Calf muscle development: Do not ignore the lower legs
Coaches and athletes should have a “new school mentality” rather than an old-school mindset when it comes to training calf muscles, a leading strength and conditioning coach says.
Matthew Ibrahim — a strength and conditioning coach who is also an adjunct professor and PhD student whose primary focus is lower-body injury reduction in athletes — believes too many coaches and athletes ignore the calf area in training, which can lead to higher rates of injury.
He said while indirect loading of the calf region can occur during integrated lower body exercises such as squats or deadlifts, it was important to isolate the calf region by directly loading the area in a strength training program.
“With calf training, there is often an old-school mentality. [People often say] ‘calf training is for bodybuilders,’ or ‘training calves is a waste of time,’ or ‘calf muscles will benefit from other lower body training’,” he said during his Science for Sport presentation titled ‘Calf Development.’
“But this doesn’t put the athlete in the best position possible.
“The facts are, [with] running, sprinting, jumping and landing, the feet are the first to leave the ground, then touch the ground. Feet propel you forward, produce force, accelerate, decelerate, absorb force, land. The calf region is highly involved in these processes.
“[So calf muscle development is beneficial for] any sport involving running, sprinting, jumping and landing.”