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™‚

About Davey Wavey

Davey Wavey is a certified personal trainer and YouTube sensation with more than 250 million video views. For Davey's fitness tips and secrets, sign up for his free monthly newsletter - or download any of his affordable and effective workout programs.


  1. Yeah, calves are those muscles that you either have naturally or have to work to build.

  2. Another way to build calves is by riding a multispeed bike in a difficult gear with just your toes on the pedal. I did this in high school when i got a mountain bike for my 16th instead of a car. I’m 35 now and my calves are still in better shape than the rest of me.

  3. Joel T. Bauza says:

    I prefer moderately-sized calves with good definition. It seems harder to put on a pair of slim-fit pants when your calves want to bust out of them. ๐Ÿ˜›

  4. Don’t forget to stretch them afterwards. Calf cramps are a bitch.

  5. iconoclast says:

    Mr Wavey,
    Even more difficult to build than the extensors of the ankle are the flexors of the ankle. The most prominent one is the anterior tibial muscle. For decades I bemoaned that the anterior of my lower leg was so boney and underveloped. Once I began to practice yoga, however, that region began to pop. Downward-facing dog is the posture that does the trick. Flexing of the ankle to get deeply into the posture really works that region. Try it!

  6. If you are biking or using an excercycle you can use this technique which will make you faster and muscle.
    At the top of your stroke point your toes up and and as you move your foot to the bottom of the stroke push your toe lower than the peddle ( like your trying to scrape something off your toes ) and the pull your foot up don’t just rely each foot to work one after the other. For this method you will need bike shoes or straps on your peddles to hold your feet in place.

    This method increases your speed by roughly 4kph and you’ll never know pain quite like it

  7. –> i know its not everybodys thing, but skating builds calf muscles… roller-blading or ice-skating.. running outside does too… especially up n down stairs… you can even do calf raises between sets.. just balance on the edge of one stair.. a fixie bicycle* is tits for building calves…

    ~ cheers….


  8. Can you put up a vid for the first and second

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  11. It’s hard to get them bigger, but like you say working them out with a lot stress on the muscle can help, thanks I’m going to try workout with more tension

  12. Hi you have a greate site It was very easy to post easy to understand