Workout of The Week 2.7.16- Facing Your Stubborn Set of Calves

Introduction

The notorious calve muscle.. That one muscle that really just doesn’t like to grow. Genetics either blessed you with ankle melons, or cursed you with cankles (the term used for legs where you cannot distinguish the ankle from the calve muscle lol), You have them or you don’t, right? Well, not exactly. Perhaps they just grow at an incredibly slow rate for some, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t growing. To illustrate what I am saying, think of the damage rain can do to side walks. Does one drop put a dent? No. How about 1,000

lower leg.jpg
I-1

drops? Probably not. It’s only after years and years of persistence, and repetition, that something as simple as water can demonstrate its corrosive properties. Calve muscles are no different. After all, not working them at all is 100% not going to make them grow.

Let’s examine the anatomy and physiology of the calve muscle, and hopefully that will shed some light. The lower leg region is made up of 4 compartments (see figure I-1). The anterior compartment’s main mover is the tibialis anterior, which is responsible for balance and dorsal flexion (pull foot upward). This muscle is mostly comprised of slow twitch fibers, and therefore, responds to higher reps. The lateral compartment is comprised of the peroneus muscle group. This group, much like the previous mentioned, responds to higher reps. The third group, the superficial posterior (very back of leg), contains the gastrocnemius, which is the actual muscle most would refer to as the “calve”. This muscle has a higher concentration of fast twitch fibers, thus responding greater to heavier/explosive lifting. The fourth and final compartment is the deep posterior. This area houses the soleus muscle, which is responsible for pressing the foot down while the leg is bent. It’s fiber content is more so slow twitch, making it more responsive to higher reps.

So, how does one take this information and apply it to their calve workouts? The answer is simple; variety. The best way to grow your calves is to hit them in every way. I’m talking toes in, toes out, legs straight, legs bent, heavy weight/low rep, lighter weight/high rep, etc. This is how you should approach each and every session.

 

WARM-UP

Cardiovascular machine- 5min-10min: A treadmill, bike, elliptical, stair master, rower, etc.  A slow to moderate pace is sufficient. Focus on breathing technique.

Ankle ABC’s: With each foot, spell the entire alphabet. Make sure to make the letters as big as possible. Do not rush, this is not a timed challenge.

Light warm-up sets: 2-3 sets of 10-15 reps with very moderate weight. This will familiarize the movement, and bring blood to the area.

 

WORKING SETS

Smith machine calve raise: 4 sets x 6-10 reps

Set-up: You will need a smith machine, and a platform of some sort. I would suggest something wide, and firm. DO NOT grab something narrow or light, as it may flip over (personal experience lol). I would recommend an aerobic step, a thicker bumper plate, or something specifically designed for calve raises. The bar of the smith machine should be set so that your knees are moderately bent. Trust me, too low is far safer than too high.

smith riase
Smith machine raise

Execution: Begin by raising the bar, and releasing the hooks of the machine. As you begin the downward motion, control it. Do not let it control you, this is key. After you reach the bottom of the movement, explode upward until you reach a solid contraction. Hold the contraction for 1-2 seconds, and then repeat the movement. I like to stop 1-2 reps short of failure to ensure I will have the energy to re-hook the machine safely.

Tips: This is an ego lift for many, do not be those people. Ask yourself, do you want to sloppily lift too much weight, or do you truly want to grow your calves?  If you want growth, I would recommend great control of the movement through the entire range of motion. That means no half reps, or bouncing.

Donkey calf raise: 3×10; 60s rest

donkey

donkey calf raise

 

Set-up: You will need a machine designed for it, a seated leg press machine, or a friend who doesn’t mind public humiliation. If you are using a seated leg press, make sure to adjust the seat as up and down as it allows. The idea is to have your hips at 90 degrees.

Execution: This  movement should begin with the calves in a

donkey 2

no shame donkey calf raise

 

deep stretch, at the bottom of the movement. While keeping your hips bent and your legs straight, raise the weight until you reach a solid contraction. Then, slowly descend back to the starting position and repeat.

 

Tips: It is crucial to keep your knees from bending while doing this exercise. It’s effect is weakened if not adhered to. I also find controlled pausing at the bottom and the top of the motion helps tremendously in increasing the intensity.

