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Calf Combustion

Sometimes it takes your favorite machine to be broken to discover an exercise that can trigger new growth. In my case it was the standing calf machine.

At first I tried to mimic the exercise on the Smith machine. Using a calf block and shouldering the bar worked, but it was a bit awkward. Now, I can be pretty lazy, so I resisted one-legged calf raises as long as I could, but eventually I had to try them because the Smith machine just wasn’t cutting it.

To my surprise, forcing each leg to work independently felt crazy good. In fact, it felt like I was engaging more muscle fibers. The soreness I had to cope with the next few days verified that.

Then I started thinking: What about trying one-legged donkey calf raises in the power rack? Talk about a gastroc-frying attack! A major pump and deep muscle ache—not to mention a full-on calf bake.

The one-leg versions of the two best calf-building moves work great. I think using two legs at a time encourages cheating, even if you don’t realize it. Forcing one leg to work independently with a one-second-up/three-seconds-down cadence will get your calves growing, guaranteed.

—Steve Holman


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