Forget those tired jokes about skipping leg day; there are plenty of good arguments against neglecting your calf muscles in your workouts that go beyond the aesthetics. Training calves can help improve lower-body power and boost the body’s overall athletic ability, as well as providing strength and stability in the ankles which will stand you in good stead—literally—as you get older.
That said, it isn’t always easy to build muscle in your calves. Genetics certainly factor into your body’s ability to develop strength and size in certain areas, but as trainer Paul Sklar outlines in a recent YouTube video, a lot of the time you can overcome plateaus in your calf gains by adjusting your technique.
“Some common mistakes include using more weight than the calf can actually handle, or not getting enough stimulation,” he explains, while demonstrating a simple “hack” that he has devised to stimulate growth in his calves.
The only pieces of equipment you’ll need for this exercise are a standard dip chin belt, and a weight plate. Once the belt is attached to your waist and the weight is secured to the end of the chain, tuck it between your knees, and then repeatedly elevate yourself by standing on your tiptoes and then lowering yourself with control for a full minute.
“The key here is using a significant but manageable weight, and combining it with high volume,” says Sklar. “Now, to get the most out of this exercise, try to pretend that you’re trying to look over a high brick wall to see what’s on the other side. Make sure you choose a weight that you can handle for 60 seconds without rest, and perform five sets to complete failure, resting one to two minutes in between sets.”
You shouldn’t think of this move as a quick bounce up to your target rep range. Watch how deliberately Sklar is moving here. He doesn’t hop up and down like a jackrabbit—he’s accentuating the concentric raise, pausing to get a good squeeze at the top, then lowering down through the eccentric motion under control.
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