Seated calve raises: 3 sets x 20-30 reps; 90s rests

Set-up: You will need a machine specifically designed for this exercise. If your gym does not own one, you may try these options: Using the leg extension machine with a block for your feet (see picture), or a leg press while keeping your knees bent.

seated raise
Seated calf raise

Execution: Much like the previous exercise, you should begin the moment with the heels lowered into a deep stretch. Once set-up, begin the reps. While emphasizing full range of motion, and controlling the descent, keep the motion continuous. Do not stop mid-set. Do not pause mid-rep. Continue the motion all the way through.

Tips: I find this exercise is most efficient if done with a 3 and 1 rhythm.  This means the lowering should take 3 seconds, followed by a 1 second upward motion. Another method you may experiment with is the 10 and 10 style, or 10 regular reps, and 10 explosive reps. You may also try the 28-method, which goes as follows: 7 regular reps, 7 at half the speed, 7 half way up, and 7 at the top half, focusing on the squeeze.

seated raise 2

Alternative method seated raise

 

THIS CONCLUDES THE WORKOUT

TIPS

  • The goldfish theory: The calve is full of dense muscular fascia, which can become tight and restriction. Some believe that his prevents the muscle from wanting to expand, much like a small tank restricts the growth of a gold fish. Therefore, it is speculated that constant stretching and foam rolling may promote growth.
  • Try different angle: The smith machine calve raise and the donkey calve raise are the best for this. If you are doing three sets, change it each time. For example: set 1= toes straight, set 2= toes inward, set 3= toes outward. To add to this, do not simply change the foot position, but also the way you push. For example, when the feet are inward, push from the inner foot; vice versa.
  • Hit your calves as you would any other muscle group: Do not simply throw 3-4 sets of low effort calve raises at the end of your leg day. I personally designate a day solely to calves, core, and forearms.

STRETCH

  • 3-5 repetitions per stretch
  • 10-20s second hold each

PRAY

You had another healthy workout.

Kyle Blair

Email: kblair_fitness@aol.com

For coaching.

More workouts.

Articles.

Newsletter sign-up (content like this article, and much more)

 

 

An Interview With Megan “Megmo” Morat

Megan is easily one of the most inspirational people I have ever met. Never in my life have I come across someone with such a lethal combination of optimism, energy, and raw bluntness. Her most noteworthy presence is on Instagram, where she inspires over 32,000 people daily. Megan isn’t your typical “fit chick” on Instagram, she is something far more genuine. In fact, despite her large quantity of comments, she will more than likely reply to each and every person. Megan and I have a past, and with that, I can say firsthand that she is the exact image she portrays.  So, if you are ever feeling less than worthy, or under the weather, just read one of her captions. The “word vomit”, as she calls it, will leave you with laughter, and a greater sense of self-love. Here is what she had to say about some important topics; enjoy.

1. The one and only, Megan “Megmo” Morat, thank you formegan 2taking the time to do this interview! Just to start things off lightly, could you give the readers some basic information about yourself?

I honestly don’t believe in telling people about me, I like them to develop their own thoughts about who I am by my words and actions that don’t directly describe who I am. Sounds like a complete cop out, but I’m really constantly redefining myself, discovering more about myself and living in the belief that I am here for a purpose. I’m a 26 year old who has a pretty obvious passion for fitness, wiener dogs, my friends and family, mental well-being and living my life with a purpose. I have a job working for Lululemon which has helped me tremendously in setting and crushing goals for myself; I also do freelance graphic design work on the side for quite a few clients and I genuinely enjoy the work I do for them. So really, I guess I could say that my jobs aren’t really jobs or work. Other than that I like to spend my time with the people I love, strengthening myself inside and out.

 2. You are really big into the fitness lifestyle. What is your current workout split? Favorite body part to lift? Favorite exercise?

