Home Build Muscle Mass Best Calf Exercises, Easy Techniques and Simple Leg Workouts For Adding Size to Your Calves – Men's health UK

Best Calf Exercises, Easy Techniques and Simple Leg Workouts For Adding Size to Your Calves – Men's health UK

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Ah, the calf. The muscle no one really cares about yet everyone would like bigger. Men’s calves, and their obsession with them, is a phenomenon that’s hard to explain.

For some – many, in fact – it’s such a difficult muscle to develop. Bigger calves are also seen as a badge of honour. See a guy in the gym with healthy slabs of muscle wrapped around their lower leg, and you know this guy knows a thing or two about leg day.

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Such is man’s obsession, a growing number of people are now turning to calf implants. Yes, you heard that correctly. According to one cosmetic surgeon, the demand for calf contouring among men has increased significantly over the last five years. During the 90-minute procedure, fat is either harvested from the buttocks and placed inside the subject’s calf muscles, or silicone implants are used to beef up the lower leg.

But is there more to it than just vanity? Science says ‘yes’.

A study published in the Journal of the American Heart, which looked at 6,265 people, found that regardless of age, gender, body mass index and other vascular risk factors, the bigger people’s calves were the fewer fatty deposits known as plaques they built up in their arteries.

There’s more good news for calf lovers. According to research published in the Journal of Physical Therapy Science, those with bigger pins had a lower resting heart rate and more overall skeletal muscle.

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So, there you have it. There’s more to bulky calves than a glancing nod from the ‘Daddy’ of the gym.

Here’s our guide to help you achieve a goal you didn’t think was necessary.


10 Techniques to Help Build Bigger Calves

Do Hamstring Curls

Researchers at the University of West Florida found that doing hamstring curls with your feet pointing away from your body worked your calves five per cent harder than if you pointed your toes upwards. Mix 4 sets of hamstring curls into your calf training routine.

Do 15-20 Repetitions per Set

Every step you take involves your calves, which makes them your body’s hardest working muscles. But you have to work calves with high repetitions to challenge them with enough work to grow. They recover fast so you can even train them every day if they’re not developing.

Work the Fullest Range of Motion

When you’re doing raises, lower the weight all the way down until you feel a stretch in your calves – then raise it up. The calves kick into action during the lowest and highest points of each lift. Stretch your calves on rest days to deepen the distance you can stretch during each rep.

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Kick off Your Shoes

Trainers are designed to help you flex your feet and ankles, but you want your calves to do all the work without any help from springs and extra cushioning. The solution is to ditch the trainers but keep your socks on – just make sure they’re fresh or you’ll pong out the gym. This is a technique pioneered by Schwarzenegger, who had notoriously small calves.

Rise onto Your Toes

Do at least 4 sets of your workout with weights light enough for you to completely rise up onto your toes like a ballerina. This will fully flex your calves at the top of each move. Alternatively, you can hold onto a support, stand on one leg and rise up onto the toes of the leg you’re standing on. Do this between sets during your upper-leg workout.

Schedule in Calf Training

Give your calves as much attention as your biceps – so do as many sets for your calves as you do to train your arms, except do 15-20 reps in each set. This will make sure you’re giving them the workload they need to bulk up.

Keep Your Feet Straight

Pointing your feet inwards or outwards doesn’t hit your calves from different angles, it just makes the exercise less effective. You won’t be working them in the direction the muscle inserts into your bones so the workload will be less.

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Train Your Shins

Most blokes only train the backs of their calves by lifting their heels up and down. Training your shins can add mass to your lower legs. Lie back on a bench with your lower legs hanging diagonally off the edge. Hold a dumb-bell between your feet. Lower and raise the weight to target your shins. Alternatively, do calf pushes on the leg press machine.

Straighten and Bend Your Knees

The calf is made of two major muscles: the soleus and gastrocnemius. The former is the biggest muscle in your calves and it is worked best when you do calf exercises with bent legs. The latter is best worked when you do straight-legged calf moves. Use equal portions of both techniques to give your calves a more rounded and bulkier look.

Feel Them Working

Finally, when you’re doing raises put your mind into the muscle and avoid bouncing the weight. Take two seconds to lift and lower the weight. Keep tension on the calves throughout the set. Make small adjustments with your feet to keep a contact tension on the muscle throughout the set.


5 Best Calf Exercises

Best calf exercises

Standing Barbell Calf Raise

Stand upright with a barbell supported on your upper back. With your toes pointing forwards, raise your heels off the floor and contract your calves. Slowly return to the starting position.

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best calf exercises to build muscle

Single Dumbbell Calf Raise

Put a weight plate on the floor and rest your toes on it whilst sitting on a bench. Place a dumbbell on your knee, your right hand holding the handle whilst your left hand holds the top. Lift up your toes as high as possible. Pause, then lower it back onto the weight and repeat.

best calf workouts

Seated Calf Raise (Leg Press Machine)

Sit down at the leg press machine and rest your feet so just your toes are resting at the bottom of the platform. Push back as far as you can while keeping your feet against the platform. Return under control to the start position and repeat.

exercises to build calf muscles

Farmer’s Walk (On Tiptoes)

Grab a pair of dumbbells (or kettlebells) and hold them by your sides. Walk forward – on your tip toes – taking short, quick steps. At first, go for a lighter weight in order to maintain balance. Go for the given distance, as fast as possible.

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Box Jump

      Set yourself a comfortable distance from the box with feet shoulder width apart. Drop quickly into a quarter squat, swing your arms and explode upwards to jump onto the box. Land as softly as possible. Now step backwards off the box under control.


      5 Lower-leg Workouts for Adding Size

      You know the moves, you have the technique, now it’s time to put it all together. Here’s 5 great lower leg workouts that will help build muscle.

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