If the goal is functional performance in a power sport (speed, acceleration, vertical jump), how should one train calves, if at all?
Here are the alternatives that I can think of:
- Don't train calves specifically, but train barbell lifts like deadlifts, squats, and power cleans and let the calves adapt to those lifts and your sport
- Train calves in addition to the barbell lifts using isolation exercises (calf raises, etc.)
- Train calves in addition to barbell lifts using plyometrics (box jumps, etc.)
Another way of phrasing my question is: is there a benefit to training calves above what is achieved via standard barbell lifts (and your sport), and if so, how should it be done?
The answer may be different for a novice than for an advanced trainee, so an answer that covers both cases would be best (I'm somewhere between the two).
Here are some specifics about me, but I'm hoping to get an answer that applies to any athlete training for a leg-dominant power sport (football, soccer, ultimate, rugby, track):
- I play ultimate
- I've been doing a strength training program very close to Starting Strength and am at the intermediate level on squats, close to intermediate on deadlifts, and still a novice at power cleans, bench, and press
- Practices are 2-3 times per week, each 2-3 hours long