Calf Muscles

What is an appropriate amount of sets and reps to make your calf muscles grow?

Most here will say you don’t really need to do any extra calf work if you are already sprinting, lifting heavy, and doing plyos. If you must do extra work, you can probably just add a calf raise to the top part of a deadlift.

consistent training, priority in training, lifting heavy with enough time under tension to get a pump, and eating and recovering enough will ensure growth.

You have to separate the set and rep prescription between the calf muscles. Gastrocnemius will respond more to Heavy and Intermediate Load with heavy to medium load and the Soleus will respond to lighter to moderate load with high repetitions. Generally.

One good reason to work the calve muscle is if you have had shin splints the year before. Working the calve muscle should help before any future shin splints come about.

Could you explain gastrocnemius and soleus?

What do you think would happen if the calf raise became a powerlifting or strongman event where you’d have to lift a padded apperatus whilst holding on to low leavers so that you couldn’t shrug your shoulders?
They would be raising well over a 1000 pounds and beyond what they could deadlift or squat. Well beyond with time and purposefull spacific training.
Alternatives for athletes that only have crude equipment to use would include single leg machine calf raise when the apperatus cannot hold a lot of weight or takes to long to load up. A further alternative is to rely on weighted jumping type work. (Enough reps over enough weaks will give the xtra power, watch the c.n.s.) Side note; ballet dancers /not the same leval of high intensity to c.n.s but certainly the calf activation.

The Gastrocnemius is the higher region of the calf (that kind’ve looks like a rock when well developed, so gastroc for short) and the soleus sits lower and beneath the gastrocnemius. Some calf training can be beneficial for structural reasons, especially with the soleus so as to create protection for the MTP joint. Gastrocnemius is more white fiber and the soleus is more red fiber so they respond to different rep ranges and load.

Another question. Are single leg calf raises better to do than calf raises with both legs?

Considering the performance increase of training calves as a whole, I would go with the most efficient exercise that takes the least amount of time. So, no I would stay with both legs at once.

So 1x20,15,10,5 is fine using heavy weights to achieve strength and growth of the calf muscle?


If your going to strengthen the calf muscle train it like you would your bench or squat and then you’ll see it grow, I did and my calves were 18.5".

Doing two legs at a time is good for now untill you get so strong that you have to use one leg. The pro is the time saved, the con is that you might develop one muscle stronger than the other, something I did but didn’t notice it until I switched over to single leg calve raises. Where my left leg was markedly stronger by about 20-30 lbs or by 3 reps. :eek:

Don’t forget about dorsiflex muscles!

What is that muscle called, on the outside of the lower leg?

Supervenomsuperman, I think we all were trying to stay away from generalizations so what worked for you may work for a good % and not work for a fair %. I do agree that a majority of calf work should be high threshold.

The muscles on the lower leg (mostly) are the peroneals, anterior tibialis, gastrocnemius, soleus, posterior tibialis, etc., etc.

Exactly! They are the key to preventing shin splints, not the plantar-flexors. Calves definitely get all the work they need from squats (I like to explode up on my toes when using bands), plyos with a pf contact, and sprinting. I haven’t done direct calf work in 8 months, doesn’t seem to hurt me.