To build calves, you have to increase their trainability – their potential to improve. Calves have three things that reduce their trainability:
- A short range of motion, which means each rep has a very short time under tension.
- A super strong stretch reflex, which can take over more than two thirds of the already short range of motion.
- A high level of adaptability since you use them every day.
You need to attack the first two elements. So, do every rep in a way to increase the time under tension and get rid of the contribution of the stretch reflex so that the muscles do all the work.
Do Every Rep Like This
- Hold the stretch position (the "bottom" of most calf exercises) for two seconds to get rid of the stretch reflex. Try to maintain tension – it's not a passive stretch.
- Do the whole range of motion slowly, especially the beginning of the reps. Avoid accelerating.
- Hold the peak contracted position (the "top" of most calf exercises) for two seconds. Squeeze the muscle hard.
- When you lower the weight back down try to maintain maximum muscle tension. Resist while you perform a fairly slow negative.
Here's pro-bodybuilder Mark Dugdale doing something very much like this:
A Superset for Fast Calf Growth
Have access to a Prowler or weighted sled? Try this:
- A1 Seated Calf Raise – 10-12 reps as explained above, no rest
- A2 Heavy Prowler Pushing – For 30 seconds under load
Rest 2 minutes and repeat 2-3 more times.