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How To Get Big Calves  

by Joseph Tierney

Building calf muscles is one of the hardest muscles in the body to work. Why? Because the calf muscles are naturally toughened up by daily walking, an activity that is impossible to avoid! Also, the longer the calf muscle, the larger its volume and the more need to intensify the approach to building the same.

So the challenges in building up the calf muscles are totally different than the challenges in building up any other muscle in the body but is it impossible? Not at all! First of all, it is important to realize that to compensate for these challenges, training harder is not the answer, nor is cutting down on rest time between sets.

You must set up a structured regiment of sets and begin at the point where they are what you can handle and then gradually build up the number of sets as your endurance (and muscle tone) improves.

Of course, there are specific exercises geared specifically for the building of calf muscles but it is important to remember that to over-do the following and to not allow for rest time for the calf muscles between sets will only cause undue muscle strain and ultimately slow down the progress of building larger calf muscles.

*Remember, calf exercises should be done in sets of five and for maximum results in your bare feet. This prevents artificial supports from taking away from the workout of the calf muscles.

O.k. - let's get started! The first exercise to be discussed is a basic calf-building workout that can be very effective and can be done with very little equipment. This is called "the Standing Calf Raise" and is very effective in creating those well-toned, larger calf muscles you seek.

  1. To begin, get a foot block and place it on the floor. This can be simply a small piece of two-by-four lying lengthwise on the floor.
  2. Then place the balls of your feet on the block before you on the floor. Your feet should be approximately a shoulders-width apart, and your toes should be pointed forward.
  3. Reach up and steady yourself on a support such as an overhead bar above you and straighten your legs, keeping your knees straight and pulling up your weight on the bar overhead. End up on your tip-toes.
  4. Hold for a set number of seconds determined by how long you think you can handle it and to be repeated with each repetition of the exercise.
  5. Slowly lower your heels to the floor, stretching the calf muscle to the max and hold for the same amount of time.
  6. Repeat five times; then rest. This exercise begins the basic toning and development of the calf muscles and is one that can be done several times a week to see results.

A second, more advanced exercise is known as the "Donkey Stretch." This is also a relatively easy exercise to do with very little needed equipment but it places extra resistance on the calves and should be done as a progressive step from more basic exercises that are completed first and then followed up at a later time with this.


  1. Once again, place your toes this time on your foot block, about a shoulders width apart.
  2. Bend over and rest your hands with arms extended on a support in front of you - a chair, a bench, a table will all work fine.
  3. Have a partner climb onto your back as if climbing onto a horse.
  4. Lower your heels to stretch the calf muscle to the max and hold.
  5. Go up onto your tip toes and hold.
  6. Repeat.

This exercise further works the calf muscles and the added weight adds to the resistance put upon the working muscle. It is definitely an exercise to be done after the muscle has been worked with a more basic exercise as is demonstrated in the first one above, the "Standing Calf Raise."

It is also important to remember that the calf muscles need to rest between sets and should not be worked too excessively. Overworking any muscle adds to the strain on the same so resting the muscle between sets is very important. To help you do this without losing any momentum you have built up in your work out efforts, it is often advised that you switch to working on another part of the body while the other muscle rests.

For example, if you are attempting to rest the calf muscle after a series perhaps focusing on the back muscles during the rest period. This allows you to continue your workout without overworking any one part of the body. And of course you can stagger the other body parts to be worked on while the calf muscles rest to ensure a full body workout; just be sure not to tie together two muscles that work together!!

So to build up your calf muscles, follow the suggested exercises above and work them as instructed. It won't be long before you see the results begin to show as your legs become stronger and more toned!

About the Author

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