8 Mistakes That Are Keeping Your Calves Small

When it comes to building calves, every lifter heard that one saying: if you don’t have genetics for them, you can’t build them. Either you have them or not

Well, I beg to differ. I’m convinced that there is a very big amount of bodybuilders who just don’t train the calf muscles as they should. There are a lot of mistakes when it comes to working out the calves, the main reason why I wrote this post is to bring up a top 8 mistakes that are keeping your calves small

Every trainee I know wants a set of nicely developed calves. There is often a disconnect, however, between wanting good calves and actually sporting them. If you are one of the individuals that have been blessed with great lower leg genetics than heed the following mistake prevention tips closely for optimal calves

Very few muscle groups can be as stubborn to grow as your calves, and a constant lack of progress might compel you to stop training your lower legs entirely and put your own calves out to pasture. However, before you throw in the towel, you should know that your calf-to-cow trouble could be the result of some easily fixed calf-training mistakes

Here is a list of top 8 mistakes that are keeping your calves small

Doing Calf Exercises At The End Of Your Leg Workout

Much like the rear delts on shoulder day, calves are often neglected—or saved for the last part of a leg workout, when you’re tired and barely able to muster up the energy for a couple of half-assed sets. As you probably already know, muscles can’t grow if they receive subpar training. If you really want to make your calves stand-out, you must start training them the way you train your back or chest: fresh, from every angle, and to complete exhaustion

If you can start your leg training with calves—and train them with the same intensity as you do your quads and hamstrings—do it. If you’re trying to hit your upper legs super-hard and just don’t have the energy to do the same to your calves on leg day, add an extra calf day into your split or add the work to a different workout. Whatever you choose, the point is to ensure that your calves don’t suffer from lack of attention
Training Calves Once a Week
You often hear about popular training routine splits that have one leg day involving calves a week. This will get uyou no where with calve training and is one of the biggest mistakes you can make. Even if you only want to keep one major leg day a week (quads, hamstring, calves) , try adding calves onto other workouts throughout the week so your training calves 2-3 times a week
Sticking to the 10-15 Rep Range
While this rep range might be effective for most other parts of your body, calves are a bit different. When it comes to training calves you need to look at doing 20+ reps preferably closer to 30. This works for a number of reasons. First, it forces you to use a lighter weight which in turn means better form
This leads to a better contraction of the calves muscles and a better pump following those 30 reps. It also allows you to overload a muscle that is used to high rep work (remember your calves get a lot of work naturally throughout the day just from walking around
Using Too Heavy Weights
While lifting heavy is important to building muscle, if the weights are so big that you can’t use proper form them you won’t see much benefit. Symptoms of using too much weight include bouncing the weight at the bottom of reps, or not contracting at the top of reps
Worse you might end up bringing other leg muscles into the exercise to help move the weight. In addition to reducing your gains training this way will also set you up for possible injury. If you feel pain in your Achilles tendon then you are definitely lifting too much weight. Similarly, if you are unable to perform standing calf raises without bending your knees, or seated calf raises without using your arms to help the weight up then you definitely need to adjust the resistance downwards
Only Training With Small Weights
To look on the opposite point of view, you cannot expect results only training with light weight and high reps. Calves are one of the annoying high resistance muscle groups that require overload once in a while to grow. Your best bet? Try something between the two: heavy weight/low reps and low weight/high reps and see which gives you the best results. Most will find a combination of the two gives optimal calve growth
Not placing your foot properly
A lot of people think that you can hit different parts of the calves depending on whether you point your feet inward, straight ahead or outwards. People who turn their feet at extreme angles are actually reducing the effectiveness of the exercise and also putting a lot of stress on the joints and tissues in the knees and ankles
Not isolate and contract the muscles
Just like chest, back, legs and arms your calves benefit from getting a full contraction as well as a slow and controlled negative. Way too many guys use momentum or bounce the weight during calf raises which means they miss out on half the benefit of the exercise
In order to get the full benefit of the calf raise you need to emphasis the contraction at the top of the exercise. Really focus on flexing hard at the top of each rep and it will make all the difference in your workout. Now once you’ve contracted properly at the top of the rep it doesn’t mean you can drop the weight down to the beginning. Lower the weight slowly and under control and do this for each rep. Each part of the rep should be under control
Taking your time throughout each rep will increase the amount of time your calves are under tension, even if you’re using the same weights and reps you normally do
Skipping stretching
This commonly made mistake can be applied to any muscle in your body but is quite noticeable when you don’t stretch your calves. If you suffer from flat feet or high arches you might  already notice the dreadful effects of skipping the stretch after a workout
You might feel pain, but there is another reason to stretch; it stretches out the fascia, a thin connective tissue “cocoon” around each muscle, which can get very tight and compress the muscle. This creates a compacting effect on the muscle so it cannot expand and grow as effectively. Research has shown that chronic tight fascia can actually inhibit muscle growth gains
Just getting the fullest possible range of motion during each rep is not sufficient. You also need to fully stretch your calves between sets and immediately after training them. This increases mobility, enlarges the fascia and boosts the pump, which in turn aids recovery and growth
CONCLUSION: So there you have it. The top 8 calve training mistakes that most bodybuilders and fitness fanatics fall into. Is it lack of knowledge or discipline that leads us into these training pitfalls? Either way you now at least have the knowledge to go forth and really blast those calves to new heights