Calf Training For High-Performance Athletics

One of the most underestimated muscle groups in athletic performance training is the calf.

There are 2 important reasons to incorporate calf work within the training plan of an athlete.

1. Because the origins of the gastrocnemius are at the medial and lateral condyle of the femur and the muscle assists in flexion of the knee, a stronger gastrocnemius will aid in stabilizing the knee joint.  

2. Greater ankle dorsiflexion will improve Squatting mechanics as well as help decrease the incidence of knee injuries.

It’s important to understand the fiber type of each muscle of the calf structure in order to program the appropriate training protocol.

The gastrocnemius and anterior tibialis both have a mixed make-up of fibers with an emphasis on fast-twitch properties, while the soleus is predominantly slow-twitch.

In programming, consider that the ankle range of motion needs to be trained both with the knee extended (Standing Calf Raise) and the knee flexed (Seated Calf Raise) in order to have complete transfer to sporting events.

To optimize the training effect for sports performance, the majority of calf work will be implemented during the General Preparation Phase. Methods to improve calf hypertrophy should be periodized in an alternated fashion with methodologies to enhance strength and ankle range of motion.

Here is an example of a calf program for a 12-week General Preparation Phase:

Accumulation 1

C Incline Leg Press Calf Extension 10 x 10 2010 10

D1 Anterior Tibialis Raise 3 x 12-15 2011 10

D2 Seated Calf Raise 3 x 20-25 2010 60

Intensification 1

C One-Leg DB Calf Raise 4 x 4-6 2410 60

D Seated Calf Raise 4 x 8-10 2410 60

Accumulation 2

C1 Incline Leg Press Calf Extension 3 x 10-12 2111 10

C2 Anterior Tibialis Raise 3 x 15-20 2010 10

C3 Seated Calf Raise 3 x 15-20 2011 90

Intensification 2

C1 Standing Calf Raise 3 x 6-8 2210 60

C2 Seated Calf Raise 3 x 12-15 2210 60

The Accumulation phases make use of hypertrophy methods like density training, superset and tri-set to ensure appropriate volume to increase calf hypertrophy.

The Intensification phases make use of the loaded stretch method to aid with ankle flexibility while keeping an appropriate time under tension for strength increase. 

Making sure the calf musculature is well developed will benefit athletic performance by assisting in joint strength and stability of the knee and ankle.

In athletics, injury prevention is key.

12-Week Power Bundle 1
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This 12-Week Power Program consists of the 4 individual 3-week Power training programs bundled together so you save the price of one phase!

  • #1 - Heavy Light
  • #2 - 5 x 4-6
  • #3 - Contrast Training
  • #4 - 6,4,2,6,4,2

Listen to the video below for a quick summary of the bundle

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12-Week Power Bundle 2
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This 12-Week Power Program consists of 4 individual 3-week Power training programs (5,6,7,8) bundled together so you save the price of one phase!

  • #5 - Eccentric - Concentric
  • #6 - Bulgarian Method
  • #7 - Stato-Dynamic
  • #8 - Complex Training
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