Archive for the tag - arnold

How to Build Your Calf Muscles.

Our calf muscles are one of the hardest muscles to build.

Calf muscles can be very stubborn. Much like our abdominal muscles, they get a lot of use. Every time we take a step or a climb a stair, we’re using our calves. So in order to build a bigger calf muscle, we really need to apply a lot of stress the muscle.

When it comes to training almost any of the muscles in our body, there are usually a zillion exercises. Unfortunately, calves seem to be the exception – there’s not a lot from which to pick. But here are a few favorites:

Donkey Calve Raises

Famed bodybuilder-turned-politician Arnold Schwarzenegger was known for using an exercise called donkey calve raises. It’s great because it doesn’t require any gym equipment. Simply bend over a bench, and have a workout partner hop on your back. Then, with all the extra weight pressing into your legs, raise your calves by coming up on your toes. If it’s too easy, you can have your workout partner hold dumbbells or wear a backpack filled with weight. And yes, it really does look as gay as it sounds.

Weighted Calve Raises

Similarly, you can find a block of wood or step that’s 4 – 6+ inches thick. Stand with just your toes on the edge of the block (make sure it doesn’t flip!) and gently lower and then lift your heels using your calf muscles. You’ll probably want to use some dumbbells or wear a weighted backpack for an extra challenge. Alternatively, you can load a barbell with weights and rest it across your the back of your shoulders (as you would for a squat). Some gyms even have machines wherein you can do calve raises, though they make the exercise a bit easier by taking balance out of the equation. It’s most effective to use free weights, and remember: It takes a lot of stress to cause calf muscle growth. Use heavy weights!

Uphill Cardio

Jogging or running – especially uphill – or using the stairmaster are good ways to strengthen your calves. But, because the resistance is fairly low, you won’t see a large amount of muscle growth. You may see some growth – but using an incline or stairmaster is more a complement than supplement for the above exercises.

And don’t be disheartened if the growth is slow! Many professional body builders would be excited to see .25″ of calf muscle growth per month; it’s certainly a slow transformation. So, start today. ๐Ÿ™‚

Use Drop Sets to Increase Muscle Size.

The future governor of California says hasta la vista to stubborn muscles.

Bodybuilders love drop sets, and though you might not be competing or the next Mr. Olympia competition, they’re useful if (muscle) size is your thing. Drop sets tear deep into muscle tissue, thus causing explosive growth; use this technique to target muscles that are particularly stubborn.

A drop set is a technique wherein, after completing a set of a given exercise until failure, you drop down the weight and immediately continue the exercise with reduced poundage.

Let’s use the bench press as an example. I could do 10 reps at 220lbs before I hit failure. The 10th repetition would be very hard for me – there’s no way that I could go for an 11th without cheating or dying. My muscles have hit the point of failure for that weight – but not absolute failure. I could do additional repetitions at a lower weight. With drop sets, I’d quickly reduce the weight by 15%-20% – perhaps down to about 180 lbs – and then keep going until failure. I’d repeat this process for a number of sets.

For an extra challenge, workout with a buddy or two and try a “zero rest set.” Stopping and changing the weights takes a bit of time. But with a zero rest set, you have a workout partner quickly switch the weights for you. The difference – even if it’s just a few seconds – is substantial!

Arnold Schwarzenegger, by the way, was a huge fan of drop sets. So, if you’re looking to say “hasta la vista” to small or stubborn muscles, drop sets could just be your new best friend.