Because you use your calves every day to walk around, you really need to shock them to encourage growth. That’s why I developed the following rest-pause/drop set training technique for calves. This high intensity method will leave your calves in severe pain but will also leave them no other option but to grow.
To use rest-pause/drop set training with calves, start on the leg press calf raise. With one 45-pound plate on each side of the machine, do 30 reps or as many as you can before reaching failure if less than 30. Add a plate to each side, rest one minute and do another 30 reps (or to failure). Continue in this fashion – resting one minute and adding another plate per side on each successive set – until you can no longer complete 10 full range of motion reps.
Then the real training takes place. After your last set, perform a rest-pause by racking the weight and resting only 15 seconds before performing as many reps as you can until reaching failure again. Do a total of three rest-pauses in this manner. Then, do a drop set by immediately stripping off one plate from each side. After reaching failure, do three more rest-pauses with this new weight. Keep doing drop sets, stripping off one plate per side at a time, and three rest-pauses with each weight until you’re back down to just one plate per side.
For the first week or two, stop here, as your calves won’t be able to handle much more work in one workout. After that, follow leg press calf raises with seated calf raises using the same technique to blast the deeper soleus muscles and maximize overall calf size.
Use this technique 2-3 times per week with at least a full day of rest between calf workouts, and alternate the order you perform the exercises by doing seated calf raises first every other workout. Also consider swapping out leg press calf raises with standing or donkey calf raises. Follow this plan for 4-6 weeks and enjoy your much-improved calves.
Calves-to-Cows Rest-Pause/Drop Set Workout
Exercise Sets Reps Rest
Leg Press Calf Raise g 3-6* 10-30 1 min.
Seated Calf Raise 3-6* 10-30 1 min.
How many sets you do will depend on how many plates it takes you to fail at 10 reps.
Author: Jim Stoppani, PhD