Hail to the Dinosaurs!
Buried somewhere in my email box is a
question from a reader about calf training.
It's a good one, so I thought I'd answer it
in an email to the entire group.
It's a three part question. My answers
follow each of the questions:
Q. Have you ever read Arnold's book, The
Education of a Bodybuilder?
A. Yes, many, many years ago.
Q. Do you agree with his statement in the
book that the calves are the most difficult
muscle to develop?
A. Yes and no. They are very difficult for
some people, but not for others. Bodybuilder
Chris Dickerson was famous for his massive
calf development, but according to Arthur
Jones he had a twin brother who never
trained but who had even BIGGER calves!
Q. Do you believe that the only way to make
your calves grow is to bomb them mercilessly
with a muscle-blasting blitzkrieg of exercises,
sets, reps and weight?
A. No, not at all. I think there's a much better
and more effective way to train your calves.
Back in the day, the muscle magazines
would always run an article every so often
that said the calves are a very dense muscle
group because of all the walking we do -- and
the only way to make them grow is to do a
super program of daily workouts, many
different exercises, and plenty of sets
I remember reading one of those articles
when I was in high school.
The next day, I went to the school weight
room and did day one of the author's
I couldn't walk right for two weeks.
And that's the problem with the super-duper
high volume calf workouts. They can literally
To me, it makes much more sense to just do
ONE calf exercise in any given workout -- for
two to five sets -- and give your body time to
adopt to the program and start to show some
results. You can train hard without overdoing
things and without developing extreme
If you have the genetics for big calves, this
simple approach will work perfectly fine and
everyone else will THINK you have some kind
of secret workout.
If you do NOT have the genetics for big calves,
this simple approach will build strong lower legs
and help to injury-proof your feet and ankles --
without the risk of over-training.
As far as exercises go, the basic calf raise on
a calf machine is hard to beat. Do five sets of
8 to 10 reps and gradually work up to heavy
weight. Reg Park famously used 800 to 1,000
pounds in his calf raises.
If you don't have access to a calf machine, do
one-legged calf raises while holding a dumbbell
in one hand. Do sets of 10 to 20 reps.
People always asked Arthur Jones to build a
special machine for calf raises. He refused to
do so because one-legged calf raises were so
And Chuck Sipes used to train his calves in a
very low-tech way. He did them in a power rack,
and allowed the barbell to slide up and down
against the uprights so he could keep his
balance. He would stand with his toes on
two old bricks to increase his range of
movement. It worked pretty well -- he
was one of the top bodybuilders in the
world, and one of the strongest -- and
he had terrific calves.
So calf training is like anything else. Keep it
simple, train hard and focus on quality rather
Works every time.
Yours in strength,
P.S. Have you seen the February issue of The
Dinosaur Files? We're getting great feedback
on the little monster:
February 2016 Dinosaur Files
P.S. 2. If you missed the December and January
issues, go here to grab them:
January 2016 Dinosaur Files
December 2015 Dinosaur Files
P.S. 3. My other books and courses are right
here at Dino Headquarters:
P.S. 4. Thought for the Day: "Those aren't
calves, they're cows!" -- Classic line repeated
by many over the years