Calves are usually stubborn muscles that refuse to grow up. It doesn’t help that ‘leg day’ is the most dreaded day in anyone’s workout. In order to respond to training, calves need to be properly trained 3 times a week. And properly means with load, intensity and volume.
It’s important to strengthen your calves in order to build better stability and increase your speed. Think that this muscles supports a lot of your body weight so it shouldn’t be neglected. For stronger calves, focus on and target the gastrocnemius muscle and the soleus. The gastroc gives the calf a more rounded shape, while the soleus is the longer muscle running right underneath it, giving it a longer, flatter shape.
To strengthen these muscles, make sure you first protect against strains and post workout pain. For this, consider wearing calf sleeves. Wearing calf sleeves keeps the muscle warm against strains, it reduces fatigue and soreness during and post-workout, and it provides support to the calf and shin.
SEATED CALF RAISE
This is an isolated strength exercise that puts a greater emphasis on the soleus, which consists of more slow twitch muscle fibers. Because of this, it is recommended to perform higher reps with this exercise.
- You will need a bench. Sit with your feet flat on the floor.
- Flex your calves as high as you can.
- Hold the load on the calves before returning to starting position.
- Return to starting position.
We recommend 3 sets of 15 reps without rest.
You can also do this exercise with a lever for a greater load on the calf, but it is recommended as a more advanced movement, after mastering the seated calf raise without weights.
There is more than one way to jump rope for great calves. Jumping rope is a great exercise for your your calves and quads, and it goes easy on your joints, ankles and knees especially. This exercise burns a lot of calories in a short time and it builds calf strength, power, and definition. For more additional benefits of jumping rope, see our 5 Benefits of Jumping Rope You Didn't Think About!
The Basic Jump is an exercise easy to do, you are most likely acquainted if not familiar with it and you can do it for longer intervals of time.
- Hold and adjust the rope to your height.
- Keeping a straight back and without breaking your form, jump with both feet.
- Twist your wrists as you jump, so that the rope is in sync with the jump.
- Repeat for as many intervals as you can.
DONKEY CALF RAISES
Other exercises that can be really fun and great for calves are DCRs. Traditionally, they are performed with someone sitting on your lower back, but there are many variations of it including the use of weights or the Smith Machine.
- For this exercise you will need a step or something rather stable to hang on to.
- Stand on the edge of the step with the balls of your feet.
- Bend over and hold onto a bench. This is where someone could join in and stand on your back for additional weight. Now let your heels drop as low as you can.
- Raise your heels with a slow tempo as high as you can and keep the loaded.
- Keeping the load, hold and squeeze the calves.
- Slowly return to the starting position.
These are 3 very simple exercises that you can add to your training sessions. It looks quite simple, right? Well, training calves 3 times a week doesn’t necessarily mean that you train them for the entire session. You need to make sure you add at least 15-25 minutes of calf training into your leg day, or any other day you think it is appropriate for you.
Many people say ‘genetics’ is why they can’t grow nicely shaped calves, but there is no such thing as ‘calf genetics’, is it? Of course there isn’t. As with any other diet, workout, overall lifestyle, genetics does play an important role, but this is not the case. Calves are stubborn muscles to anyone trying to train them, not just to an unlucky few. So that should cheer you up a bit!We recommend you watch Crossrope's 7 Jump Rope Skills to Build Great Calves for inspiration on how to develop your jump rope routine. It can be quite fun and challenging at the same time. Those calves will eventually grow on you and you’ll be a better athlete because of it! What do you think? Are these exercises easy to incorporate into your training sessions?