Boobs, Calves and Big Muscles

What's the quickest way to take your physique to the next level? Give up? Well, the answer depends on your calf insertion points.

No, I'm not kidding!

The trick here is to match the genetic framework of your body to your training method. In other words, you need to understand what kind of anatomical structure you have and train accordingly. This will enable you to anticipate your genetic "weak links" months or even years before those muscles become an eyesore.

Let's back up for a moment and look at the origin of this idea.

It was discovered in women that breast size is inversely correlated to calf circumference. In other words, women with smaller calves tended to have bigger chests. My colleagues and I have measured a similar pattern for men (which wasn't nearly as exciting as the original study); that is, an inverse correlation with calf insertion point and upper torso muscular development. Remember, if a bodybuilder has a naturally low calf insertion (farther from the joint center), he has the potential for large calves. That's old news.

The surprise is the discovery that smaller pecs, due to a narrowed shoulder span, are showing up in these same individuals. A narrowed shoulder span decreases the length and likewise the force/size potential of the pecs, upper traps, shoulder rotators and middle back muscles that originate from the shoulder joint. This new correlation supports classification of two distinct frame structures: the "^" or "A" structure and the "V" structure.

For the "A" frame, the challenge is developing the upper torso laterally, left to right. Of course, it's still quite possible to build a champion physique – you just gotta know what you're up against! For example, check out the calf insertion and shoulder span of Steve Reeves, Lee Priest, Larry Scott, or Tom Platz. These legendary bodybuilders and champions learned how to develop despite these challenges.

The shortcut to developing the "laterally challenged" group is to use or "leverage" the trainee's gifted lower leg strength into overloading the upper-torso muscles. In these instances I prescribe heavy Olympic and powerlifting exercises combined with upper-body isolations. Ultimately, this will create the illusion of width by developing the lateral muscles. The muscles with real lateral potential include the medial delts, triceps (lateral head), latissimus dorsi, and vastus lateralis.

The "V" frame is the opposite. These are the bodybuilders with higher calf insertion points and smaller calves, yet wider shoulders and large pecs. In this case the trainee is blessed with a natural shoulder-to-waist differential. However, the weak points are typically the calves, hamstrings, quads and upper back muscles.

To make fast progress, the emphasis must be on adding forward and backward mass to the naturally wider V-frame. The angle here is to take advantage of the gifted upper-body strength and channel it into the muscles that develop anteriorly and posteriorly: the anterior and posterior deltoids, middle and lower traps, triceps (long head), gluteus maximus, hamstrings, tibialis anterior and soleus.

Listed below are a sample training program for each type of frame.

The "A" Frame Workout

A1) Push press (snatch grip, heavy)

Set rack height lower than your standing position. Grasp the bar with a safe yet semi-loose, pronated, snatch-width grip. Position the bar in front of the neck resting on the clavicle, elbows pointed down. Stand erect and step away from the rack, torso erect and chest expanded. Bend the legs until the body is in jump position. Next, explosively drive the bar upward going up on your toes. Let the heels come back down as you lockout the bar with your arms.

A2) L-lateral raise (slow)

Grasp two dumbbells with a semi-supinated grip. Bend elbows to 90°.

Concentric step 1: Horizontally abduct the shoulders until the upper arms are parallel to the floor.

Concentric step 2: From there, externally rotate the shoulders until the forearms are perpendicular to the floor. Reverse these two steps to lower the load.

A3) Overhead squat (high rep)

Take a hip-width stance with toes pointed out slightly. Grasp the bar with a clean grip and press it over your head. Lock the elbows out and pull the shoulders and arms back so they're in alignment with your ears. Next, squat to parallel without bending your elbows, displacing your arms, or riding up on your toes like some disco throwback.

B1) Incline chest fly (slow)

Grasp two dumbbells and sit down on an incline bench set at 60° to 75°, resting the weights on your thighs. Kick the weights up to your shoulders and lie back on the bench. Position your hands so that your palms face away from you, elbows slightly flared out to the sides.

Slowly lower the dumbbells in an arching motion such that your elbows travel down first and then back to your ears to deepen the stretch under the collar bone. After a momentary pause, contract the chest as you "fly" the dumbbells in a reverse arch so they return together to the top position.

B2) Standing cable crossover

Grasp both handle attachments on the upper pulley. Stabilize your lower body with a staggered, shoulder width stance. Flex the trunk forward to stabilize the core. Begin in the elbow extended position and internally rotate the shoulders by contracting the pecs. Squeeze past the body midline, allowing one hand to slide over the other. Constant steady tension must be placed on the pecs throughout the range of motion.

The "V" Frame Workout

A1) Chin up to sternum (close grip, V-bar) – Grasp a V-grip chin up bar. Begin at the bottom stretched position. First, separate the shoulder blades momentarily, then forcibly pull them together to perform the concentric portion. Force the elbows down and back into the body as you pull the torso cranially and the breastbone to the bar.

A2) Incline trap raise

Lie prone on an incline bench set at 45° . Grasp two dumbbells with the thumbs up (like in a hammer curl). Keeping arms straight and elbows slightly bent, raise the dumbbells toward the ceiling at a 45° angle from your head. (The 10:00 and 2:00 positions of a clock) . Retract your shoulder blades (squeeze them together) at the top position. This targets the middle and lower trapezius.

B1) Donkey calf raise

Place your toes on a block or stair. Bend forward from the waist and support the upper body on a bench or elevated stair. The toes are placed directly below the hips. From this point contract and raise the heals and then lower the heals to the stretched position. For added resistance use a weighted dip belt.

B2) Toe raise (reverse calf raise)

Stand with your heals on a block or stair and lower your toes as far as possible. Next lift them up to above heal level, about 30° above the horizon. To add resistance, tie wrist straps through a light plate and attach the load to your toes.

C1) Low cable hip and knee extension (mule kick)

Attach an ankle strap to the low cable. Holding the machine for support, lift the active leg and flex the knee 90°. Simultaneously extend the hip and knee on the active leg to its end range. Lower slowly and keep tension on the hamstring as you reverse this sequence.

Tip: Keep the foot straight as it will have a tendency to "toe out" due to weak semi-membranosus and tight biceps femoris muscles.

C2) Romanian deadlifts (wide stance)

This exercise is designed to strengthen the medial leg muscles along with teaching the proper initiation of the posterior chain. The bar is grasped with a clean, shoulder-width grip. Use a wider than hip-width stance, elbows extended, knees slightly bent. Start the eccentric movement with the bar against the body. The bar is descended to just below the knees with the backward push of the hips and buttocks.

Note: This deadlift eccentric phase should take up to four seconds and the center of mass should be positioned on the heels in the bottom position.


That's it! Take a look at your calves, note the insertion points and get to work!