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Training discussion on Stubborn Calves, within the Bodybuilding Forum; Calves training is the most misunderstood. Some people claim that you need to hit them every day with high reps ...


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Old 08-25-2006, 12:50 PM   #1
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Default Stubborn Calves

Calves training is the most misunderstood. Some people claim that you need to hit them every day with high reps while others claim that low rep low volume works best. In my experience I found that an approach of heavy twice a week calf work worked great.

The Science Behind Calf Training!

By: Hugo Rivera

Calves besides being one of the most neglected body parts in the gym are ones whose training is most misunderstood. Some people claim that you need to hit them every day with high reps while others claim that low rep low volume works best. In my experience I found that an approach of heavy twice a week calf work worked great.


Getting Your Calves To Grow...

My typical routine was 10 sets of 10 reps with 800 lbs on the standing calf raise machine and only 20 seconds of rest in between sets. I would also do this routine on a calf press machine or on a hack squat machine. This approach worked great for many years with small variations here and there such as me changing the exercise used or preceding the routine with two sets of 50 reps for the soleous on the seated calf raise machine or tri-setting calf raises with tibia raises and then back to calf raises again.

Enter Todd Mendelsohn, former Mr. Central Florida

I met Todd at a gym in St Petersburg Florida and the first time I saw him I almost hit the floor. When he walked his Legs looked like those of a cyborg, all striations twitching up and down and the calves I swear looked like they where pure fiber without skin. After Todd finished his workout I introduced myself and asked what he did for calves.

Todd first mentioned that he hits them twice a week and that his first workout of the week is 8 sets of 8 reps on either the calf raise machine or the calf press machine.

Not much different than my routine, I thought to myself. Now the second routine is the one that shocked me. He would choose the calf press, calf raise machine, dumbbells or donkey calf raise machine and do 4 sets of 100.

Todd claimed that this is the method that made his calves grew beyond belief. I tried this out and while at first I had to stop at 50 reps in excruciating pain as the body got used to it on the first couple of weeks, by the third week I finally was able to achieve 100 reps. Three weeks later my calves were bigger creatures.

Now the reason I always trained them with 10 sets of 10 is because I always thought that the calves were comprised of mainly fast twitch fibers (at least the gastroctnemius as I knew that the soleous, which is the part under the gastroc, is mainly slow twitch). I took this question to Todd and he explained that the gastrocnemius is both fast twitch and slow twich contrary to being predominantly one or the other.

Weeks later an article named High vs. Low Reps for Abs and Calves by Dr. J. Clayton Hyght (www.drhyght.com/index2.html) that was published on Lee Labrada's site www.labrada.com) corroborated what Todd mentioned. Dr. Hyght mentioned that "the lateral head of the gastrocnemius is composed of about 51% slow-twitch (Type I) muscle fibers.

That means that the remainder is either fast-twitch (Type IIB) or intermediate (Type IIA). As for the medial gastroc, it's composed of 44% slow-twitch. Thus the remaining 56% are fast or intermediate.

In my opinion, it would be crazy to train the gastrocs with high reps or low reps exclusively. In order to stimulate both the fast and slow-twitch fibers, you must train both with heavy weights and low reps, as well as with light weights and high reps. While you're at it, make sure to hit the intermediate fibers with medium weight and medium reps".

Having said that, the mystery behind calf training is unraveled. Twice a week training alternating high reps and slow reps; at least that is the way that I now do my calf training. Below are 3 weeks worth of workouts that you can start using to get some new growth on the calves:


Sample Program

Week 1

First Workout of the Week
Seated Calf Raises 2 sets of 50 reps (30 second rest in between sets)
Calf Press 10 sets of 10 reps with 20 seconds of rest in between sets

Second Workout of the Week
One Legged Dumbbell Calf Raises 4 sets of 100 reps (60 second rest in between sets)



Week 2

First Workout of the Week
Triset:
Standing Calf Raises 5 sets of 10-12 reps (No Rest)
Tibia Raises 5 sets of 30 reps (No Rest)
Standing Calf Raises 5 sets of 6-8 reps (45 second rest)
(Note: Use the same weight on calf raises throughout the routine)

Second Workout of the Week
Donkey Calf Raises 4 triple drop sets (do 40 reps on the first weight, reduce weight and do 30 more reps and reduce weight and do 30 more) Rest 60 seconds in between sets.



