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5 Calf Exercises For Strong & Big Calves

Add more size to your lower legs and calf muscles with these 5 exercises to build bigger calves

Calves can be one of the hardest bodyparts to work and build, but that doesn’t mean you’re doomed to live with small calves for all of eternity.

Apart from the elite few genetically blessed with giant calves, most guys have very stubborn calf muscles, so throwing in a few calf raises at the end of your workout isn’t going to convince them to grow. To get this body part to respond, you need to train calves frequently and you need to really feel them burn.

Attack your lower legs with this calf routine that’s sure to get them growing. Calves respond well to high reps, but you also need to load them up to spark growth. These exercises achieve both extremes, helping you to carve out thick and powerful calves.



Donkey Calf Raises – 3 sets x 15 reps

How to do it:
Place your hips under the pad of the Donkey Calf Raise machine, position the balls of your feet on the ledge and keep an arch in your lower back. Keeping your knees slightly bent, lower your heels until you feel a stretch through your calves, then slowly push up to full extension while again keeping your knees slightly bent. Work slowly through full range of motion; do not jerk the weight up.


Single Leg Standing Calf Raisers – 3 sets x 8 reps


How to do it:
Set yourself up on the standing calf raise machine. Alternatively you can use a calf block or step. Have the balls of your feet on the edge of the step with your heels as low as they will drop; at this point your calves should be at full stretch.
Slowly drive up through the balls of your feet, lifting yourself as high as you can. Hold for a moment and then slowly lower to the starting position. Repeat.


Seated Calf Raisers – 3 sets x 20 repetitions followed by a 4th set of single legs

How to do it:

This is a great exercise as the emphasis is on the Soleus muscles, where other exercises focus more on the Gastrocnemius. The Soleus muscles are comprised of a greater ratio of slow twitch versus fast twitch muscle fibres, therefore it will benefit from lighter weight with higher repetition.

Wedge your legs snugly under the pad with the balls of your feet on the ledge. Push up onto your toes and un-rack the weight. Lower your heels down as low as they will go and then slowly press the weight back up to full extension, holding the squeeze at the top for a moment before repeating. Focus the weight through the balls of your feet with the emphasis on your big toe, using a slow controlled tempo; no bouncing the movement.


Leg Press Calf Raises – 5 sets x 10 reps

How to do it:
Lock the Leg Press carriage up higher than usual so that your legs are almost straight, with only a small bend at the knees. Place only the balls of your feet on the carriage. Push up through your toes slowly to full extension, and then back down at the same speed until you feel a good stretch in the calf muscle. Do not move with your hips and knees, but instead put all the movement in your ankles to really work the calves.


Box jumps – 3 sets x 12 reps

How to do it:
Set up a box at a comfortable height for you (not pushing boundaries). Stand facing the box on the tips of your toes with feet shoulder width apart. Squat down before driving up through the legs and land lightly on your toes on top of the box. Step (don’t jump) down to your starting position and repeat.
If you’re game, this can be performed with a weight plate or dumbbells to step it up a notch.
Note: You should not be landing in a deep squat position; if this is the case you probably have the stack too high. Keep an eye on your knees, making sure they are not caving in; always land in stable position with knees tracking over your feet.

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