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  • Your Best Calve Routines

    I'm back! Sorry folks, I've been busy as heck lately, but I'm going to try to be more active on the site. So I'd like to discuss calve training. I started off with extremely weak calves. Unfortunately, my genetic pool was not one of the best. For instance, my Dad once placed first in a "knobby knee" contest. Not a good win if your talking about leg development. With that in mind I always attacked my legs at the beginning of the week. My upper legs grew and eventually became a strong body part, but my calves still lagged behind. Although my calves may never be considered huge I eventually found a few workouts and principles that improved the size of my calves. Here they are:

    Workouts


    1. DC Calve Training- It's been repeated hundreds of times, but here is-On each rep you explode up to the top position, hold it there for a sec, then a 5 sec negative, then you hold it the bottom stretched position for 15 secs. That's ONE rep. Do one set of 12-15 reps.

    Everyone, including myself at one point seems to want to alter this protocol. Just do a Google search and you'll see everyone thinks they know better. If there are any tweaks to be made I'd only take them from the man himself. Here was a past response from Dante in regards to tweaks that he makes in the routine that I found helpful:

    "my first tweaks for people are this

    a) i fool around with exercises that i think might work for them better after looking at their calves
    b) drop the stretch hold to 2 secs to maybe a max of 5 secs (do that alot with really large guys who i know have been doing it correctly allready)
    c) when i say 2 secs i mean like on something like a standing calf raise (2 secs in the stretch position)
    d) rest pause it for 15 sometimes but mostly 20-30 reps"

    2. Equal Cadence with rest pauses- Pick a different exercise each workout. 3 workouts a week. Do a 5 sec negative, 5 second pause in the contracted position, and a 5 second stretch. Explode on the positive. Do this to failure for 10 reps or so, then take 5 deep breaths and go to failure again. Do 2 sets of this.

    3. Stretch Overload Training- I stole this from Pastor Pump, and I may have butchered it, but the idea is to do one legged calve raises with a much heavier weight than your used to. Do as many full reps as you can. After a few reps if you can't get the weight all the way in the contracted position that is fine, but you must work the stretched position. Think of it this way you walk on your calves all day long and work the contracted position, but how often are you working the stretched position. Working the bottom of the movement with a weight you are not used to will give your calves a unique stimulus. You can do this on each calve back and forth until you are in the single digits. Then jump on with both legs and nail out a set to failure.

    4. Century Set- I got this one from Parrillo. Basically you would add in a workout from time to time of 100's using the seated calve machine. You will want a training partner to assist as you may need forced reps to reach your goal. Just like the others these are a killer.

    5. 200 Rep Calves- Recently I've been doing a very basic routine. I keep total volume between 120 and 200 reps 3 times a week. I employ the use of partials from the start. The key to these has been doing a different exercise each time, switching from unilateral training to both legs, and working the stretched position. I will do 30-50 reps per set. In general the 30 rep sets are done with one leg at a time.

    6. 10+10+10 protocol- These are done by doing a heavy set of 10, then "resting" in the stretched position for 10, then doing 10 partials, "resting" again for 10, then a final 10 partials, and a final 10 second stretch. When I do these I will do 3 sets in this fashion.

    7. Dorsiflexion- Not an protocol, but an exercise. I started using these when I was doing Mountain Dog Training, and loved it. I can't speak higher about some of the things I've learned from John and this is no exception. I continue to add these in to my calve training. They don't necessarily give you huge size increases, but give you a more three dimensional look from the front. I'll do 30-50 between sets of standard calve raises either using a band or the hammer strength tibia machine.

    Again, I don't have Matarazzo calves or anything, but I have seen size improvements. I don't necessarily think one of these protocols is better than the other and I don't think there is a "magic" program, but there are programs that work and ones that don't. I think the real key is consistency and hard work and if you do any of these workout like they are meant you will have to work hard.

    If you have any comments or other protocols you'd like to add chime in.
    1994 Ohio Gran Prix 4th place
    2010 Kentucky State Championships 1st place
    2011 Northern Kentucky 4th place
    2012 Kentucky Grand Prix 1st place
    2014 Francois Classic 3rd place
    2015 Francois Classic 2nd Place

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  • #2
    Thank you! I have fallen in love with training calves and getting them bigger (which is very hard) and I will definitely give some tot these a try! Thank you!

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    • #3
      Dont forget DCs calf/cardio routine. (the 15degree incline treadmill exercise).

