Let's be honest: my calves suck. And let's be honest: your calves suck too. That's why you're reading this post. Read on if you want big calves within 5 minutes!
You wish, sucker. This ain't T-Nation.
The following tips won't turn calves into cows within 5 minutes but at least you're off to a good start and they can turn into something incredible over months/years. Everything starts with execution. And perfect execution is based on a sound understanding of anatomy.
Just like your wrist your foot can pronate and supinate. Pronation means you collapse the arc in your foot, trying to get as flat footed as possible. Supination is the exact opposite meaning you try to get your arc as high as possible.
We want pronation at all times when performing calf raises. Before you raise your heel, make sure you intentionally load your inner foot by collapsing the arc in your foot (supination). As you raise up, focus on the ball of your big toe. Forget you have other toes when you do calf raises and push into the ground hard with the ball of your big toe. When you reach the top, think of your heels being pulled together by a string. Don't let your feet drift apart (right video). This takes all the tension off the gastrocnemius and you're participating in foot gymnastics - not what gets you big calves. The wrong execution is also highly likely to cause foot pain.
As you can see in the video, wrong technique uses supination/inversion.At the top of the calf raise your feet look like this: \ /
Correct technique uses pronation/eversion of your foot.At the top of the calf raise your feet look like this: | |
Squeeze the living crap out of your calves at the top. If the peak contraction doesn't feel like your calves are about to cramp, you're doing it wrong. In that case, go back to the beginning of the post and pay attention this time. If you're new to all of this, repeat slow reps (both up and down) and focus on collapsing the arc and raising up on your big toe. Practice this a lot. You have to be precise with every rep. Don't fuck around and put all your focus into every rep.
And stop loading up the machine. You've been bouncing around for years with ridiculous weight on your shoulders yet your calves are stork-like. Stop and think for a moment. The only thing that gets a stimulus from bouncing is your achilles tendon - which is already stronger than the rest of your body.
Calves can handle an insane amount of work due to being used to it by keeping us upright all day. Therefore you can train harder than any other muscle group. 3 times a week is the minimum if they suck, ideally train them every day. Only take a break when your feet start to hurt. Rep ranges for calves: all of them. I'm serious.
One more thing: to learn technique properly start off by doing your calf raises on the floor. Don't use a standing calf raise machine or seated calf raise machine as the stretch component makes it trickier to focus on what matters in the beginning. In the video I'm doing calf raises in a smith machine and I suggest you do the same. Or start with bodyweight only. Pause on the ground after every rep and go through the entire process again.