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I have been doing single leg calf raises every day for about 6 months now.

Every set (per leg) is a drop set. I stop my calf workout when I cant do more than 3 per leg. My form is good, I am eating in a surplus. I was training for 3 year, with no specific calf isolation movement. I started now, and in 6 months gained only 3 cm. i.e. 39 cm of calf circumference.

Is this optimum? could this be better somehow? what should I change for more hypertrophy, or am I at my potential already? (19 year old, 174 cm height)

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  • You're 19... you're far from your peak. Are you using weights or just bodyweight for the calf raises?
    – Luciano
    Jan 18, 2022 at 9:55
  • Weights (9 kg plates then drop set till 5kg) Jan 18, 2022 at 12:24

2 Answers 2

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At 19 years old you're FAR from reaching your peak growth potential.

Train your calves like any other muscle: train it hard, give it enough time for recovery, keep consistent.

You already walk every day, which uses your calf muscles. I'd reduce the training sessions to 3 or 4 times per week, to allow for at least 24-48h recovery time - remember: growth doesn't happen in the gym but during recovery!

Not training it every day also means you can introduce progressive overload, adding more weight whenever you can do all reps and still have some fuel for more (maybe weekly, just a couple of kg every time you increase).

You could also introduce some variation: instead of doing standing calf raises all the time you could do it 2x week and machine seated raises 1x week. There's no need to have much more than 2 different exercises at this point.

As stated in this article by Dr Mike Israetel (emphasis mine):

If you are still hitting PRs on the exercise, it’s not causing any undue pains, you’re getting a good mind-muscle connection, and there’s no other need to change it, then don’t change it! If this means you keep an exercise around for up to a year or more, so be it!

Also you could benefit from doing around 10-20 reps per set:

Because the moderate (10-20 rep) range often offers the best tradeoff between stimulus, fatigue, injury risk, and slow/fast fiber specificity, and mind-muscle connection, an argument can be made that a first-time program design could have most weekly working sets for the calves in this range...

In short, don't overthink. Train hard, train often, don't get injured, keep eating, you'll see your muscles grow.

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  • Taking your advice and doing less will at best result in whatever nucleus overload that's already there to grow a bit, but do nothing for long-term progression. But someone else's calfs are none of my business! So be it.
    – user37464
    Jan 22, 2022 at 4:55
  • @DylanSchreiner I backed my answer with some scientific reference, not just anecdote. By not hammering the calves every day there's more space to increase the total volume every week.
    – Luciano
    Jan 24, 2022 at 9:48
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Please do not listen to anyone that tells you to do less. Laughable.

From your comment on your answer, it seems you are using 9kg plates dropping to 5kg going until you can't do 3 reps.

  1. Make sure you're going to failure every set.
  2. Why the hell do you stop at 5 kg. Go until you hit no-weight then stop doing 1 leg calf raises and do 2 leg calf raises. When you can't do 2 leg calf raises anymore rest 30s then go again with 2 leg calf raises for 3 more sets with 30s rests.
  3. Keep training every day.
  4. Walk with weights or a vest for 30 minutes every day.
  5. Always use full calf range of motion. Use a platform for calf raises so the heel can sink down and use your calfs for more vertical height when walking.
  6. When walking walk more on the outside of the foot stepping off the pinky toe, and lift through your 4 toes rather than your big toe when doing calf raises for balanced development.

That will do it. You're not using enough volume AT ALL. You are doing what, 20 reps total? 30 maybe? Not going to work.

Good luck work hard.

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