People who know bodybuilding and have ‘the eye’ for it, can pick apart what most average people would deem an amazing physique and find fault with it. That’s the nature of physique training. It’s critical. But, even a complete non-participant can spot the dreaded ‘chicken legs’ a mile off. Heck, 10 miles off!
Whatever you do, don’t neglect your calve muscles. You may be able to get away with wearing shorts if you don’t have huge muscular quads, but the chances are if you train with weights, you have quads which dwarf your calves and make them look silly and neglected.
There are several ways you can get better, more muscular calves so they keep pace and balance with the rest of your physique, and they all involve the raising ‘standing on tiptoe’ action.
Giving your calves a good, full range of motion is critical. They are a very, very, VERY resilient muscle and hard to build by default. They have to be – they support the balance of your entire body, every time you stand, every time you walk. Everyone – just about – walks, but you never see anyone with huge calves without extra effort.
Firstly, you need to get a block of wood, or something else to stand on with the balls of you feet, heals hanging off, allowing you to lower your heal below your toes for full range of motion. To place extra emphasis on your calves, do your exercises with one leg at a time, with the other foot curled behind it for balance. (You may also need to lightly hold onto something to steady yourself.) Now, slowly and deliberately, lift yourself up as high as you can, hold it for a second, and then lower yourself slowly, hold it a second, and repeat.
I recommend doing around 3 sets of 15-20 repetitions. One thing I will tell you now is, after a while, you’ll need to start adding weight – so you can either hold a dumbbell, or preferably, use a dipping belt.
Donkey calve raises are the best exercise for the calves, because they place the calves in a semi-stretched position already because the body is bent over at the hip at a 90 degree angle with a person sat on your back. I highly recommend you do donkey calve raises without a person on your back to begin with, and always, after each session and in between sets, kick out and stretch your calves to stop the lactic acid from building up – if you end your session with an excess amount of lactic acid in your calves, you’ll be in crippling agony for days afterwards, believe me.