The reasons your calves aren’t growing: how to get bigger calves

Implementing both intensity and volume is the easiest and most simple way to ensure your calves will grow. As a very pesky muscle group if they aren’t trained hard and with intensity then chances are they will refuse to grow or at least not at a preferred rate. 


If you are having trouble growing your calves chances are you are suffering from a few things. One of these and the most common could be genetics but it is not always to blame as much as many people will say. 

We all know the feeling of having a lagging muscle group. This pesky muscle group seems to stand out like a sore thumb among the rest of our muscles. Some might say a glaring embarrassment in their physique.


For many, these could be larger muscle groups such as a person’s back, chest, and especially common legs. Rest in peace to the gym bros out there who only train legs once a month and have little chicken legs.


But, for many, their most glaring muscle difference lies in the lower part of their legs. The dreaded calves. Many will train rigorously for years on end and see no results while many others will seem to be born naturally with large calves> Why is this?


Many claims that large and defined calves are merely the result of genetics, while many others who of course have large calves, claim that it is all about hard work intensity, and other variables. So the real question is why do you and millions more around the world have small calves, and what can you do to change that? 

So, why won't they grow?

There are many reasons that your calves might not be growing. These reasons could go from things such as genetics to training intensity let alone nutrition and recovery. All this to say there are many different aspects and variables to possibly control or be responsible for your lack of prominent calves

# 5 : Genetics

As I mentioned a large cause for the reason that you might not have large calves or might have been gifted with large calves is your genetics. An easy way to see and determine your genetics of yourself would be to look at your parents and your brothers and sisters. 


In general however, many individuals blame genetics too much and use it as a limiting factor or as an excuse to say why their calves will never grow and why they shouldn’t train them. What I mean is that the calves are a particularly difficult and hard muscle group to train. Many people will try to find ways out of training them particularly if it’s useless or futile. 


One thing to be of note as well is, if your parents and yourself are naturally taller, that being over 6 ft tall, you are more likely than not to have smaller calves. In general, people who are over 6 ft have a smaller calf muscle insertion. Not to say this has any negative effect on the muscle strength at all but, it will certainly have an effect on the muscles’ look and size. 

#4 : Diet

One thing that could be to blame for your lackluster calves could be your diet. Your diet is the most crucial element to your muscle recovery.  If your diet is not on point then you will struggle to recover from any of your hard-earned gym ship sessions let alone your calve workouts.


It is also much easier to target the calves with a scrutinous eye. The calves are already a small muscle and therefore may not have as much room to grow as let’s say the back. Even if you are not recovering properly you will still see some results from your workouts in other parts of your body but chances are you will not a significant result in your calves. 

#3 : Patience

One thing to keep in mind as well when training the calves is patience. If you’ve only just started training calves and you should not expect to see immediate results as is the same with any other muscle group. 


It may take months before you see any results. Or for many, if you are more gifted in the calve genetics department then you will see more immediate results but even still they will not be staggering. In a year you will be able to see the results of your hard work but not in a matter of a few days.

#2 : You could be making progress without knowing it

One possibility that you might have not thought of by now is the fact that you could be making progress and not know it. Being that the calves are a smaller muscle group they will not gain size as quickly and as noticeably as something like the back or the chest.


One way to keep track of your calves’ size and growth would be using a tape measure. By simply taking the circumference of your calves from the first moment of training and then every month following that you will quickly see the results of your hard effort.


Also, one way to see that your calves are indeed growing is by seeing the weight go up. The more weight you’re able to do and push with your calves with each workout the stronger they’re becoming and the bigger they are growing.


One of if not the most important aspects of making sure you’re training calves properly is training, duh. There are many aspects to keep in mind when training the calves let alone the rest of the body. If you don’t keep it simple it can become overwhelming very quickly.


The most important thing to keep in mind when training the calves is the number of times you train them a week. You should try to aim to train calves at least twice a week.


If you are training calves daily or more than three times a week then that most likely means that you’re not training them hard enough whenever you do.


If you’re able to train calves every single day that means you’re not taking the proper intensity to each workout. After each calve workout you should be at least a little bit sore and you should not be able to do the same amount of weight as the day before. 

Now, how do we solve the tiny calves problem?

So, on to the main question at hand,  How do you get big calves? Well, let’s break it down into several different key aspects and things we should keep in mind when training the calves. These aspects can be broken down into two simple things. #1,  training and #2  recovery.

Training with INTENSITY

Well duh, of course, the most important part of getting kids big calves is training. but what is most important about training the calves it’s not the quantity of the training but the quality. 


Whenever you say the word intensity in the context of working out you should keep in mind the idea of pushing yourself harder than last time. Whenever you are pushing yourself harder than last time there’s no way you can go wrong. Meaning that as long as the last couple of reps of each set are very difficult and strenuous and you know you’re pushing yourself. 


If you are not pushing yourself hard then your calves will not grow. The most important quality of training is intensity. If you train with intensity and with effort it doesn’t matter how much weight you do and how many reps you do as long as you are doing them with the proper intensity.


This being said, the calves do respond best to higher volume work. This translates to performing upwards of 10 to 20 reps with any given weight as long as those last five reps of whatever set are difficult to accomplish. With each set, you should be training calves very close to failure if not complete failure.

The importance of a full range of motion

Also, one of the biggest issues that I see with people who are training their calves incorrectly is the range of motion. If the range of motion that you’re training is so small that you are barely moving your ankle an inch then you are not training the calf to its full extent. 


To maximize your training and muscle growth potential of the calves you need to train with a full range of motion. 

Recovery: Where the muscle is really built

Training recovery is the most important aspect the gaining muscle let alone calf muscle along with the training itself. There are several aspects of proper recovery. These would include such things as rest and diet. 


The proper amount of rest between each day that you train calves is very important.


If you’re training calves with a proper intensity you will notice that your calves will most likely be at least a little bit sore after training them. If they’re not even a little bit sore or you don’t see a decrease in strength in them after your training you know you’re not training them hard enough.


If you can work out calves every single day that means that you’re most likely not training calves hard enough in the first place. You should not need to train calves anymore than three times a week to see proper muscle gain. 


Equally as important as rest, diet is extremely important in muscle growth. It is important to eat the correct nutrition to see the maximized amount of muscle growth and recovery. A person should aim to eat close to 0.8 to 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight. 


If you want to see the best progress a person should also make sure to eat an excess of calories that is needed to induce the maximum amount of muscle growth.


You should also try to aim to drink enough water. If you don’t drink enough water your muscles will not recover as quickly which results in muscle cramps. Further decreasing muscle efficiency and output whenever you’re working out. Everyone knows there’s not much worse than a calf cramp mid-workout. 


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