This anecdote has been recounted numerous times, but it is worth revisiting. During his prime as a bodybuilder, Arnold Schwarzenegger was so ashamed of the size of his calves that he altered all his training pants at the knees (or maybe he just wore shorts) to pressure himself into calf training.
History reports that he was successful. And his calves were quite impressive too.
Calf training is one of the several aspects that get overlooked in the weight room. Some are genetically fortunate with sturdy calves and don’t have to be concerned about it. Others need to prioritize adding any size and power down there, and others always wear pants and overlook their feeble calves.
In an attempt for comprehensive transparency, that’s me. Irrespective of size, strength training for calves holds numerous advantages. Here, with the guidance of Tasha “Iron Wolf” Whelan, we’ll delve into the benefits and ponder whether all calf training is uniform, irrespective of the sport.
Structure of the Calf Muscle
The calf muscles guide your toe towards your shin (dorsiflexion) and pull your heel up (plantar flexion), enabling you to walk, run, jump, and assist with all lower body activities. It’s predominantly comprised of two muscles (Gastrocnemius And Soleus), and due to the calves’ influence on the ankle joint, their size and strength result in more stable ankles.
The Gastrocnemius is a two-part noticeable muscle that, when contracted, forms a diamond shape. It originates at the femur below the knee and attaches to the heel via the Achilles tendon. Its primary function is plantarflexion, which involves lifting your heel off the ground.
The soleus is a smaller, flat muscle that lies directly beneath the gastroc and though not conspicuous, it still plays a crucial role. It originates at the tibia and fibula below the knee and attaches to the heel via the Achilles Tendon. Its primary function is plantarflexion, but as it only crosses one joint, the heel joint, the most effective way to train this muscle is with the knees bent.
Robust and muscular calf muscles will enable you to sprint faster, leap higher, and maintain better stability when executing squats and deadlifts. However, they are difficult to fortify for two reasons.
Why Calves are Resistant to Development and How to Exercise Them
There are two primary reasons why calves prove to be unyielding for those not genetically endowed. First, the soleus muscle is a slow-twitch dominant muscle, meaning it’s arduous to exhaust and enhance. Slow-twitch muscles are challenging to develop as they rely on a plentiful supply of oxygenated blood known as Myoglobin. This results in less muscle and strength generation.
The second reason is genetic and is more related to the inheritance from your parents. Each muscle, including the calves, has an origin point that remains fixed during a muscle contraction and an insertion point that moves.
The lengthier the tendon (insertion) and the shorter muscle, the more daunting it is to develop the muscle, while a shorter insertion and longer muscle belly make the muscle more amenable to growth. The length of insertion points influences the size of your calf muscles. The muscles’ origin and insertion points are inherited from your parents, so if it’s a concern, you might want to take it up with them.
Advantages of Training Calves
Nobody desires to resemble SpongeBob SquarePants with a well-built upper body and puny lower body. Tastefully sculpted calves are undeniably appealing, irrespective of what anybody asserts.
Ankle Strength and Stability:
Does All Calf Training Equate?
It may appear to be a frivolous query because everyone performs some ankle motions, and most aspire to have attractive calves when it’s the season to bare the skin. Additionally, similar exercises are utilized to develop them. Hence, is all calf training identical irrespective of the sport?
Prime Calf Training Drills
- Incorporate calf training at least once or twice per week, either at the inception or conclusion of your workout.