Often the stickiest problem for the beginning bodybuilder (even some advanced muscle men) is the difficulty of calf development -- that progressive development that comes so rapidly in other muscle groups when trained.
This article tells of how a present-day great champion -- the victim of poor calves -- tried every know method of calf development, found none of them worked satisfactorily, and charted an unknown course which proved to be immediately effective. We urge you to try it and discover for yourself just how fast it can work . . . what a terrific pump it produces in the calf muscles every day . . . and how, by implanting the various Gajda calf exercises during the rest periods between compound sets of upper body exercises, as Bob does, you can produce and maintain a constant daily calf growth pace that will give you noticeable improvement in a just a few months.
This is, definitely, a crash calf program if you follow it step by step and to the letter. Hence, it may prove too much for the beginner and even the intermediate bodybuilder. You will have to determine just how much of it you can employ without overtiring yourself for other bodypart exercises on your upper body days.
You should begin by inserting only two of the calf exercises in your upper body workout until you find your calves increasing in strength and able to withstand the heavier work. Then, add the third, and later the fourth calf exercise insertion into your upper body routine.
Let me admonish you on the speed of calf exercises: Bob does not work them in rapid reps, but in full, complete, heavily-concentrated reps to get the greatest possible stretch in the calves during each rep.
The standing calf movements are done with knees straight and locked throughout the movement . . . no bending of the knees. Of course, the seated exercises naturally require the bent knee.
The idea on every calf exercise is to rise as high on the toes as possible, and work with the toes on a block so that when the heels are lowered you can feel a terrific stretch in the calves.
Don't just bobble up and down and say you've completed the exercises. You will be the loser.
Now, before giving you the actual routine, I would like to tell you something about Bob Gajda, for he is a very fascinating bodybuilder with a brilliant mind who lives and teaches a life of physical culture though bodybuilding and related exercise media.
"I've always believed that the two focal points of the male physique are the deltoids and calves," Bob has said. Of course, everyone who has seen Bob in competition will agree that he stands high as a physique star of today, especially in the superb development of his delts and calves. We've seen him win every contest held in the Chicago-Great Lakes area, in addition to taking the titles in the Mr. Illinois, Junior Mr. Illinois, Mr. Midwest, Mr. Prairie State and Mr. United States contests. Always his magnificent deltoids and calves have lingered in our memory.
While winning titles is an easy and often told story with Bob Gajda (pronounced guide-ah), the development of his calves was not so easy. An easy gainer in every other muscle department, Bob's calves for a long time failed to grow apace with the rest of his muscles. And it was a sore point with him, too. A perfectionist in everything he does, it annoyed and disappointed him to see other muscles rocketing along at top speed while his calves lingered behind.
Naturally, in hindsight, one might have pointed out that Bob, while working his calves very hard per set, was just not doing enough sets. There are some bodybuilders, like Bob, who find that four or five sets of reps for any other body part will pay off in a big pump and steady muscle growth. But so often, unless one has a so-called "natural" calf formation, four or five sets of the very hardest exercise will only partially work the calves.
Just what is a "natural" calf?
Many ask this, and it can best be explained by saying that nature gives some of us calves of perfect symmetry which will remain perfect all our lives without us doing very much for them. You have seen the boy who looks like the original string bean in every other way, but whose calves just take your breath away because they are so perfectly constructed.
Generally the person who has the heritage of a natural calf maintains its perfect shape because of some idiosyncrasy in the way he walks or runs, or because of the shape and size of his foot. In almost every case, however, the cause of continuing poor calf development is flat feet. It one has, by nature, a round heel that does not extend very far backward, he tends to "heel and toe" when walking and continuously brings the calf muscles into play, resulting in a "natural" calf of perfect symmetry.
However, the longer the heel bone extends back of the leg, the more difficult it is to walk in any other than a flatfooted manner of simply lifting the entire leg up and putting the entire leg down in a straight movement. The calf, therefore, is not engaged at all unless the bodybuilder exercises it specifically, and then he usually does only minimal exercise for the calves, so they remain in their undeveloped-appearing state.
