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"Doing more exercise with less intensity,"
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must be done . . . and quickly."
The New Bodybuilding for
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My Quest for Calves
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StuKE

I recently decided to specialise on my calves, to see if I can improve them significantly.
I am the first to admit my calves suck,I'll also admit that I have not trained them in,anything but the most sporadic, half-arsed manner for the last few months.
So, before I outline my plan, this is where I am at right now: I measured my unflexed calves this evening and the measurements were 14 and 3/8" left, and significantly smaller 14" right. Here are a few pics taken today:
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StuKE

Very significant difference between right and left
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StuKE

Sorry, having a few issues posting so please bear with me for more info.
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Turpin

I struggled with calf development , and only found much improved appearance by implementing sets x 25 reps with only moderate weight. Previously heavy calf work for 10 reps done very little for me.

T.
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Brian Johnston

Ontario, CAN

Here's a shot of my unflexed calf, which photo was taken 3-4 months back (I was stretching my hamstrings and my gf took the shot). I typically train calves once every two weeks. They tend to remain solid and slightly sore all the time, whatever the heck that's about. Maybe I need to massage the tissue more. In any case, two things work for me. Like Turpin, higher reps are better and with a lot of density in the reps and sets... and the new HDT method I came up with is incredible for calves.

Conversely, I had good results with very heavy single-leg calf raises (holding a dumbbell in one hand, on the side of the working calf, while hanging on to something and balancing with the other hand). I would do a modest warm-up, and then use a dumbbell heavy enough that I would only perform maybe 6 reps... I would follow that up with 3-4 forced reps and slow negatives, and then another 3-4 slow negatives. Sometimes I would work with slightly higher reps (15-20) while doing a good amount of forced and negative. I would not do this every workout, but every second workout, with the higher rep stuff between. However, that is what worked for me and you may not respond the same way.

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StuKE

Thanks T, those are some great calves, I remember seeing them in a post way back and the image stuck.
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StuKE

So I have certain ideas in mind for my Project Calves'.
I intend to focus on them for 6 weeks minimum, perhaps much longer (I know 6 weeks is quite short but I do feel I should see something by then).
I will be using a fairly high frequency, but like my exercise choice and rep range, it will vary as I plan to shock them and use instinctive training. The main requirement is to work them very hard, to try to force them to adapt to survive and I will be incorporating my own versions of exercises as well as the standard ones.
I will be logging everything I do here, including any progress I make.

I did a workout last night, will detail it later as I am at work and running out of time!
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Ray200

StuKE wrote:
I recently decided to specialise on my calves, to see if I can improve them significantly.
I am the first to admit my calves suck,I'll also admit that I have not trained them in,anything but the most sporadic, half-arsed manner for the last few months.
So, before I outline my plan, this is where I am at right now: I measured my unflexed calves this evening and the measurements were 14 and 3/8" left, and significantly smaller 14" right. Here are a few pics taken today:


Is 3/8 of an inch a significant difference? I'm sure you can reduce that with a few months of concerted training.
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Brian Johnston

Ontario, CAN

That's a big difference on a muscle area that is relatively lean and dense in fibers.
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StuKE

Yes, it is a big difference when talking about 14" calves! You can visibly see the difference in shape too, and the mind to muscle connection with my right calf is less - I just don't feel it as much when training (not to imply there is something wrong, I can still get a pump and get into the movement etc, just not to the same degree as with my left. Plus, it is weaker too.
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StuKE

Last night's workout was just designed to break me in after little calf training over the past months.
I train at home and so do not have access to a standing calf machine etc so I have to be a little more creative.

I started with a set of standing calf raises with just bodyweight for tl20 reps. My block is high with a curved edge as I have had issues with the soles of my feet in the past.

Next was single leg calf raises, very strict with a full range of motion - 2 sets of 10 each leg then a set of 5 each with an additional 12kg db.

