Ah calves, those stubborn muscles that despite lifting huge amounts of weight just simply don’t want to grow, some guys are still trying to figure out how to to build bigger calves!
If you’ve ever used the standing calf raise machine you are probably familiar with those shoulder bruises you get after lifting a ton of weight – only problem is that it seems next to impossible to get a good pump in them.
Have you ever looked in a mirror after doing 20 minutes of calves work?
Yup, they don’t look any different. So why is it so hard to get that mind muscle connection with them compared with other muscle groups?
If you have been around the bodybuilding community for any meaningful amount of time chances are you’ve read at least a few article on “mind-muscle connection”.
While this is easily obtainable with chest, arms and back it seems to come a lot less naturally with calves.
After a lot of research and experimenting with calves training we’ve managed to come up with some suggestions that should help you improve your workouts and finally get some growth in that area.
By using our tips on how to build bigger calves below you should be able to get a better idea on how to train your calves for hypertrophy.
The 2 Best Tips On How You Can Build Bigger Calves
Donkey Calf Raises
This exercise was made famous by Arnold Schwarzenegger, replacing the actual weight with girls sitting on his back. Unfortunately it hasn’t translated into mass adaptation from gyms – in other words, many gyms still don’t have this piece of equipment and even fewer gyms actually have members that take advantage of it.
We admit to being part of the crowd that ignored it until recently when we gave it a shot – the results completely shocked us! It gives a great contraction in the calves – one we had not seen before from the likes of seated and standing calf raises. So why does it cause such a great response from the calves?
The reason is that it puts your body in an angle that stretches the hamstrings which carries over to the calves. Since the two muscle groups are biarticular, meaning that they cross two joints, the hip flexion created puts the calves in an optimal position for contraction.
This effect is similar to what you experience when performing incline bicep curls.
Yes you read that right, leg curls can actually be a great exercise if performed correctly to emphasize the calves. If you’re like most people you perform these with toes pointed up and feel your calves getting involved.
Some people out there as a result will do them with toes pointed down to isolate the hamstrings.
While this is good for a hamstring- focused routine, if you want to hit calves you should perform your leg curls at the end of your workout with the toes pointed up.
Tilting your feet this way again aligns the joints making it much easier to target the calves.
Also if you are doing this exercise after your other calves exercises you will find it gives you a great pump with a lot less weight.
Chances are if you read this article you are not satisfied with your calves development.
Filling out this muscle group will make you look way better in shorts and will help round-out your physique.
Additionally, calves are one of the many support muscles involved in the squat and deadlift exercises, so strengthening them will help increase the amount of weight you can lift on those exercises which will translate to better overall growth.
If your current calves workout is limited to a few sets of seated calf raises to failure try giving the above two exercise to build bigger calves a shot and watch as you finally are able to get that mind-muscle connection with your calves you’ve been looking for!