Posted by: PFB
Q: My calves refuse to grow. Got any tips that will blow them up?
A: Sure do! I was recently researching into some esoteric training methods and one really caught my attention. An old-time bodybuilder just couldn't get his calves to grow so he starting running backwards in sand every day. After 6 weeks of backwards running, he adding a full inch to his calf girth. That's incredible considering how notoriously stubborn the calves are when it comes to hypertrophy. Unfortunately, many of us don't have access to a beach.
So to get around the sand issue, I started training my clients to walk backwards on a treadmill with a 6-8% incline. This technique worked remarkably well and it's now one of my favorite methods to add calf girth. Basically, backwards walking challenges the musculature in the front of your lower legs known as the dorsiflexors (anterior tibialis, etc). These muscles rarely get enough stimulation. When you expose these muscles to a large stimulus, they grow and increase the overall size of your calves - simple enough. But it also appears that they allow the larger gastroc and soleus muscles to grow. The reasons are ambiguous, but most agree that a lack of development on one side of your joint (ankle, in this case) will limit the development on the other side in order to protect the joint from injury. That's precisely why trainees are often able to hypertrophy their biceps after completing a maximal strength program for their triceps.
Start performing backwards treadmill walking on a 6-8% incline every other day. Your first workout should last 10 minutes. From there, add one minute to each session until you reach 20 minutes. Once you reach 20 minutes, increase the grade or increase your bodyweight (ie, training load) by wearing an X-Vest. (Exercising with a DARD is another great way of targeting specifically the anterior tibialis area without the added cardio).
Get ready for some seriously novel calf training!