Saturday, October 19, 2013

Arnold Schwarzenegger Calf Training Wisdom

Arnold Schwarzenegger
 Calf Training Wisdom

Calves must be the most widely controversial muscle group to train, aside from maybe abs. Discussions range from training heavy versus light, high reps versus low reps, what volume and frequency are appropriate and sometimes even whether or not to train them at all. I have strong opinions on training calves, and while others may disagree with my stance on developing them, here they are nonetheless.
On Time Investment
In my opinion, the one thing that thwarts the progress of an individual's calf development more than anything else is attrition. Most people just don't have the patience and persistence to maintain the necessary intensity level to maximize this stubborn bodypart.
The Donkey Calf Raise 
I've always believed that the price of having great calves is 500 hours. I'll explain. 500 hours equals more than 660 45-minute calf workouts. 660 divided by 4 calf workouts per week equals about 165 weeks. That's more than three years of work! And realize I am talking about four intense 45-minute calf workouts per week for more than three consistent years. Be honest, and time the length of your next calf workout. Is it even anywhere near 45 minutes?Anything less is futile effort, unless you're genetically blessed with amazing calves. So stick with it. 
Weakness turned into strength 
On Resistance
Back when I was still having trouble putting size on my calves, I did calf raises using 500-600 pounds of resistance, thinking that was more than enough weight. Then Reg Park pointed out that each of my calves was accustomed to supporting 250 pounds of bodyweight, so 500 pounds was pretty normal for me. That's when I started overloading my calves, using up to 1,000 pounds on standing calf raises. And that's when they grew. Now, I'd never suggest that a beginner or even an intermediate lifter go this heavy, but the point is to use a sufficiently heavy weight relative to your bodyweight when training calves.
Arnold at his most massive Olympia showing
Circa. 1974
On Range of Motion
Simply put, the greater your range of motion when doing seated, standing, or donkey calf raises, the more your calves will develop. This means getting a full stretch at the bottom, then going all the way up to the top and squeezing hard. One exception to this rule exists -- partial reps. Back in my heyday, every fourth calf workout (give or take) I did consisted of only half and quarter movements using extremely heavy weight. This added resistance on my calves was very beneficial for adding mass, despite my limited range of motion. 
Standing Calf Raises
On Rep Ranges

It would be impossible for me to sum up how many reps I'd typically do per set of calf exercises -- I alternately employed high, low, and moderate reps throughout the ''60s and '70s. For example, I might do 5 sets of 10 reps per exercise one day, then do 20 reps per set the following workout, then maybe 12-15 reps the next. And then some days I'd load up the stack really heavy and perform just 3-4 reps per set. On occasion I'd train with a guy like Tom Platz, and we'd do sets of 30,40, or 50 reps. So you see, the goal when training calves is to be as unpredictable as possible. You must constantly try new training protocols.   
Strong calves are a must
The fruit of hard work is always sweet

Full Calf Training Article on Bodybuilding Mauritius (Click to Read)

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