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Calf Building Tips
How to Build Big Calves Fast
Don't let your calves be ignored and underdeveloped.
How many of you rush into the gym with the idea that, "it's calf day!... I can't wait to start bombing them first..."?. From the feedback we've received, not many of you prioritize your calf training very highly, yet you all complain that they're not growing and still too puny. We've often said that a great pair of calves, even with smaller thighs, makes your lower body look awesome. And in many climates, such as sunny Southern California's, you can wear shorts most of the year and show them off all day long. Here are some tips to get your calves growing again (or maybe for the first time).
The calf area includes ten separate muscles. The largest and most well known is the gastrocnemius, which forms the diamond-like shape in the upper and middle regions of the lower leg. The "gastrocs" have a lateral and medial head which both serve to plantar flex the foot (raise the heel). Because of the way the gastrocs attach to the knee and Achilles tendon, it is essential to perform standing heel raises (aka toe raises) with your knees straight and locked, to maximally activate this muscle. So, if you've been bending your knees in middle of the movement to give yourself a little "boost", you've been short-changing yourself considerably. The key to good calf training is
in the details.
When performing standing. heel raises, be sure to keep the knees completely locked straight. Use a full deliberate range of motion, squeezing at the top of the movement and dropping the heels all the way down at the bottom of the movement. If your knees are locked out, you should not be able to bounce your heels off the floor. This is dangerous and can damage the Achilles tendon. If you've been using a ton of weight and just wailing away at the stack, you're going to have to adjust your perspective.
The next important muscle to train is the soleus. It is the long muscle, which attaches at the knee joint and heel and lies underneath the gastrocnemius. Developing the soleus will make your calves appear bigger and flare out at the sides. Because of its particular attachments, the soleus can most effectively be trained with the knees bent. This is where the seated calf machine comes into good use. The same performance techniques, as with the standing calf raise, applies. Unlike other muscle groups, mid range contractions do not work well for stimulating calf growth.
Since the calves have only one major blood supply, there is a greater tendency for muscle fatigue, muscle cramps and lactic acid build-up. That's why so many people quit before reaching failure on their calf exercises. To experience rapid growth you must be willing to take your calves to total failure. Not kind of, but until the burning is unbearable. Stretching between sets will control the cramping and bring in new blood, helping to eliminate some of the lactic acid. You must also include a straight knee and bent knee calf exercises, like the standing calf raise and seated calf raise on a regular basis. Finally, if good calves are #1 on your wish list, train them first in your workout when your motivation is highest and your body strongest. Training calves first will never fatigue or hinder exercising your large muscle groups and serves as a good warm-up for the rest of your body.
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