Week 3

First Workout of the Week
Modified Triset (Go from one exercise to the next in circuit fashion after resting the prescribed amount of time per exercise):
Standing Calf Raises (Toes In to emphasize outer head) 3 sets of 10-12 reps (20 second rest)
Standing Calf Raises (Toes Pointing Forward) 3 sets of 10-12 reps (20 second rest)
Standing Calf Raises (Toes Out to emphasize inner head) 3 sets of 10-12 reps (60 second rest)
(Note: Use the same weight on calf raises throughout the routine)
Seated Calf Raises 2 sets of 35 reps (45 second rest)

Second Workout of the Week
Calf Press 4 sets of 100 reps


Well, there you have it. Try these routines for the next three weeks for bigger calves. As always remember that nutrition and recuperation are as important as training and that if those two are not in order you may not get as much benefit out of these routines. Take care and train hard!

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Old 08-28-2006, 07:28 AM   #2
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Just make sure that the reps are slow and controlled. Calves have a high stretch reflex, so pausing at the bottom of a rep is just as important as pausing at the top.

Otherswise, you'll just be bouncing up and using the elastic energy in the calves to move the weight instead of having the muscles shoulder (no pun intended) the load.

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Old 08-28-2006, 07:47 AM   #3
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Default Fiber Types, Training, and Hypertrophy

I got into this notion of isolating fiber types through different reps and speeds but once I began to learn about how muscle fibers are actually recruited I dropped it.

This excerpt is the kind of thinking this leads to and, indeed, this is exactly the kind of thing many personal trainers have been brainwashed into thinking:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jason R. Karp, M.S
Train according to genetic predisposition

For maximum results, try to train your clients according to their genetic predisposition. For example, someone with a greater proportion of slow-twitch fibers would adapt better to a muscular endurance program, using more repetitions of a lighter weight, or cardiovascular exercise at low intensity for longer periods. Likewise, someone with a greater proportion of FT fibers would benefit more from a muscular strength program using fewer repetitions of a heavier weight. Of course, the clientıs goals and needs should be considered as well. You wouldnıt want to train a 40-year-old female client to develop larger muscles if thatıs not her goal, even if she does have a greater proportion of FT fibers.


Except for the part about training based on goals, the rest is complete bullshit. EVERYONE can grow some muscle.


Fiber Types, Training, and Hypertrophy
From the Hypertrophy-Specific Training Series
By Bryan Haycock, Editor-in-Chief

The issue of fiber type that continues to resurface in the discussion of different training methods. Some people insist that in order grow to get maximum growth, muscles must be trained according to fiber "types". A look at what determines a fiber's "type" should help clear up the issue and help you make a decision as to its relevance to training specifically for muscle growth.

"Fiber types" and how they are classified.

Muscle fibers were first classified according to their "function". Fast-twitch and Slow-twitch are the two basic types. It was later discovered that the twitch (twitch = contraction) characteristics were the result of different kinds of contractile proteins. Some proteins were good at contracting quickly, and were also dependant on "fast oxidative" pathways (ATP, and fast glycolytic pathways). The other type, slow-twitch, has contractile proteins that were different than those in fast-twitch fibers, and were dependant on "slow oxidative" pathways (beta-oxidation, fatty acid oxidation).

The two distinct metabolic profiles of fast- and slow-twitch fibers, give them distinct fatigue profiles. Fast-twitch fibers fatigue rapidly because their fuel source, ATP, is depleted rapidly. I use the term "depleted" loosely. Slow-twitch fibers fatigue slowly because their fuel source (fatty acids) take a long time to deplete.

There is another factor in the fatigability of fast- and slow-twitch fibers. The amount of power they are able to generate. Because fast-twitch fibers contract quickly, they are able to produce more "power" than slow-twitch. So fast twitch fibers use their available more quickly because the "motor-units" are larger. A motor-unit is a group of fibers connected to a single motor neuron. Keep in mind that power is a function of work over time.

The purpose of each different type of fiber?

Fast-twitch fibers are used to move your body mass quickly. This is important for running, jumping, and reflex movements (e.g. pulling your hand away from a hot stove). This requires short burst of relatively high force (but with low precision). Slow-twitch fibers are used to support the body posturally. This requires long/sustained contractions of relatively low force (but with high precision).

You will find a high proportion of slow-twitch muscle in the calves, and trunk (spine) and in the forearm predominantly. This makes sense when you think about it. Your calves, which contain your toe and foot muscles, are constantly working to balance your body while standing and walking. They are contracting constantly when you are standing. Your trunk muscles hold you upright when you are standing or sitting unsupported. Your forearms house your finger and hand muscles. These are used to hold things. Holding requires constant contraction of your finger muscles.

