5 Reasons Why Your Calves Aren’t Growing

Generation Iron Exercise Guide Calves

5 Reasons Why Your Calves Refuse to Grow

Calves can be one of the most stubborn muscle groups to grow. No matter what you do, whether that is training them every day, or just completely abusing them and taking every single set of calves to failure, they just seem to always stay the same size. That can be pretty defeating. Look around your gym and you’ll probably see a lot of people with skinny legs and even skinnier toothpick calves. Although calves are a small muscle group, they can be one of the hardest to develop for just about anybody. But what are the reasons that your calves may not be growing?

Let’s take a look at the reasons that your calves may not be growing, and cover how to fix that.

Calf Muscles Overview

Think about it, you are utilizing your calves every single day when you are walking around, going up stairs, and so on. That being said, your calves are used to being activated for a good portion of the day, so 3 sets of 12 on calf raises will more than likely not be able to do the trick.

Building calves can be harder for people with genetically weaker legs. If you’ve hit a plateau and your calves refuse to grow, you need to change your training program. This article will help you takes your calf game to the next level and get you ready for the summer, so you can rock shorts and low cut socks like nobody’s business.

The Top Five Reasons Your Calves Are Not Growing

Without further ado, let’s take a look into the top five reasons that your calves are not growing.

1. Treating Your Calves as Accessories

Most people make the mistake of treating their calves as accessory muscles. They train their calves at the end of their workout routines, when there is nothing left in the tank and they end up doing these lackluster calf exercises. If you have lagging calves, you should be training them at the beginning of your workouts.

Don’t perform a single calf exercise at the end of your workouts. Instead, you should aim to do 12-15 sets on 3-4 different exercises targeting both your soleus and gastrocnemius muscles. Those should be heavy sets, and you should have a nice mind-muscle connection on every single rep. Your calves should be flushed with lactic acid at the end of your workouts.

2. Sticking to the Same Training Routine

You have hit a plateau if your calves have stopped responding to your workouts, and as Arnold Schwarzenegger said, you have to “shock the muscle” for it to grow. This goes for any body part, but in this case we are obviously talking about the calves. Shocking your muscles with new exercises or advanced training techniques like supersets, drop sets, intra-set stretching or blood flow restriction training is a great way to break the plateau and start making some gains again.

You don’t need to be in the gym to train your calves and if you’re in the gym, you don’t need to use weights every time. Your own body weight is enough to get the ball rolling. If you don’t have access to calf training equipment at your gym, use an elevated platform to do the calf raises.

five reasons your calves aren't growing

3. Not Training Your Calves From Every Angle

Your calves are just like your triceps, they consist of three heads. The three heads of the calves consist of the inner, medial and outer, and you cannot leave one head out of the equation if you want to make some gains. You need to train all the three heads to ensure an overall development. Switching your feet placement can make all the difference when it comes to hitting each of the heads of the calves.

Pointing your toes inwards and the balls of your feet outwards will target the outer calves head. Pointing the toes outwards will target the inner head and keeping your feet neutral will work the medial head.

Related: 10 Best Calves: Who Has The Best Calves In Bodybuilding?

4. Doing Too Little

This one should be a no brainer, but if you are not training your calves enough, then you are only hurting your chances of making gains with this muscle group. Calves are a small muscle group and can recover quickly from your workouts, especially since they are being used during most hours of the day. A good rule of thumb to training your calves is to train them every day if they’re not sore. Toothpick calves won’t turn into full-grown bulls by training them once a week for a few sets.

Three sets of standing calf raise at the end of your leg workouts aren’t good enough to budge the needle on your calf gains. Train your calves as you would train your biceps, and hit 12-15 sets per week. Realistically, you can throw some sets of calves in at the end of any workout, and this can be beneficial.

5. Overloading

People will small calves usually engage in ego lifting and load the machines with more weights than they can handle, which results in half reps and no focus on the actual contraction. While you should be pushing some weight on these exercises, the range of motion and the squeeze on the movement is one of the key factors in the calf development.

You should maintain a full range of motion and your toes should be pointed like a ballerina at the top of the movement. Establish a mind-muscle connection with your calves and pause and contract them with every repetition, truly envision them growing.

Wrap Up

Overall, training your calves can be something that seems to lead you nowhere, but in reality you are probably just going about it the wrong way. That being said, take these tips into consideration and let’s see how much progress you actually make.

How often do you train your calves? Let us know in the comments below. Also, be sure to follow Generation Iron on Facebook and Twitter.

Dylan Wolf
I work mainly in content writing, focusing my free time on bodybuilding and strength sports. I was introduced to fitness in high school and after watching Generation Iron movies. I love to train. I have competed multiple times, even winning a junior title in classic physique. I have a bachelor's in criminal justice and business obtained through Alvernia University. When I am not focused on work or training, I enjoy watching films or reading about anything and everything.