6 Mistakes That Are Keeping Your Calves Small

6 Mistakes That Are Keeping Your Calves Small

Every guy who wants an aesthetic, balanced physique is also concerned about their calves development.

However, unlike other muscle groups calves can be stubborn when it comes to growth. It’s no surprise then that so many guys give up on them entirely after not seeing any progress.

If you are one of those guys we suggest you give them another try as there are probably some key mistakes you are making.

The truth is, anyone can build a decent set of calves with the right training approach. Check out the article below for six common training mistakes and how you can fix them.

6 Mistakes That Are Keeping Your Calves Small


Sticking to the 10-15 Rep Range

While this rep range might be effective for most other parts of your body, calves are a bit different.

When it comes to training calves you need to look at doing 20+ reps preferably closer to 30.

This works for a number of reasons. First, it forces you to use a lighter weight which in turn means better form.

This leads to a better contraction of the calves muscles and a better pump following those 30 reps. It also allows you to overload a muscle that is used to high rep work (remember your calves get a lot of work naturally throughout the day just from walking around).

Training Calves at the End of Leg Day

Most calves exercises get thrown in at the end of leg day.

Remember this is after doing squats, leg press, lunges and a variety of other exhausting exercises – so how much energy do you really think you are going to have for those calves exercises?

You need to change your approach to calves. Either put them on a separate day from legs or perform them at the beginning of your workout.

You need to hit them when they are fresh otherwise you simply won’t make any gains. Split your leg day into two separate workouts and watch as your calves all of a sudden improve as you give them more focus.

Using Weights that are Too Heavy

While lifting heavy is important to building muscle, if the weights are so big that you can’t use proper form them you won’t see much benefit.

Symptoms of using too much weight include bouncing the weight at the bottom of reps, or not contracting at the top of reps.

Worse you might end up bringing other leg muscles into the exercise to help move the weight. In addition to reducing your gains training this way will also set you up for possible injury.

If you feel pain in your Achilles tendon then you are definitely lifting too much weight.

Similarly, if you are unable to perform standing calf raises without bending your knees, or seated calf raises without using your arms to help the weight up then you definitely need to adjust the resistance downwards.


Not Training All Parts of the Calves

If you only perform one calf exercise, seated for example, week after week then you won’t make solid gains.

That’s because you aren’t working all parts of the calf muscle!

Remember that your calves are made up of several muscles – the gastrocnemius which is the muscle that makes up the inner and outer heads of the calves. Standing exercises tend to target this part of the calves more effectively.

The soleus muscle is underneath the gastrocnemius and are hit when doing seated calf exercises.

Therefore, make sure your workout includes both seated and standing exercises if you want to build some impressive calves.

Bad Foot Placement

A lot of people think that you can hit different parts of the calves depending on whether you point your feet inward, straight ahead or outwards.

This is true, to an extent. However, you only need to turn you feet by an inch or two to get this emphasis.

People who turn their feet at extreme angles are actually reducing the effectiveness of the exercise and also putting a lot of stress on the joints and tissues in the knees and ankles.

Forgetting to Contract the Calves

Just like chest, back, legs and arms your calves benefit from getting a full contraction as well as a slow and controlled negative.

Way too many guys use momentum or bounce the weight during calf raises which means they miss out on half the benefit of the exercise.

In order to get the full benefit of the calf raise you need to emphasis the contraction at the top of the exercise.

Really focus on flexing hard at the top of each rep and it will make all the difference in your workout.

Now once you’ve contracted properly at the top of the rep it doesn’t mean you can drop the weight down to the beginning.

Lower the weight slowly and under control and do this for each rep. Each part of the rep should be under control.


The main calf exercises you want to focus on are the standing calf raises, seated calf raises and the calf raise on the leg press machine.

If you do these with proper form, following the tips above and emphasizing the contraction at the top of the exercise you will definitely see an improvement in your calf development!

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