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Best Calf Workout Routines

Updated on December 15, 2014

Training The Calf Muscles

There are a lot of weight trainers who focus most of their lifting efforts on building their upper bodies. However, for a complete physique you need to build the muscles of the legs, including the calves. The calves aren't one of the largest muscle groups of the body by any means, but building them will help you create a proportionate physique.

The size of your calf muscles depends a lot on your genetics. You've almost certainly seen people who've never exercised and still have huge calves and people who weight train and run regularly who don't have very much calf size at all. However, if you don't have naturally large calves you needn't worry. All it will take is to follow the best calf workout routines consistently.

Calf Workout Routines

To get a response in muscle growth from the calves you need to really train them hard with best calf workout routines. They are a very dense muscle and you constantly use them when you are on your feet. The calf muscles also recover much faster than most other muscle groups so you can perform workouts for them more often to force them into growth. To get the calves to grow you should also do higher rep sets than you do for other muscles - as in much higher reps. Sets of calf exercises can be done for over 50 reps If you really want a deep burn.

It's very important to get a full stretch and strong contraction when during best calf workout routine exercises. Getting a good stretch in the calves will help lengthen the muscles and will give them more potential for growth. Once you've done as many full reps as possible you during a set of a calf exercise you should do some "bouncing" reps to really burn the muscles out.

You can also supplement your calf workouts with non-weight training exercises. Running and jump roping will also work your calves very intensely.

Best Calf Exercises

The best calf workout routines need to have you performing exercises to build both of the major muscles of the calves - the gastrocnemius and the soleus. To train the gastrocnemius you need to do straight legged calf exercises. To target the soleus muscle that lies underneath the gastrocnemius you need to do seated, bent-legged exercises. If you train both muscles intensely you'll have a better chance of building calf size.

Standing calf raises and leg press calf raises are the best straight-legged calf exercises. You can find a standing calf raise machine in any gym. To perform the exercise you just put your shoulders under the pads on the machine and lift the weight up using the calf muscles. Raise up as high as you can to get a strong muscle contraction and try to stretch the calves at the bottom of each rep. You can also do straight-legged calf raises on a leg press machine. this is a nice alternative to use. If you do your weight training at home you can do standing calf raises by putting your toes on a sturdy block and raising your heels.

For optimal calf development during your best calf workout routines, you need to do seated calf raises. Most gyms have a machine that will allow you to sit down and put your knees under a pad so you can perform seated calf raises. Like with straight-legged calf exercises you should lower the weight until your calves are fully stretched and raise it until you have a strong contraction. Go for some short "bouncing" reps to burn out the muscles. You can put a towel on your thighs while seated and place a weight on the towel if you don't have access to a seated calf raise machine.

Donkey calf raises are an old school calf exercise. They were popular in Arnold's day, as a bodybuilder would stand and bend forward at the waist and have their training partner sit on their backs for resistance. They would then do calf raises in this position. It's obvious why you don't see this exercise done anymore, but there are machines that emulate this so you don't have to be so up close and personal with your training buddy.

To build the small muscles on the fronts of the lower legs during the best calf workout routines you can put your heel on a block raise your toes up for toe raises. If you want you can put a small weight on your toes for more resistance. You then raise your toes and hold at the top to burn out the muscles. Toe raises will also help prevent shin splints.

Another way to build your calf muscles is to jog or run during your cardiovascular workouts. All out sprints will really burn your calves out. Jump roping is also an excellent form of exercise that will have your calves screaming if you go at it hard.

If you perform these exercises as part of the best calf workout routines you'll build thicker and denser calves in no time.

Sample Calf Workout Routine

This is one of the best calf workout routines and follows a light, medium, and heavy workout scheme. This will allow you to train with various weights and repetition ranges to give your muscles some variety. You should perform this routine on your leg training day after you've done your quadriceps and hamstring workouts.

Light calf workout (25+ reps on all sets)

2 sets of standing or leg press calf raises

2 sets of seated calf raises

2 sets of toes raises

Medium calf workout (15-25 reps on all sets)

3 sets of standing or leg press calf raises

3 sets of seated calf raises

2 sets of toe raises

Heavy calf workout (10-15 reps on all sets)

4 sets of standing or leg press calf raises

4 sets of seated calf raises

3 sets of toe raises

Running and Jump Roping

While resistance training is usually done for building more muscle and cardio is usually done to burn fat, the calves are the one muscle group that may get bigger from cardio types of exercise. Since the calf muscle respond well to high reps they also respond well to high intensity cardiovascular training in which they are heavily involved.

Running, whether done outside or on a treadmill, will certainly work the calves. It's best to mix high intensity and low intensity running. You can go at normal jogging speed, then do short sprints to really work the calves.

Jump roping may work the calves even harder than running. It may be tough to jump rope for very long at first, but you can increase the duration of your workouts greatly over time. You can also increase jump roping speed to train the calves more intensely.

Standing Calf Raise Examples

Calf Favorites

What's you favorite calf exercise?

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    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Boner, is that 1 of them ?

    • profile image

      Mr Web 

      8 years ago

      great post !

    • profile image

      mr dir 

      8 years ago

      good post. thank you


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