There are several ways to build a great set of strong, breathtaking, cancer-curing calves. Sadly, none of them come easy. I will outline the methods I know of as well as my personal method used to build some great calves. My calves have single-calvedly landed me a job at local hospitals to cure ailing patients when traditional medicine is ineffective. All true.
The first thing I want you to do is travel back in time and make sure your parents are going to give you the genetics needed to accomplish this task. If they are unable to do so, choose different parents.
Genetics are not required to build aesthetically pleasing calves, but they will put you about 5 years ahead of the game.
If you can’t go back in time to do this, or choose your parents, I suggest adding at least 60lb. of mass to your frame as fast as possible. The more the better. This will most likely be in the form of fat. That’s ok for the purpose of growing calves.
Once you’re at a hefty weight, carry it around for a minimum of 10 years, and then lose it all to get down to about 10% bodyfat. I have not seen a single person that went through a massive body composition change (read: huge weightloss) that didn’t have amazing calves. There’s gotta be something to that method. Results prove its effectiveness.
Synthol, D-bol, HGH, and implants.
All joking aside, I’m just joking. I do not recommend this route.
Realistically, growing calves takes a lot of work unless you’re genetically inclined. I’d say that my skinny-fat heritage doesn’t help me, but for some strange reason, all the men on my dad’s side of the family have pretty decent calves. I don’t get it, but I’m not complaining.
Just like every other muscle in your body, your calves have two different muscle types: Type I and Type II (there are subsets of Type II, but let’s just keep this simple, mkay?). Type I are what most of us know as “slow-twitch”. They are the primary muscle fiber used for walking, running long distances, and any other type of lower body movement lasting more than 1 minute. Type I fibers are usually more abundant than Type II, but are also “smaller”. If you want big calves, you need to target the Type II, “fast-twitch” fibers.
Type II fibers utilize the phosphogen energy system and into the beginning stages of the glycolytic energy system. The phosphogen energy system can only supply energy to the muscle fibers for about 10 sec. Think of this as a shot of NOS for your rice burner race car. After 10 sec., your energy system transitions to the glycolytic system. This can supply energy for around 2 minutes. This would be the residule speed you gained by using your NOS. After you have deccelerated back down to cruising speed, you are back to using the oxidative energy system and your Type I fibers. This is just your run-o-the-mill gas. This is why you see a majority of endurance athletes with small (but very lean) calves.
Now, with this knowledge, you can start to piece together what types of movements you should be performing to target those specific muslce fibers.
Editor’s note (that’s me): Bench press will not directly help you grow calves.
Endless calve raises probably won’t work. Endless running will most likely not work. Wait, let me say that differently. They will not work quickly or effectively. They will work as long as you can continually overload the muscle in terms of volume, intensity, and/or density, but they are not the path to the quickest results. Why? Because they move submaximal weight slowly for longer than needed amounts of time.
The quickest results will happen when you focus on big, “heavy”, *fast*, *explosive* movements. Here’s a list of movements that fit exactly in that category:
Sprints lasting 15 sec. or less
Olympic Lifts and their many sub-movements
Standing Long Jumps
You get the idea…
Editor’s note (that’s still me): If you focus on these movements, you will assuredly grow an amazing ass to go along with your new amazing calves. Remember this if you’re trying to grow some junk in your trunk.
You’ll notice that there is no isolation work there or anything that should last longer than 15 sec. When I say “heavy”, I mean “heavy for you” and for only 1 or 2 reps per set. If you’re not used to handling weight that heavy, safely, I suggest gradually working towards it. Meaning, if you’ve only done sets of 8-12 reps for the past 6 years, adding 100lb.+ to the squat bar may not be such a great idea for your first time out. Just be smart, mkay?
My Personal Story
Along with mysterious genetics, I did all of the things I mentioned above for no less than 10 years. I was a 3 sport athlete starting from junior high through high school. My sports were primarily football, basketball, and track. That’s a shit load (not a shit ton) of sprinting, bounding, and jumping. I played some football in college too, continuing in the theme of sprinting, bounding, and jumping. So, not only were the sports highly “specialized” for calf development but so was the training involved at getting better in those sports.
You are now armed with the high-level science behind Type II hypertrophy, a sample of movements you can use to achieve said Type II hypertrophy, and a sample of movements you may want to avoid ifR your goal is large, heart-shaped calves. There is no reason you can’t get started today. You don’t need a time machine, and you don’t need to gain 100lb. You simply need to train smarter and train specifically for this goal.
From my calves to yours, I wish you the best of luck.
Don’t Miss Your Chance
I was stuck in Corporate America for 9 years. I was miserable.
Then I took control.
You can too, and it starts right here.
How about doing all cardio with a 100# weight best? Simulated obesity!
My formula for back when my calves were rockin’ (they ain’t bad now, but they could be a lot better again…damn getting out of condition…)…
Anywho…Start with a little bit of peasant European stock…apparently we build leg muscle well.
Go to college- DO NOT live on a ground floor or an apartment. Instead, live on the 7th floor or higher in a dorm. Get in an engineering program, which will ensure that daily you will carry a physics book, organic chem, three engineering books and a calculus book, often at the same time, in the same backpack (and these days a laptop…I now feel old). While carrying this mess, take the stairs. All-the-time. Even when late for class and needing to get that report you left behind. Even if you are wearing heavy winter clothes and boots. Learn to run up and down them. Take them 2 or more at a time, several times a day.
This will result in awe inspiring calves… and a hatred of stairs, and possibly organic chemistry texts.
Granted, that’s not a very sustainable exercise program. I mean, you have to graduate sometime. Or I did anyway.
And my calves have paid the price. Thanks for the ideas on how to get them back in shape!
Try single leg db hops for calves. They add on top the deceleration of the ankle joint during a jump.