Calf Workouts – The Secrets of Successfully Training Your Calves

I think I became obsessed with basketball during the freshman year of high school. One thing I noticed was that all the older basketball players had great calf development. Well, they probably had good development of their whole bodies, but that was what I noticed cause we were wearing basketball shorts.

Basketball players have good calf development because of their sport. Or is it that they develop their calves for their sport? Which came first? So anyway, I became a calf training fanatic. I remember I had a classmate who was into bodybuilding and I was asking him all the time about ways to develop my calves for basketball.

Here Is What I Learned

  • Stretch on the down position for 2-4 seconds. Make sure to do calf raises on a platform of sorts so that you have additional space to lower your heels. The reason for this is that your muscles and ligaments store elastic energy. You want to dissipate this energy by waiting for a few seconds. This way you will fatigue the muscle itself and will not be relying on the stored energy from the descent.
  • Lower slowly and under control. Do this on all pushing exercises. It goes without saying – no bouncing. Control the descent and then pause.
  • Train barefoot, with chuck tailors or with shoes that allow full range of motion. Otherwise you won’t be able to stretch full on the bottom position. Likewise, you won’t be able to fully flex at the top position.
  • Make sure to fully extend your ankle and concentrate on feeling the muscle contract for 1-2 seconds. Make each repetition count.
  • Bent knee calf raises work the soleus muscle. This is the muscle above your ankle. The best way to do them is by sitting on a machine or with a barbell, dumbbell or barbell plate resting on your knees.
  • calf workouts Straight legged calf raises work the calf muscle itself.
  • Use progressive overload when training the calves. Start with two legged training without additional weight. Next do two legs and weight. After that, switch to one legged raises without weight. The hardest variation is one legged calf raises with additional weight in your hand.
  • Run and jump rope: the best ways to train you calves.

Photos by Uri and Brooke