Most bodybuilders who are just starting out seem to devote most of their attention to upper body exercises. Leg training is limited to some leg extensions and leg curls, whenever the beginner feels like it, and worst yet, the calves seem to never even get included in the program of many beginners. Needless to say, this is a huge mistake.

The truth is that calves are a vital component to your bodybuilding training routines and without them you will never be able to have the complete head to toe physique you strive for. In addition, bigger looking calves give the optical illusion of having bigger looking thighs as well.

Calves besides being one of the most neglected body parts in the gym, are ones whose training is most misunderstood. Some people claim that you need to hit them every day with high reps while others claim that low rep low volume works best. In my experience I found that an approach of heavy training twice a week worked great…or so I thought.

Getting Your Calves To Grow
My typical routine was 10 sets of 10 reps with 800 lbs on the standing calf raise machine and only 20 seconds of rest in between sets. I would also do this routine on a calf press machine or on a hack squat machine. This approach worked great for many years with small variations here and there such as me changing the exercise used or preceding the routine with two sets of 50 reps for the soleous on the seated calf raise machine or tri-setting calf raises with tibia raises and then back to calf raises again.

Enter Todd Mendelsohn, former Mr. Central Florida and current NPC National Level Competitor.
I met Todd at a gym in St Petersburg, Florida and the first time I saw him I almost hit the floor. When he walked his Thighs looked like those of a cyborg, all striations twitching up and down. And the calves, I swear they looked like they where pure fiber without skin. After Todd finished his training routine I introduced myself and asked what he did for calves.

Todd first mentioned that he hits them twice a week and that his first workout of the week is 8 sets of 8 reps on either the calf raise machine or the calf press machine. Not much different than my routine, I thought to myself. Now the second routine is the one that shocked me. He would choose the calf press, calf raise machine, dumbbells or donkey calf raise machine and do 4 sets of 100.

Todd claimed that this is the method that made his calves grew beyond belief. I tried this out and while at first I had to stop at 50 reps in excruciating pain as the body got used to it on the first couple of weeks, by the third week I finally was able to achieve 100 reps. Three weeks later my calves were bigger creatures.

Now the reason I always trained them with 10 sets of 10 is because I always thought that the calves were comprised of mainly fast twitch fibers (at least the gastroctnemius as I knew that the soleous, which is the part under the gastroc, is mainly slow twitch). I took this question to Todd and he explained that the gastrocnemius is both fast twitch and slow twich contrary to being predominantly one or the other. Weeks later I came across an article named High vs. Low Reps for Abs and Calves by Dr. J. Clayton Hyght that corroborated what Todd mentioned. Dr. Hyght mentioned that “the lateral head of the gastrocnemius is composed of about 51% slow-twitch (Type I) muscle fibers. That means that the remainder is either fast-twitch (Type IIB) or intermediate (Type IIA). As for the medial gastroc, it’s composed of 44% slow-twitch. Thus the remaining 56% are fast or intermediate. In my opinion, it would be crazy to train the gastrocs with high reps or low reps exclusively. In order to stimulate both the fast and slow-twitch fibers, you must train both with heavy weights and low reps, as well as with light weights and high reps. While you’re at it, make sure to hit the intermediate fibers with medium weight and medium reps”.

Having said that, the science behind calf training became clear to me. Based on this information, the best solution to calf training then would be to train calves twice a week leaving two or three days of rest in between, alternating high reps and slow reps. That is the way that I now do my calf training and as a result, my calves have improved dramatically.

Below are 3 weeks worth of calf workouts that you can start using to get some new growth on the calves:

Sample Calf Workout Program

HunterSeatedCalfRaisesWeek 1
First Calf Workout of the Week (Monday)
• Seated Calf Raises – 2 sets of 50 reps (30 second rest in between sets)
• Calf Press – 10 sets of 10 reps with 20 seconds of rest in between sets

Second Calf Workout of the Week (Thursday)
• One Legged Dumbbell Calf Raises – 4 sets of 100 reps (60 second rest in between sets)


Week 2
First Calf Workout of the Week (Monday)
• Standing Calf Raises – 5 sets of 10-12 reps (No Rest)
• Tibia Raises – 5 sets of 30 reps (No Rest)
• Standing Calf Raises – 5 sets of 6-8 reps (45 second rest)
(Note: Use the same weight on calf raises throughout the routine)

Second Calf Workout of the Week (Thursday)
• Donkey Calf Raises – 4 triple drop sets (do 40 reps on the first weight, reduce weight and do 30 more reps and reduce weight and do 30 more) Rest 60 seconds in between sets.


Week 3
First Calf Workout of the Week (Monday)
Modified Triset (Go from one exercise to the next in circuit fashion after resting the prescribed amount of time per exercise):
• Standing Calf Raises (Toes In to emphasize outer head) – 3 sets of 10-12 reps (20 second rest)
• Standing Calf Raises (Toes Pointing Forward) – 3 sets of 10-12 reps (20 second rest)
• Standing Calf Raises (Toes Out to emphasize inner head) – 3 sets of 10-12 reps (60 second rest)
(Note: Use the same weight on calf raises throughout the routine) Seated Calf Raises 2 sets of 35 reps (45 second rest)

Second Calf Workout of the Week (Thursday)
• Calf Press – 4 sets of 100 reps

Well, there you have it. Try these simple, yet highly effective calf training routines for the next three weeks and see your calves grow. As always remember that in bodybuilding, diet and rest are as important as training, and that if those two are not in order you may not get as much benefit out of these routines.

Take care and train hard!


About the Author
Hugo Rivera is an International35hugoriveranearcontestshape600-199x300 best selling fitness author certified in personal training and nutrition with a computer engineering degree from the University of South Florida. Hugo is owner of, an informational, free fitness and nutrition website. He is author of over 10 fitness books (with over a million copies sold) including his best sellers: Body Re-Engineering, The Body Sculpting Bible for Men, The Body Sculpting Bible for Women, the Weight Training Diary, and the Hardgainers Handbook of Bodybuilding. Today via his website, numerous articles, book publications, TV and radio appearances Hugo continues to educate the public on how to achieve the body of their dreams via the use of weight training exercise, good nutrition and correct supplementation.  You can follow Hugo at his:

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One Response for Build Muscle on Your Stubborn Calves in the Next 3 Weeks

  1. Teaching Quality Discussion


    February 21, 2011 11:11 pm

    Nice work. You keep working on this blog please.