Stubborn legs that won’t grow? You’re not the only one! Legs, in particular the calves, would easily be the most lacking body part on I see on most gym goers. We all know leg day is a gruelling session, but even if you spend countless hours in the gym working on those bad boys, sometimes they just won’t grow! Here are 6 tips that will morph your chicken legs into tree trunks:
1. High Volume
Your legs are designed to take you miles and bear a lot of weight, and your training should
2. Fuel Up and Fuel Recovery
This is still one that baffles me. If you expect to train like an animal and get some serious gains, then why are you still eating like a fairy? Training is a stimulus, it isn’t growth. When you go home and eat, sleep and rest, that’s when you grow! Same goes for heading into training, if you train legs after fasting for 12hrs, or after a salad, don’t expect your body to give you everything it’s got!
Not to ensure you have enough energy (because your diet and program structure should ensure this), but to allow you to focus all your energy on for the start of the week! Make it the first session you’re pumped to tear into and have done for the week. Not only will you place greater emphasis on it, but if you get caught being lazy and skip the session, it still leaves you with the whole week to get in.
4. Train Your Hamstrings Just as Much as Your Quads
This was one of the greatest mistakes I had to learn the hard way. Although I always had good hamstrings, I was placing too much emphasis on my quads (probably because that’s what I could see in the mirror) and the result was unbalanced legs. This prevented me from being able to further grow them. When you think of working hamstrings, don’t narrow your mind to variations of leg curls; think of compound exercises such as dead lifts, Romanian dead lifts, sumo squats, high stance leg press etc.
5. Full Range of Motion (ROM)
Partial reps have their place, but not in every day training. Work the muscles to their full ROM to ensure you are recruiting every last muscle fibre and work to hit full peak contraction. This means deep squats, full extension or flexion (curling your leg right in), and aiming to comfortably stretch the muscles during the lift. This is especially important for calves. The calves only ever contract completely following full stretch of the muscle. So if your calves are lacking, stop bouncing them in your workouts! Start a bit lighter than usual, emphasise more control by slowing down your movement, and stretch your calves by allowing your toes to come back towards your shin before pushing the weight/your body right up onto your tippy toes.
If you’re serious about not only bringing up your legs, but also about being in ridiculous condition then start sprinting. Besides the unbelievable amount of hormonal and metabolic responses sprinting creates (increased testosterone, human growth hormone production and protein synthesis to name a few), it also stimulates your thick, powerful fast twitch muscles in your quads, glutes, hamstrings, calves and even muscles you would have never worked before like your feet! Aim to perform high intensity sets of 10 seconds duration at all out effort.
In order for your legs to grow you need to not only work hard, extremely hard, but also be strategic in your training. Learn as much as you can about how your leg muscles work, what exercises work exactly what, and test your limits! Remember, muscle growth is an adaptation; if you’re not stimulating any muscle past the point of what they’re used to handling, and you’re not fueling yourself with the necessary nutrients to allow repair and growth, they’re simply not going to grow!