      I have naturally good calves but my outer heads were always a weaker point! I have only been doing the above for the last month and the size and shape in the outer diamond is already noticeable!!! (really sorry but i can find the link right now as im on my phone)

      Stew
      Some people are so afraid of dying they never actually start living.

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      • #4
        Great suggestion anabolic2k. I have not done those yet, but may throw them in once cardio is necessary in my current prep. It reminds me of those old calve training shoes...Damn now I'm dating myself.
        1994 Ohio Gran Prix 4th place
        2010 Kentucky State Championships 1st place
        2011 Northern Kentucky 4th place
        2012 Kentucky Grand Prix 1st place
        2014 Francois Classic 3rd place
        2015 Francois Classic 2nd Place

        Truenutrition.com
        Use Discount Code AMJ

        Comment


        • #5
          Do you wear shoes while you do calves or do you take them off?

          Originally posted by Doberman View Post
          Great suggestion anabolic2k. I have not done those yet, but may throw them in once cardio is necessary in my current prep. It reminds me of those old calve training shoes...Damn now I'm dating myself.

          Comment


          • #6
            I do not like barefoot with heavy weights. On the other hand I do like to do barefoot if im doing high reps with bodyweight on off days of heavy training to pump blood into the muscle. You will often hear this as another way to increase the size of the calve. barefoot and heavy weight equals pain for me at least.
            1994 Ohio Gran Prix 4th place
            2010 Kentucky State Championships 1st place
            2011 Northern Kentucky 4th place
            2012 Kentucky Grand Prix 1st place
            2014 Francois Classic 3rd place
            2015 Francois Classic 2nd Place

            Truenutrition.com
            Use Discount Code AMJ

            Comment


            • #7
              I have been doing barefoot for a while now. I think it has led to a change in the look of my calves but not necessarily size. However after talking with Skip about calves and my form I have to agree with you on the heavy part. I was doing standing calf raise machine and with just socks and I would slip back and forth and would try to dig my heels down far to the ground as they could go (my toes would come off a bit) but it was hard. I am thinking my new balance vibram soles will help me maintain a good grip the the deep stretch and contracted position while not slipping. The shoes are also flat and great for leg day. I will give that a try. Thank you.

              If you don't mind me asking which one of these methods are your currently using.


              Originally posted by Doberman View Post
              I do not like barefoot with heavy weights. On the other hand I do like to do barefoot if im doing high reps with bodyweight on off days of heavy training to pump blood into the muscle. You will often hear this as another way to increase the size of the calve. barefoot and heavy weight equals pain for me at least.

              Comment


              • #8
                Right now I'm switching exercises every workout. One workout it may be standing calves, the next it may be leg press, and sometimes it may be one leg at a time. Infrequently I will do seated calves, but for the most part it consists of standing and leg press. I do sets of 30-50 for 3-4 sets. When doing one legged calve raises it tends to be 3 sets of 30. When I do both legs it is almost always 4x50. The important factor is that I will use as much weight as possible. On standing calves I do the entire stack. I also don't stop when I can't get full reps. When I am not able to get all the way up I continue in the stretched position and do partials to finish out the set. This takes some getting used to and can be quite painful. If you calves don't cramp up then try to go faster and don't pause. This seemed to help me feel the movement better. I started out having trouble doing 15 reps, but now I'm at 50 and may be pinning weight soon. We also throw in #6 from time to time. When I do seated calves it is on my own and I will do the 4 sets of 30 to 50 and increase the weight on each set, or I may do a strip set, or a Parillo style set. Basically, I will push hard and heavy for a quite a while. Every now and then I will go light and work full range lighter reps with a squeeze at the top and a stretch at the bottom to give the heavy weight a break and kind of get back in touch with my mind muscle connection. By doing this I have progressed with my weights and still felt the muscle get worked. In the past when I progressed with weight I didn't feel my calves feel the movement. I think this is because I went heavy, but I stopped at 12 reps or so. When you push past it with partials you get every last fiber.
                1994 Ohio Gran Prix 4th place
                2010 Kentucky State Championships 1st place
                2011 Northern Kentucky 4th place
                2012 Kentucky Grand Prix 1st place
                2014 Francois Classic 3rd place
                2015 Francois Classic 2nd Place

                Truenutrition.com
                Use Discount Code AMJ

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                • #9
                  I also train past failure, and push regardless if I move an inch or whatever.

