How to pump calves – the best calves exercises and training program

How to pump up calves – the best exercises and training program. Learn how to pump up your calf muscles in the gym and what exercises to perform.

How to pump calves

How to pump calves – the best exercises and training program


We all saw them in the gym – guys pushing the monstrous weights with huge pectoral muscles and biceps, and with absolutely thin legs. You can have strong and well-developed quadriceps and hip biceps, but weak calves will not let you jump high and run fast. Also, your position in squats and deadlifts will be less stable. The risk of knee injury increases. Then why few people can boast of developed calves?

The main reason for this is neglect of training, but not everything is so simple. Many people do not understand that calves must be trained if you regularly perform squats or deadlifts. Of course, if you are gifted with powerful calves from nature, you are in luck. But since you are reading this article, then most likely this is not about you.

Those who are unlucky with genetics will have to train up a sweat in order to make progress.

Today we will understand why most people find it so difficult to pump their shins, how to do it correctly, and consider several training options that will quickly make the calves larger and stronger.




Two large muscles are located on the lower leg:

  1. Calf muscle – This muscle is visible when you look at the shin;
  2. Soleus muscle – this muscle is located under the calf muscle.

These two muscles work synchronously to move the foot, as well as to bend the ankle and knee joint. As for the appearance, we are most interested in the calf muscles, but the developed soleus muscle is also very important, as it will make the lower leg visually even larger.


There are two main types of muscle tissue:

  1. Slow muscle fibers – they have less potential for growth, but are extremely hardy;
  2. Fast muscle fibers – they have great potential for growth, but they quickly tire.

Studies show that the ratio of muscle fibers in the calf muscles can be very different for every person.

For example, in one person the proportion of fast muscle fibers is 60%, in another – 15%. The first will be much easier to pump up the shin, you do not even need to focus on the choice of exercises. Each millimeter of growth will be given to the second group of people with sweat and blood.

But do not let this discourage your mood. Even those who are unlucky with genetics can pump impressive caviar. With the right approach to nutrition and training, anyone can do it. It’s just that someone will need more time for this.


There are only two types of effective calf muscle exercises: bench presses and toe lifts. You can do them sitting and standing.

Bench presses and ups are made with straight legs and act on the calf muscles. When you sit in the simulator, your knees are bent, the load rests on the soleus muscles

It is important to work both standing and sitting if you want to get the most out of your shin workouts. The soleus muscles also need to be trained. If you want to focus more on the calf muscles, do most of the work while standing.

It is extremely important to control movements at each amplitude point. Of course, this applies to all exercises, but since calves are usually put at the very end of a workout, many forget about the correct technique. After all, you saw people pumping calves with huge weights and with an amplitude of several centimeters, instead of completely contracting and stretching the muscles in each repetition? No need to do this. Do smooth, controlled repetitions in full amplitude.


  • Calf raise. This is a basic exercise on the calf muscles. It is quite simple and effective. You can perform it in the simulator or with a barbell.
  • Calf raise in the machine. Perhaps this is all that is needed for the development of soleus muscles.
  • Calf press in the leg press machine. A very effective variation of calf raise.
  • “Donkey”. This is one of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s favorite exercises. Not without a reason.

You need to not just perform these exercises, but try to constantly improve your results in them. Muscle gain is not possible without progression of the loads. The easiest way to do this is to gradually increase working weights. Therefore, the main goal of natural bodybuilders is to become stronger. This applies not only to large muscle groups such as the back and legs, but also to small ones such as calves and biceps. Get stronger in these exercises, eat right, and you will achieve the result. 


If you consult with experienced athletes with advanced calves, they will say two things:

  • Calf respond well to the combination of low repetition and repetitive work.

So it can be said about all muscle groups, but periodization is a training principle for experienced athletes, not beginners. This does not apply to calves. There are many suggestions as to why this works. Probably because calves already carry out a large amount of work in everyday life, just like the abs. Therefore, growth needs a serious incentive.

  • Calf needs intense training for growth.

Have to sweat properly. Several workouts per week, each set to failure, a large number of repetitions.

At the dawn of his career, Arnold Schwarzenegger had to fight for every millimeter of shin volume in order to be competitive in international bodybuilding tournaments. Not shying away from hard physical work, the “Austrian oak” solved the problem very simply: spent several calf workouts a week and did a large number of repetitions. It worked.

