Muscle Talk - By International Protein

How To Train Your Calves

July 07, 2021 International Protein Season 4 Episode 9
Muscle Talk - By International Protein
How To Train Your Calves
Chapters
Muscle Talk - By International Protein
How To Train Your Calves
Jul 07, 2021 Season 4 Episode 9
International Protein

In this episode, we discuss Christine's killer calves, how can you hit the calves from 3 different angles, and why would people want to train them? 

  • Toes in & toes out
  • Push with your heels, not your toes 
  • 15 reps


If you want your own questions answered on our podcast, then join our private Facebook group and share your ideas,  https://www.facebook.com/groups/muscletalk

If you'd like to learn more about International Protein, visit https://www.international-protein.com/






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A Thinkroom production - www.thinkroom.com

Show Notes Transcript

In this episode, we discuss Christine's killer calves, how can you hit the calves from 3 different angles, and why would people want to train them? 

  • Toes in & toes out
  • Push with your heels, not your toes 
  • 15 reps


If you want your own questions answered on our podcast, then join our private Facebook group and share your ideas,  https://www.facebook.com/groups/muscletalk

If you'd like to learn more about International Protein, visit https://www.international-protein.com/






------------------------------------------------------
A Thinkroom production - www.thinkroom.com

Ash Horton:
Welcome to Muscle Talk where you'll get world champion advice about nutrition and stacking on muscle. Our host Christine Envall, she's a three time world champion bodybuilder and IFBB professional, a food scientist and a founding co-owner of our podcast sponsor, International Protein.

Ash Horton:
In this episode, Christine gives us advice on how to train your calves. She shares a few valuable secrets that you're probably not aware of. You're known for those killer calves, Christine. So how can we hit the calves from three different angles as you normally describe and why would people want to train them? 

Chris Envall:
Okay. Why would people want to train calves? Because I think that probably they're everyone's favorite muscle group, because they are probably something which are the most genetic. So people would want to train their calves to give themselves a really nice, pretty shape of the calf. They also might want to train them for functionality because ankle strength comes into it and obviously leg strength comes into it. So there's a really good reason for training the calves, but believe it or not, it is probably one of the most ... it's the noticed if it's missing and also noticed if it's a good developed pair from [crosstalk 00:01:25]

Ash Horton:
Is it like biceps of the leg?

Chris Envall:
Of course. Well, note of the hamstring. From a technical point of view, the hamstring is the bicep of the leg, but from a glory point of view, yes, I guess it is and also because women wear skirts and men wear shorts and a lot of the time the quad is covered unless they're wearing shorty shorts and that ... so if the calf, obviously, it's just one of those muscle groups that gets a lot of attention. And obviously, because a lot of people don't have them, they want them. And a lot of people train them and again like other muscle groups, they can put a lot of effort into it, but they don't necessarily work the muscle. And that's like I didn't think that I did anything special and that a lot of my calf is genetic, but at the same time, I realized that I do actually do a specific movement when I train my calves. And that has a lot to do with why that they are developed. 

Chris Envall:
I always had big calves, but I didn't always have good shaped calves and I didn't always have the outer head of my gastrocs of the calf. So how you get the diamond, obviously the inner one is really easy and then the outer head is the outside diamond. So when I just trained normally, just without thinking about it, that didn't actually develop. So there is a specific toes in movement that I do to hit that particular side. And I didn't go and read a book on how to do it. I actually figured it out because there was a lady when I was early training when I spent my year in Brazil. There's a girl at the gym had this phenomenal, not inner head of her calf, but the outer head of her calf. And I said like, "I don't see your training calves. 

Chris Envall:
What on earth do you do for this to get that?" She said, "I get it from horse riding." So literally she said, "My knees are always pointed in." So my heels are out and I'm doing 100 reps, like 1,000 reps maybe with her toes in the stirrup. And she's putting all of her weight onto that outer half. And that was building up the calf. So obviously, talk to any bodybuilder and they will tell you, toes in to work the outer head, toes out to work the inner head in neutral just to get a good overall working.

Ash Horton:
So does that mean when you're working your calves, you'd actually split it into ... if you're doing calf raises, you could actually do three different times. 

