Calves: Why Are They So Hard To Grow?

The majority of lifters are dissatisfied with their calves (myself included!). It seems to be one of those genetic muscles that are hard to pack on size. But is there any hope to gain size? Of course there is!

The reason why a lot of people have small calves is because they don’t train them hard. They will smash upper body, maybe hit quads and hamstrings and leave calves for last. Here are some things you can try to gain some size on those calves.

Weighted Incline Walks or Hiking:

Have you ever noticed an overweight guy with massive jacked calves? It happens all the time. Just think about it. They are walking around with a ton of weight all day, so of course their calves are going to grow. Am I saying to gain a bunch of weight? Of course not. But when you can do is add weight via a weight vest or weighted back pack. Hop on a treadmill and do some incline walking or better yet get outside and do some hikes.

An activity that is growing in popularity is called rucking. It is taken from military training where you have to walk long distances with a weighted pack. These rucks can be really brutal. My only concern with really long rucks it that your back can get messed up from holding that weight.

High Reps:

Your calves are used to a lot of frequent use. Because of this, you can try high reps or long time under tension. Try hitting some sets of 50 reps. Or try this one out. Do a rep and hold the top position for 4 seconds, when you lower hold the bottom position for an additional 4 seconds. Repeat this 10 times.

Heavier Weight:

Some people stick to only high rep low weight sets. However, it is good to also throw in some heavier weight sets.

Different Angles:

Do calf raises standing, seated and with your feet angled differently. This will help hit different parts of your calves assisting with overall growth.


Jumping can lead to a ton of calf growth. You can try plyometrics or even holding dummbells and doing jump squats. In addition to that you could always try jump rope as well. Jumping rope is amazing for calf growth.

Sprints and Sports:

Ever look at a sprinters calves? They are usually pretty jacked. Same with athletes. Try out some intramural sports or go to your local track and hit some sprints.

A big thing in general is to hit them frequently. This muscle group recovers very quickly so you can hit them hard and hit them often. I’d recommend hitting calves every single workout honestly. You can try hitting them in the beginning of your workout when you are fresh or as a finisher. Something I like to do is hit calves and abs after a workout.

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