Shin Workout Options:

  • Calf Lifts in the machine – 3×4-6;

Seated calf Lifts in the machine – 3×4-6;

Rest between sets – 2-3 minutes.

  • Calf press in the leg press machine – 3×8-10;

“Donkey” or toe lifts in the machine – 3×8-10;

Rest between sets – 1-2 minutes.

  • Seated calf raise in the machine – 3×12-15;

Calf raise in the machine – 3×12-15;

Rest between sets – 1 minute.

How to optimize the training process:

  • Rest at least one day between workouts. It is most convenient to do three workouts per week: Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
  • You can use three options for setting the foot: parallel to each other, with the institution inward or outward for a few centimeters. Each position loads calf differently.
  • You can train calf while resting between sets. Do not carry your calf workout to the very end when you are no longer strong. Instead, train your calves while resting in your primary workout.
  • The full range of motion! At the lower point of the amplitude, you need to lower the heels as low as possible to feel a strong stretching of the calf muscles. At the top, we get on the socks as much as possible and completely contract the muscles.
  • Increase working weights. For example, if you perform a climb on socks while standing with a weight of 100 kilograms for 6 repetitions, the next try working with 105 kilograms. Could do 6 reps – add weight.

Train by these principles, and in the near future you will be pleasantly surprised at how much your calf muscles can grow, even if previously they stubbornly resisted training.

What sports nutrition will help to get bigger calf muscle?

Sports nutrition is far less important than proper nutrition and training. Unfortunately, the entire sports nutrition industry is built around pseudo-scientific theories and marketing gimmicks. Many products have harmful impurities, and the dosage of the necessary substances is underestimated.

Only those products work whose effectiveness in increasing strength, muscle growth and burning fat is scientifically proven. Finding a high-quality effective product at an adequate price is difficult enough.

Creatine for muscle gain and strength

Creatine is a natural substance found in the human body and in foods like red meat. Probably the most research has been directed towards the study of this sports nutrition product. But its advantages are scientifically confirmed. Creatine

  • accelerates muscle gain and strength growth;
  • improves anaerobic endurance;
  • reduces muscle pain during recovery.

You may have heard the myth of the dangers of creatine for the kidneys, but studies disprove it. On healthy people, creatine does not fail with any harmful side effects with both short-term and long-term use. However, people with kidney problems are not recommended to take creatine. If everything is fine with your kidneys, feel free to use creatine. It is safe, inexpensive and effective.

Whey Protein for Muscle Growth and Recovery

Protein is not necessarily needed to gain muscle mass, but it can be difficult to get the right amount of protein from natural foods in a day. It has also been proven that protein promotes recovery after strength training.

Pre-workout for energy and stamina

Undoubtedly, the pre-training complex is able to charge you with energy for training in the gym. However, there are disadvantages and potential risks. Many pre-workouts are crowded with inactive ingredients and scanty dosages of working substances. Many of them do not contain stimulants at all.

Some popular products are potentially dangerous because they contain a powerful (and currently banned) DMAA stimulant. Sometimes even chemical analogues of methamphetamine are added. It is difficult to find a pre-workout complex that does not contain horse-drawn dosages of stimulants, but is rich in useful natural ingredients such as beta-alanine, betaine and citrulline.

Typically, pre-workout complexes contain the following components:

  • Caffeine. It energizes well, and also increases stamina and strength.
  • Beta Alanine This is a natural amino acid that reduces fatigue from training, improves anaerobic performance and promotes muscle growth.
  • Citrulline Malate. It is an amino acid that increases stamina, reduces muscle pain and improves aerobic performance.
  • Betaine. A natural component found in beets, which increases strength, stamina, and also the secretion of growth hormone and insulin-like growth factor from strength training.
  • Ornithine. It is an amino acid found in large quantities in meat. It reduces fatigue from long workouts and enhances fat oxidation.
  • Theanine. This is an amino acid contained in tea, which reduces the effects of psychological and physical stress, increases the production of nitric oxide, which increases blood supply to the muscles. Attention, focus, memory, brain activity and mood are also improved.

Preferably, there are no artificial sweeteners, colorants and flavorings, excess carbohydrates and other harmful ingredients in the pre-workout complexes.


Of course, it’s fun to do a bench press and biceps curls, but powerful calves are one of the details that shows who really works in the gym. To train them is not easy, but the result is worth it. Follow the advice in this article, exercise, be patient and be proud of your calf muscles.

Author: admin