How do you build big calves… this is a question that I pondered for many years as a young kid, being born with calves like string beans. After doing many experiments, what I finally realized was that high volume works great for building calves. They’ve got to be the hardest muscle to build. Doing a few sets for them, never did anything for me. Since I had no great desire to train them, and because I preferred to focus on strength, athleticism and bigger compound lifts they stayed that way for years.
The only time they finally responded was when I hit them with very high volume. I usually end up doing this for about a month, and then I get bored, and stop training calves again for another year. Its difficult to tolerate the high volume loading for too long before you will start to develop some ankle / achilles problems. If you are an athlete, and you run or jump a lot, don’t even think twice about doing high volume calf work.
But if how to build big calves is a question that you obsess over, and you really want to get them jacked then you need to really increase your volume and frequency. I once managed to put two inches on my calves in just over a month! That’s the truth. Don’t get me wrong, but my calves are still nowhere near that huge, but the point is, you can add significant size to your calves if you really want to.
They were Arnold’s worst body part, and he dedicated all his time and effort to bringing them up. He even cut his pants off at the knee so he had to suffer the embarrassment of having his calves exposed wherever he went.
I suppose one option is to do a set of calves between every set of every exercise you do at each workout. You need to go heavy, get a good, deep stretch and hold it for a second (and up to ten seconds) at the bottom, and then get all the way up on your big toe at the top while flexing your calves hard. When you do standing calves your knees should be slightly bent on the way down and then locked out on the way up.
Another option is to start each workout (or each lower body day) with calves. For one day per week your exercise would be heavy standing calf raises for 5-10 sets of 5-8 reps, and the other day would be seated calf raises done for 4-5 sets of 15-30 reps.
You should also consider training the tibialis anterior muscles. These are the muscles that run down the front of your shin. Unfortunately some people develop imbalances from doing too much ankle extension and not enough ankle flexion. If this happens and becomes a problem, the calves will not grow. So train these muscles by hanging your feet off the end of a bench and holding a dumbbell or DARD (Dynamic axial rotation device) device between them, and flexing your feet up towards you for a few sets of 10-20 reps, do this twice a week.
After you have finished with standing, seated and donkey calf raises and the tib raises, try doing farmers walks (you know the one, where you carry a heavy weight in each hand) for up to five or even ten minutes while remaining on your toes the entire time. This will absolutely boost your calves.
To end, finish up your workouts with 10-15 minutes of jumping rope.
The above strategies should definitely get anyone’s calves to grow rapidly in just a couple of months. But just be sure to ease into the extra volume slowly and gradually and take a step back if your ankles start to bother you.
If you are currently doing only 3-4 sets of calves twice per week you should slowly add a set or two at every workout until you get to about 10 or so. Ten hard, heavy sets plus the farmers walks, and jumping rope should be more than enough for most people to add an inch or so in a month.
Now you know how to build big calves. For more ideas and advice on adding size to the rest of your body, check out my Muscle Gaining Secrets program now.
Jason Ferruggia – Fitness Expert