If you really want to see how complete a guy’s physique is, take a look at his calves. If he’s got great calf development, you know you’re looking at a powerful man. The calves, after all, are notoriously difficult to develop. In this article, I’ll lay out the best beginner and intermediate calf workouts for home and gym training so that you can take those calves and turn them into bulls.
Calf Training Tips
Here are 5 tips to make your calf workouts more productive …
- Stay on your toes: Walk around on your tiptoes as much as you can. Back in the 90’s you could buy special training shoes with a raised toe so that every step you took was a calf raise. You can make your own or simply stay on your toes whenever you can.
- Full range of motion: With every repetition of every calf exercise, you need to go all the way down past the level of your heels. Then pause, before, without bending your knees, going all the way back up to full extension.
- Train heavy: Your calves are supporting your bodyweight all day long, so it’s no wonder they are stubborn to adaptive change. That’s why you need to go heavy on your calf training. They are muscles, after all, so physiologically calves are no different from pecs or quads. Load up and keep your reps in the sub-15 range.
- Train calves every 5th day: A lot of guys think they have to train their calves every other day. They don’t. Calves are like any other muscle group, requiring enough rest and recovery in order to grow. In addition, your calves are being stressed for up to 15 hours each day just by walking around and doing your everyday activities.
- Train calves and hamstrings together: Hamstrings and calves make a smart training mix. After a hamstring workout, you have got a great pump going in the back of the legs, so it makes sense to make the most of that blood flow by going directly into your calf work.
Home Workout – Calves
Bodyweight Calf Raise
- Stand with your feet shoulder width apart. Hold a pair of dumbbells in your hands.
- Rise up to full leg extension without bending your knees.
- Lower and repeat.
Toe Farmer’s Walk
- Grab a pair of dumbbells or other heavy objects that you have available in your home gym.
- Walk up and down your gym floor on your toes until you have been walking for 30 seconds.
- Stand with a jump rope in hand, feet shoulder together.
- Rotate the wrists to bring the rope overhead.
- Jump slightly to allow the rope to travel under your feet.
- Bodyweight Calf Raise – 3 x 15
- Toe Farmer’s Walk – 3 x 60 second walks
- Jump Rope – 5 x 60 seconds
Home Workout – Calves
Single Leg Calf Raise
- You can do this exercise by Standing on a block placing the ball of your right foot on the edge of it or you do not need to use the block and start by standing. Wrap the left foot around the back of the right leg. Hold onto a wall for support.
- Contract your calf to rise up to your fullest height.
- Lower your heel down lower than the level of the block.
Wall Sit Calf Raise
- Stand with your back against a wall and your feet about two feet in front of you.
- Lower down to a seated position, with your thighs parallel to the floor.
- Raise up on your toes to full calf contraction.
- Lower back to the floor and repeat.
- Stand with your feet shoulder width apart and hands clasped in front of your body.
- Hinge at the hips to drop into a full squat.
- Now jump up explosively as high as you can.
- Land on your feet.
- Go directly into the next rep.
- Single Leg Calf Raise: 3 x 15
- Wall Sit Calf Raise: 3 x 15
- Jump Squats: 3 x 12
Gym Beginner Calves Workout
Standing Calf Raise
- Load the weight stack and then get under the shoulder pads and grab the handles. Your feet should be parallel and the balls of your feet in full contact with the bar.
- With a slight locked knee bend, raise up to full calf contraction.
- Lower to full extension, going down lower than the level of the calf block.
- Hold for a second then repeat.
A common mistake on this exercise is rolling out the ankles on the raise. This can put stress on the achilles tendon. Avoid this by keeping your ankles in line with your knees. Do not bend your knees to create momentum for the raise as that won’t effectively challenge your calf.
Use the muscles of the arms and shoulders to hold the handles and help stabilize your upper body. The abdominal muscles also need to remain engaged to help protect your spine from the load and prevent injury. Your body should be stable while your calves do the work.
Seated Barbell Calf Raise
- Sit on a bench with a block under the balls of your feet. Place a loaded barbell across your mid thighs, supporting it with your hands.
- Raise up on your toes to full extension, holding the top position for 1-2 seconds.
- Lower all the way down to full calf extension.
- Reverse and repeat
Explosive Box Jumps
- Stand in front of a 24 inch high step up box. Hinge your hips and load your arm in preparation for a jump.
- Jump both legs onto the box then immediately jump down on the other side.
- Immediately change direction and repeat.
- Standing Calf Raise: 3 x 10-12
- Seated BB Calf Raise: 3 x 10-12
- Explosive Box Jumps: 3 x 60 seconds
Gym Intermediate Calves Workout
- Load up the leg press machine weight stack then position yourself in the leg press machine.
- Position the balls of your feet on the bottom of the foot plate.
- Maintaining soft knees (slight bend), contract the calves to full contraction. Hold for a second.
- Reverse to extend the calves all the way back.
Seated Calf Raise
- Set the weights on a seated calf raise machine and sit on the machine, with your thighs under the pads. Adjust the settings for your height. Rest the balls of your feet on the footplate.
- Contract the calves to raise your heels to full extension. Hold for a second.
- Lower to bring your heels lower than the level of the food plate.
- Start with a 2 minute warm up on a treadmill with a low speed.
- Increase the speed to 10 mph and sprint for 30 seconds.
- Throw your legs out to the sides of the running bed and rest for 30 seconds.
- Repeat for the required number of rounds.
- Toe Press: 3 x 10-12
- Seated Calf Raise: 3 x 10-12
- Treadmill Sprints: 5 x 30 second sprints
Train calves once every 5 days. Make our workouts short and intense to really blast your lower legs into submission. Do this consistently and your calves will soon mature into bulls.