Balance is the name of the game when developing a great body, so don’t forget calf training.
Trainees should not overlook calf training. There are few things more ridiculous-looking than exercisers with well-developed upper bodies and twig-like lower legs. Balance is key if an attractive, aesthetically appealing physique is the goal.
Calf muscles like other skeletal muscles are attached to bones and voluntarily controlled. Voluntary means that trainees can generally control movement at will. Calves function in movements such as walking, running, standing, et. cetera.
Without getting overly wrapped in the technical stuff, there are approximately nine cross-sections of skeletal muscle fibers forming the calf. The most recognizable sections are probably the gastrocnemius and the soleus.
Why act stubborn?
Calves can be relatively stubborn muscles to develop when considering they are used practically everyday to bear one’s bodyweight. Imagine the intense overload calves get when continuously contracting in a pair of high-heeled pumps. What a high and potentially damaging price to pay for a few moments of perceived beauty. Who can spell O-r-t-h-o-p-e-d-i-c P-o-d-i-a-t-r-i-s-t? Ouch!
Unfortunately, daily stimulation makes it difficult to develop aesthetically pleasing calf muscles without some form of focused exercise. Sure, some folks have naturally shapely calves with or without adding resistance exercises, but such individuals were fortunate enough to select parents that passed on excellent genes for calf development. That isn’t to say that wishful thinkers are out of the running (pun intended). Most trainees must include resistance exercises that emphasize “greater-than-bodyweight-bearing” movements like walking in order to develop muscular, shapely and sexy calf muscles.
Yes, stubborn muscles can be tough to develop, but well worth the effort because well developed calf muscles are attractive and resistant to fatigue. Perhaps the best part of calf training is that trainees can exercise their calves at home sans the fancy equipment. Sure equipment means more variety, but calves will respond when exercised properly whether one is using a $1,500.00 calf machine or a $15.00 Swiss Ball.
The cost of great calf development
A full home gym workout for calves can be done with resistance tubing, weights, a small barbell, dumbbells, a towel, an exercise ball for kneeling exercises, a sturdy chair and a secure, non-slip, height-adjustable step. This equipment allows trainees of various foot sizes to work calves one or two legs at a time and from different angles while sitting, standing or kneeling.
Every “body” responds differently to exercise, but a good start is to work the calves with resistance heavy enough to squeeze out 15 – 30 hard repetitions for stimulating calf hypertrophy. The resistance should make the exercise challenging, but not to the point where full range of motion is compromised. Always warm up calf muscles thoroughly prior to working with resistance.
Sets may vary, but 1 – 3 sets per selected exercise should suffice. One’s fitness level, training experience and common sense should be the yardsticks used to determine appropriate workloads. Generally, beginners should start off slowly using light resistance and few exercises to avoid injury or overtraining.
There are many theories about how often calves should be trained, but a good starting point is 2 or 3 times per week with at least a day of rest between sessions. Again, let training experience and exercise tolerance act as the guide. Generally no more than ten-to-fifteen minutes per session is necessary to transform twigs closer to diamonds, unless of course one is attempting to maximize calf strength and development.
There are training manuals and credible online sites offering high-quality calf routines for exercisers who want to develop shapely lower leg muscles. Take advantage of learning more about calf anatomy, function, exercises, et. cetera because understanding is imperative to success. Building a head-twisting lower body takes time, effort and oh-yes—smarts.