Issue #176


by Juan Carlos Lopez

20 Questions with Cover Bianka Ross

Bianka Ross, Jamile, Kristy Mitchell, Kaitlyn Davis & Fernanda Camargo

Training Your Calves For Size by Tina Jo Orban

Video Interview with Cover Model Bianka Ross


Training Your Calves For Size by Tina Jo Orban

The Gastrocnemius contains about 50% slow twitch fibre type. Okay. So what does that mean? Furthermore, how does it translate into training calves for growth? Well, first of all the lower leg is called the crural leg. It is composed of primarily three muscles. It is composed of the Gastrocnemius, Soleus, and Plantaris. The Plantaris, by the way, is more like a ropey-tendon and is a deemed a vestigial muscle. It is what anatomist call in evolutionary terms a ‘left-over’ muscle that helped us leap! (Think monkeys leaping from the ground to a tree limb). Indeed, more than ten percent of humans don’t have one! The Soleus is about 80% slow twitch. Slow twitch fiber type responds best with high reps. Slow-twitch muscle fibers are fatigue resistant! Slow twitch are what we call endurance fibers. What that means is higher repetitions are A-okay for training. I know, I know the method to training for SIZE says; drop the reps increase the intensity (i.e. weight/workload to build) but in the case of the lower leg it is not necessarily the case! This is why you see pro-cylclist with such good leg development (well that and anabolic) but that is beside the point. Calf muscles respond well to high repetitions. Thus when you do cardio you train both the Gastrocnemius and Soleus! work. Hiking, biking, stair master, elliptical, running all hit these two.  As far as resistance weight training— the big thing to know is bent knee (i.e., flexed knee) puts the Gastrocnemius on slack. Thus it does not work through its full range of motion. And is not the prime mover. The reason is because when your leg is bent the Gastrocnemius gets to rest a little. It crosses the back of you knee and is the prime mover when your legs is straight and you EXTEND your ankle. (Flexing your ankle by the way —moving your toes upward toward the sky works the Gastrocnemius’ antagonist: the Tibialis Anterior). 
The Gastrocnemius it is what is called a CJM, compound joint muscle. It crosses both the and ankle joint (talo-crural) and the knee joint (tibia-femoral) on the posterior portion of your leg. (Some anatomist classify it as a three joint muscle, as the tendons also run sub-talus). When the knee is bent such as in seated calf raises, the gastrocnemius is NOT the prime mover. This just means it is not the main muscle pushing the weight. Thus to isolate and train the Soleus use a seated calf raise. You should load up the seated calf-raise machine and perform 15-20 reps at a weight that is enough to really burn the last couple reps with good form. *See below for calf blast routine.
Standing calf work puts the load on that lovely two-headed diamond shaped beauty that most people think of as your calves. It gets all the glory. The truth is both the Soleus and Gastrocnemius should be trained. It is a good idea to isolate and work the Soleus to build bulk under Gastrocnemius to create size! 

Here is an ideal lower leg blast: 30-60 minutes of fast paced hiking or biking, stair master, elliptical, running, pretty much any highly repetitive ankle and knee flexion and extension movement. Gravity and bodyweight are the resistance for these slow-twitch slow to fatigue muscles. Choose any cardio you like to do!
Next try seated-calf raises. You can put a couple plates on you legs, if you don’t have a machine
Followed up by standing calf raises. Again, if you have access to a standing calf raise machine, use it! If you don’t you can hold—as heavy as your grip will allow— dumbbells. Stand on a sturdy curb or edge to raise and lower yourself while standing up straight flexing and extending your ankles only. See link.  You can  also use kettlebells, See link 



30-60 Minutes of cardio.
4 Sets Seated Calf Raises 20 reps.
4 Sets Standing Calf Raises 20 reps.



1 Seated Calf Machine “How to do Seated Calf Raises” source https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JbyjNymZOt0 Jul 1, 2009.
2 Standing Calf “How To Do Calf Raises”  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gwLzBJYoWlI Jul 1, 2009.
3 “How To Do a Calf Raise/Sexy Legs Work Out” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-M4-G8p8fmc Aug 5, 2012.


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