2 Unique Ways to Grow Stubborn Calves

Calf muscles posed

Are you trying to grow stubborn calves? Calves have always been a difficult muscle for me to grow. I remember after my first 3 years of training I gave up on them, I decided if they wouldn’t grow using the lifts and methods I was using then they would just never grow.

Then, one day, I decided I wanted to compete, and eight years into lifting I started trying to grow them again. It took a lot of outside input, research, and trial and error but I made it happen. The good news is you can too! So, if you are wanting to grow stubborn calves- here are 2 unique methods that work and some bonus tips!

Method 1: Cluster Sets for Calves

cluster sets are a great way to grow stubborn calves

A great way to shock your calves into some growth is more volume, and cluster sets can help achieve that!

Pick a weight you can do for about 15 reps with good form then do the following:

  1. Perform 8-10 reps
  2. Re-rack the weight and rest 10-20 seconds
  3. Perform 8-10 reps (its okay if you do less but don’t push to failure)
  4. Re-rack the weight and rest 10-20 seconds
  5. Perform as many reps as you can reaching failure this time
  6. Take a long rest, about 3-5 minutes
  7. Perform 3-4 total cluster sets

The great thing about cluster sets is that they allow you to get more volume in per set than you would with a standard set. In the example above you are getting 20-30 reps in with a weight you could normally only do for 15 reps. Try alternating higher rep sets (like the one above) and lower rep sets.

Method 2: Stretch the Fascia in Your Calves

grow stubborn calves by stretching the fascia around the muscle

Sometimes the limiting factor in your calves can be the fascia surrounding the muscle. It can prevent you from getting the pump your calves deserve and need to grow. Here is my favorite way to stretch it out!

Pick a weight you can perform about 20 reps with, perform 10 reps, then rest in the stretched portion of the lift. Let the weight stretch your calves at the bottom of the lift for 10 seconds then do another ten reps. Repeat this one more time then take a longer rest (3-5 minutes) before performing another set. Complete 3-4 total sets with this method to grow stubborn calves.

Bonus Tips to Grow Stubborn Calves

If calves are extremely difficult for you to grow it might be time to give them a more targeted approach. Most lifters train calves at the end of a workout, meaning they have burned through most of their energy.

If you are serious about growing them you can use the methods above or try giving them more attention just as you would for a lagging major muscle group with these tips.

  1. Train calves more frequently. One method that you can do short term is training calves every day for a week or two to give them more stimulus.
  2. Train calves first. Training calves at the beginning of the workout means you will have more energy to put into them rather than the other muscle groups you are training that day.
  3. Increase the volume. Rather than trying one of the more unique methods above try a more common approach like a 10×10 training method to increase your training volume.

Calves can be a frustrating muscle group to try and grow. I know this from first-hand experience, but don’t give up! There is always something you can try that can shock them into new growth!

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In 2013 I attended TVCC with my studies focusing on nutrition and biology. After leaving TVCC I pursued a career in inbound marketing and have worked in many different industries including health and fitness, firearms, coaching, and many more. I spent 6 years training for powerlifting and 6 years after training for a bodybuilding show in Idaho, which sadly did not come to fruition.

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