Calves and Forearm Training
Having big and strong calves and forearms will benefit you a lot in your strength lifts. Strong forearms will give you a better and stronger grip, and big calves will help with stabilization when dealing with heavy poundages. Not to mention, it will make you look a lot more aesthetic. You will see strength gains fast once you seriously start training these support muscle groups to grow. Keep in mind, they still need just as much attention as any other muscle group. Especially since we use them every time we pick up something heavy or need to stabilize our upper body. We need to stretch and contract hard to activate them.
Isolation exercises are very important to bring up these muscle groups. We want to do lots of heavy movements for low reps mixed in with high reps with lighter weight. Remember, light weight helps a little more with separation and definition, and heavy weights will help more with getting mass and size, so we want to do a bit of both. Once you start seriously training these body parts you will see right away that the burn is much different compared to any other muscle. It hurts as little more, everything seems a little harder and in most cases you just dont want to do any more sets. We all feel this way, but we have to keep going through the pain if we want those gains!
The number one tip I’d recommend for forearms is to stop using straps. Straps help you isolate your back when rowing or deadlifting because they take the stress out of your forearms. We want as much stress on the forearms as possible. You wont be able to lift as heavy, but your grip and forearms will definitely start to get stronger. Using fat grips on dumbbells works wonders. Anytime you grab something that has a thicker diameter your forearm muscles are instantly activated. Another great exercise is reverse grip wrist curls; great for etching in those fine details and definition.
Hammer curls are probably my favorite exercise for overall arm development and thickness. They work both the long head of the bicep and the forearm muscles. Go heavy and superset with a lighter set to really feel the burn. If you are serious about fully developing your arms, you should consider having a separate day to hit the biceps, triceps and forearms using the exercises we discussed. Dont forget to bring that intensity to the gym and you will see fast results.
Calve exercises are a bit more limited than forearm exercises. Ankle extensions are pretty much the only way to work them, however there are still variations you can pull off to make the muscle burn. Using a cable or a regular leg press works really well for me. Building mass and definition, this is perfect to start your calve training session. Please remember, to push all the way with your feet as perpendicular to the footstand as possible. This means squeeze as hard as you can at the top and stretch deep, no hopping and rocking the weight back and forth like so many people at the gym do.
Standing vs seated calve raises also make a difference regarding which part of the calf the stress is going to. Do both. Do sets where you hold the weight at the top and slowly bring it down, also do sets with a faster tempo and lighter weight to really get a good pump. We walk on our calves all day so they really need as much variation as possible. The one thing you DO NOT want to do is the same few sets over and over with the same weight. If you keep doing the same things in the gym, you will not look any different.
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