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Tip: The Calf Exercise That Screwed Up Gym Bros.



If you’re like most of the fitness brothers, you probably did a hell of a job exercising your Achilles tendons. Yes, that’s exactly what you hit with these bouncy, flat reps in calf presses.

The Achilles tendons are sturdy rubber bands that spring your ankles with quick calf raises. Athletes rely on this quality when running and jumping, but when it comes to building massive calves? Sorry, no dice.

If you allow this type of movement to dominate your calf workout, you decrease its effectiveness. If you stop your end ranges of motion with each calf raise, the elastic rebound of the Achilles tendon will be limited and your calf muscle will be forced to do more work.

Paused calf press

Stop at the top and bottom of the press for at least two seconds. Dorsiflex your ankle (by bringing your toes toward your shin) and straighten the calf below as far as possible without pain. Then, press on the balls of your feet and toes as high as you can.

If you want to develop better strength and agility in the end areas, spend time controlling movement in those end areas under load. Your ankles and feet will get stronger as you gain more control in those end areas. This actually applies to squatting, benching, or other exercises.

Choose a load that you can control and push with full ankle dorsiflexion, or jump on the weight by default. Apply the same approach to all variations of calf rearing.

What if my calves are tight?

If your calves are tight and won’t allow deep stretching at the bottom of your press, alternate between foam rollers for 10 rolls and static stretching for 20-30 seconds. Repeat 2-3 times, then try to bend your ankles.

The combination of myofascial release and stretching should temporarily relax a neutral tone of your tight calves long enough to exercise in the restricted range of motion. Loading with control into the otherwise restricted area should improve your ability to access that area in the future.

Vary your rep ranges and train your calves more often. Calves are designed to run all day, so doing 4 sets of 8 to 10 repetitions once a week won’t cause muscle growth.

Related: What You Did Not Know About Calf Exercise

Related: The Cure for Puny Calves


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