I hardly meet a person in bodybuilding who doesn’t comment on the size of my calves. Calves also seem to be one body part that you will still see lacking on stage, even at an International level.
Many people believe it is all genetics, and I must agree, the shape of my calves comes from my mother, BUT do not think for one moment that the first time I stepped on stage my calves were anything like they are now. I have had to build them, just like any other muscle group.
The most common mistake people make with calf training is that they think it is all about heavy weight. They think if they can press the stack on the calf raise they will grow big calves. However, in doing so, they lose all movement at the ankle and end up ‘hopping’ the weight up from their knees or hips.
The key to growing calves is using a full range of movement at the ankle joint. As you know, moving your elbow joint works the bicep or tricep, well, movement at the ankle causes the calf to contract and extend.
When performing calf raises, put only your toes on the plate, lower your heal as far down as possible to get a good stretch in your calf, and then in one smooth, slow, controlled motion, raise your heal, contracting the calf, until you are standing on tip toes (the same applies to seated calf raises - you still must contract until your ankle is flexed and your toes are pointed). Perform 15 of these, nice and slowly, and you will feel the most incredible burn in your calves, not only in the back (gastrocnemus), but also in the sides (soleus) and if you’ve stretched properly at the bottom you’ll even get a burn up the front of your calf (tibialis anterior). Think about the squeeze at the top of the rep and the stretch at the bottom and forget about the weight.
Try this technique out for a month, and believe me, you will see a difference!