemius which is the upper and outer part of the calves, best trained with standing exercise. And the soleus which is the lower and deeper parts of the calves This is best trained by seated exercises.
So train both!
Hint: By slightly moving your toes, you can target the different parts of the calf. To target the gastrocnemius, point your toes slightly inwards. To target the soleus, point them slightly outwards. Whereas, having your toes pointed forward will target both.
You only need to move your toes about an inch either direction.
Best Calf Exercises
The standing calf raise.
This can be done with an Olympic bar resting on the traps, dumbbells held in the palms, or without weight. Do what best fits with your training levels. If you’re just starting out, no weight is probably the best option as it will allow you to perform high reps.
Remember that high reps and low weight is better for growing calves.
Stand with your feet about shoulder width apart. If you’re utilizing weight, make sure it is properly rested on your traps or firmly grasped in your hands.
Raise your heels up slowly as you push through the balls of your feet and contract your calves.
Make sure to hold and squeeze at the top of the movement before returning to the starting position. Don’t bounce your legs.
Calf raises are very versatile and can even be done on your living room floor. To increase the intensity, consider doing them on stairs or any ledge. You can also place something under your toes to elevate your heels.
Have your heels having over the ledge and perform the calf raise. The difference is at the bottom of the movement your heels can drop lower allowing for an added stretch of the calf muscles.
You can also do one leg at time to help you isolate and feel the contractions more by only focusing on one leg at a time. This will require balance and may be easier if you’re more of an advanced lifter.
Seated Calf Raise
Most gyms have a seated calf machine, but you can also do it by placing dumbbells on top of your knees.
The seated calf raise will allow for a better contraction for some. This is because you aren’t focusing on keeping your body balanced as you are seated.
All of your energy is put into feeling the squeeze in your calves.
Your feet should be shoulder width apart and your heels behind your knees. Raise your knees by pushing through the balls of your feet, allowing you to squeeze your calves.
Pause at the top before returning down. Do high reps with low weight for the most gains!
Calf Raises On Leg Press Machine
These can be done with a plate press or the cable machine version. The top part of each foot should be placed onto the pad, while your heel is hanging off the bottom of the pad.
Push through your toes as far as you can without your toes lifting off of the pad. Slowly return back to starting position. Don’t forget to squeeze!
Keep the safeties locked if possible in order to prevent any injury. Make sure the seat is positioned so that you can complete full range of motion.
A slight bend in the knees may prevent against knee pain. Your feet are the only body part that should be moving during the ex cerise to keep full tension on the calves.
Benefits Of Calf Training
They don’t only promote a balanced, aesthetically appealing physique. Strong calves help with power and explosiveness in big gym movements and in activities such as sports.
Stronger calves also help with running longer, faster, and being able to keep a consistent pace. You will also be able to generate more power from them, allowing you to jump higher.
The gastrocnemius contributes to jumping, acceleration, and explosive speed and power. While the soleus helps with walking and running endurance.
Weak calf muscles are more susceptible to tear and injuries. So training them will protect against foot and ankle injuries. This is especially important for athletes and runners.
This will also help in the rehabilitation of any foot or ankle injuries as the muscles will be able to recover quicker.
Strong calf muscles help with better stability and balance as well. This will prevent you from accidentally falling or twisting an ankle.
Your entire lower body performance is dependent on your calves. So strong calves can help you with your dead lift or squat numbers. I bet a lot of guys will now be incorporating more calf training into their routine now.
Calf raises also strengthen the knee joints, preventing against pain and injury.
Let me know if you learned anything or if you have any questions or comments!