Tune up your lower legs
PHOTOGRAPHY PAUL BUCETA STYLING NADIA PIZZIMENTI HAIR AND MAKE UP VALERIA NOVA FOR TRESEMMÉ HAIR CARE/R.E.D. & MAC COSMETICS CLOTHING LULULEMON
Build a platform for a great set of hams by carving out some strong, sexy calves.
I often tell a story about a rather dramatic device I used to bulk up my own lower legs.
I was around 22 years of age, just getting started in life. My skinniness from an Austrian father and an English mother was legendary. Anyway, I wanted to build at least some muscle on my scrawny body. But most of all, I wanted to fill out my legs from knee to ankle. My calves were pathetic.
I got some results from standard calf raises, but I ran into a sticking point. No matter how hard I trained, I couldn’t get my calves to grow bigger. I put my mind in gear, sweating bullets to find an answer. I decided I needed to increase the range of motion, and after noting that cyclists, ballet dancers and competitive gymnasts – individuals who exercised their lower legs over many thousands of repetitions at a time – all had amazingly shaped lower legs, I decided I needed to do more volume training.
One aspect to my personality is that in spite of having intelligence that I suspect is not exceedingly monumental, I have a side to me that can be described as “inventive,” so a “plan” was hatched. I found an old pair of sandals and screwed a two-inch-thick block of wood under the toe area
if each sandal. Then, with the sandals on my feet, I would walk for a couple of kilometres, alternately rising up and down on the blocks with each step. By the end of the two miles on the first day, my calves were screaming for mercy.
When I woke up the next morning, I jumped out of bed . . . and collapsed. The soreness in my lower legs was so extreme that I couldn’t stand up, let alone walk. I crawled back to bed and stayed there for three days! My aim was to surprise my calves, but of course I was the one who got the surprise.
The stupidity doesn’t end there. I kept up with my walks, two or three times a week, but I looked so ridiculous that I only did them on deserted country roads at night.
So there I was one night, alone on a moonlit country road, well after midnight, strolling along looking utterly ridiculous as I rose up and down on my homemade sandals when a car rolled up alongside: “Hi, Mr. Kennedy, are you all right? Do you need a ride?” My embarrassment level rose to an all-time high. It was my bank manager! I spluttered some lame excuses about exercising my calves, and he drove off, utterly confused. The next time I was in the bank, every one of the tellers behind the counter gave me a close inspection, and I discerned a derisive smirk on each individual face.
Did my block walking help? Well, my lower legs did get more muscular and better shaped, but the added size I wanted was only minimal. To tell you the truth, after the bank manager incident, I stopped my blockwalking escapades.
What about you? Are you ready to hit your calves hard? Because when the lower legs become used to regular exercise, they have to be hit hard in order to keep results positive. This is to be brought about by some high reps with light resistance (20 to 50 reps) and some low reps with heavy resistance (eight to 10 reps). Do not overdo your first few lower-leg workouts, otherwise, like me, you’ll end up with severe soreness, with only bed rest as your goal.
And remember that exercise alone doesn’t guarantee amazing leg development. There has to be a low percentage of fat in order to bring out the best in your leg appearance.
How To Do It
Beginners should start with just a couple of light sets. More experienced trainers can go straight to three sets of light reps, and then after a few sessions, throw in a few heavy sets with low reps.
Keep In Mind
Always begin your lowerleg training with stretches. You can do these on the foot plate of a calf machine or leg-press machine. No weight is used during stretches. Simply try to lift up as high, then as low, as possible for a count of 15 repetitions. Now you are ready for the first exercise.
|Parallel feet positioning
position works the
position trains the
outer sweep of
STANDING HEEL RAISE
|Go deep in the
|Raise up as
high as possible
onto the balls
of your feet.
CALF RAISE OPTION
If a calf raise machine is unavailable, hold a dumbbell in one hand and step up onto a platform, using your other hand for support. Make sure the balls of your feet are planted solidly on the platform and your heels hang over the edge enough to allow you to lower your heels deeply. After finishing one set, switch the dumbbell to the other hand when you do the next set.
SEATED CALF RAISE
|Adjust the pad securely where the knee joint ends and
your thigh begins.
| Pick a weight that allows you to complete 12-15
|Lower your heels as much as possible.
|Raise up onto the balls of your feet as high as
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