Calf Building 101

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Anatomy of the Calf

Gastrocnemius:

The gastrocnemius is also called the calf muscle. The muscle itself is one that is visible on the body (meaning it doesn’t lie underneath any other muscles and therefore is not visible by the eye). The gastrocnemius attaches to the heel (at the Achilles Tendon) and originates on the femur (behind the knee). The calf muscle has two heads (the medial and lateral heads).

Soleus:

Unlike the gastrocnemius, this is one of those muscles that I mentioned above that are not visible because it lies underneath another muscle. It is for this reason that the muscle isn’t very well known among those just starting out. The medial head originates on the posterior tibia and the lateral head on the posterior fibula. These two heads unite and insert into the calcaneal tendon.
Calf Muscles
Plantaris:

The plantaris is a very small muscle.  The long tendon of the plantaris passes between the gastrocnemius and soleus and inserts into the calcaneus.  It originates at the lateral epicondyle of the femur, just above the origin of the lateral head of the gastrocnemius.

Different Parts of the Calf

Gastrocnemius:

The function of this muscle is plantar flexion (elevating the heel). Without this muscle, it would be very hard to walk normally since you would not be able to push off the ball of your foot.

Soleus:
The function of this muscle is basically the same as the gastrocnemius in that its job is to raise the heel.

The only real difference between the two is that the soleus comes into play when the knee is bent (for example during seated calf raises).

Plantaris:
This is a very weak muscle but does help aid in raising the heel (plantar flexion).

Different Calf Exercises

    Arnold Calf Muscles

  • Standing Barbell Calf Raises
  • Seated Barbell Calf Raises
  • Smith Machine Standing Calf Raises
  • Smith Machine Reverse Standing Calf Raises
  • Smith Machine Seated Calf Raises
  • Standing Dumbbell Calf Raises
  • Seated Dumbbell Calf Raises
  • Standing Cable Calf Raises
  • Donkey Calf Raises
  • Calf Press on Leg Press Machine
  • Single Leg Dumbbell Calf Raises
  • Machine Standing Calf Raises
  • Machine Seated Calf Raises

Mass Building Calf Workouts

It is important to know that for many people the calf responds to higher reps.  See what works for you but for most you need to be doing at least 15 reps per set.

You want to concentrate on really feeling the calf contracting during the set and get a good stretch at the bottom of the movement and a hard contraction at the top.

Do not bounce during the movement.  You want to make sure that during both the concentric and eccentric part of the movement is nice and slow and controlled.

Crazy Calf Muscles

Workout #1
Standing Barbell Calf Raises  4×15
Seated Barbell Calf Raises  4×15
Donkey Calf Raises  4×15

Workout #2
Standing Barbell Calf Raises  4×15
Standing One-Leg Dumbbell Calf Raises  4×15
Seated Dumbbell Calf Raises  4×15

Workout #3
Smith Machine Standing Calf Raises  4×15
Standing One-Leg Calf Raises  4×15
Donkey Calf Raises  4×15

Workout #4
Calf Press on Leg Press Machine  4×15
Machine Standing Calf Raises  4×15
Machine Seated Calf Raises  4×15

Workout #5
Calf Press on Leg Press Machine  4×15
Standing Barbell Calf Raises  4×15
Machine Seated Calf Raises  4×15

Workout #6 (Smith Machine)
Smith Machine Reverse Standing Calf Raises  4×15
Smith Machine Standing Calf Raises  4×15
Smith Machine Seated Calf Raises  4×15

Workout #7 (Bodyweight)
Standing Bodyweight Calf Raises  6×15
Standing One-Leg Bodyweight Calf Raises  6×15

Calf Muscle

Conclusion

When it comes down to it you want to focus on the mind-muscle connection. You should really feel each rep and feel the muscle working. If you don’t feel an exercise in your quads, then you are probably doing it wrong or are using a weight that you can’t handle and are using more than just your quads.

Most of all have fun with your workouts. If you aren’t having fun, then what’s the point? Utilize what you learned in this course and see where it takes you. Good luck and see you at graduation!