Build Those Chopstick Calves
Do your calves resemble the chopsticks you used at your last sushi feast? Let’s fix that.
Building calves isn’t so much about how much weight you can get them to move. It’s about doing everything you can to feel your calves contract and stretch. Here’s how to build that mind/muscle connection and unlock new muscle growth.
Sit and Flex
Sit on a chair with your legs bent at 90 degrees. One leg at a time, go up on your toes and hold for 10 seconds, flexing has hard as you can. Do 3-4 flexes per side. The more frequently you can do this throughout the day, the better.
Get Your Hips Right
The angle of your hips has more impact on where you target your calves than foot stance and width does. Whenever you’re training calves, play with the internal/external rotation angle of your hips until you find the “sweet spot” that lights up your calves. To rotate your hips inward or outward:
- Take a normal shoulder-width stance.
- Rotate your toes away from you for external hip rotation.
- Keeping your foot width the same, rotate your heels away from one another for internal hip rotation.
In most cases, you’ll find the sweet spot around a 45 degree angle. You’ll know when you find it. Do all your sets and reps at that angle.
Stand and Flex
If you’re standing at your desk working, cooking, or any other activity that has you standing in one place, go up on both calves and flex until they start shaking. Take advantage of every chance you get to build and enhance the mild-muscle connection with your calves.
Do 1 Set for Calves Every Workout
I learned this from John Meadows. It’s by far the most effective thing you can do for calves. This works best on a standing calf raise machine, but you could also do it on a seated calf raise. Before every workout, do a few warm-ups, then do one set like this:
- Do 10 full-range rep. On the last rep, go as high on your toes as you can and do a 10 second isohold. Just hold it at the top and squeeze hard.
- Without rest, do another 10 more reps then back into another 10 second isohold. These may turn into partials as you fatigue. That’s fine.
- Finally, do one more round of 10 reps (these will definitely be partials), and finish with one more 10 second isohold up on your toes.
- As an added bonus, immediately after the final isohold, lower your calves all the way down and let the weight stretch them. Hold it for as long as you can.
Just do this once per workout for the first week, then try to go through it twice. Your calves will grow.