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If you are like many, no matter what you’ve done for your calf workouts you just haven’t been able to get your stubborn calves to grow. In this video, I’m going to continue the popular “Sore in 6 Minutes” series and bring you a quick calf workout that you can do to not only spark growth from a muscle group you may have long ago written off, but leave you with a soreness that will serve to remind you how capable of getting them to respond to your training they really are.
This calf workout consists of just two calve exercises. One of them is going to target the gastroc and the other is going to target the soleus. A little anatomy lesson to clarify the difference between the two. The gastrocnemius is a muscle that crosses the knee and the ankle and is much more effectively targeted when the knee is kept straight because of this. In this workout, we are going to use a variation of a standing calf raise to help us nail this muscle sufficiently.
The other muscle group that makes up the calves as we know them is the soleus. Since this muscle doesn’t cross the knee and resides solely on the back of the shin, we can effectively target it by performing our calf exercises with a bent knee. The first exercise in this calf workout will do just that, and will do so in a very intense way.
To start, kneel down on the floor with a small mat or pad under your knees. Anchor your feet under the crossbar of a bench (as shown) or any other piece of equipment or home furniture that is sturdy enough to hold you down as you perform the exercise. As you will see in the demonstration, the positioning of the feet is critical to getting this exercise correct and to feeling it in the calves while minimizing what you feel in the hamstrings.
As you launch your body away from your heels, you will feel your feet plantarflex to stabilize the weight of your body as you move away from the bench. This is a strong spontaneous contraction of the soleus that will really put a demand on the muscles and force them to work harder than they ever have before. Do this for one minute and immediately stand up and proceed to the second and final exercise of this calf workout.
Grab a single dumbbell and head over to a small three or four inch step or box. Start by pointing your toes up on the edge and get a big stretch on the calves. You want to make sure you now lean slightly forward and drive your knees back into full extension to ensure the load is being directed towards the gastroc rather than the soleus. With the lean forward and the dumbbell held down and in front of you, use your other hand to stabilize your body against the rack of machine or a wall at home. Perform straight calf raises in a one and a half rep style. Here you want to come half way up, lower slowly fighting the eccentric and then come back up all the way before lowering down slowly again. This is one rep. Keep performing your reps in this fashion for another minute.
From here, you will keep alternating the two exercises until all 6 minutes are up or you give into the pain (whichever comes first!). Each time you do the calf raise, change the position of your toes and heels. Point your toes out on the second time through and in on the third time through. If you must incorporate a bit of a spot on the soleus launcher exercise, it is ok to use a physioball to take away some of the weight of your body and assist you.
Try this quick but effective calf workout and monitor your soreness in the next 24 to 48 hours. Guarantee that you will be sore, but as always, this will be the good kind of soreness that ensures that you are hitting your muscles as intended. For a complete workout program that will help you to build muscle and become more athletic in the process, head to and get the ATHLEAN-X Training System.
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