Why your calves aren't growing or developing tone and shape

Updated: Oct 26



Scenario

Your calves look disproportionately small(compared to the rest of the leg), or undeveloped("cankles").


The Most Common Issues


You are not performing the exercises required to develop calves correctly.


You are not connecting with the muscles in the calves( gastrocnemius, and soleus).


You are using too much weight during calf exercises.


You are not performing calf raises with enough control in the rep both in the concentric and eccentric parts of the lift.


The most common - incomplete and ineffective solutions


Using weights that are too heavy and training to be stronger - not more muscular. Still disregarding higher levels of mind muscle connection.


Training calves everyday, every other day, or 2-3 times a week.


The right solutions


Select 1-3 calf exercises to perform during any workout.


Calves should be trained 0-1 times a week. A highly trained/skilled bodybuilder will be able to create a enough stimulus to only need to train a single body part 1-2 times a month.


Learn and master the correct form and movement required for calves. Common mistakes include: letting the weight "fall" too quickly during the eccentric portion of a calf exercise, not elevating the heels high enough during a calf raise, or holding the weight at the top of the raise long enough.


You should feel a deep stretch at the bottom of a calf raise, and a deep squeeze/contraction in the calf muscle at the peak of a calf raise.


Implementation Considerations

I recommend training calves on a day where you can spare 15-30 minutes to add to training another muscle group. This will help you make the gym easier to go to, and in alignment with your own busy schedule. If you do not find yourself busy with other things, you may need to reconsider. One of the real benefits of this type of training that it aligns with productivity. If you have too much time to waste, you will find yourself entertaining ands slowly gravitating towards longer and more ineffective training styles.


What many articles do not consider is that some calf exercises are more beneficial for different body types than others. It depends on your genetics, metatarsals(bones in the foot), ankle mobility, and body weight. For example a body weight calf raise would not be as beneficial for a light weighted person that it might be for a heavier set/muscular person. Another example might be issues connecting with calf muscles based on ankle mobility( or lack thereof), and hyper mobility in the toe's joints. If your ankle is not mobile enough it will create a reduction in the range of motion.for a proper rep. In addition, a hyper mobile toe will make it difficult to put all the force on your toes vs the balls of your feet.


In Conclusion

Calves are most commonly neglected because they are painful to train and not usually the most important muscle group required for athletic competition. Although calves, are not typically considered a priority, training calves help people to pay more attention to ankle mobility. Ankle mobility is a very important part of training quadriceps. If an ankle is not ideally mobile, your squat, lunge, and pressing movements can be limited and cause unnecessary injuries or auxiliary muscles to be stressed when they should not be.

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