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How to Get Big Calves Fast (Even If You Have Bad Genetics)

Isaac Robertson
Published by Isaac Robertson | Co-Founder & Chief Editor
Last updated: July 16, 2023

As a fitness instructor, I have seen people easily gain ripped abs and big arms but struggle with their calves. Why is this? Not every calf exercise gives you the desired results. From experience, there are five calf exercises that I would recommend to you and be assured of bigger calves.

Calves are the back portions of your legs. Anyone can perform the calves' workout routines, including beginners. Simply get a grip on what you are supposed to do, and you will be good to go.  Remember, results won't be attained overnight. It requires patience and commitment.


The only way to be a champion is by going through these forced reps and the torture and pain.

- Arnold Schwarzenegger

Quick Summary

  • Seated calf raises, standing calf raises, squat calf raises, leg press Calf raises, and jumping rope can get you bigger calves.
  • Try to get the full calf contraction to skyrocket your calves' results when working out.
  • To get bigger calves faster, train on your calves' area at least thrice or four times per week.
  • Balance workout equally on your legs for a uniform appearance and mix different workout routines to boost bigger calves faster.

5 Great Exercises to Build Bigger Calves

1. Seated Calf Raises

Seated Calf Raises

This is a strength exercise that not only trains calves, but also trains the soleus.

Aim to complete at least 10 reps as you climb to your maximum weight. You can use a seated calf machine or you can improvise with a bench and a step to lift your feet off the ground.

To perform this exercise, position your knees below the pads of the seated calf machine. Rest the balls of your feet on the step or block (improvise by holding dumbbells on your thighs to create more resistance).

Your knees should form a 90-degree angle while your toes turn inwards at an angle of about 15 degrees. Let your heels drift towards the floor until you feel the calves stretch. Drive the balls of your feet into the platform and raise the heels as high as you can, then hold on for a second.

Slowly control your lower legs back to their normal position while concentrating on the relaxation of the calves. Repeat steps to familiarize your body with this exercise.

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2. Standing Calf Raises

Standing Calf Raises

The minimum number of reps you should do during your workouts should be 10 reps using a comfortable weight on the shoulder (using a barbell) or on the sides (holding dumbbells).

You can also use a standing calf machine found in almost any gym.

This reasonably straightforward exercise needs you to position yourself under the shoulder pads (if you are using the standing machine).

Make sure your lower legs are slightly bent and are at shoulder width apart. Straighten your legs into a standing position as you push the weights up.

The next step is to complete the calf movement by slowly raising your heel from the stepper until you rest on your toes. Hold the position for a few seconds and once again take a slow pace when placing your heels below the platform as you enjoy the stretch in your calf muscles.

3. Leg Press Calf Raises

Leg Press Calf Raises

This calf movement routine targets the plantar flexion or the ankle extension muscle to help with the stubborn calf muscle fibers.

Sit on a leg press machine with your toes at the lower part of the feet platform.

Make sure your heels are hanging on the lower side of the footplate along the edges. Press the weight sled upwards until your knees are straight.

Use the ball of your foot and your toes as you press up the weight, and as you move upwards, you will feel the calf muscles contract as you lower your toes back to their original position.

You should feel a good stretch in the calves as you slowly take your feet back.

If you’re using a leg press machine you should keep this in mind: Due to the different designs, if your foot does not allow the hanging of the heels off the footplate, it may not be as effective due to the partial range of motion in the calf area.

4. Squat Calf Raises

Squat Calf Raises

This exercise targets the muscles on the back of the lower legs. It also strengthens the glutes and inner thighs to make the stubborn calf muscle fibers more pliable.

Stand with your feet about three to four feet apart with toes facing outwards.

Bring your hands together in front of your chest as you squat down creating a parallel plane between your thighs and the floor.

As you execute this move, make sure the knees are over the ankles.

Raise the right heel off the floor and push your hips up and down in a pulsating motion while isolating the right calf.

Continue pushing for about 30 seconds before relaxing and switching to the other side to complete the exercise.

5. Jump Rope

Jump Rope

Skipping rope will target the gastrocnemius, soleus, and tibialis anterior muscles.

You only need a skipping rope to execute this fitness exercise.

It’s very difficult to set the minimum number of reps or counts that you should take because jumping a rope even for beginners should not be a hassle. Do the right thing and take a 30-second break in between rounds.

