Calves represent quite a dilemma for many when it comes to creating a complete and balanced physique. They’re among the most difficult muscles to develop. This is in large part because of the difference in calf structure among different individuals. Everyone’s calf structure goes from the knee to the ankle, but in some cases the muscle itself — the “muscle belly” — is very long and the tendon attaching it to the lower leg is short. Even a few inches of extra length can make a big difference in muscle volume, because muscle size is measured in volume — three dimensions, not two.

An individual with “high” calves is going to have much more trouble developing a lot of size than somebody whose calf is mostly muscle and very little tendon attachment. The same is true for forearms, as well. But that doesn’t mean the task is impossible. With high calves you may never develop the best lower leg on the planet — or even just in your gym — but you can increase size and end up with a lot more development than you initially thought possible.

Of course, if you’re genetically well-endowed for calves, you’re still going to need to train them to achieve your personal potential (there are a few exceptions to this, but if you were one of them you’d already know it and wouldn’t be reading this article). But it’s sometimes difficult to know in advance what your potential might be.

One of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s major weaknesses when he began bodybuilding was calves. The story goes that he cut off the bottom of his training pants so that he couldn’t hide his calves and would be forced to train them as hard as possible. His credo was “attack your weaknesses,” and that’s something all of us should do.



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