                  Any reason your rep ranges are so high? It seems some
                  Approach it with higher repetitions however others hit the gastroc with heavy weight of let's say 8-12 reps.

                  Thanks for the info, good stuff.

                  Originally posted by Doberman View Post
                  Right now I'm switching exercises every workout. One workout it may be standing calves, the next it may be leg press, and sometimes it may be one leg at a time. Infrequently I will do seated calves, but for the most part it consists of standing and leg press. I do sets of 30-50 for 3-4 sets. When doing one legged calve raises it tends to be 3 sets of 30. When I do both legs it is almost always 4x50. The important factor is that I will use as much weight as possible. On standing calves I do the entire stack. I also don't stop when I can't get full reps. When I am not able to get all the way up I continue in the stretched position and do partials to finish out the set. This takes some getting used to and can be quite painful. If you calves don't cramp up then try to go faster and don't pause. This seemed to help me feel the movement better. I started out having trouble doing 15 reps, but now I'm at 50 and may be pinning weight soon. We also throw in #6 from time to time. When I do seated calves it is on my own and I will do the 4 sets of 30 to 50 and increase the weight on each set, or I may do a strip set, or a Parillo style set. Basically, I will push hard and heavy for a quite a while. Every now and then I will go light and work full range lighter reps with a squeeze at the top and a stretch at the bottom to give the heavy weight a break and kind of get back in touch with my mind muscle connection. By doing this I have progressed with my weights and still felt the muscle get worked. In the past when I progressed with weight I didn't feel my calves feel the movement. I think this is because I went heavy, but I stopped at 12 reps or so. When you push past it with partials you get every last fiber.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    It's a time under tension issue. If you take a DC set (10 reps) and one of my heavy fast sets the muscle is probably under tension the same amount of time it's just that my reps are faster. This is why I will never go back to the standard 3 sets of 10-12 reps you see in muscle rags. Not surprisingly, I really never felt my calves work until I got this concept. Keep in mind the calve is a resilient muscle that we use every day. Unless you have some crazy genetics a 10 reps of 100 isn't going to do much. Think about it this way; if you weigh 200 and your doing calve 1/2 your body weight how much damage are you going to cause? You are walking around with 200 lbs all day and when you walk one calve is moving that 200 lbs at a time. Combine that with the amount of steps you take a day and we are talking about a muscle that can withstand a lot of repetition.
                    1994 Ohio Gran Prix 4th place
                    2010 Kentucky State Championships 1st place
                    2011 Northern Kentucky 4th place
                    2012 Kentucky Grand Prix 1st place
                    2014 Francois Classic 3rd place
                    2015 Francois Classic 2nd Place

                    Truenutrition.com
                    Use Discount Code AMJ

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I think the biggest problem I see with guys training calfs is the lack of understanding in how to attack them to develop them. I constantly see four issues.

                      1. Not utilising a full range of motion and squeezing and contracting
                      2. Too few reps
                      3. Resting for way too long.
                      4. Too little variation (ie foot placing, seated vs standing vs donkey etc)

                      I like to super-set or tri-set calf lifts resting only 30 seconds inbetween "circuits" so to speak, and alternating foot position every time. So for example:

                      Circuit 1 - feet pointing in, circuit 2, feet point out wide stance, circuit 3, feet poinint forwards narrow stance.
                      Inc Leg Press Calf Raise into Seated Calf Raise into bodyweight free standing raise on a box to get a real good stretch. All conractions held for a 3 count.
                      I also like to use a Y3T approach to calf training (and legs in general) - so week 1 will be 10-12 reps for each exercise, week 2 15-18, week 3 - 25.

                      I also use isometrics (posing) inbetween circuits

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Doberman View Post
                        It's a time under tension issue. If you take a DC set (10 reps) and one of my heavy fast sets the muscle is probably under tension the same amount of time it's just that my reps are faster. This is why I will never go back to the standard 3 sets of 10-12 reps you see in muscle rags. Not surprisingly, I really never felt my calves work until I got this concept. Keep in mind the calve is a resilient muscle that we use every day. Unless you have some crazy genetics a 10 reps of 100 isn't going to do much. Think about it this way; if you weigh 200 and your doing calve 1/2 your body weight how much damage are you going to cause? You are walking around with 200 lbs all day and when you walk one calve is moving that 200 lbs at a time. Combine that with the amount of steps you take a day and we are talking about a muscle that can withstand a lot of repetition.
                        Great points!!! Although it's so Captain obvious, but not until now for me.
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