Hard work is the most important thing for developing calves. It is quite true that some bodybuilders experience little or no difficulty in building an outstanding calf development.
Others seem to labor over the years with nothing more than a quarter inch increase. What’s the remedy? It’s Specialization and HARD WORK.
According to Steve Reeves there are some instructors trying and telling you that you are born with good calf development and try as you may, if you haven’t got it, you will never have it.
With this viewpoint Steve disagreed. Some men do have advantages over others.. big shoulders and arms from Dad’s side of the family and other favourable musculature from Mother’s side, but this doesn’t mean that the fellow with a poor physique can never hope to build up a body that will win him titles. If this was true, then not one of the present Mr. Britain’s, Mr. America’s or Mr. Universe’s would have ever been crowned!
Steve Reeves admitted that he has never had any trouble bringing his calves up quickly. They just seemed to grow like “Topsy.”
When he was a boy he did a lot of cycling up and down hills, pedaling as if his life depended on it, taking care to make a full extension and flexion of the ankle joint and pointing his toes down as he thrusts the pedals around….
The cycling movement certainly gave him a full “centre” appearance to the calf muscles and helped him a lot when he started training with weights. But he also followed certain simple rules and exercise shedules that were simple.
Steve Reeves: “Calf exercises should be performed every day and if you can manage it, twice a day, to break down those tough fibres that form the lower leg. After each calf workout, message the lower leg, kneading and rubbing away at the muscles with a good athletic rub or embrocation. Whenever you walk up a flight of stairs, do so on tip toe and if you get the opportunity to visit a sand beach, then there is nothing better than short fast sprints in the loose sand, bare footed!”
Great exercises for calves
Toe Raise: Get a block of wood at least six inches in height..the higher the better, for your heels must not touch the ground. Stand on the block of wood with a heavy barbell across the shoulders. Get your training partner to help you keep balance. Then just raise and lower heels as much as possible..not quickly but SLOWLY and STEADILY. When you are at the highest part of the “raise,” hold that position for a slow count of three.
Use three sets of twenty reps, the first set with the toes pointing out, the second with the toes pointing straight ahead and the third with the toes pointing in..”Pigeon toed.”
This exercise can also be performed with dumbbells, one foot at a time.
Toe jumping with a heavy barbell held across the shoulders is also very effective and “jars” the muscles into growth. With a slight bend of the knees, jump off the floor as high as possible, taking off and landing on your toes.
Make every effort to exercise off the balls of the feet, even though it is a little tiring. Slowly increase the reps as you go along, starting off with 2 sets of 15 reps and gradually increasing the reps and sets to 3 or four with 30.
Another novel calf movement; take a heavy barbell across the shoulders and walk around the gym on the tips of your toes pointing the feet straight forward and stretching it as much as you can. Don’t get off that tip toe position during the exercise.
Start off with a hundred steps and gradually increase that number. In time you will be using a time factor instead of repetitions.
Another excellent calf exercise Steve Revees followed:
Sit down on a stool or bench and get your training partners to place a heavy barbell just across the tops of your knees. You should use a pad across your knees for comfort.
Raise your heels and as they reach the highest point possible, hold the position for a slow count of three, then lower and repeat. On your last repetition, hold it for as long as possible…until the cramping felling in your calves forces you to lower the weight. Try and get in as many repetitions as possible and don’t use more than three sets.
The final calf exercise is a favourite one with his buddy George Eiferman. They practised together.
Bend forward and rest your elbows on a bench. Have your training partner sit across your hips and with your legs travelling from you at an outward angle, simply raise and lower the heels.
Don’t forget to hold that high position with a slow “three count” and that final rep as long as you can.
Steve Reeves: “Developing the calves IS hard work, but that’s the only kind of work that produces results, and personally, I see no reason why you can’t develop a pair of calves that will stand comparison with those of the top flight bodybuilders…with of course, determination, perseverance AND that hard work.”