This was followed by my version of seated calf raises where I crouch with full leg flexion one leg at a time and perform toe raises on my block with resistance provided by a simple device I made. I will add a pic or drawing later. The point of this is to allow me a full contraction with legs fully bent.

One set of 10 each with 20kg resistance.

Then a set of standing calf raises leaning back to allow a different contraction to normal - 20 reps.

I finished with a set of toe raises using a length of I beam as resistance - 12 reps each leg.

Nothing special, certainly not pushing it yet.
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StuKE

Here's a quick drawing to explain the version of seated calves (I know, I know, I'm not even seated...). Excuse the robotic looking chap.

The idea is to take the seated calf idea of the bent leg to activate the soleous but to exaggerate the angle and hopefully activate it even more. I used to just squat down and do both legs at once with bodyweight but did not care for the way the calf was squashed into the hamstring and it was no good in the stretch position either. The illustrated way negates these and allows for a crazy contraction and moderate stretch.
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HeavyHitter32

Being taller and ectomorphic, calves were a weaker body part for me. I found training them to failure 3 times a week for one set to work many years back.

When I switched to pure Heavy Duty consolidated and splits, I was training them with one set to failure every 10-14 days. I recall gaining 100 pounds on the standing calf raise over several months and there was zero change in size, shape, or look. I remember how disappointed I was thinking they had to grow if they got "stronger".

Further development came with more volume and frequency, pure and simple. Lots of reps, short rest periods, etc. Now, my size never increased but the actually look and development changed quite a bit as a result over time. Much more refinement, cuts, etc. I train them about every 5 days. I actually started to experiment with much higher reps 25+.

I too had that issue with my calves feeling "tight" quite a bit all of the time. Sometimes very mildly sore when I woke up. I started doing 45 second calf stretches every morning and it took care of the problem. Once in a while I'll use the muscle roller/stick as well. I now stretch like this for almost all of my muscles every day especially for neck and traps since I spend a lot of time at the keyboard.
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StuKE

The mtwain experiment

Some years ago, whilst a member of a now defunct bodybuilding forum, I took great delight in reading the posts of a member of the forum known as mtwain- specifically his thread on calves,

He told of how he had tried just about everything over the years to build a decent pair of calves, with little success (a massively familiar story across the internet), eventually he thought, well, I'm not getting anywhere here so I will just do a short workouf for them, around twice a week and leave it at that.
The workout was super intense, but also super condensed and therefore would only take a few minutes. A short workout twice a week to keep them going, why not?

Mtwain explained how he would stand on a thick book , one leg at a time and perform an extremely intense set, just one -perhaps two (can't remember for sure). Bare foot, he would do full range reps and incorporate heavy negatives (by pushing against the ceiling or something above his head), partial reps, burns and so on - in a very methodical and focussed way. Needless to say, the pain was intense, but he persevered over the months and just accepted he was working his calves hard, but not really monitoring them for progress.

Much time passed and a comment from someone behind him on a beach about some crazy calves made him wonder who the person with the calves was... apparently it was him.

So these are photos of the calves in question. By his own admission, he is not a particularly big guy, and the calves look bigger than they actually measured.

There had been much debate over these photos, many suggest implants and I can see why, but maybe-just maybe, it was the excruciating, methodical and consistent workouts that did it. I have to say, he did not come across as someone playing a game, telling lies - he had little to gain and was very down to Earth, so who knows?

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StuKE

So, I decided to give it a try. For about 8 to 10 weeks, twice a week I went down to my cellar (different house back then) and replicated this.

I really gave it everything, It was very demanding and I would be sweating and eventually actually feeling a bit run down from the effort and taxing my CNS (all that beyond failure work, even if it was only on a small muscle group). Actually, at one point I had real pain afterwards, my calves were incredibly tight and felt like there was a lot of pressure in them. Over the next couple of days they just got worse, extremely uncomfortable and very painful. I started to worry that I might have compartment syndrome, but eventually they eased off.

