So how do you build calves for skinny guys?
Calves are one of those body parts that seem to take forever to grow. Some of us have body parts that are easy to grow, and some are stubborn. A lot of people believe that they have weak body parts, well I can tell you there is no such theory. People typically have the same muscle density all over their bodies at least proportionally. Yes some people are able to build certain body parts quicker than others due to various factors such as length of the muscle, bone structure, distribution of muscle fibres etc. So here goes..
Before we go through how to build calves for skinny guys let us run through some anatomy lessons before doing so..
There are 2 major muscles in the calves
1. Gastrocnemius – (which is the belly. This muscles is extremely fast twitch muscle fibre, requires less time under tension, heavier weights and less reps.
2. Soleus – Which lies underneath. This muscle has complete opposite characteristics of the Gastrocnemius. It is a slow twitch muscle fibre, requires more time under tension and more reps with not so heavy weights
The Soleus is trained with knees bent, examples are seated calf raise. We mentioned before about it being a slow twitch muscle fibre which requires more time under tension. I have found the best way to do this is by using strip sets, as used in MI40. That means you would do 8-12 reps, then strip the weight 3 or 4 times with minimal rest between sets for a total of 3-4 sets.
Things you must understand about the calf muscle…
* You must keep the muscle under constant tension . Your body hates muscle. Muscle expends a great deal of calories, the body has to work harder and it doesn’t want to do that. The body is quiet happy having lots of fat around your midsection and to have you sitting down all day long. When trauma is inflicted on the muscles, the body responds by building new muscle. It’s not quiet as cut and dry as this but you get my point. Without tension you are not giving your body a reason to grow new muscles.
* You must initiate from the target muscle. What that means is that the muscles that you are working HAS to move first. If you are not doing that, you are not working the muscle that you are trying to work
* You must feel the muscle that you are trying to build. Basically your body adapts and will use anything that it can to keep itself safe. Lifting heavy will do nothing to change your body unless you can feel the muscle.
* Use the longest range of motion for that target muscle. For the calves that means going all the way down and contracting the tibialis (the muscles on your shin on the front of your leg) then going up to the top on your big toe until you can’t go no further. Your muscles are at its weakest at the end of the range of motion when it is fully shortened or fully lengthened.
* The calves are similar to the abdominal muscles, in that they require a longer time under tension. The calves are a slow twitch muscle fibre, they don’t need explosive movements.
* Contract the glutes by squeezing them together to stop the body from swaying all over the place (if you’re doing the standing calf raise). Don’t lock out the knees, as that will hinder you from getting a big contraction in the gastrocnemius.
* You must understand the function of the muscle. The function of the calves primarily is to extend the ankle.
* By not going through the full range of motion your body will not grow period. Sure you will build some muscle, you will get stronger in the middle range of the movement, but you’re missing out on all these muscle fibres that remain untapped so you won’t notice any visible development.
The body is weakest at both extremes of the range of motion (top, bottom). If you train through the full range of motion and make it stronger at the extremes your body will get stronger at the mid range.
In summary, you must learn how to fully lengthen and shorten the muscle for optimal growth. For calves, contract the tibialis at the bottom which is the antagonist to fully lengthen the calf at the bottom and go all the way up
There are 3 common exercises that we can use to train the calves, most gyms will have one if not all of these equipment. I will go through the correct procedure on how to use them.
Seated Calf Raise – Contract the tibialis on the way down, then go up onto the big toe all the way to the top until you cannot go no higher. Keep knees and ankles together in a straight line
Seated Leg Press – Keep knees straight, contract the quads. On the way down contract the tibialis and go up onto the big toe.
Standing Calf Raise – Squeeze glutes to stop the body from swaying, contract the tibialis on the way down, and go up onto your big toe all the way until you cannot go up anymore.
Be sure to use a manageable weight on each exercise so that you can feel the muscle.
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