Many men wish they could have bigger calves, and blame it on the fact that they did not get lucky in the gene pool. The following tips will show you how to attain solid, well-defined calf muscles, without having to spend extra time at the gym.
Watch Time under Tension
Rather than simply counting the number of repetitions, look at the time under tension. For example, you can perform 10 reps holding each rep for 5 seconds, or perform 50 reps holding each rep for 1 second. In both scenarios, your time under tension is 50 seconds. Therefore, start with a certain time under tension, say 30 seconds, and then increase the total time under tension per set as your calves get stronger. The recommended time under tension is between 30 to 60 seconds per set.
Calf raises can be done standing on two feet, standing on one foot, or off a raised platform. Regardless of which exercise you choose, make sure that you are pausing for 3 to 5 seconds when you are on your tippy toes for at least one of your exercises. If done properly, you won’t need to do more than 10 to 20 reps per set. Do 3 to 6 sets of 1 to 2 exercises, depending on how strong your calves are already, 3 times per week. For those more worried about adding definition rather than size, the jump rope is recommended. Simply use it for 15 minutes 2 to 3 times a week and you will notice your calves getting more defined.
Mix it Up
Feel free to vary the speed of your calf raises for different exercises. For example, perform one exercise holding each rep for 5 seconds, and then perform your second exercise holding each rep for 1 second. This will keep your calves guessing and stimulate growth. Just make sure you are watching the total time under tension.
Work Your Calves in-between Sets
Going to the gym and spending 30 minutes working out calves is time-consuming, and takes away from time that should be used to train major muscles like back, legs, and chest. Therefore, a good time to work out calves is during your rest periods. For example, after a set of barbell rows, immediately transition into standing calf raises. Give yourself another 30 to 60 seconds rest and then perform your next set of barbell rows, and so on. This maximizes your time in the gym and doesn’t force you to go to the gym just to work on calves. In fact, one can have a solid calf workout at home using the stairs.
Work Out Your Legs
Performing leg exercises like squats and leg press will aid in making your calves bigger. As you increase the load that you squat or leg press, your leg muscles will have to work harder, and that includes your calves. As you increase the amount of weight over time, your muscles will be forced to grow bigger and stronger in order to support the heavier load.
Stretch in-between Sets
It is important to stretch your calves for 15 to 20 seconds after each set of a calf exercise. Also stretch at the very beginning, before you have performed any calf exercises. When holding each rep for 3 to 5 seconds, your calves will get very sore and tight. Thus, it is important to be constantly stretching them.
Last but certainly not least, minimal results will be achieved if you don’t perform the exercises consistently, meaning 2 to 4 times per week, depending on your current fitness level. In other words, your results will suffer if you miss workouts. It is not recommended that you work out calves two days in a row; always give yourself at least one day rest to give the muscles time to heal and grow.