According to my college weight lifting coach "Training calfs is useless because they are genetic...."
Now I kept my mouth shut since I don't want to get on the coach's bad side.... But don't calfs help with squats/deads?
If you enjoy training calves, then do it. It won't cut into recovery if you do a few sets for them.
If you don't enjoy training calves, then don't bother. Your calves will grow with your squat and deadlift.
And your coach is partially correct...EVERYTHING is determined by genetics.
Calves are a double jointed muscle. Meaning they cross the ankle via the ichillies and attatch on femor. So training calves is very important for hamstring development and overall leg strengh, not to mention knee and ankle joint stability!
I will admit that calves are stubborn, i mean look at all the work they do compared to any other muscle group! So, Its going to take a lot of different rep schemes to get them to full capacity! I would say try 20 to 30 rep range for a bit! include lots of drop or strip sets and feel the burn! It will really hurt hitting that high of reps, but well worth the results!
You give a pretty good explanation of why it might help in theory; I'm just wondering if in practice it will actually make any noticeable difference. Do athletes train calves? Do power-lifters train calves? Do Oly-lifters train calves? Just wondering how direct the benefit is.
I think calf training has fallen out of favor w. non-bodybuilding strength sports, probably in no small part because of an emphasis on training economy and training equipment/gear.
Just for reference, Rickey Dale Crain always recommended (probably still does) plenty of calf raises for assistance work. I don't know if they still do, but WSers used to do calf raises. My opinion is that PLers probably need dedicated calf work more than OLers because OLers spend plenty of time on their toes (w. main AND auxiliary lifts) already. PLers who do sled work, (hill) sprints, plyos/jumps, etc. probably are getting their work in that way.
If you're still skeptical, you could try an experiment doing calf work before squatting - I wouldn't recommend it at all, but it might give you a new appreciation of the key role ankle stability plays in squatting. Whether dedicated work would add to your lifts or not, I don't know - it depends on your own specific strengths and weaknesses.
A child does not learn to squat from the top down. In other words, he does not suddenly make a conscious decision one day to squat. Actually, he is squatting one day and make the conscious decision to stand. Squatting precedes standing in the developmental sequence. This is the way a child's brain learns to use the body as the child develops movement patterns. Therefore, a child is probably crawling, rocks back into a squatting position with the back completely relaxed and the hips completely flexed, and stands when he has enough hip strength. This approach makes a lot of sense and can be applied to relearning the deep squat movement if it is lost. -Gray Cook
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Lots of people might think it's pointless to do calf training because they've been doing it wrong... the biggest mistakes I've noticed for calf exercises are:
- Incomplete range of motion
- Going too fast on the negative
- Not doing both seated and standing calf exercises
- Doing endless reps when trying to train the fast twitch fibers of the gastroc
- Not pausing at the bottom. I.e. Using momentum at the bottom of a rep to bounce back up.
It's definitely true that genetics can be a big factor in calf strength and size, but that doesn't mean that you can't improve them. As others have already said, they play an important role in big exercises like squats, deadlifts, and power cleans. Stronger calves will make a noticeable difference on these exercises. And even if just a relatively small difference, it's still worth it my opinion, especially if you don't want tiny calves.
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