     I don’t really have a set split. Coming from a hyper organized person myself, I find it odd that I really don’t megan.PNGgo off of a particular schedule. I do, however, try to split my leg days into two workouts per week – one focusing on quads and glutes and the other solely glutes and hamstrings. Otherwise I listen to my body as best as I can and decide from there what I’d like to work out that day. I typically take 2-3 rest days per week, sometimes more or less depending on my schedule and the way I feel. My favorite exercise is squats for sure! Hip thrusts and lat –pull downs in close second and third. I love the feeling of my muscles contracting, it’s euphoric and also one of those indescribable feelings that make you want to scream in a fit of joy, pain and pleasure. We all know those are typically good feelings…and that escalated quickly. Moving on!

 3. Supplements are very popular in the fitness industry, with thousands of different products and companies, which brands and types of supplements do you currently take? Why?

I just use my Slap Nutrition products. I’m into simplicity and I don’t believe any supplement is “magical” by any means. You have to put in work to see results, no supplement replaces that. There’s so much bull shit regarding supplements and shenanigans these days, it’s actually entertaining. But hey, if you think it works for you then by all means, invest in it. I truly believe that investing in good food and a gym membership is more beneficial, though. I also always forget to take pills unless they’re dangling in front of my face, so there’s that.

     I enjoy Slap because their ingredients are clean and they don’t upset my digestive system nor does the pre-workout make me feel like I’m going to go postal when I hit the gym. Shameless plug: use my code MEGMO on anything from WeSlap.com if you want a discount. I highly recommend the Pumpkin Spice Preworkout and Peanut Butter Whey! The Salted Caramel BCAA’s are also new and delicious, so I can throw those in the loop too.

4. You currently have a really busy life. From working full time at Lululemon, to freelance graphic design work. Yet, you make time to regularly workout, eat well, and even compete in bikini competitions. What would you tell people who constantly claim “I don’t have enough time to do that stuff” or “I would if I had time!”.

Make your passions a priority. If your passions don’t involve those things, you naturally aren’t motivated or incline to make time for them. If you genuinely want to live a healthy lifestyle (whatever that means for you), find something that you’re going to enjoy and look forward to doing. Make it a habit, not a chore. But also remember that you don’t have to feel guilt or shame if you don’t enjoy working out, just keep in mind you can be perfectly healthy without the gym. Play with your kids, dance, go on a walk, clean the house or go shopping. I think what some people don’t realize is that you don’t have to go balls to the walls, compete, etc. to be considered healthy.

quote

5. Social media has created a medium of worldly interaction, while this has its advantages, it has also a created number of problems. As someone who has a big influence in social media, 31,000 followers big, what advice could you give to others in terms of self-esteem, self-dignity, and creating a true self-image?

Stop trying to fit into a mold. You are constantly experiencing life; thus you are learning growing, changing and you’re never going to fit into this mold. You are completely up to you. It’s ok to redefine yourself at every moment, just be honest and open minded as you expect others to be for you. Things do not happen to you, they happen from what you create. Suffering from the destruction of your own dignity and self-esteem is optional, your happiness is a choice and a decision you need to make every single day. Remember that. Also, pop dat booty.

6. It’s no secret that today’s society has put a lot of pressure for females to be perfect. This can cause self-image problems that can lead to eating disorders and a slew of other psychological issues. As someone who has experienced similar issues, and recovered, what advice could you give someone with similar struggles?

Show up to your life everyday and realize that you have to fight. We all have demons; we have a choice and a personal responsibility on how we deal with these demons. For me, being completely open and honest about my struggles and triumphs has been a huge help for me because it makes me realize that I’m not fighting alone, I am only a human and it’s ok to have shit moments, shit days, but it’s not ok to wallow in them. Reframe, refocus and fuck shit up because life is awesome and it’s fun when you live it.

7. Last question, I promise. Your future is very promising. Are there any big accomplishment’s you have made lately? Anything big coming up for you?

 I have plans to travel to NYC and Chicago soon, for some freelance design work. I am also going to be putting a greater focus on developing my website. Oh, and I have a hot guy cooking me dinner on Valentine’s Day.

megan pic

 

 

 

Want more of Megan? Here you go.

Instagram: Megmo7

Megan’s website: Here

 

Feel free to check out my website too!

Features include:

Services include:

 

Kyle Blair – CPT- BS Exercise Physiology

Owner of #Kblairfitness

Comments, likes, and shares are appreciated!