Struggling to grow your calves? Make these exercises part of your routine
Calves can be a difficult muscle group to grow, if you aren't genetically blessed in that area.
Despite how much power they provide you with, many guys view training for the quads, glutes, hamstrings and calves as secondary to the upper body.
If your leg day needs a revamp or your calf training efforts are falling short, our guide to the best calf exercises will bring about new results.
The best gym exercises for calves
- This is performed on a leg press machine, but your foot placement should be much lower and focussed on the toes
- You'll be driving through your toes rather than the heel of your foot. This places a unique emphasis on the calf muscle
- Focus on keeping your reps slow and controlled
- This maximises time-under-tension on the target muscle and also minimises the risk of an Achilles injury, which can put you out of action for months.
- Stand directly underneath the shoulder pads of the machine
- The front part of your feet should be placed on the edge of the foot platform
- Squeeze your calves and initiate the upwards movement through this muscle
- Hold at the top portion of the lift for 1-2 seconds (on your tip toes)
Dumbbell Calf Raise
You can grow your calves with the dumbbell raise, as performed in the below by Tiger Fitness' Marc Lobliner:
If the calf raise machine is being used, you can still gain the same benefits by performing the same movement sat on a bench with dumbbells.
- Place the dumbbells on the midpoint of your thigh
- Elevate the front portion of your feet onto a weight plate
- Slowly lower, dropping your heels as low as possible to ensure a constant stretch occurs in the calves
A few things to remember:
- Calves are a muscle group particularly responsive to negative reps, i.e. the lowering portion of a lift. It may be that you have to supplement these exercises with heavy, partial reps focussing on the eccentric part of a lift
- All muscle groups need to be trained frequently - roughly every two to three days. Your calves are no different