With the possible exception of the forearms, no body part is so often brutally exposed to the collective vision of the outside world as the calves. Every time you wear shorts in public, a statement is being made. The calves are a part of the physique that must scream to the meek and timid of the species. Having superior calves is also a way to make yourself known to the hardcore bodybuilding set. A pair of freaky, striated, diamond-hard calves are a sign of a true bodybuilder who puts his work in everyday, who overlooks nothing and who, frankly, has endured a lot of fucking pain over the years.
No other body part is so often copped out on as the calves. Shrugging off shitty calves as a result of poor genetics is a daily occurrence amongst the wannabes, the posers who don’t have the balls to put in on the line day in and day out to achieve their goals. News flash, pretty boy: nothing in this sport comes easy, and the highest achievement comes as a result of great sacrifice.
This is never more true than when attempting to build great calves, the best of which come at the expense of hour after hour and set after set of the real shit. Whether you have the genetics of a Nebraska farm boy or those of a NYC marathoner, freaky calves can be yours, but it just might have to hurt to get them. So let's quit blaming our folks for this one and blast some fucking calves.
The first thing that needs to be thrown out the window is the concept of calf work as an afterthought to an intense leg session. Unless you are the rare kind of mutherfucker who can destroy calves after training quads and hamstrings for two hours, train them separately. Pair them with an unrelated muscle group like back or chest. Also, consider how easily your calves grow and decide how often they need to be trained. Once a week, all out and intense might be enough. Twice a week, spread out to allow for full recovery maybe the ticket to maximum growth.
Old school cats sometimes trained them everyday. To each his own, but my opinion is that if you are really hitting them hard, even three times a week would be verging on overtraining. We need to remember, too, that our calves get worked on a low impact level dragging our big asses around all day, so the most effective way for them to be trained is to combine high reps and super heavy weight. Enough talk. Time to pay some bills.
#4: Seated Calf Raise/Leg Press Calf Raise Superset
The combination of exercises with the knee bent and the leg straight is necessary for complete development. In this superset, we will combine two such movements to create an excruciating, growth-inducing experience. We will perform five such supersets beginning with the seated calf raise. Starting light, we will perform 40 reps with a full range of motion. At the completion of this set, we will move immediately to the leg press and perform 25 reps with our legs completely straight, being sure to emphasize a complete stretch and a full contraction. This sequence will be repeated four more times, raising the weight on each set, yet never completing less than 15 reps of either exercise–even on our heaviest set.
#5: Standing Calf Raise/Bodyweight Calf Raise Superset
With our calves throbbing from our first exercise, we will hobble on to our next superset, designed specifically to remove walking as a transportation option for the next few days… Besides, what is a stroll in the park compared to a bulging, rugged set of calves? Select a weight on the standing calf raise machine with which you can grind out a solid 25 reps. Without pause, move on to a platform where, using only your body weight, you will prolong the set by performing calf raises unilaterally (alternating each leg), and then finally using both legs simultaneously until the burn is so intense that tears well up in your eyes. This superset will be repeated twice more, bumping up the weight each time, and taking the time to stretch between each sadomasochistic ritual. Stretching is an absolute must during intense calf training. Stretching flushes out lactic acid, allowing you to go all out from set to set. It helps combat cramping and it keeps the often vulnerable Achilles' tendons limber and less susceptible to injury.
That dawg, is all she wrote. Sixteen sets performed at a blistering pace, enough to turn the most stubborn calves into cows. High intensity shock training, Animal style. How often must you train in this fashion? That decision is completely yours. You must assess your physique honestly and determine what must be done in order to take it where you want it to go. You must reflect on your life and decide how much this pursuit really means to you. Be your own worst critic and you can in turn be your best motivator. Be honest with the reflection in the mirror and you can be confident in your steady and methodical improvement.
Remember, the best calves aren’t handed out in the womb. They are earned. Earned by digging deep and gutting it out and forging on when the next guy calls it a day. This is what it takes to acquire the kind of calves that inspire awe, that demand respect. You will stop at nothing until that respect is yours. Respect comes with having a complete physique–one crafted painstakingly from the ground up. This workout is just another brick in the wall. You’re one step closer to your destiny.