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The Calf Conundrum : Why Calves Are So Hard To Grow

Why calves are so hard to grow, getting that physique you crave is hard work. no doubt about it. All the hours of discipline and consistency required to hit the necessary training targets as well as a well thought out nutrition plan can actually overtake your life depending on how lofty your ambitions are.


Why Calves Are So Hard To Grow


But hard work will eventually pay off, and with enough focus, dedication and correct guidance, you can, in fact, get a desirable size and shape boost. There are however limitations in your quest to perfection. You see, we are all different and respond differently to training stimuli.


That means your muscle growth or hypertrophy, won’t precisely fall in line with a perfect ideal. Your musculature is bound to your genetic makeup. The way your muscles are shaped, their length and insertion point all determine what they will look like even at their best.  This variance in potential couldn’t be truer when it comes to calf muscles.


What Makes Calves So hard To Grow?

Calf muscles are the bain of any physique enthusiast, especially men. These lower leg pistons are notoriously hard to grow if you’re on the smaller end of the spectrum. Most big calf muscles you will notice belong to winners of the genetic lottery as far as calves are concerned.


That’s because calves are not particularly triggered to grow. Compared to other muscle groups, they have very few androgen receptors in proportion to their size and density. That means there is less potential for muscle protein synthesis in the calves than most other main muscle groups.


Why Calves Are So Hard To Grow


Your calves are primed for explosive movement and controlled force absorption. These two mechanics don’t warrant a hefty size so having big calves were never an evolutionary necessity. The other problem with growing calves is most people just don’t put in the right type or amount of work for it.


Remember, your calves are one of the most well-conditioned muscles in your body. They are constantly being used every time you walk, run or climb a flight of stairs. Training them means pushing well beyond these daily stressors.


In this article, we will look at 5 intense exercises you can implement for your journey to bigger calves.


5 Exercises for Optimizing Calf Size


Jump Squats

Jump squats simulate a natural chain of events that targets your calves for an above-normal intense stimulation. In a squat position, with your hands at your side, tilt slightly forward to distribute your weight onto your forefoot.


Why Calves Are So Hard To Grow


While maintaining your arm position and neutral spine, jump up explosively. Upon landing, again on your forefoot, graduate back into the starting squat position to complete one rep.


Standing Calf Raises

This is a scalable workout, but for the purposes of growth stimulation, we’re going to go heavy, let’s say 65% of your 1 rep max. Approach the calf raise machine and adjust the shoulder pads to force a slight flexion in the knee at your starting position.


Why Calves Are So Hard To Grow


Engage and allow your heels to hang over the back of the foot platform for increased plantarflexion range of motion. Begin your raises, first with straight-leg reps, then with bent knee reps.

The reason you would alternate between the straight leg and the bent knee is that your calves are made up of two main muscles. The soleus and the gastrocnemius. These muscles are targeted differently depending on the degree of knee flexion.


Box Jumps

Box jumps are an excellent way to get your calves pumped with dynamic, functional activity. Facing a sturdy anchored box, whose height is not beyond your limits, perform an explosive jump up onto the box.


Why Calves Are So Hard To Grow


Land into a shallow squat once you hit the box. Take care to take off and land on your forefoot for extra calf engagement.


Jump Rope

Jumping rope is a great way to stimulate calf growth over time. With regular use, the body responds to the relentless demand earnestly with some long-lasting gains.


Why Calves Are So Hard To Grow


We all know how to jump rope, so get moving. Double-unders won’t hurt your chances so always look for a new and exciting way to ramp up the intensity.


Things To Consider

For all the exercises listed above (except jump rope), try and aim for a workout range of 4-6 sets of 10 reps each set. You can progress this by increasing load/intensity.


As for jump rope, 10 minutes is a decent amount of work to get your calves and heart pumping. You should implement this as a warm-up to the rest of the calf exercises here.



While your calf size is heavily reliant on genetics, you can improve the form and size considerably with the right game plan.


Consult a certified fitness professional if your really want to learn the right techniques and get a comprehensive program suited for you

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