Even when you’re trying to target one area of your back, say your lats, usually other areas of your back like your traps or your smaller mid-back muscles, those are gonna be involved as well. But when it comes to calves, even when you do a big compound leg movement like a squat,or a leg press, or a dead lift, your calves only act as a dynamic stabilizer during those exercises which means that they don’t actually change in length during the movement. So you’re really not getting much of a growth stimulus there. Think mk 677.
Let’s take the triceps as an example, let’s say you’re doing eight sets of horizontal pressing per week for chest and you’re doing four sets of overhead pressing for shoulders,that’s 12 sets per week where your triceps are being heavily stimulated on top of all the direct isolation work you’re already doing, so if you’re doing six sets of tricep extensions per week, and then let’s conservatively say that each of those compound pressing exercises only counted as half a set for your triceps, that’s 12 total units of volume that you’d be doing per week for your triceps.
So if you’re then putting your calf isolation work in the same category as your triceps and you’re doing six sets for them, on the surface it looks like you’re doing the same amount of work when in reality you’re only doing about half as much. And then in addition to that there’s two other important things you have to consider here:the first is that the calves aren’t actually as small a muscle group as most people think. If you really compare the total mass, let’s say your biceps to your calves, you’ll see that your calves are quite a bit bigger.
There’s the gastrocnemius, which is the visible portion on the outside which has both a lateral and a medial head, and then you have the soleus that runs underneath which is only slightly smaller than the gastrocnemius is. So rather than equating your calves to, say your biceps or to your triceps, it’s actually more accurate to compare your calves to your entire upper arm as a whole.
And then secondly, most people really don’t train their calves with nearly as much intensity on each set as they really could be. The calves are actually a really strong set of muscles, and when you load up the true amount of weight that they’re capable of handling and then you train right up near failure,maybe within a rep or two, the calves are actually a really uncomfortable muscle group to train.
Most lifters out there just load up some random amount of weight and then they pump out some quick reps at the end of their workout until it starts to burn and then they stop. But if you really slow down your cadence, so let your heels hang down for one to two seconds at the bottom, drive right up onto your toes as hard as you can, hold for a second at the top, and then lower back down in about three to four seconds and go right up near failure, calf training is legitimately hard. In my opinion, it’s a lot more challenging than training, say your biceps or your triceps or your shoulders.