Not everyone has bodybuilder-size calves—this writer sadly included. But if your calves need growth, you can still do what Arnold Schwarzenegger once did: Work on them—daily if necessary. You can begin your quest for quality calves by trying out some of the moves below—hurry, because shorts season is upon us.
For those not blessed in the genetics department, there are a few reasons why the calves are challenging to grow.
Calves Are Slow-Twitch Dominant Muscles
The two muscles you are concerned with here are Gastrocnemius, the larger visible muscle, and the Soleus, a flat muscle underneath the Gastroc. Because they’re both involved in locomotion and standing, these muscles are slow twitch dominant.
Slow-twitch muscle fibers are challenging but not impossible to add muscle to because they rely on a rich supply of oxygenated blood called Myoglobin.
Myoglobin contains iron and stores oxygen required to carry out cellular respiration. Due to this fact, both muscles generate less power and strength than fast-twitch muscle fibers (great for muscle growth) but are slower to fatigue and better for endurance.
Muscle Origins and Insertions
You have no control over Muscle Origins and Insertions because your parents gave you this. The origin of a muscle is the attachment site which doesn’t move during muscle contraction, and insertion is the site that moves during muscle contraction. The insertion point is usually distal (away), and the origin is close to the insertion.
A longer insertion (tendon) and shorter muscle belly make the muscle harder to grow, while the shorter insertion and longer muscle belly make it easier. Furthermore, insertion points affect how big or small your muscles look when flexed. So either way, love on or hate your parents.
How To Perform Calves Exercises
Take this advice from Nick Nilsson, the Strength Training Mad Scientist, who knows a thing or two about training stubborn body parts.
“For developing the calves, you need to focus on achieving a strong stretch at the bottom of every rep, taking enough time to dissipate the stretch reflex —four4 seconds at the bottom — then a controlled but powerful movement up, two-second contraction at the top, then a controlled negative,”
This is tempo training using a 4412 tempo. The first number is the eccentric (lowering) portion. The second is the bottom position, the third is the concentric portion of the movement, and the fourth is the top position.
“Since the calves are tough to develop, they need to be trained with higher frequency, even daily,” he adds.
3 Calves Exercises For Muscular Legs
Don’t give up because genetics and muscle fiber type are against you. Here are three exercises that will help add size and strength when performed regularly.