“Calf Training Innovations” (or “Remember to Name It After ME!”)
by Steve Colescott, Guerrilla Journalist
How’s that new calf exercise working for you?
“What new calf exercise?” you ask. There has not been a new calf exercise in years: Standing Calf Raises, Seated Calf Raises, Calf Presses on the Leg Press Machine, 45-degree Calf Slides, Dumbbell Calf Raises, Donkey Calf Raises… what else is there?
Well, back in my days managing a World Gym, I came up with something. Now I don’t think this is going to be something you do every calf workout, and I doubt I will hear stories about people going from peglegs to Matarazzo bulls in three months, but if you have not gotten a good pump or soreness in your calves in months, this may be the ticket for you. God knows you probably need something different in your calf training at the very least.
I call it Lying Rotary Soleus Presses… sorry, I mean, Colescott Lying Rotary Soleus Presses. The set-up for the exercise is a bit of a pain but it definitely will provide some variety. Also, this exercise requires a training partner or spotter to get the bar unlatched at the start and conclusion of each rep.
The exercise is done on the Smith Machine. Start with a light weight to warm-up and get the mechanics down (maybe just a plate on each side, depending on your strength and the counterbalance of the particular unit). Set the bar at about umbilical height and place a bench under it. We are going to lie face down on the bench with our knees toward the end (as in Leg Curls).
The position of the bench under the Smith bar needs to be adjusted so that, when you lie face down on the bench, your knees are at a ninety-degree angle, shins perpendicular to the ground. You do these shoeless, with your toes curled around the bar. Your spotter will be needed here as it would not be possible (safely) to unrack and rack the bar on your own.
You don’t need a ton of weight on this exercise, as the range-of-motion is beyond what you are most likely accustomed. The shoeless nature allows you to lower the bar into a crazy deep stretch. Obviously, the knee angle approximates the soleus-activating position of Seated Calf Raises but I think you will find the flattened angle of your hip joint activates the posterior chain and fosters a unique feel to the movement.
I recommend you give this unique exercise a try at least once after your Standing Calf Raises, Calf Presses or Donkey Calf Raises. I recommend four sets of 10-15 slow reps, with pauses at both the top and stretched positions. People will definitely wonder what the hell you are doing. Some of you will find it too awkward or it may not work well on your specific Smith Machine. But I am confident many of you might find that it is exactly the thing you need to give you a fresh boost to your calf routine. Give it a shot and let me know what you think!