Answered by Emily Spilko on Monday, December 28, 2009
To some extent, genetics will dictate whether you achieve curvaceous calves—or any other kind of muscle, for that matter. According to trainer Mark J. Occipinti, president of American Fitness Professionals & Associates (AFPA), "taking a quick look at your family members' calf muscles will tell you if you even have the genetic capability to develop a great deal of size." In other words, you could put Arnold Schwarzenegger-like effort into building bulging calves and still not match his action-hero size. But you could see—proportionally speaking—the same percentage of increase. A great method for fooling Mother Nature and targeting this stubborn muscle, says Occipinti, "is walking up stairs—or in the sand—by stepping up on the balls of your feet as high as you can with each step." The point is to overload your calf muscles until they fatigue (with weight training this is achieved by doing high repetitions at a high intensity). Your attack plan: three sets of 12-15 reps of standing calf raises, then the same routine with seated calf raises. If your calves aren't absolutely fatigued by that point, try skipping rope or climbing a few flights of stairs. But just like all other muscles in your body, says Occipinti, avoid working your calves more than three times in any given week.