Calf Training 101 — My Journey (Part One)
I’m not sure exactly where to start; so, I’ll begin with a quote from the late, great John McCallum’s fantastic bodybuilding book, ‘The Complete Keys to Progress’: “You could fill a small island with all the men who’ve given up on their calf training”. I remember reading that sentence for the first time and breathing a deep sigh of resignation. Yes — I had given up on my calf training — but my problem was that I’d given up before I’d ever even got started. What I didn’t understand at the time was that I couldn’t build strong muscular calves by following a 12-week calf training program; instead, my calf training needed to be systematic.
By calf training program I mean that programming your calf training into your weekly training routine (three sets of 10 calf raises on the leg press followed by three sets of 10 seated calf raises after your leg/chest/arm workout) will not facilitate any sort of meaningful muscular development in the calf region.
By systematic I mean that calf training (especially if you have already built some muscle and you calves need to be brought into proportion with the rest of your body) needs to form part of your regular training system. By this I mean that calf training shouldn’t merely be an afterthought in your training, nor should it be incorporated into some of your training routines some of the time, i.e., when you can be bothered or whenever you don’t forget to include it. You wouldn’t not train your thighs for six months and then wonder why they were lacking in development in comparison to the body parts you had trained would you? I hope not.
Calf training, like life, is not fair. Deal with it. Accept now that just like some people are born rich, never having had to sweat and toil for their wealth, some are born with big calves and others, well, aren’t. If you’re reading this then you’re probably lacking in the calf department: well don’t worry, you’ve got plenty of company. The question is, whether you’ll choose to do something about it by undertaking the training routine that I am about to lay out for you, completely free of charge, that will allow you to right this terrible genetic wrong, or whether you’ll just keep wearing jeans in the summer. The choice, as always, is yours.
The training system I want to share with you will not increase the length of your workouts, and if it does the extra time will be nominal and will only be for the first few weeks as you implement the routine, and you will not be required to purchase any equipment whatsoever. The only time I am going to recommend any equipment is when I write my series about leg training for tall people and leg training for people with lower back problems. I am not claiming that all the ideas I share are my own, and whenever necessary I give credit to those who I quote (as I did above, without using an affiliate link). What I will claim as my own is the concept of integrating the exercises I recommend into your regular bodybuilding/ strength training routine so that your calves are trained as frequently and as thoroughly as possible, without causing any disruption to your regular training program. This means that if you are focusing on your building up your arms or trying to increase your squat you can adjust your training accordingly and still utilise the calf training system I will share without having to do anything differently. Sceptical? I don’t blame you. Interested? I hope so.