Monster Calvesby John Meadows on August 14, 2012
August 2012: Monster Calves
I had such an awesome experience with calves this year, I want to share it. Let me give you some history, and then bring you up to my current methods.
When I started competing I was a young teenager with skinny calves just like every other teenager. As I got older and into my early 20’s my quads and hams were growing at an alarming rate (enough to win overalls at NPC shows), but my calves were a measly 14 inches. I got so frustrated I decided that every time I would walk into the gym to train, I would do them first. After a year of doing this they increased to 16 inches. This was very good. I was happy to say the least. Then the gains slowed down. I did manage to put 2 inches on my calves over the next 10 years and got them to a solid ripped and vascular 18 inches. That is where they remained the last 10 years.
About a year or so ago, I started thinking about how I like to train my arms, and legs, with both opposing muscle as once, to get maximum bloodflow and the best pump possible. We had one of those little Hammer Strength Tibia machine so I began to superset this with standing calve raises. BOOM, my calves started growing, and even though I didn’t measure them, I suspect they grew a half inch. Then one day I walked into the gym, and the Tibia machine was gone. I was bummed. I gave up on any dorsiflexion type movements and went back to standing and seated raises. My calves quickly shrank back down to 18 inches.
I was talking to a friend about this and I told him that exact story. He said well why don’t you just stand there and dorsiflex in between sets then as simple as it sounds. It was simple advice, and I was pissed at myself for giving up so easy. I began to do as many dorsiflexes as I could between sets of standing raises. My calves started growing again. I also wasn’t really getting sore, so I took my old approach and started doing calves every time I went to the gym. I did them last, and it only took about 10 minutes, but every week they got bigger and the pump improved. 2 weeks before my recent contest they has such a pump, I had a friend at the gym measure them. They were right at 20!! 20 inch calves..NO WAY! I had him take a pic as proof. HAHA!
So this is how I got to the routine I am laying out below. It will work. I can’t believe how well it worked, and I am hoping to put another inch on my calves in the next 6 months to a year. 21 inches calves would match my arms and neck, and wasn’t that the old standard to model perfect proportions!
Standing calve raises – Do plenty of warm up sets here. I want you to use perfect form and do sets of 10 with heavier and heavier weight, until you can’t get 10. On the last set, add on an extra 20 reps of partials out of the bottom to really drive blood in your calves. I think of this as about 4 sets, as the last 4 sets are pretty hard. 4 total work sets.
Dorsiflexion – After each set of standing raises calves, I want you to stand up and simply dorsiflex your foot to train anterior tibialis. Do them until your tibialis goes numb. This is usually 30-50 reps the first few sets, and then will go down quite a bit as your calves fill with blood.
Try to do the above workout 3 x a week.
NOTE: Do a 4th workout for the week, where you do seated calves in place of the standing calves raises for the same rep scheme.
Also, once every other week I want you to do this for your calve routine to shock them!
Standing calve raises – Do 10 reps, hold an flex at top for 10 seconds and repeat 2 more times for 1 set. This means you will do a total of 30 reps and have 30 seconds of static holds at top. Do this 3 times. 3 total work sets.
Dorsiflexion – After each set of calves, I want you to stand up and simply dorsiflex your foot to train anterior tibialis. Do them until your tibialis goes numb. This is usually 30-50 reps.