Bodybuilding Training Article from

Build 18 1/2 " Calves
by Carl Richford - 1972

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Just as many classic books seem to contain the wisdom of the ages, so bodybuilding wisdom seems to have been around or a long time, if only people were willing to apply it. There are no new and sensational result producers. just the same old stuff, sometimes in new packages.

The occasion for this comment is my return to training after three years being busy with other things. One of the areas I've never has any trouble developing was my calves, so that is one of the things I'm conscious of in other bodybuilders. And sure enough, the No. 1 bodybuilding specimen in the gym I'm now training in has a Mr. America upper body and calves like lollypops. So, he cleans up all the local contests and blows it at anything regional or above.

Why? Same reason now as 20 or 10 years ago. Calves are easy to develop if you are willing to stop and analyze their function, impossible to develop if you mess around as most bodybuilders do.

A typical calf man, fresh from his 300-pound bench presses, figures he'll really pile on the weight on that old calf machine, and this will develop his calves. Meanwhile, he usually uses about one-third of the range of motion of the calf...and can you see anyone developing a chest with one-third bench presses? Furthermore, he slouches his back bends his knees, leans forward...all three factors combining to take the force of the weight off the calves and distribute it throughout the body. Just like a fellow doing reverse-grip cleans and calling them biceps curls. How many top bodybuilders do you know who train with one-third bench presses or reverse-grip cleans?? Well?

Come on, you can admit it ....everybody does it. Most bodybuilders do not apply a full range of motion or isolation to their calf exercises. With these body parts, as with all others in the body, correct exercise form comes first and weight second. That's why Art Jones' machines are good...they force you to use correct exercise motion.

Well, to get back to calves, let me describe the common way of doing calves, and the right way. Most bodybuilders use a calf block that is too low and therefore get a limited range of motion because their heel contacts the floor before they can get a full stretch at the bottom or the movement. The average bodybuilder piles on too much weight, uses a calf machine with bowed and slouched back, and unlocks his knees and bounces through a very limited range of motion. With the knees locked and weight directly over the calf (more on this later), begin with the foot at maximum height, heel as far up as you can go. Then, go down through a full range of motion, so the heel touches the floor each and every rep. My foot is 11 inches long (I'm 6' 2" and it is 8 inches from the ball on my foot, which is on the block, to the end of the heel. The block I use is 6 inches high. A good rule of thumb is that the block should be at least half as long as your foot. This may sound like a lot, buy simply because you haven't tried it yet.

Here is a recommended training routine to get the maximum from your calves. As for myself, I train for health mainly, rather than any contest. I did get my calves up to 18 1/2 inches while training for a while with Harold Poole, buy I maintain now a 17 1/2 inch calf with a little light stretching twice a week. And, that's cold in the morning, not after pumping up.

Exercise No. 1: To get your calf used to this stretching, start out by first using the proper-height block, and simply stretching your foot downward, first one leg then the other. For your first workout, simply do this, for your calves will be quite sore afterwards. Second workout, simply do the same; go up as high as you can, the down to maximum. Do several sets of stretches, alternating feet.

Exercise No. 2: Once you are used to this, begin a regular calf exercise of one-legged calf raises. Simply hook one foot around the other ankle, and then do 3 sets of 10 reps, maximum stretch up and touch your heel to the floor each and every rep. Build up to 4-5 sets of 10-12 reps, remembering at all times that form is the number one essential in this exercise and that any cheating or adding weight or sloppy form is out. After you can do it correctly at all times, then and only then may you hold a light dumbbell in the other hand, for added weight. Remember at all times also to keep the knees locked and back upright.

Exercise No. 3: If you have done No.1 and No.2 properly and have not been just fooling around you should get both improved size and shape for a number of months. the calf development should be low and full.

If at this time you think you need more, go on to the Donkey Calf Raise. Again use the high block, again keep the knees locked at all times, again have the weight over the calves, making sure you place your training partner back on the hips, not on the small of your back. Again, the point of this exercise is how you do it, not how much weight you use. If you train alone a variation of the Donkey Calf Raise can also be done on the vertical leg press machine by lying on your back and doing toe presses against the foot platform .If you do it properly, you will get very real and very sensational calf gains. If you horse around with improper form, you will's as simple as that.

Additional exercises: do not even consider doing exercises on the calf machine. The calf machine encourages poor form in a large variety of ways. You have to bend forward, slouching your back and thus taking the force of the weight off your calves. It also tips your body forward, encourages bending the knees, and sets you at a poor angle for properly and fully flexing and extending the muscle. The only otter exercise worthwhile is running. Regular jogging, for distance, will help you increase calf size, not to mention burn off fat and help the thighs also.

That's it. Simple, buy most effective. Try proper calf exercise for yourself and see what gains you can get from it.

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