I struggle heavily with putting some meat onto my calves despite working them out quite good in my opinion. Right now, I am following a powerlifting routine that looks like this:

  • Mon: S/B/D
  • Tue: Assistance Work, running
  • Wed: S/B technique
  • Thu: running or rest day
  • Fri: S/B/D
  • Sat: Assistance Work, running
  • Sun: running or rest day

In general, I'm very happy with this routine and rather not change it big deal. My calves are isolated on the Assistance work days. They usually look like this:

  • 3x12 Barbell calf raise
  • 3x12-40 some other calf raise variations (one-legged/toes pointing inward/explosive,...)
  • unrelated muscle groups (lat pull variation, crunch variation, curl variation)

I'm doing the calf raises until failure so when I actually hit 3x12 clean reps, I increase the weight next time. Also, I carry the bar not on the back but rather hold it above my crotch, like in a deadlift lockout. I prefer the lower center of gravity, also that way, I excercise my traps and my grip strength as well.

And it works like a charm! I have quite the bullneck already and Popeye forearms. Oh, but my calves are still comically thin, they certainly become more veiny but the circumference doesn't increase noticeably.

I'm still tinkering with the second calf excercise. So far, nothing I tried feels really promising.

Running sessions are usually 30-60 minutes long in heart rate zones 2 to 3 (light to moderate).

So, how could I improve my schedule in order to get bigger calves? Is there a good and proven calf (sub-)routine that would fit into my current training regimen? I'm not willing to jeopardize my S/B/D performance and workouts, but happy to prioritize lower legs above any other 'assistance' muscle group. Equipment at my disposal: bench with adjustable degree of incline, squat/bench rack, barbell, dumbbells, more weights that I can lift anytime soon and everything you can expect to find in an average household.

  • 2
    Treat the calf raise like a competition lift. To increase your bench, do you limit yourself to one rep range and just benching? Add assistance stuff for the calf raise. Have strength focused months and high volume months.. Periodization
    – user33278
    Jun 14, 2020 at 12:44
  • 3
    Here’s a good place to start - renaissanceperiodization.com/calves-training-tips-hypertrophy Jun 14, 2020 at 12:46
  • @JustSnilloc just clicked the link and boom "Most intermediate-advanced lifters need at least 8 sets of direct calf work per week to make gains, and for some, it’s even more than that" we found the problem, he's doing less than minimal amount of training.
    – user33399
    Jun 14, 2020 at 12:49
  • @JustSnilloc thanks for the link, looks promising! Jun 14, 2020 at 12:53
  • @Bes I'm doing 12 sets/week... Jun 14, 2020 at 12:54


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