The Once-Per-Week Calf Workout That Works

The 6-12-25 Calf Protocol

Calf Workout

Yes, you can bring up your lower legs with only one dedicated calf workout per one. In fact, you can do with one set!

But there is a catch: it's a giant set using the 6-12-25 protocol. And yes, it's going to hurt.

All three exercises in this giant set encompass the main tenets of muscle growth: mechanical tension, muscle damage, and metabolic stress. You'll see these in successive order with 6 reps of an exercise, 12 reps of another exercise, and then 25 reps of a final exercise for one big, giant set.

The calves are great at using the stretch-shortening cycle (SSC), so performing your reps with a slow and controlled tempo (slight pauses at the bottom of each rep) makes sense.

Here's a look at what to do, but stick around for more info on the how and why:

A1. Barbell Calf and Tibia Raise

Go heavy with a slow tempo for 6-rep sets.


A2. Single-Leg Dumbbell Calf Raise

Use moderate weight with a slow tempo for 12 reps per side.


A3. Dip-Belt Calf Raise

Go light and get explosive (this is the only exercise you're not using a tempo with) reps for 25 reps per set.


  • Exercise 1: The goal is mechanical tension. You do a lift with a higher loading capability like a bilateral barbell calf raise or a donkey calf raise.
  • Exercise 2: The goal is muscle damage. Do a lift suited for typical hypertrophy schemes (8-12 rep range) such as isolation exercises like a single-calf raise, seated calf raise, or leg press calf raise.
  • Exercise 3: The goal is metabolic stress. Do a lift that's suited for higher rep schemes (15-plus for strength-endurance) and can be completed with higher frequency, like dip-belt loaded calf raises, bodyweight single-leg calf raises or jumping rope.
  • Week 1: Start with a ramp-up round using light loads, then do one work round with challenging but NOT maximal loads.
  • Week 2: Start with a ramp-up round with light loads, then do two work rounds with loads that are challenging but, again, not maximal.
  • Week 3: This time, start with two ramp-up rounds with light loads, then do three work rounds with slightly heavier loads than what you used during week two.
  • Week 4: Off

Only use the 6-12-25 giant-set format once per week to avoid excessive DOMs and soft-tissue injuries.

You can easily implement new exercise variations into this giant set but stick to the key guidelines above. Additional calf training during the same week is fine, but make sure it's spaced out for at least 72 hours from this training day.