Everything You Need To Know About Growing Your Calves

3 min read

Everything You Need To Know About Growing Your Calves

The Calf muscle is made up of two main muscles (refer to the image above), the Gastrocnemius and the Soleus.

The Gastrocnemius is the larger calf muscle, forming the big bulge. The Soleus is a smaller muscle that lies underneath the Gastrocnemius muscle. Together they join at the Achilles’ tendon, which in turn attaches to your Heel.

The function of the Calf muscles is to raise the Heel as you extend (point) your foot. These muscles are therefore activated every time you walk, run, or jump.

The Gastrocnemius attaches to the back of the heel via the Achilles' tendon and also crosses the knee joint to attach to the back of the Femur, meaning it can move both the Ankle and Knee joints.
  • It's method of action on the Knee joint is Knee flexion, such as when you do a Leg Curl.
  • It's action on the Ankle is Plantar flexion (pointing the toes downward), such as when you perform Calf Raises.
The other main muscle that makes up the Calves is the Soleus, like the Gastrocnemius it attaches to the back of the heel via the Achilles' tendon.

While the Soleus is less prominent, it is a strong and important postural muscle for your lower leg. The action of Soleus is to Plantarflex the foot (pointing the toes downward).

Typically most people find themselves disappointed with their Calves and it's quite unfortunate as we use our Calf muscles in most daily movements such as walking, running, and jumping, plus let's not forget about the amount of time we focus on them at the gym.

Since we use them so often, the question is: why are they not growing?

Keep reading, as below I am going to share with you some useful tips for your Calf training to help you grow and develop your Calves.

(These tips are for more intermediate and advance individuals)

  • If you want to maintain your Calves you should aim to hit at least 8 direct Calf focussed sets per week. Any less then this and you're likely to revert on your progress.

    If you want growth, you should aim for 12-16 working sets per week.  

    Calf focussed exercises include: Donkey Calf Raises, Standing Calf Raise on machine, Leg Press Calf Raises and Smith-machine Calf Raises just to name a few.

  • Depending on how your Calves respond to the training volume, you can split up your Calf training ideally over 2-3 sessions per week, as they are known to recover quickly.

  • Training intensity of usually between 60-70% of your 1 rep max is ideal for most individuals.

  • You need to train them at their full range of motion for it to work them effectively, so don’t increase the intensity if you can’t get that full stretch.

    Range of motion is absolutely critical for results. For the best growth is in the painful stretch at the bottom, and the full contraction at the top. It’s best to hold these two positions for a split second upon each rep.

  • Tight Calves will restrict the range of motion and inhibit growth. Stretch your Calves often and frequently to increase blood flow and lessen the chance of tightness and injury. This is critical if you want your Calves to grow.

Most people argue that calf size is almost completely genetically determined, and there is some truth to this, however there is still hope! All muscles have the potential to grow, but for growth to happen consistency and hard work is vital.

Start with these tips and keep at it, and work hard. Remember, small gains at any one time can become huge gains over the long term.

Thanks for reading.


Co-founder, Freak Athletiq

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