How do we grow bigger calves if you have skinny legs? They say that you are either a calf or a calf not. In other words – it’s impossible to grow big calves if you weren’t meant to have them by birth. Talking as a definite calf not, I can say that in the beginning it does look damn close to impossible. If you add to the equation the fact that you have no access to the gym, it does start to sound like something that simply cannot be done. Well, I have news for you, and it’s good for that matter. Growing bigger calves can be a tricky thing, but it’s definitely not impossible. Stay tuned and find out the things you can do to grow bigger calves with limited equipment.
Training at home pitfalls and how to avoid them
When we talk about training at home, there are some things we all have to pay attention to. Many people just stick to few tried and tested exercises like pushups, squats, and sit ups or crunches. So at the risk of being the Captain Obvious, my first advice would have to be: Don’t forget to train your calves!
Training at home can be challenging and even boring to some, so they find it difficult to squeeze in the time needed to lift some weights. And if we don’t feel like working out, the legs are usually the first ones to get a day off. Take a long hard look at yourself and ask: When was the last time I trained my calves with any sort of vigor or enthusiasm?
If you want bigger muscles, you have to make them a priority. If we are not satisfied with the pace at which our pecs are growing, we immediately add an extra bench day to the week. See, calves are no different. If you want to get bigger calves, just train them more often, and move them to the beginning of the workout session, when your strength and motivation are at their peak.
With calves, doing this is even easier because they mostly comprise of slow twitch muscle fiber which means that they can be train more often. This means that, much like our abs, they cannot be overtrained as easily.
Let’s go right in and see how we can train calves at home if we have nothing at all, or if we can gather at least some weights.
With limited equipment
So say you are lifting at home, but you have some equipment available, or you are even thinking about getting a calf machine. Matters are fairly similar. Your calf comprises of two different muscles –soleus and gastrocnemius, but they have different attachments. Long story short, if you want to train them both, you have to extend your ankle, as both soleus and gastroc have one main function – plantar flexion. That would literally mean getting up on your toes.
Matters get only a tad more complicated when you take into the equation the origin and insertion points of those two muscles. To keep it real simple, again, you will hit your soleus more with seated exercises, and your gastroc more with standing calf work. If you have a calf machine, that would mean just doing seated calf raises, and then following that with the same number of series and repetitions standing up with dumbbells or a barbell if you have one
If you want to get bigger calves without weights, there is a way to do that, as well. The standing part is easy, you can just do a staircase walk with plantar flexion, or a donkey calf raise, if you are lucky enough to have a training partner. You can always simply rep out standing calf raises if you lack imagination and motivation. Remember to increase the volume (remember, slow twitch fibers), and you should see major improvements in no time.
On the other hand, if you have no access to weights, you will have to think outside the box to manage to successfully hit the soleus muscle. My first choice is always a kneeling Nordic calf hold. To do it, you would have to kneel and hook your feet under anything sturdy enough to hold your weight. You then basically do a Nordic curl, but instead of hooking your ankles and focusing on your hamstrings, you would hook your feet and control your descend to the floor mainly with your calves.
When doing this exercise, you should use your hands to prevent face injuries (great for a gym fail video, not so much fun for the one taking the fall, I guess). Remember, the point of this exercise is to slowly go down, not so much to come back up. Nobody is expecting you to rocket back up with just your calves.
As someone who hasn’t been genetically blesses with big calves, I can testify that this exercise does wonders for you, mainly because it focuses on the eccentric portion of the repetition, something we don’t get enough of when training calves. Give it a go, and be ready for some major gains.
As we already said, there are a couple of take home messages here today:
- Remember to train your calves (they often go untrained)
- Hit the calves first, when you are the most motivated
- Be careful with the weights that you are using (calves are quite resilient to fatigue, but one bad move can still cause a strain or tear, and a calf injury is nothing pleasant)
- Hit both the gastrocnemius and the soleus to get the full calf development
Try not to fall into a rut, and always bring a new stimulus to the muscles
- Always go through the full range of motion in a controlled way. The ROM itself is short, but that’s all the more reason not to cut it short. Don’t swing, bounce or use other muscles that are not supposed to be a part of the movement. Ego lifting in itself is crazy. Ego lifting for bigger calves is just hilarious.
Now go ahead and smash that next workout, and remember to always go at it hard, but train smart.
About the AuthorDumbbellsgeek
Hey! My name is Paul Sheldon. I live in Nashville, TN and I love all things related to sports. Naturally I love workking out and I do it every day. If you want to talk feel freee to hit me a message or if you happen to be in Nashville we can get a coffee, I know a great place. Peace!