calves are one of the most challenging
muscle groups in the body to build.
are tough, resilient and painful
to work. Those who genetically have
them often take them for granted,
but for the rest of us who have
to fight for every inch of muscle
in the lower legs, nothing is more
rewarding than seeing the calves
develop and grow.
it comes to calf training, there
is very little in terms of variety.
Your basic moves are standing calf
raises, seated calf raises and donkey
calf raises. Everything else is
basically just a variation of one
of the three.
Calf Raises, which you are about
to learn, are actually a variation
that combines TWO of the three basic
movements for the calves! It's an
exercise that doesn't require extra
weight yet still allows for very
powerful stimulation of the calves,
even in advanced trainers.
This Exercise So Effective?
answer that question, we need to examine
the biomechanics of the two calf movements
we'll be combining: the donkey calf raise
and the standing calf raise. I will explain
each exercise and which parts we are going
to take to use for the Full-Range Calf
Raise. The next section will explain how
we'll be combining them.
Calf Raises are done by placing the feet
on a raised block, bending over at the
waist and resting your arms on a solid
object in front of you. Weight can be
added directly over the hips either by
using machines, having a partner sit on
your back, or adding a hip belt with weight.
primary benefit of the donkey calf raise
lies in the stretch position. At the bottom
of a standing calf raise, your calves
are only getting stretched at the ankle.
Since the Gastrocnemius (one of the two
major calf muscles) also crosses the knee
joint and ties in with the hamstrings,
this stretching at the ankle gives you
only part of the stretch.
you are bent over at the waist in the
donkey calf raise position, the position
of the hip stretches the hamstrings, which
also increases the stretch on the calves.
the Full-Range Calf Raise, we're going
to MAXIMIZE the combined stretch on the
calves by starting from a completely bent-over
position, like you are touching your toes
while at the bottom of a calf raise. At
this point, you are getting the MOST stretch
on your calves that is anatomically possible.
we move to the Standing Calf Raise. This
exercise is done in a standing position
on a raised surface like a block or stair
edge, lowering your heels then raising
your heels using the calves.
primary benefit of the Standing Calf Raise
that we're going to exploit is the top,
contracted position. When the body is
upright and vertical and the legs are
straight, your calves are able to achieve
their peak contracted position.
here's the hitch...your body needs help
to achieve the ABSOLUTE peak contracted
position. When you get to the very top
of the exercise and achieve a strong contraction
(especially when using extra weight or
working on one leg at a time), the calves
aren't quite strong enough to get to the
VERY top position all on their own. They
can get very close (and it sure feels
like the top) but a little assistance
at this point, rather than decreasing
tension on the calves, will actually INCREASE
the tension even further.
we're going to take the best parts of
each of the two movements, maximum anatomical
stretch and maximum anatomical contraction,
and mesh them into one power-packed movement!
You won't believe how this will exercise
will pump up even the most "hard-to-build"
first thing to note here is that this
an exercise that you need to FEEL working
and concentrate on feeling working to
get the best results. It is done slowly
and deliberately, with pauses at the stretch
and contracted positions. Simply going
through the motions will get you nothing.
exercise is done one leg at a time. Set
up with the balls of your foot on a raised
block (any raised surface such as a step
or even a dumbell handle will work). Be
sure you have something solid in front
of you that you grab for balance and to
adjust your body position (more on that
keeping your leg as straight as you can,
bend over as though touching your toes.
Hold onto something solid for balance
your heel down as far as possible and
stretch your upper body down as far as
possible without bending your leg. This
is the maximal stretch position for the
calves (like I explained with the Donkey
Calf Raise) and you should feel a very
intense stretch. Hold this position for
5 seconds, sinking into the stretch.
while staying in that completely bent-over
position, very deliberately rise up as
far as you can as though doing a bent-over
standing calf raise, feeling the calves
working hard from that maximum-stretch
full extension of the ankle from the bent-over
movement (the top of the bent-over calf
raise) and WITHOUT releasing the tension
in the calves, use your hands to "climb"
the object you are using for balance and
straighten up at the waist so you are
now in a one-legged calf raise position.
At this point, your foot position will
look as though you are part-way through
the standing calf-raise movement already.
The key is to keep the tension on the
calf as you straighten your body position.
there, continue up to the full contraction
of the calf by finishing the calf raise
movement. Squeeze your calf as hard as
you can. Feel the contraction? You're
not done. At the very top, use the same
object your're holding for balance to
PUSH yourself up a little higher. Using
this push takes up some of your bodyweight,
allowing the calf to achieve the VERY
maximum anatomically-possible peak contraction
that I mentioned above.
is the start position of the exercise
as you're coming up from the very
bottom position. You are totally bent
over similar to a Donkey Calf Raise.
At this point, you're putting a great
stretch on the calves.
you've completed the Donkey Calf Raise,
you straight up and finish with a
Standing Calf Raise, pushing yourself
up to the very top position.
this position for at least 5 seconds,
squeezing your calf as hard as you can.
Lower yourself to the bottom position
of the standing calf raise then bend over
at the waist, using your hands to walk
yourself back down. Get back into the
maximum stretch position then repeat.
all of your reps on one leg then switch
to the other leg. This allows you to keep
full tension on the calf for the entire
is a VERY intense exercise and doesn't
require many reps to really get the calves
Moving too fast
your time as you do the movement to ensure
your calves are getting maximum tension
throughout the entire range of motion.
This exercise is all about tension, not
how many reps you can do or how much weight
you can use.
Releasing the tension
can happen when you are straightening
up after finishing the bent-over phase.
Be sure to keep the tension on the calf
muscle as you straighten up. What makes
the exercise so effective is that you
are taking the muscle through its entire
anatomical range of motion under tension
the whole way.
Not emphasizing the stretch or contraction
a concentrated effort to get the maximum
stretch at the bottom and the maximum
contraction at the top.
you're looking for a great bodyweight
exercise to take on the road or something
to really shock your calves, give the
Full-Range Calf Raise a try. The look
on your face as you do it will tell you
all you need to know about its effectiveness...