No body part can quite grab attention like a set of calves can. There’s something about very developed calves that stand out so distinctly, but this body part is mainly developed with the help of genetics and efficient training. We can still approach calf training to further enhance them, but there are a few things we need to take note of.
We have three muscles that constitute the calf:
-The Inner Gastrocnemius
-The Outer Gastrocnemius
The more visible ones we see are the inner and outer gastrocnemius. These are the power behind planter flexion of the foot. We also have a really thick muscle that lies deep to the gastrocnemius called the soleus. This also does plantar flexion, but assists more when knee is flexed. The soleus is a very strong plantar stabilizer that will aid an athlete who performs movements like squats and deadlifts. So we can see where it is important to incorporate training with these muscles to better promote strength and stability into some of our functional lifts.
I approach calf training more with using time under tension. I focus just as much on the eccentric motion of control as I do the concentric portion. It is easy to not get the proper fascia expansion we need by performing quick/shortened ranges with our calves. Many times I will approach a 5+ second eccentric phase added with a 5+ second hold at max stretch of a calf movement. This let’s me know that control and fasica stretching is being used to optimize our calves.
I also prefer intermittent stretching between sets with calves. This is to protect us from any sort of unforeseen injury. The main injury that could result from not allowing mobility in our movements would be an Achilles’ tendon tear or rupture. Despite most of the injuries associated with the Achilles stem from a dynamic movement that causes a maximum plantar overload, we still want to be aware of our movement. Many athletes that play sports like basketball, football, and track & field would be very susceptible.
The main points to take away from this are:
1) Calves are a very genetic based muscle group.
2) We need to approach training with a mindset of full range and mobile movements.
3) We always need to stretch to avoid possible injury or fascial restrictions.
Are you looking for more? Come train with us at Hew Health and we’ll teach you exactly how to train your calves, what your rep schemes need to be, and how to have maximum results!