The Ignored Muscle Groups (Part 1)

Calves | Abs | Forearms

In this three part program, we’ll go over the 3 least trained muscle groups. These are the muscles that everyone throws in a couple half-effort sets at the end of their workout. Either that or they don’t train them at all. The idea behind this program is to give calves, abs and forearms their own day.  This way, all your effort is put into these muscle groups compared to barely training them at all.

Calf training is the first part of the program. Calves are one of the toughest muscle groups to grow. It is also the muscle group that is most genetically predetermined. Just because you weren’t born with great calves, doesn’t mean you can’t make them grow. But you need to train them hard and with intensity. Putting them at the end of a leg day after you’re already drained isn’t going to cut it. Focus on a full stretch and hard contraction on every rep. Here’s the workout:

Sets Reps
Standing Barbell Calf Raises 4 20
Seated Calf Raise 3* 20,15,10
Leg Press Calf Raises 3** 10:
Standing Calf Raises on a Machine or Hack Squat 3 15

*After the last set, do a drop set
**After the last set, do a double drop set

Barbell Calf Raises

This exercise takes a ton of stabilization and balance.  Start very light to get the feel for it.  I’ve noticed stacking two 25 pound plates for each foot gives the perfect height to get a good stretch.  Try and stay balanced for the full set of 20 while getting a full stretch and hard contraction on every rep.

Seated Calf Raises

This exercise targets the deeper calf muscle called the soleus.  This is a common exercise that most people have tried.  A common mistake is simply using far too much weight and not getting close to a full range of motion.  Drop the weight and focus on the full stretch and squeeze.  On the last set, drop the weight and do as many more reps as possible.

Leg Press Calf Raises

Any time the leg is straight, the main focus is on the large, outer calf muscle called the gastrocnemius.  For the gastrocnemius muscle, it’s best to hit them in a variety of different rep ranges.  Since the standing calf raises are sets of 20, we drop these down to sets of 10.  It’s also a more controlled movement and allows you to use more weight.  Go heavy without sacrificing form.  On the last set, do a double drop set to really burn out the calves.

Standing Calf Raises on a Machine or Hack Squat

This is the one final exercise to finish off the calves at a medium rep range.  Just like the barbell calf raises, except on a machine so no balance is necessary.  If you reach failure before you hit 15 reps, hop off the machine, rest 15 seconds, then jump back in and finish the rest of the reps.

3-Part Series