Isolating fiber types in training.

Forget about the notion of isolating fiber types while training for hypertrophy. You can't isolate fiber types per se when lifting a weight sufficiently heavy to cause muscle growth. Let me explain. Your brain activates muscle fibers in a specific sequence and manner based on the kind of movement it desires. This progressive activation of muscle fibers is called recruitment. Small "motor units" (motor neuron-muscle fiber unit with a low threshold of activation) are activated first to produce precise movements. These small motor units use slow-twitch fibers.

If activation of the inductive small motor units is insufficient to produce the desired movement, the brain activates progressively larger and higher threshold motor units. These larger motor units involve fast twitch fibers.

So, slow-twitch fibers are recruited first, followed by fast twitch fibers, based on the needed amount of strength (force or power). Because of this recruitment pattern, you could theoretically isolate small slow-twitch fibers, but you couldn't isolate fast twitch fibers because your brain activates slow-twitch first during any contraction. The greater the force of contraction, the greater the number of fast twitch fibers will be activated, but only after all slow twitch-fibers are activated.

So picture in your mind a dial that goes from 0 - 11. The numbers indicate how much force you want the muscle to generate, 0 being none and 11 being maximum intensity contraction. ON the dial, going from 1-5 the body will activate an increasing number of small motor units (slow twitch fibers) until it has activated them all. From 5-11, the small motor units will remain activated, but the body will add to them, large motor units (fast twitch fibers) until the desired muscular force is achieved. You progressively fine motor control as the amount of force goes up. This is a manifestation of the recruitment pattern just described.

Fiber type and muscle hypertrophy

Both slow twitch and fast twitch fiber are able to hypertrophy when exposed to overload. In a study by Hortobagyi, muscle fiber size of the quadriceps were compared after 36 sessions (12 weeks) of maximal isokinetic concentric or eccentric leg extensions. Type I fiber areas did not change significantly, but type II fiber area increased approximately 10 times more in the eccentric than in the concentric group.

There is a tendency for fast twitch fibers to experience more damage from training, thus fast twitch fibers tend to hypertrophy "more readily" to heavy resistance exercise. Nevertheless, both fast and slow twitch fibers hypertrophy. If you look at a bodybuilder's cross section of muscle fibers, you will find both fiber types hypertrophied, this being due to the inclusion of both concentric and eccentric contractions under load.

In conclusion fibers are classified into two different types, fast and slow. The distinction between the two types of fibers is based on both their contractile properties, as well as their metabolic properties. Slow twitch fibers, associated with small motor units, are activated first when a effort is applied against an object. Once all small motor units have been activated large motor units, involving primarily fast twitch fibers are activated.

All exercises performed by a person trying to build muscle are, of necessity, performed using sufficient weight to activate all slow twitch fibers and most fast twitch fibers. Both slow and fast twitch fibers will then hypertrophy. Fast twitch fibers will hypertrophy first, and to a greater extent, due to their susceptibility to cellular micro-trauma during the eccentric portion of every rep.

When trying to grow muscle, it is worthless to try to adjust the program to "stimulate" or "isolate" any specific type of fiber. Recruitment patterns involved in lifting weights heavy enough to cause hypertrophy activate all fibers, both fast and slow.

References:

Cope, T. C, and M. J. Pinter. The size principle: still working after all these years. News Physiol. Sci. 10: 280-286, 1995

Hortobagyi T, Hill JP, Houmard JA, Fraser DD, & colleagues. Adaptive responses to muscle lengthening and shortening in humans. J. Appl. Physiol. 80(3): 765-772, 1996


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

About the Author

Bryan Haycock M.Sc. is an exercise physiologist and NPC judge. Bryan has been bodybuilding for over 20 years and holds certifications with the NSCA, ACE, and is a member of the American College of Sports Medicine. Bryan is currently the Editor in Chief of ThinkMuscle.com and is the founder and CEO of LifeStyleMgmt.com. Bryan is a highly sought after authority on the physiology of muscle growth and fat loss. Bryan also specializes in the management of type-II diabetes through diet and exercise.

Last edited by EricT; 08-28-2006 at 09:02 AM..

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If you act sanctimonious I will just list out your logical fallacies until you get pissed off and spew blasphemous remarks.
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Old 08-28-2006, 08:35 AM   #4
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If you want to get further into it see:
Muscle Fiber Recruitment

Muscle Fiber Recruitment Again

Dr. Darden’s Fiber Recruitment Originally posted by Madcow
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