Direct Calf Work

Discussion in 'Health and Fitness' started by Frederick Foresight, Jun 29, 2020.

  1. Does anyone here who lifts not do any direct (isolation) calf work? I have pretty much always done them, even when I went to otherwise only compound movements some years ago. Since the calves get worked while doing upper leg compound movements, I'm toying with the idea of scrapping them. And so, I'd like to hear what others have to say on the subject.
  2. Off and on. Now on again. I do some on a seated machine for calves, and then toe raise with a barbell on shoulders. Higher reps with slow and pause under tension each rep. I have what I think are called runners legs, longer and leaner. Leg development has always been difficult with me, always. Decent definition, but no real size.
  3. I used to do both standing and seated calf raises. But ever since I went with the theme of including my bodyweight in every exercise, I've only been doing standing calf raises. (Soleus be damned!) Since going with this approach, I've been doing one leg at a time. Initially, I used a dumbbell, but now I just use body weight, so my reps per set are anywhere between about 60 and 70 reps standing on the edge of a stair (now that I'm doing them at home during COVID). It takes about 4 minutes per calf, so calf work of only one set per leg takes upwards of 8 minutes.

    Apart from my "lifting" leg workout, which is a set of slow and lightly-weighted pistol squats to failure, immediately followed by a slow split squat for the same leg to go past failure, I presently also do a total of 1,400 bodyweight squats at speed over 6 days of the week as part of my cardio. (200 squats plus ab work after the resistance portion of the workout, double that on the official cardio day, and 200 squats four other days of the week without ab work.) Although my calves are not embarrassing, they're not at all noteworthy.

    So if calves are worked during upper leg work, I'm wondering if I should continue with the calf isolation work. I'll probably do them as usual today, and then I'll have a week to think about it. In the meantime, I hope others share their experiences with calf work as well.
    Last edited: Jun 29, 2020
  4. During the "on" periods, did you notice any change in size?
  5. I have read over the years that calves are perhaps the most difficult muscle to grow, and that their size is almost entirely genetically determined. I don't know if this is accurate, but I can say that my calves were never anything to brag about, even when I was doing 6 sets a workout to failure, twice a week. If I'm not mistaken, St. Jude is the patron saint of lost causes. :D
    CaptainObvious likes this.
  6. Not until this time around. I started in my garage just standing on a small ledge, body weight,and doing like 10 sets of 15 and holding each rep at the top. Since back in gym, 3rd week now, M-W-F full body type workout, I am spending more time on the seated machine and doing 20-25 reps, 6 sets, and holding each rep for about 5 seconds. Noticeable difference in size and definition is really nice when flexed. Weight setting is light, like 130 lbs. I think TUT is the key more than anything
    Last edited: Jun 29, 2020
  7. Baron

    Baron ET Founder

    Personally speaking, I can't say that my calves have every been sore from doing upper leg exercises. Maybe soreness isn't necessary to achieve an acceptable level of stimulation though.
  8. Upper leg work has never given me the impression that it was beneficial for calves. So I added a standing calve raise exercise, using a weighted machine. Initially, after a long period of not doing this, this leads to very stiff calve muscles. Once I'm over this initial stage I can gradually overload them, adding a bit of weight each time.
    Body-weight calve raise has not provided me any perceived benefit.
  9. hafez50


    I work them on the push press machine .I’ll do 5 sets of 10 twice a week extending my calves .
  10. As someone genetically blessed with calves I find even doing calf raises on the edge of the stairs (50 minimum) gives me a good muscle pump and helps keep them defined.

    I used to do calf raises with the calf raise machine at the gyma nd then went to the leg press machine that hafez showed. I believe calves are like abs, they need heavy training to grow and can take a lot but not everyone can get defined ones.
    #10     Jun 30, 2020