Lyle McDonald wrote a good article explaining How to Train the Calves.
- gastroc is primarily a fast-twitch muscle – responds to heavy loads
- soleus is primarily a slow-twitch muscle – responds to longer sets and more of a fatigue stimulus
- straight legs calf exercises work both the gastroc and soleus
- bent leg calf exercises works only the soleus
- when bouncing, the achilles tendon does most of the work and the calf does little
Routine: do this 2 Times / Week
- Straight leg calf raise: 5 sets of 5 reps, heavy, 3min rest, tempo X132 (explosive concentric, 1s squeeze at the top, 3s negative, 2s pause at the bottom), focuses on gastroc
- Bent knee calf raise: 3-4 sets of 8-10 reps,60-90s rest, tempo 2122, focuses on soleus
Update #1: Charles Poliquin also has 5 tips build bigger calves.
- Start Your Workouts with Single-Leg Calf Raises with a Dumbbell
- Isometrically Fire the Tibialis Anterior in the Bottom Eccentric Portion of Calf Raise
- Stretch the Calves Properly
- 36 special: 12 “bottom-range reps” with 13X0 tempo; decrease the weight about 20 to 25 percent and do 12 full ROM reps with 10X0 tempo; add 10 to 15 percent to the weight and do 12 bottom-range reps using a 16X0 tempo; rest 2 minutes , repeat; then do seated calf raise and complete 3 sets of 20 to 25 reps, using a 20X0 tempo with 60 seconds rest
- Train the Tibialis Anterior
Update #2: Poliquin has a One Hour Calf Routine. Overkill in my opinion.
This is a partner workout. One works, while the other rests.
- 20 minutes alternating between standing calf raises wide stance (mostly outside of gastroc is recruited) and narrow stance, go to failure with 8-20 reps
- 20 minutes of 6 heavy partials, standing calf raises from bottom stretch to mid point, hold for 6 seconds, then reduce the weight and do full range reps
- 10 minutes of seated calf raises
- 10 minutes standing calf raises drop sets with rotated feet