Don’t Forget Your Calves!

 We can’t over-emphasize the importance of great calves. When you watched your last bodybuilding contest, did you see someone with an amazing physique but weak calves? Of course, and it detracts from the rest of their physique, right? Or, how often have you seen someone that obviously works out yet has no calves? It just doesn’t look good. In this article, we’ll cover calf training and provide a sample routine. We’ll also show you what 5% Nutrition supplements you should use. Don’t forget your calves!

The Calf Muscles

Your calves should be about as big as your arms. Some of us have work to do! Getting our calves to respond can be difficult. To combat this, the first step to better results is to understand the muscles you're working.(1)

With that said, the calf muscles are:

The Soleus

Basically, both calf muscles are important for running and jumping. The Soleus is the smaller of the two. Its function is to extend and rotate the foot.

The Gastrocnemius

This muscle is the larger of the two. It has two heads and overlays the Soleus. It’s the muscle that gives your calves that much-desired diamond shape. The function of the Gastrocnemius is to flex the foot. 

Common Calf Exercises

Standing Calf Raises are the main mass builder for the calves. To fully activate the Soleus, you’ll need to include Seated Calf Raises. From there, you have Donkey Calf Raises, which can be done with a training partner or by using a machine. There’s also Calf Raises on the Leg Press. For this exercise, you can use any type of leg press/hack squat machine. 


The thing about calves is, you can use a lot of weight. It's common for lifters to use at least 600-800 lbs for reps on standing calf raises. Some lifters use much more. As long as your rep performance does not suffer, use as much weight as you can. If you reach your rep total and could easily knock out 5-6 more reps, add weight.

Speed And Form

Many people lift as fast as they can with no thought to form. This type of rep performance leads to momentum doing most of the work. When you perform a rep, the muscles need to do 100% of the work. Slow it down and concentrate on good form!

Rep Performance

For calves, there are two main types of rep performance. The first is slow and controlled, stop and hold at the top for an 8-10 count. The second is explosive up, pause and hold, slow and controlled down. 

Exercise Performance

There are also two main styles of exercise performance. The first is heavy weight and low reps (6-8), and the second is lighter weight for higher reps (15-25). 

You should take your sets beyond failure using one of the following: supersets, drop sets, forced reps, partials, or rest-pause. Use a different technique every workout. 

Combining The Styles

It can be difficult to get good results from your calf routine. The daily use we put our calves through makes them resistant. Plus, circulation seems to be less than in other muscles. This can hinder getting a good pump in the calves. Therefore, a combination of the two styles of weight/reps and rep performance works best. 

An Example Routine

Work your calves after legs. 

Standing Calf Raises
(Alternate with Calf Presses using your choice of Leg Press machine)
Warm up over 2 sets:
20% Of Your Working Weight x 15 reps
40% Of Your Working Weight x 10 reps
Use 85% of your 1RM
Working Sets - 2 x 6 - 8 reps
Use 70% of your 1RM
Working Sets - 2 x 12 reps
Add the extended set technique of your choice. Rotate these techniques every workout
Seated Calf Raises
Use 85% of your 1RM
Working Sets - 2 x 6 - 8 reps
Use 70% of your 1RM
Working Sets - 2 x 12 reps
Add the extended set technique of your choice

Performance Notes

You should be using enough weight to fail on the last rep of each working set. If you aren’t, add weight. On your first 2 sets of each exercise, use explosive up, slow down rep performance. On the last 2 sets, use slow and controlled up and down. On all sets, pause and hold at the top for an 8 count. 

5% Supplements

Getting a good pump equates to increased blood flow. This means an increased nutrient delivery. Therefore, add Full As F*ck and Core L-Citrulline 3000 to your favorite 5% Nutrition pre-workout for monster pumps.

Take in plenty of protein. Shake Time, Egg White Crystals, or Real Carbs + Protein are the way to go. In a hurry? Take a couple of Snack Time packets with you and don’t forget All Day You May!

Finally, 5% has a great selection of natural muscle builders, including Bigger By The Day, Turkesterone 1200, and TEST. Don’t forget to stack TEST with Core D-Aspartic Acid and Core ZMA. 5% Nutrition has what you need no matter what your goals are! Train hard, take your 5% supplements, and don’t forget your calves!


  1. The Calf Muscles - Gastrocnemius & Soleus - Actions & Anatomy (
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