Women can build big calf muscles using free weights and weight machines. Your calf includes your gastrocnemius, the upper, horseshoe-shaped muscle and your soleus, the lower, longer muscle. Train your calf muscles one day per week toward the end of your leg workout. Use heavy enough weights so you can only do six to 12 repetitions per set. Complete four to six sets of four different calf exercises per workout.
Do one-legged calf raises by placing a 25-pound weight plate on the floor near an immovable object. Hold a heavy dumbbell in your right hand and place the base of the toes of your right foot at the edge of the weight plate. Contract your calves to raise your body as high as possible, holding the contraction for three seconds. Lower your heel back down slightly below the surface of the plate and repeat for one set. Switch hands and feet to work your left calf.
Perform seated double calf raises on the calf raise machine. Load the machine with weight plates. Slide into the machine with your thighs under the pads and the base of your toes at the edge of the lifting platform. Point your toes outward at a diagonal. Lift the weight off the safety catch. Contract your calves to raise the weights and hold the contraction for three seconds. Lower your heels and repeat.
Do calf presses on a leg press machine. Load the machine with weight plates. Position your upper body, trunk and glutes as if to do leg presses. Place the base of your toes at the edge of the pressing platform, pointing your toes inward. Leave the safety catch in place to prevent the weight from dropping on your body. Contract your calves as if to point your toes, holding the contraction for three seconds and repeat.
Complete barbell calf presses in a squat rack to finish your calf workout. Place two 25-pound weight plates close together under the barbell. Set the barbell slightly above your knees and add weight plates to the bar. Stand on the weight plates with the base of your toes at the edge of the plates. Grasp the barbell and lift it off the support pegs. Lean into the squat rack so the barbell slides up and down the rack as you raise and lower your body on your tip toes.
Drink a protein and carbohydrate shake immediately after your workout to build your calf muscles. Mix one cup of ice-cold skim milk, water, two scoops of whey protein powder and fruit in a portable blender.
- “Personal Trainer Manual”; American Council on Exercise; 1997
- “Equal But Not The Same, Considerations for Training Females”; C.H.E.K. Institute; 1997
- American College of Sports Medicine: Progression Models in Resistance Training for Adults