Chris Envall:
Well, that's actually all I ever use to do. I don't really train calves a lot now, except every morning when I do a 45 and I do again 100 reps. A lot of jumping and bits and pieces, but in the gym when I was training and I did use to train calves, I did them on leg day. I did them twice a week and my little sequence was toes neutral, toes in and toes out. So I would do it from those three angles.

Ash Horton:
Three sets of each.

Chris Envall:
For me, no, but you could do three sets of each.

Ash Horton:
What was it?

Chris Envall:
One set of each. 

Ash Horton:
All right. Okay. Yep. 

Chris Envall:
That's all. I didn't need to do a lot, but you potentially would probably pick two and do three sets of two different movements. And then on the next time, pick a different two or the one which you struggle with the most, maybe do twice a week. And the other one just do once a week. There's also things like donkey calf raises, which is where you're ... if you don't know what that is, you're basically locked into position where you're standing but you're bent over. And it puts a total different emphasis on the ... I love them. That kind of locks you right in into that position. And also to a degree works tibialis a little bit as well, but you're leaning forward so it changes where the weight feels, because it's across your back, I guess, rather than standing up where you can ... your hips can get out of position and you can totally mess the movement up. And if ... well, not that you should be going too heavy, but people tend to go too heavy. 

Chris Envall:
And then it's very easy to cheat on a regular standing calf raise because you can bring every other muscle group into it, including your shoulders and upper body to move that weight. So calves are something where you shouldn't have to use a lot of weight if you do it properly. And again, it's probably depending on how much muscle is there. I find it burns really, really quickly, but what was interesting was I've always trained at a certain way. And I never really thought about what it was that I was doing until we had Stewart on the podcast and we were talking between recordings. And he was saying how-

Ash Horton:
And just to cut in there, Stewart Brooke is one of our sponsored athletes at International Protein.

Chris Envall:
Correct.

Ash Horton:
So if you missed that podcast, very interesting lesson. 

Chris Envall:
Yes. A very, very big guy. And he also ... he has a degree in exercise physiology. So he knows his stuff when it comes to in training and angles and movement. And he was saying how with calves, it's actually the heel that needs to come up and down, not moving at the toe, which is again ... If you can listen to these, go and sit where you are and feel the difference when you're pressing from your toe versus when you're actually doing the movement. And it's in a very extreme ankle movement where your heel is the part, which is moving rather than the toe, which is pressing. So obviously on a ... if you're using one of those horizontal leg presses and you're using that to do carves on, you're going to have to press with your toes, but I reckon you can still use the heel, set the toe in position and then use that ankle movement. 

Chris Envall:
And the heel is like we were talking about in the back episode, leading with the elbow, lead with the heel on that, and that really gets into the calf and it's absolutely extreme like the feeling and the contraction that you'll get when you do that. And that's even body weight will be enough to work the calf and get a, I guess, a good stimulation. If you go too heavy, you actually can't move it from the heel. You have to use your toe, because it's one of those things where the ... how the strength works. That's why I think I've always done incredibly light because I've always done it from the heel. And I didn't realize that other people didn't do it like that because it just felt natural. So that's my biggest tip for calf training. 

Ash Horton:
So if you're doing it light, how many reps?

Chris Envall:
Again, I always liked about 15, but that's only cause my foot would burn and everything just would hurt so much. But calves, people always had said do 15. If you're doing 10 on any other body part, then you would do like 15 for calves. That's always been the way.

Ash Horton:
Okay. Glad I asked. Pretty important. 

Chris Envall:
Well, I was just about to say that I have experimented with doing 10. And for me, I find no difference. I think the thing to remember with calves is that you're not going to really change what you genetically have in terms of your ... If you have a long insertion, so you have a long thin Achilles and it doesn't come down low, you're never going to be able to lengthen that because you can't change where the tendon is and the tendon doesn't have muscle fiber to actually grow. So you're only going to grow what you have, but you can certainly develop what you do have. Even if it's a short calf, you can still develop what you've got, but you can't change the length of what you've got, but you can still maximize what you have. That's like any muscle group. You can't lengthen the biceps. You can't put in place what isn't there.