Anyway, the results - no change - or at least nothing apparent. But this seems to be par for the course with calf training - perhaps even more so than with other muscles - one man's perfect routine may yield no results for another and so age read many times how someone has started to see results only when they dropped the reps to 10s, and the opposite like with Turpin, where high reps did it for them.
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Ray200

Brian Johnston wrote:
That's a big difference on a muscle area that is relatively lean and dense in fibers.


I was thinking more of his potential and not of his current development.
I have to admit, training logs are quite common but I can't recall one that deals with a specific area like calves. Best of luck with it, Stuke.
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hdlifter

To get my, once, sticks up from 10" to their current 17 1/2" I tried everything. Zone Training, one set a week, gave me a 1/2" gain in 2-weeks! I know you have the desire and smarts to make gains Stu, it's only a matter of time.
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hdlifter

My total leg...thanks to Leg and toe presses.Once I dropped squats, thanks to Bill DeSimone (much to the relief of my upper back and chiropractor) my leg mass and shape shot up!
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StuKE

Thanks for the comments, I love hearing people's opinions on calf training and hearing of their progress.
I have used very heavy weights (for me)'on exercises such as standing calf raises and toe presses on a legpress (back when I trains at gyms), with reps from 8 to 12, not done a great deal with higher reps though.

I think there is merit for both ways and I intend to use both methods, but again, my primary mode of attack is high frequency and varying the exercises, routine often to keep the calves shocked.

I do like the idea of high density - ie a lot of work in a short time.

Got a workout tonight so will see how that goes, will be ramping up the intensity / workload now that I have rests from my first, ease in session.
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Brian Johnston

Ontario, CAN

Don't spend too much time with seated calf work... that movement will work the soleus, which accounts for very little size... it's a strip of a muscle.
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StuKE

Brian Johnston wrote:
Don't spend too much time with seated calf work... that movement will work the soleus, which accounts for very little size... it's a strip of a muscle.


Fair point - seated work will never be the priority - neither will work for the tibialis, but both play a part in the overall development and it is not just size I am after.
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StuKE

Unfortunately I didn't have much time today, so had to work quick. Fortunately this fit well with my plan to do a decent amount of work in a short time.
Still aching mildly from the last workout,I did a set of 20 reps standing calf raises on my trusty block, then onto single leg calf raises, one leg immediately following the other:
15
12
10 each leg

Then back to both legs at once, 20 rep shake the feet for 5 seconds, 10 more, shake and a final 10

I followed this with 25 partial reps (top part of movement).

Finally for calves I did a set of 15 each step up onto my block, but always on my toes. This is something I plan to incorporate more - working the calves via two joints, I have afeeling it may be of value.

A couple of sets of 15 toe raises with my lengths of I beam as resistance finished the mini workout (apart from some stretching).

Nothing crazy, still building back up and feeling my way along. I am trying to avoid being so sore I have to miss a session or two.
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StuKE

Toe raises with a length of I beam. My heel is on a 10kg disk to raise it up. Not pretty but does the job.
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Equity

StuKE wrote:
Toe raises with a length of I beam. My heel is on a 10kg disk to raise it up. Not pretty but does the job.


If you're up for it consider ankle abduction and adduction as well. With bands or cables. I believe if you have high calves then developing the lower part makes a considerable improvement in appearance.

Regards.
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StuKE

Equity wrote:
StuKE wrote:
Toe raises with a length of I beam. My heel is on a 10kg disk to raise it up. Not pretty but does the job.

If you're up for it consider ankle abduction and adduction as well. With bands or cables. I believe if you have high calves then developing the lower part makes a considerable improvement in appearance.

Regards.


Ah, interesting - not something I have considered, but will definitely look into. I have some experience working with my sons as they have flat feet and leg issues, I have them doing feet / ankle / balance exercises to try and help them.

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