Some say that legs are one of the most underworked, undeveloped, and unappreciated body parts on the male physique. Which is a big reason for the popular saying: Thou shalt never skip leg day. But when a guy thinks legs, he tends to pay the most attention to the upper thighs. And yeah, don’t get us wrong- we get it. The quads and hamstrings are massive, large muscles that are not only impressive to build, but equally impressive to train. But with that said, out of all the muscles that accompany the leg it is the calf that is the unsung hero of the best athletes and award-winning bodybuilders.
A well-built set of calves will help you run faster, jump longer, turn better, and stop quicker. Your calves are the initiators of propelling the blood back towards the heart. In many circles, the calf muscles are actually called the “peripheral heart” considering how important their action is to get your blood back to where it needs to go. Strong calves are also way less prone to being injured, especially when it comes to the Achilles tendon.
To say that strong calf muscles are essential to your health and fitness is an understatement – and with that in mind, we’d like to help you build an impressive pair – and you can do it using only two essential movements.
Standing Calf Raise
Practically every gym owns a standing calf machine, but just because you do this movement once a week, doesn’t mean that you are doing your calves justice. The calves respond well to heavy weight. About as heavy as you can just barely get 10 reps accomplished using good form. And calves are also very used to abuse, so they respond well to a good beating, which in this circumstance equates to lots of reps. At least 50 by our calculations.
Our favorite way to do calves is to choose a weight that barely lets us pump out 10 reps and then hit them set after set with the goal to reach 50 reps, taking a 45 -second rest in between. The idea is to pummel the calves until you can barely get off the machine. So obviously if you find yourself finishing the movement in four sets or less, this means that it is time to increase the weight by an extra 20 to 30 pounds.
Seated Calf Raise
Switching between standing and seated calf machine involves more reason than just spicing up an otherwise boring activity. It is about hitting the muscle from every angle to ensure that your calves are full and round. In fact, the only way to effectively train the side of the calf muscle is to do it seated. For proper form make sure that your knees are bent at 90 degrees, your butt is flat in the center of the seat, and ensure that 10 reps are not an easy task to complete.
This exercise is carried out in the exact same fashion at the standing calf raise. The goal is to reach 50 reps using however many sets it takes, but if it takes less than four, then it’s time to increase the weight. These are obviously not the only movements in the game of building great calves, but they are the essential ones to better overall health, higher performance, and a well-rounded appearance.