Fat Guy Calves, Six Pack Abs Part 3

Muscle Monday back in full effect, and its time to wrap up this three part series on Calves. As I alluded to in the past articles I have come up with some novels ways of training the calves that also have the added benefit of assisting in fat loss. I have already outlined the way I like train calves in a “standard” way in the last article, so lets get right to the next method.

The trick is essentially to “walk heavy” as often as possible. These methods do require some special equipment, one of which may be difficult to access or use… Such is life. Do what you can do, and don’t worry about what you can’t.

vest

The first one is not going to be revolutionary by any means, but like most simply things it’s damn effective. It’s Weight Vest walking, and the heavier the better, a 20 pound weight vest simply wont get the job done. Guys who weigh 212 don’t have huge calves… Guys who weigh 280 do. So find the heaviest damn vest you can and take a 30 minute walk as often as you can. You can build this up over time, but 30 minutes three times a week is a good start.

If you can do these on a treadmill, set that incline up HIGH and the speed around 2mph to start with and really focus on squeezing each step like a calf raise… Brutal. Even without a weight vest this is a great method to add some “cardio” to the routine and stimulate the calves in an effective manner.

In addition to putting some extra volume on your calves, you should also get some breathing going to develop both your conditioning a bit, drop some fat, and wearing a heavy vest for this long will tax your lower back, shoulders, and traps as well. Can you say “Training Economy?”

The second way to “walk heavy”, and the best option if you have access to it, is with a sled or a Prowler. I saved this for last because I know not everyone will have access to one. Hopefully you do, because this is just one of the many uses for this thing. Gym’s like Metroflex in Long Beach have had them for years, and they are finally starting to pop up in more and more places.

If you have to question where the six-pack abs part of the equation comes from, you’ve never used one of these things. These can be a truly brutal addition to any workout, and done correctly will not only build the calves and really stimulate the entire body.

prowler

The key to these is in the execution of the push. Load the sled up and then walk it in one of a three ways:

– Using a weight that allows you to do about 30-50 steps, you can “tip toe” the sled forward by keeping the knees as straight as you can and essentially do calf raises to move the sled. Time is the only limiting factor here, do as much as you can.

– With a heavy weight do the standard forward pushing as shown in the picture, but really focus on coming up onto your toes. This can be done heavy, “sets” of 12 steps, or done light by doing “sets” of 50 or more steps. The heavier sets are quite taxing on the whole body, so switch them up.

– Using straps, walk backwards pulling the sled and stay as upright as possible. This can be done with a flat pulling sled as well.

Mix and match these three methods and perform them as often as you can, for as long as you can. You can really crank up the volume on these because there is no lowering portion of the movement, so there is very little actual muscle tearing. In fact, using the sled shuttles tons of blood to the muscles so it may even be restorative if not done to excess, and if you take some BCAA’s ahead of time.

There you have it. Combine the strategies in this article series and you should be on your way to making people think you got calf implants all the while sporting a beach ready physique.

Let me know in the comments if you have any questions or want clarification.

 

Fat Guy Calves, Six Pack Abs Part 2

Muscle Monday is back in full effect, and today I’ve got the second part of my magnum opus on calf training for the Mike Rashid Members site. The final part of this series will detail the abs-etching and calf building component, and today we will fill in the gaps by detailing what is wrong with most “regular” calf training and how to approach it in a more effective manner.

 

Standard Calf Training Problems and Solutions
As I alluded to last week we are going to target the calves with a multitude of stimuli aimed to give us the coveted Fat Guy Calves, but without having to breath heavy while watching TV.
So how does one approximate the amount of high weight, high frequency, and high volume of reps that seem to be key to achieving gargantuan calf development while keeping body fat to a minimum or even shedding it?
The answer lies in a multi-pronged approach, but first I’d like to address is the main problem with why most peoples calves seem to be so stubborn.

 

Standard Calf Training: The Main Issues
The problem with most peoples once-a-week calf training, aside from the low frequency and volume, is the manner in which they perform the calf raise. Most people perform calf raises in a piston-like manner, bouncing out of the bottom of the rep immediately after letting the weight essentially fall from the top.
This is bad for two reasons, both of which have to do with the calves short range of motion. Most people are aware of the stretch reflex (essentially the muscle “stores energy” on the lowering phase of the lift) which helps to provide a bit of momentum out of the bottom of every rep. This is why doing a paused rep is harder than a touch-n-go rep; think of your muscles as a spring coiling on the way down which blasts back up if you don’t pause to let that energy dissipate. While this can be a good thing when going for max attempt squat or bench, it absolutely kills the training effect for calves because the few “free” inches that the stretch reflex give you are a huge percentage of the range of motion. Most people also lift quite quickly out of the bottom which generates a huge amount of momentum out of the bottom in addition to the stretch reflex… between these two almost no tension is on the calves for most of the way up at all!
Those are just the problems on the way UP… On the way down I see most people essentially dropping the weight in a near free fall all the way into the bottom. While there is a bit of resistance, most people lower the weight in under a second I would say, hardly a huge amount of time under tension when combined with the all but nonexistent concentric portion I just described above.
Most calf routines I see recommend about 3-4 sets of 10-12… Lets say you go crazy and do 5×20. At about 1 second of actual, deliberate contractions and lowering per rep you are getting about 100 seconds of total calf training during that entire session.

