The thought of walking around on your hands all day is exhausting, right? Well, that’s what your calf muscles do – they carry your weight around all day. Up and down the stairs at work, around the track at the gym on your personal trainer’s instruction, across the grocery store circuit. So the question then is, why do so many of us struggle to build our calf muscles? The answer is two-fold.
Firstly, they’re tough to train. They carry you around all day. They’re already hardy and strong. They’re used to handling your weight, even while it moves around. Secondly, they’re made up of slow-twitch muscles. These muscles don’t fatigue easily, making the personal training requirement that much harder.
All of this begs the next question: How to get bigger calves?
Here are four things you can do at the gym, to get bigger calves:
- Train them first – not last: Calves are too often the afterthought to a hectic leg workout – whether you’re doing it on your own or with a personal trainer. You’re not going to build great calves if you’re too tired to focus on them. Try training them first when you’re still fresh.
- Train heavy – but not too heavy: Remember, your calf muscles can already handle your body weight. So you’ve got to train heavier. However, if you add too much weight, you could injure yourself by say, bouncing at the top of the rep or compensating by taking some of the strain into the quads.
- Do more reps: The slow-twitch muscle fibres in your calves need to be pushed, hard, before you’ll see results.
- Make sure you work all the angles: Your calf muscle is actually a group of two muscles – the soleus and the gastrocnemius. The latter is made up of two parts itself. The point: To grow your calves, you need to use more than one calf exercise so you get all the muscles from various angles.
Four calf exercises that work!
1. Donkey calf raises
Bend over and support yourself on a bench (unless your gym has a donkey calf raise machine). Ask your training buddy to sit on your back (close to your tailbone). Now raise your heels off the floor and then lower them slowly and with control. Stop just before they touch the floor and then repeat.
2. Standing weighted calf raises
Stand on a block holding dumbbells (or a barbell across your shoulders) or use a calf-raise machine. Bend your knees and lower your heels until you feel the stretch in your calves before extending your knees and raising your heels.
3. Seated machine calf raises
Use the seated calf-raise machine. Make sure your knees are bent at 90 degrees before you start. Add the weights and then perform a calf raise (see above).
Get out your trusty skipping rope, and add long sets of skipping to your leg workouts.
If you’re already sporting a great pair of calves, and you want to help others get the same, maybe you should be a personal trainer? Check out the Comprehensive Personal Training Certification from Trifocus Fitness Academy today! Follow this link to find out more.