You can set the maximum number of counts and use a timer to stop for a few seconds, then continue until you complete the workout. Jumping rope helps you to build up and tone your calf muscles. [1] Learn more on this video:


8 Tips to Skyrocket Your Results

lower leg bones

We know you’ve always wondered how to get bigger calves, and we’re here to tell you that one of the ways in which you can do that is if you hold and squeeze your calf muscles at the top of every rep.

A full contraction and release of the muscles completes the rep, but holding and squeezing instead of immediately releasing works your muscle fibers harder and, over time, gives you a set of stronger and bigger calves.

2. Get the Full Calf Contraction

It is very important to make sure you fully contract your calf muscles in every exercise and rep for best results.

For instance, when doing a calf raise, you will want to contract your calf muscles until you are on your toes to maximize the full range of motion.

You should be able to feel your calf go from relaxed to fully contracted in every rep you do.

3. Adjust Foot Placement with Different Angles

In the same vein of adjusting the angle of bicep curls to target different areas of the bicep, you should also do raises with varying foot placements.

Try turning your feet out, turning your feet in, standing with your feet close together, or standing with your feet far apart. Placing your feet at different angles will use all areas of your calf muscles and lead to bigger muscle gains.

4. Mix Rep Ranges

Heavy But Less Rep and Light But Higher reps

Doing the same workout over and over again can be ineffective once your muscles become accustomed to performing the same exercise, so it is important to switch things up.

Start with heavy weights and low reps and move to lighter ones with higher reps. This will stimulate all of your muscle fibers, and lead to better muscle growth.

5. More Frequency (Train Calves 3-4 Times Per Week, with 4-6 Sets for each Workout)

Instead of only working on your calves on the day you do your other leg exercises, start working in your calf exercises into other workouts for maximum growth.

Calves are rather small muscles and are made up of slow twitch fibers, so they should be worked 3-4 times per week with 4-6 sets each workout.

Don’t be afraid to train calves in between pull-ups and presses!

6. Go Barefoot

Working out barefoot is more effective than you think! It can help target muscles in your calves, as well as your shins and lower legs, that help stabilize your body and absorb shock.

Just make sure to slowly work your way to training barefoot because jumping right in could injure your legs and make you take a day off from exercising.

7. Don’t Neglect Single Leg

body builders calves

Anyone who has ever played a sport knows what it’s like to favor one side of their body over the other, even subconsciously. To avoid this when growing your calf muscles, you can modify every calf exercise to only work one leg at a time.

When you focus working out on one leg, you are more likely to see equal growth in both calves.

1. Why are calves so hard to grow?


Calves are so hard to grow because of their anatomical configuration, which resists the act of hypertrophy (an expected increase in the size of the skeletal muscle through the growth of component cells).

Calves are often either the most complained-about-muscle when it comes to building mass, or the most overlooked.

2. Are calves based on genetics?

Calves’ growth may be tied to genetics because their muscle fiber is composed of 90% slow-twitch dominant.  [2]

This dominant muscle growth rate is half that of fast twitch fibers. As long as you train your calves in line with their functionality, they can grow up to the size of your arms or neck. Just make sure you're supplementing your training with good diet and sleep as well as maintaining healthy testosterone levels.

3. Can you get bigger calves without weights?

big calves without weights

You can get bigger calves without weights by incorporating walking, hiking, and running into your exercise routine.

All you need to is keep your calves active while carrying out routine activities on a daily basis. Remember that they are muscles, and for them to develop, they need to be “activated.”

You can also check out these calf exercises that will help you grow them bad boys.

Final Thoughts on Building Bigger Calves

Calves are like any other part of your body that need time and exercise. If you are a beginner, seek every opportunity to move so that the little calf movement adds up to the overall strategy of your weight loss program.

The critical thing to remember here is that calves also need a lot of training and intensity like the biceps, squats, and chest. Do not neglect them at any cost because they grow at a much slower pace.

Remember, all you have to do is hit the gym so you can blast your calves into new levels of growth.


  1. Benefits of jumping rope during injury rehabilitation. (n.d.). Retrieved from
  2. Henselmans, M. (n.d.). 3 Reasons Your Calves Aren't Growing. Retrieved from
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