How to grow stubborn calves.

Have you got stubborn calves that just don’t seem to grow? Don’t worry I’ve been there myself. However, just like me yo can turn those lagging calves into one of your best assets a lot faster than you think!

1. Hit them at least 4 times per week

Much like our abs our calves are very resilient and don’t need as much time to heal, this being their worst and best asset. On the one hand, you can train them multiple times per week and hit them just as heavy and hard each time. On the other hand though, because they’re so resilient they are also resilient to growth unless they’re pushed.

This might seem like a lot if you’re only used to training them 2-3 times, but trust me once you start hitting them 4 times per week you will realise the benefits (you’ll also never go back).

By hitting your calves at least 4 times per week your calves will have to respond to the new overload you’re putting on them!

2. Buy a rope

Yes, I mean a skipping rope. I originally started skipping because it was an easy way to get in cardio without having to run quite so much; however, it had a side effect that I wasn’t expecting – you guessed it – my calves started to grow and the conditioning was something completely unexpected.

If you want to start seeing some good results in those calves go to your local Decathlon, TK Maxx or Sports Direct pick up a skipping rope/ speed rope for less than £10 and start jumping!

I started off by doing at least 1,000 per day and just added more once I felt like it was required. 

3. Tiger Balm

Well, Tiger Balm is amazing (any oriental balm with Menthol, Camphor, Methyl Salicylate, Clove Oil, Eucalyptus Oil, Cedar Wood Oil, Nutmeg Oil & Parafin will be just as good though).

So I read an article by John Catanzaro on bodybuilding.com last year about Tiger Balm and the benefits it can have on stubborn body parts such as calves. At this point, although my calves were looking the best they had, I never turn down a little spark of knowledge that can help me in any way.

So I started applying Tiger Balm to my calves before my first set on calves and straight after my final set. They grew. I’m still not entirely convinced what promotes this growth, whether it’s the increased blood flow that the balm creates or whether it’s the slight numbing effect it has helping me push higher reps at a heavier weight.

Anyway nip into your local shop and pick some up, or grab some online! Honestly, it’s not a waste of money. If you want a cheap alternative that seems to work just as well, you can pick up a 2 x 18g pack in Poundland.

4. Heavy Vs Light

So you’ve heard all of your favourite bodybuilders tell you to hit your calves heavy because you walk around on them all day anyway, but don’t take this the wrong way. You need to be going heavy – yes, but you need to be able to achieve 25-35 reps per set too, as claves respond to a much higher rep range than any other muscle.

So you want to be doing a weight that you can easily achieve the first 15 reps and then suddenly at the 16th rep you feel the pinch so that you’re calves are working overtime for the final 10-20 reps.

However, there are benefits to having lower weight/ no weight. Like skipping, donkey raises and standing wall raises. All of these exercises are brilliant after you have hit you main 2 heavy calf movements as they can keep the blood flow pushing your calves to grow.

5. Lots of sets

So if you’re hitting calves 4 times per week you want to have at least 2 sessions that are really high in sets. My personal favourite is:

  • Standing smith calf raise: 6 sets / 35 reps
  • Seated calf raise: 6 sets / 25 reps
  • Donkey calf raises: 4 sets / 30 reps
  • Skipping: 10 sets / 150 reps

I’d always say hit calves before your main workout. Just for response purposes.

Hopefully you’ve found this article useful and you’ll be able to go into your gym with a clear goal on growing your stubborn calves!

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