Chris Envall:
Triceps are another classic one where you see a lot of people with that very long tendon and the actual muscle is quite short. So unfortunately, different strokes for different folks. The long ankle, I guess, in the short calf is really good for biking up and jumping. So that's great if you want to play basketball or football and you need to jump and sprint, but if you're trying to do bodybuilding, then your genetics is going to dictate a certain thing, but you can definitely develop what you've got by using that technique and not going super heavy and using your quad or using anything else to move the calf. And I think that's probably why people don't necessarily do it properly because it hurts. it's intense and it burns. The sole of your foot burns and the actual muscle itself will burn because you're contracting it in a very, very isolated way, but you need to go through that I think to get it. 

Chris Envall:
Obviously, things like doing a lot of jogging and running and stuff like that also does develop calves. So you'll often see distance runners who have really skinny quads, but they have big calves because they've just done so much work. So calves do get a lot of work because we're walking around in them. I think the thing to keep in mind with probably women more so than men is if you do wear high heels, you probably need to make sure you're stretching your calves specifically and not just going in and training them, but making sure that you do keep that length in the tendon because it will shorten. If you spend a lot of time in heels, the Achilles will shorten. And then when you do go to try to start exercising, particularly if you're doing some type of cardio and jumping around in that, then you can run into problems there.

Chris Envall:
So if people are getting into it and they've done ... spent a lot of years wearing high heels and walking around and got comfortable doing that, then remember that potentially can be an issue, but strengthening your calves like anything includes strengthening the ankle and keeping that ankle mobility and strength is key obviously as you get older, because walk, you need to have-

Ash Horton:
Basic function, isn't it?

Chris Envall:
Yeah. Perhaps it's like the very, very basic, isn't it? It's kind of like foot and ankle. So-

Ash Horton:
If you've got stiff ankles, you're going to pull all sorts of different muscles and different areas and not know why.

Chris Envall:
Exactly. And then especially if you start to try to do other activities, which require that type of flexibility, but yeah, calves is that thing where I would probably recommend that people do play around a little bit with what works for them. Because as I said, I can sometimes do anything and I'm still going to have a good calf. But the couple of things that I really did pay attention to was the angles, foot position, because I didn't always have a fully developed calf, like the size was there, but it had no great shape and had to really, really bring that into it. Even practicing flexing your calves like what you would spike on stage, like how you would flex, those type of movements are going to be really, really good as well and getting used to contracting the calf and then making sure that when you put some weight on it, you're replicating that movement and that you're not just moving weight.

Chris Envall:
Because again, I see people put phenomenal amounts of weight on and it's a little calf. Really? You think it can do that? And they're doing quad type weights and because they're actually using quad core upper body like everything to move that weight and not putting it on the isolation and using that full range of motion. So if got your foot on the plate and you're really got to bring that heel down and then bring it right up again, and that's the thing, it's the heel that's doing the movement there. So at home, if you've got a little block, you can do one footed ones, which obviously puts more weight on than doing two foot, but-

Ash Horton:
There's a lot of people who are at home at the moment, obviously. So-

Chris Envall:
Yeah.

Ash Horton:
A little block to stand on, is that what you're saying? 

Chris Envall:
Yeah. You need something to raise so that your heel can come down. You can't really do an effective calf raise off of the floor because you'll get half of the movement and not the other half. And that-

Ash Horton:
Even if they've got a couple of plates or something they can put. Yeah.

Chris Envall:
Yeah, a couple of plates. Yeah. Kind of a little block, brick, any kind of thing that will raise you enough so that your heel can come down without touching the floor. That's a ... or try some high knees jogging. Try some slightly high-impact work and see if that does make a difference because it might take multiple stimulation again, because we do walk a fair bit. But again, if you don't walk a lot, then maybe you're not actually working your calf as much as what we think. So try out different things, try out different rep ranges, see what works and remember, I guess you're going for that definition with what you've got rather than necessarily changing the shape of what you have.

Ash Horton:
Okay. Thank you very much, Christine.

Chris Envall:
Are we going to be seeing you with a good set of calves, Ash?

Ash Horton:
Look at them. They're fantastic already. I got told in high school and have a great set of legs for a female. Well, it's stuck with me ever since. 

Chris Envall:
Can't change that. Dear, oh dear.

Ash Horton:
Let's wrap it up. Thank you, Christine. 

Chris Envall:
No worries, Ash.

Ash Horton:
Words of wisdom. If you like what you've heard, leave us a review and recognize that these bodybuilding tips from International Protein are free. So show your support by becoming a loyal International Protein customer, the best supplements money could buy. So jump online, hunt down our product and hit that buy now button.