Calve Raise James 1 Having skinny calves is an extremely common bodybuilding problem. How many guys at the gym have you seen that have a massive and thick upper body, but when you take a glance at their calves (if they aren’t hiding their legs under a pair of sweat pants) it looks like they don’t even give any attention to them?

For some guys, calves are an extremely hard body part to bring up to size. It doesn’t matter how much intensity, volume, or emphasis they put on them in the gym, they rarely see any results at the end of the day. Though some guys may jump on the “genetics” bandwagon, most of the time it is due to improper training, diet, programming, etc. The truth is; that packing on size to the calves (especially if you’re tall) can be quite the daunting task.

Let’s talk about genetics first. One reason (although not always) why calves don’t grow so easily for some people is that they are at an anatomical disadvantage. This means that guys that are naturally tall (although not often the case) and have skinny calves, tend to have longer calf tendons, along with shorter calf muscles that are higher up on their lower legs.  The longer your calf tendon is and the shorter your calf muscles are, the less potential you’ll have for growth. This is simply because you’ll have less muscle to work with from the start, and even when you do add some size, making those muscles “pop out” is especially difficult. Note how I say difficult, but it’s not impossible. With hard work and training, you will be able to develop them. Here are 3 quick tips on calf training that you should try in the gym next time you hit your calves:

1) Instead of driving yourself up onto the entire ball of your front foot, focus on raising yourself up onto your big toe instead.

This was a tip that was given to me a few years back by a bodybuilder who had the biggest calves I had ever seen. When you’re doing calf raises, try to extend all the way onto your big toe. This prevents your feet and ankles from rolling outward and maximally stimulates the inner portion of your calf where the largest percentage of the mass is located. If you simply perform a regular calf raise without thinking about this, your body will naturally follow the path of least resistance and do the opposite, since your big toe is positioned furthest away. Give this one a try and you should notice an immediate improvement in how intensely you’re able to contract your calves on each rep.

2) Go with a wider stance when performing standing calf raises

A lot of you may be performing standing calf raises with your feet about shoulder width apart. While this is good at stimulating the calves, an even better approach is to go slightly wider than shoulder width. Just like pressing yourself up onto your big toe, using a wider stance on your calf raises prevents your ankles from rolling outward as you press yourself up.

3) Don’t use momentum!

This is one of the biggest mistakes that I see many guys making in the gym regarding calf training. They hop onto the calf raise machine, and start bouncing up and down pounding out as many reps as they can until they fatigue. When you perform the calf raises like this, you minimize the amount of tension that is placed on the actual calf muscle itself and you transfer it to your Achilles tendon instead. What you should be doing is pausing at the bottom of your calf raise for 1 or 2 seconds then pressing up as fast as you can and hold it. Then repeat.


The bottom line is that many people who say that they can’t build up their calves, simply don’t put enough emphasis on it in the first place. If you’re one of those guys who generally prefer to do upper body exercises rather than lower body exercises, this might be one big reason why your calves aren’t growing. Train hard, get enough rest, eat lots and you’ll surely see some results. See you guys in the next article.

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John considers himself as a fitness enthusiast who loves to do anything to keep the body in peak physical performance (much like a highly tuned machine). He mainly focuses on sports nutrition and supplement research, but is also highly knowledgeable in relation to muscle growth and fat loss. He's helped numerous people over the years achieve the body that they've always wanted and hopes his information will guide you to the goals you want.

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