 

The Solution: Triple Threat Sets
To combat all these issues, the rep style I like to use when training calves during your main session during the week is something I have dubbed “Triple Threat Sets.” A corny name perhaps, but I found that if you spend 3 seconds in each portion of the rep (Lowering, pausing, contracting, and squeezing up top) you really maximize the amount you get out of each set, while still allowing for enough reps to be done with a worthwhile weight. Done in this manner each set incorporates an accentuated eccentric, a deep stretch, a tense lifting portion, and a brutal isometric… All of which lead to hypertrophy in their own way. Here’s how to do it:
Pick your favorite calves training machine… Load up about 25-33% of the weight you would normally use because you are about to eat some humble pie. Then perform the reps like this:
  • Begin by unracking the weight and then lowering it into the bottom position… Then really focus on letting it stretch the calf muscle out for a nice, slow 3 count. If you are on a seated calf machine push down and really stretch that muscle. Three seconds is about the length of time it takes for the stretch reflex to dissipate, so there will be no momentum moving into the next phase of the rep. Stretching in-an-of-itself can also be a stimulus for growth (Many trainers incorporate weighted stretches into their routines because of its positive effects), so this is a double whammy here.
  • Next raise the weight to the top position very deliberately over about 3 seconds. Think “mind-muscle connection” here… Feel the calves contract, squeeze them, visualize bunching them up to the top of your leg like a set of window blinds. Focus on it as hard as you can.
  • At the top of the rep, Squeeze for all that you’re worth for another 3 seconds. Try to cramp the calf muscles up (you wont actually cramp, but its the intent that we are after)
  • After you have squeezed the life out of your calves, lower them under control for 3 seconds. If there is 90 pounds on the machine, try to apply 89 pounds of force so that you are really working against it but not enough to lift the weight. Lower it until you get to the bottom stretch position again and repeat for 10-12 reps.

 

As you see here every rep lasts about 12 seconds… And every second is chock full of muscle stimulating tension. A single 10 rep set here will provide 120 seconds of stimulation… We are already well ahead of the 5 sets of 20 we did previously.

 

Weekly Programming: How Much and How Often
 
I recommend doing 3 sets this way, with 3 different foot positions. Feet pointing straight ahead, feet turned 30 degrees inward, and then turned 30 degrees outward. I have found that doing this gets some different muscle fibers involved, and stimulates each area of the calves a bit more selectively each set which leads to a more completely developed muscle.
If you have access to a seated and standing machine, use one of them on one day during the week and the other machine 3-4 days later. Standing calf raises target the Gastrocnemius more, while seated will target the Soleus muscle a bit more, so using both of them during the week will go a long way in accomplishing our goal of complete calf development.
Next week we cover the good stuff and the information where this series got its name sake… How to build a huge set of ankle-umbrellas while maintaining a functional washboard midsection.

Fat Guy Calves, Six Pack Abs: Part 1

Happy Monday Everyone.

What I have this week is a few training methods for the most notorious and often most visible of all the stubborn body parts… The Calves. As a So Alpha training disciple you know that the crew ’round here likes to be top notch from head to toe, and right above those toes sit many peoples worst body part. So it’s time to get cracking and start building.

I believe I have some unique calf training tips I haven’t seen elsewhere, and as they are based on real world results, I also believe them to be quite efficacious. They are also highly efficient in that they kill many birds with one stone, as alluded to in the title of the article. Much like why the Bench Press is superior to the cable cross over, my calf training tips will be more beneficial than simply using a calf raise. More on what that means later.

They do come with what some might call a drawback though, although anyone who is a fan of the Mike Rashid philosophy should not find it as such… These are long term plans, this isn’t going to be a “Huge Calves in 4 weeks!” plan… More like 4 years. Since I plan on training until the reaper comes, 4 years dont mean much of anything to me, and it shouldn’t to you either. Let the chicken legs try and get big calves in 4 weeks, and when we run into them 4 years from now they’ll be shopping for skinny jeans and we will need nothing smaller than Cargo shorts.

My techniques for calves training came after a few observations:

– We have all tried to typically body part split where we hit calves after legs, and then rest them for almost  a week before hitting them again… It doesn’t work though.

– Calves have a reputation for being the most genetic of all the body parts… Unless you are obese, and then you have huge calves. Almost universally, the fatter the person the larger the calves, and even when an obese person diets down their calves are their standout body part from years of the best kind of abuse.

– Arnold was even known to have calves so embarrassing that he would pose standing in knee-deep water to avoid having them pictured… Until he started hitting them 6 times a week. This worked, but it may be unrealistic for most trainees to fit in a near 20-30 minute calf workout EVERY day.

– Without any weight training at all, and you could argue to their detriment, Ballet dancers routinely develop disproportionately large calves. Seriously, google image search this and find 95lb women with calves measuring the same as yours. One of the main elements of their art is to lift and stand on their toes, and as such they are calf raise frequency fanatics.

– The calves already take a daily pounding… Literally thousands of reps every single day, each time lifting ~200 pounds per “rep” for most of us.Thus adding a  single day where you do a few sets of 10 doesn’t really seem like an “overload event” to the calves.

This seems to suggest that the calves respond well to a high frequency of training, but the loading must also be well above and above the demands of walking at your current weight.

So how do we do it? How do we get the calf development of the next Biggest Loser without the Type II Diabetes and having Jillian Michaels yell at us on a treadmill? How do we do it without hitting the gym 6 days a week for a full calf training session like Arnold? How do we do it in a sustainable manner that won’t see our gains evaporate after a specialization program is over?

I believe I have the answer…

Next week I will reveal the pieces of the puzzle that will lead to the results to the Mike Rashid Members Site, but before I do that I want to encourage you to THINK about the problem. We are here to help everyone… But not spoon feed you. Based on your own real world observations, and the information I have presented here, what do YOU think some effective calf training protocols might be? Lets talk about them in the comments