Senin, 14 Maret 2016

Get Bigger Calve Muscles


Calves seem to be what I call a gene-muscle. Some people have it and others dont, even though both parties could be working just as hard on them routinely. Unfortunately, the size that your calves can grow in proportion to the rest of your body is largely predetermined to luck-of-the-draw genetics. But dont lose hope, there are still ways to get them show-ready and larger than life with smart lifting and a few changes to your work-out routine.

Treat Your Calves like Any Other Muscle Group

Firstly, the calves should be treated like any other muscle group. You want to increase the fast-twitch part of the muscle (the part that will show the most size) and have more fast-twitch muscle (responsible for low reps, more weight) than slow-twitch muscle fibers (they dont have much size, and are responsible for less weight but higher endurance). If you are working your calves every day, you are not working them hard enough per session (not enough to cause delayed onset muscle soreness) and you are not giving them enough rest to grow and improve for the next workout. You can grow the size of your calves the same way you do with chest and back muscles.

Are You Working Them Hard Enough?

If you train your chest to failure, why are you not training your calves to failure? Calves are harder to train to failure because you will initially have a larger portion of slow twitch muscle fibers, from being repetitively used in low-intensity, high endurance movements like walking and running which we all do a lot of in life. 
This means that when you do exercises that recruit fast twitch fibers like calve raises, your higher percentage of slow-twitch muscle fibers releases more lactic acid as a response (you feel a burn in your calves before you reach failure). Every time you work your calves, work past the burn until they start to fail and you cant move the weight on them. Once you are failing to execute full reps on them, you are reaching failure. In order to start increasing the fast twitch fibers in your calves, you need to get used to working your calves to failure every time you work them. This will take some time to get used to because your calves are naturally inclined to burn and make you stop BEFORE they fail as a survival mechanism. As a rule in survival, your calves are programmed to never fail, because reaching failure means that you would not be able to get away from dangers (like animals in the wild). 
Once you have reached failure, try do a few forced reps (with as much of the full rep movement as you can) because calve muscles are also programmed to recover as quickly as possible to ensure your natural mobility and therefore survival. From the beginning of your movement, make sure that you complete full movements of your reps. Try starting with your heels as low as feels naturally possible and then lift them as high as you can, you should be struggling to get your heels as high up as possible with each rep, meaning that you almost pause for a second at the top of each movement trying to reach your highest point possible. 
Dont rush through your movements as this would be your natural instinct to recruit slow twitch fibers by turning it into an almost cardio like movement. But just like when you work your other muscle groups, it is about increasing strength and size, not speed. The slower you go the more it burns. The more you work through the burn, the closer you get to failure. The more you cause your calves to fail, the more they are forced to grow through fast twitch muscle fibers, the ones we want, that increase size.

Use a Rep Range Lower

You bench at a range of 8-12, right? Then why are you doing calf raises in the 15-20 rep range? Because it is easier to use the fast twitch muscles in our chest and it is easier to use the slow twitch fibers on our calves. Using heavier weight and failing on lower reps just feels wrong on your calves because they are not designed to do so, but the whole point of this is to grow your calves past what they are naturally inclined to grow and have their size proportional to the rest of your muscle gains. Do this this, put them on the same regimen as the rest of your body, whether if feels comfortable or not. Make sure to reach a point of failure and do a few reps of forced reps after that with each set as well, as mentioned above. Get used to using a lower rep range, and then alternate between rep ranges every few weeks to keep them on their toes (pun intended).

Muscle Confusion

Your calves will get used to their exercises very quickly, because they are naturally essential to our primal survival as our means of mobility in nature. Counter measure? Use calve exercises until they reach a plateau and then change the exercise to keep them growing. The change could be something simple like swapping the standard standing calve raise machine for standing dumbbell raises on a step, to using a barbell on your shoulders, to doing raises on the flat ground, to changing rep ranges. You should be changing your calf exercises more regularly then other muscle groups because of the fact that they adapt so quickly.

Different Exercises for Different Goals

Different calf exercises will affect the calf muscles differently, so be sure to do a mixture of exercises to grow the different parts of the calf evenly.

Standing calve exercises (straight knee) will stimulate the gastrocnemius more. This is the part of the calve that looks like a tennis ball at the back of your calve and gives the calve the shape and definition which looks very aesthetic.

Seated calve exercises (bent knee) help to widen your calves and add bulk, which is important to keep your calves in proportion with the rest of your body.

Lifting you toes while keeping your heels on the ground under a weight will increase the size of the front part of the lower leg. These are the muscles that are closest to your shin. You can do this by holding a dumbbell or kettlebell on your toes with your hands whilst lifting your toes and balancing your heels on the ground, or a step for a greater range of motion.

Was this helpful? Let us know in the comments below. Stay Strong!

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