The round-heeled individual invariably has quite a spring in his step . . . his heels seemingly never touch the ground when he walks, runs, plays tennis, or what have you.
This, of course, keeps the calves in a state of continuous tension, even though no voluntary exercise for the calves, per se, is performed. What it actually amounts to is a high-rep, high-set, continuous tension workout that keeps the calves continually pumped.
In essence, this is the same calf technique Steve Reeves applied in developing his own calves. You've often heard or read about how he walks for long distances with an exaggerated spring in his step
deliberately rising high on his toes each step . . . and this is the same as the Gajda principle. In the case of the "round heeled" individual the effect is through an involuntary workout . . . while in the case of Gajda it is a deliberate or voluntary workout.
Bob discovered this empirically . . . through trial and error. Reasoning that anyone can have perfect calves if he really wants them, Gajda discarded his usual calf workout which was performed on his leg training days, and substituted very high set, high rep calf workouts every training day . . . six days per week. Did it work? "Sensationally!" bob will tell you.
But how can an essentially upper body routine be followed and at the same time integrate a complete calf workout with it? How many calf exercises . . . how many sets per workout?
Bob has said that he gives 30 sets of work to his calves, even on upper body training days! "Thirty sets!" you may well exclaim. "But that's more than I give my calves during an entire week!"
Of course, and it's far more than Bob ever did before switching to high rep, high set daily calf specialization work. The point is, do you want great calves or do you want to complain about how much work is required? If it's calves, then you must work for them, using Staggered Sets. No other training method has come along which will give you fine calves more quickly. By using staggered sets you can work your calves BETWEEN other body parts, and while you are resting the body part just exercised you can do still more work for the calves.
(essentially upper body days)
Calf Work Integrated:
1) Wide grip chin behind neck
After working the back, Bob performs some calf work.
3) Rise on Toes - barbell across shoulders, toes pointed inward, 8 sets
4) Wide grip front chin
5) Bench press
After working his chest Bob does more calf work before going on to his shoulder work.
7) One Leg Rise on Toes - toes pointed inward, 7 sets each foot.
8) Press behind neck
9) High pull
He relaxes his upper body after working it by doing calf work again.
10) Seated One Leg Calf Raise, toes pointed inward, one foot at a time, 7 sets each foot.
11) Scott curl
12) Triceps extension
13) Biceps cable curl on peak bench
14) Triceps pressdown
After this rugged arm workout Bob hits his calves again.
15) Leg Press Calf Raise, toes pointed inward, 8 sets.
16) Ab work.
After this workout you should practice running on tiptoes, rising high on toes each time, never letting the heels touch the ground with each stride, and keep trying to maintain a terrific spring in the foot (which will keep a terrific pump in the calves). Try running for a half mile, even a mile, using this "no touch" method.
(essentially leg training days)
He again uses the staggered sets approach, doing his calf work between his thigh exercises.
2) Rise on Toes, barbell across shoulders, toes pointed outward, 8 sets.
3) LEG CURLS (we put this in capital letters to point out that there is a technique in this exercise, which, although essentially a thigh biceps movement, can do terrific things for your calves at the same time. Be sure to TENSE THE CALVES just before you begin each pull-up in the leg curl. While this is , of course, static tension, the effect will be sensational in maintaining the pump from the Rise on Toes of the previous exercise. 8 sets.
4) Sissy squat
5) Leg extension
6) Seated Rise on Toes, one foot at a time, toes pointed outward, 7 sets each foot.
7) Roman chair squats
8) Front squats
9) Leg Machine Heel Raises, toes pointed outwards, 8 sets.
You will note that on Mon/Wed/Fri the toes in each of the calf exercises are pointed inward. On Tues/Thurs/Sat they are pointed outward. This has the effect of working the calves from different angles.
Enjoy Your Lifting!