Vince, I have a problem building up decent calf size.
It’s not my calves are really that small – because they measure about 17 inches, which really isn’t that bad I guess – but my thighs measure in excess of 27 inches at a height of about six feet so they appear smaller than they actually are.
I am presently doing a Nautilus double-50 calf routine. This consists of doing two sets of 50 repetitions in the standing calf raise.
For the first set I will use 50 pounds less on the calf machine than I world normally use for 12 repetitions. I try to get 25 strict reps, where I pause in the top contracted position and the bottom stretch also each and every rep.
After the first 25 reps my calves are burning like crazy and I can barely stand it, but I go on to force or cheat out 25 more reps. That’s the fist set. I rest about 60 seconds and while I am resting I gently knead the calves.
I start set number two and I usually can only get maybe 20 strict reps before I begin cheating out the final 30 repetitions. Since I am cheating so much while raising my heels, I really try to emphasize the negative part of each rep, where I lower my heels very slowly.
I only do this routine two or three times a week for two consecutive weeks at the most.
I think I’ve coaxed out my potential on this routine and I wonder if you could give me some secret tips and a workout which will blast my calves up to 18 inches plus?
Your calves are slightly undersized compared to your thigh measurement. An ideal calf measurement should be about 67 percent of your thigh size, which in your case would be slightly over 18 inches.
If you really want herculean calf size, they should be 72 percent of your thigh size and that would be 19 plus inches.
This is all relative, because it would be hard to develop an 18″ or 19″ calf if you only weigh, say, 180 pounds at nearly six feet tall.
Likewise, if you develop an 18-inch calf and it lacks shape, then it won’t look as good as a 17-inch calf laced with plenty of muscularity.
For crying out loud, cut way back on any heavy squatting movements you are presently doing for your already huge thighs. It would be better for you to go with leg extensions and leg curls for a while.
You say in your letter that you use 50 pounds less on the calf machine than you normally use for 12 repetitions. At one time in my training I did 10 sets of 10 reps on calves for a whole year and didn’t gain even an eighth of an inch on them.
I’m not discounting the 10 sets of 10 reps, which I call the ‘forgotten routine, ” but for the calves it wasn’t until I jumped the rep scheme to 20 that I started seeing results in terms of muscle growth. I have gone up to 30 or so reps on calves when I have been training for something special.
I am going to assume that you have access to a commercial gym or a well-equipped home gym which includes a hack squat machine, a seated calf machine and a vertical leg press unit. These pieces of equipment will be very important in the structuring of your calf-building routine.
The exercises that I advise you to use are the donkey calf raise (stand on a 4-6″-high calf block about 24″ away from a three foot-high exercise bench or table), hack slide calf raise, seated heel raise and the Reeves toe press (done on a vertical leg press machine, with the glutes in front of the platform; hands on slightly bent knees; keep heels in and drive off with big toe and second toe).
On the first day of your calf routine choose three of the above exercises and do them in triset fashion to build up the calf muscles as quickly aspossible and as well add necessary shape. Do the three exercises one after another for three sets of 20 reps each. After this workout rest the calves for three days.
Then choose two exercises for the calves, say perhaps, donkeys and the seated heel raise. Do these in superset fashion for three sets of 35 unhurried reps. Again rest for three days.
O.K., now pump your brains out by doing just one set of an exercise like the Howorth heel raise, which is almost like a standing calf raise except that you stand back on a calf block which is 16″ from the shoulder unit. Your body should be angled about 80 degrees. Do heel raises nonstop for one minute.
Work up to five minutes of nonstop calf raises over the next few workouts. Since the range of motion is so short compared to a long-range movement, you are going to be able to perform a heck of a lot of repetitions, especially when you hit the five-minute mark.
On this exercise your feet should be parallel to each other and four inches apart. Push up on the big toe area or the ball of the foot.