Let us help you cure your lagging bodyparts.
Today's Installment: Calves.
April 4, 2008
If your balance and proportion are off, it's time to pay Doc FLEX a visit and get the cure for what ails you.
In this third installment of our three-stage house call for your physique, we break down another common gym malady plaguing many a would-be bodybuilding champion and the corresponding cure.
Read Doctor FLEX-Part I to improve lagging rear delts.
Read Doctor FLEX-Part II to improve hamstrings.
AILMENT: Stubborn Calves
No matter how you train your calves, they simply refuse to grow. You've tried just about everything from more weight and low reps to less weight and high reps. You've tried training them more often, stretching them further and contracting them harder. You may have even bought a training gadget or two that promised improvements but, like everything before them, failed miserably to produce results.
Calf muscles are made up of the same type of muscle tissue found anywhere else in the body. If stimulated with resistance exercise, they will grow like any other muscle. The calf muscles can be difficult to stimulate because of the strong Achilles tendon that attaches the calf muscle of each leg to the heel, often taking on much of the resistance during calf training. The Achilles tendon is like a massive rubber band, so when you stretch downward, tension builds up in the tendon. If you accelerate the resistance downward and get a slight bounce at the bottom, most likely it's the energy stored in the Achilles tendon from the stretch that springs much of the resistance back up. Consequently, your calves may end up doing far less of the work than you would expect or need them to do in order to grow.
* Start by reducing the amount of resistance you use in calf exercises by at least half until you master the new form explained here.
* Flex your calf muscles at the start of every calf exercise. Keep them flexed through the entire arc of movement during each rep.
* Stretching beyond the point where you can't keep your calves flexed is unnecessary and counterproductive. Stretching is good, but overstretching will cause you to lose the feel of the resistance in your calf muscles.
* As you begin to raise the weight, go only as high as your calves will allow without bouncing or trying to get higher on your toes.
* The goal is to stretch and contract the calf muscles while avoiding the use of tension in the Achilles tendons to move the weight. This is achieved by not overstretching at the bottom, pausing briefly at both the top and bottom of the movement, and by keeping all the tension on the muscles by flexing them through the entire set.
Share your favorite stretches and exercises. FLEX.