Tag Archive: abs



Hi guys and girls, Gert Louw from Cape Town.

Every year just after my birthday it is sort of a tradition for me to do a flexing and inspirational video.

This year it was my 52nd birthday.

So here is the video just after my birthday:

Click here to view video “Life INSPIRATION at age 52”

 

With this video I want to inspire a little.

Neither your age, nor your health should ever (!) stand in your way.

Now, most of you know by now that 12 years ago I nearly died and doctors did not give me any good news. But with faith I moved forward and apply healthy living on all levels and also did some house cleaning and moving closer to God ( I am a follower of Jesus Christ).

Obviously it was a long and hard road and the body took long to respond to this healthy living but the wheel did turn and it is keeping on turning as a result.

Now, I am not naïve in thinking everyone with serious health issues can and will turn around like I did, but what I do believe is that with faith in God and by living very healthy, one CAN make a huge difference. Obviously you need your doctor’s approval to embark on such a journey.

But, let me share with you the core of my healthy living

Gert Louw face2

 

My training program is as follows:

  • Mondays – Chest, Biceps and abs
  • Tuesdays – Shoulders, Traps and calves
  • Wednesdays – rest
  • Thursdays – Back, triceps and abs
  • Fridays – Legs, upper pecs and calves
  • Saturdays & Sundays – rest

 

My supplement regime

Health supplements:

  • ALA (Alpha Lipoic Acid)
  • CQ10 (Co Enzyme Q10)
  • Omega 3+6
  • Strong Multi Vitamin
  • Slow release Vit C

Muscle building supplements:

  • Whey protein powder
  • L-Glutamine
  • BCAA

 

How do I structure my training?

I do a 3-months Cutting phase with a very specific cutting phase diet and training with lighter weights at a higher rep range followed by 1 week rest and then a 3-month building phase with a very specific building phase diet and training with heavier weights to absolute muscle failure at lower reps (about 8 reps per set) followed by 1 week rest and the repeat.

This allow me to build muscle but also to recover the strained tendons and joints.

 

About my diets

I make use of one of the top fitness nutritionists in the field (BERNADETTE BEYER) to work out my diets for each phase according to my bodytype and goals. This is the crucial part of your success and without a very focussed diet there will be no success.

My blog contains a LOT of info for free that can help you through all these processes.

But for those interested, I also offer my exact training/supplem and diet system via the ADVANCED SYSTEM II (option E). The same nutritionist I use will also work out your diet solution and I myself attend to working out your training and supplement attack based. If you want to signup, just choose option E via the following link: https://gertlouw.com/contact-me

Now, everyone…happy training!

Cheers

Gert Louw

Gert Louw REACH FOR THE STARS small


Cheat and still win with your diet!

Click here to view video “CHEAT & STILL WIN WITH YOUR DIET

Now this is probably what everyone wants to hear – lol! BUT, the truth is, there are methods to cheat and still get to the top!

Life is not meant to be without a dessert once on a while…and I am talking Baked Chocolate Fondant with oozing real sweet chocolate out if it’s center with ice cream (real ! ice cream) liberally used. The same goes for the odd glass of wine/whiskey or beer or whatever blows your skirt up, even a chocolate!

A certain balance needs to be applied to stay sane with anything in life. I’ve just done a 3 weeks severe cutting diet, sticking 100% to it…and, it’s was hell! The more you are going to disallow yourself a treat once in a while, the bigger the chance that your diet will fail completely in the end. You would just say…”I had enough”. And you know what? I have big compassion for that…so let’s have a look here how (!) you can cheat regularly without crashing your diet and keep yourself sane and focused to stick 98% to your diet.

Sundays to Fridays – sorry that (!) is where you stick 100% to your diet.

Get yourself some sugarless, carb less, fat free sweets. Do some searching and buy those that have as little calories as possible…like below 10! Then during the Sunday to Friday period…pop a few (3-4) of those during the day when you feel the urge to treat yourself a bit. Apart from that – nothing else.

The key is always to eat all your regular meals and drink all your water (2L-4L)…THAT is what keeps you full and keep the urges to eat wrong away.

Obviously, if you are at your target body fat then some different rules apply. Then you are allowed 2 -3 cheats evenly spaced out during the week. But for this documents purpose, let’s assume we are dealing with all those that are still far from the target body fat levels.

Your cheat should be left for a weekend day…when you are less stressed, more relaxed and doing something you like. This cheat will go to great lengths to make you not feeling deprived of some great things and food in life. Even if you don’t feel like a cheat, maybe it is a good idea…simply to help you stay balanced and not feeling deprived later on in the week.

Gert Louw LEGS CB

Now, “HOW?” should you cheat?

There can only be one cheat and that cheat can only be once per day per week on just 1 day of the week!

First you eat the diet as normal for that day as specified.

Let’s look at the next cheat scenario’s:

1.       Ice Cream cheat / Soft drink / dessert cheat / potato crisps – once anytime during day. Then for 2 of your meals for the day cut out carbs completely. One small meals carbs and one larger meals carbs.

2.       Chocolate cheat 150g – anytime during day. The same as above:  For 2 of your meals for the day cut out carbs completely. One small meals carbs and one larger meals carbs.

3.       Alcohol cheat (500ml equivalent wine) – anytime during day. Usually late afternoon or evening you will use this cheat. So for the evening meal cut out carbs completely and ONLY clean fatless meat and salad…no sauces, no carbs, nothing else! And definitely no dessert. If you want dessert, then no wine! One or the other… [Note: be very careful with alcohol. It is the key reason why men, especially older men, struggle to loose fat around the tummy and have a bloated look to the tummy. Best is to cut alcohol COMPLETELY out and have other types of cheats.]

 

Remember that with any of the above cheats it will set you back 24 to 48 hours before your body reverted to the level before you cheated and only then will it be able to start losing fat again. So even though you have cheated it is STILL very much possible to loose fat for the week, but only within above rules.

 

I strongly believe that the only winning approach is a balanced approach. That keeps you focused and you feel like “life” is not deprived of you. Part of this balance is to cheat on a weekly basis with your diet by applying above wisdom!

 

Wish you all happy dieting and a great training week!
Gert Louw

http://www.gertlouw.com

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Click here to watch video “How to get a winning mindset for a WOW transformation?”

Nearly all of us have this dream to be the best we can be. Too have a great, ripped, muscled physique that impresses and exudes health, wealth and happiness. We seemed to have been programmed with this urge and I believe that to be true…we are created in the image of God.

But back to reality, life is difficult. Work, school, studying, marriage, family, kids, meetings and a rat race trying to stay ahead and on top.

I have a blueprint transformation system developed to create the environment for growth and fat loss…have a look here:  https://gertlouw.com/my-transformation-secrets/

We easily make decisions at the beginning of a new year or after being inspired by someone to reach for that dream body we so much want.

And sure, that is the first and most important step each of us have to take on the road to success BUT, and this is a very big BUT, 99% of those taking this first step have not acquired and mastered the mindset that needs to be in place to push through to reach goal and beyond.

Gert Louw AGULHAS

Let’s look at important aspects of this mindset that must be in place before the journey starts:

 

IT WILL HURT

Do not think for one moment reaching a dream body is without pain. LIFE IS PAIN! You will never ever be in a situation where you will not experience some form of physical or emotional/other pain. Being alive, means that you WILL experience pain. The whole idea is to minimize, control and use this pain to your advantage. To reach your dream physique you will be working out intensely. This will cause muscle pain and resultant muscle growth. Learn to LOVE this pain…this is a signal that you are stimulating your body for growth. There might be injury on your path. This is part of any sport environment. Learn to work around it and do NOT let it derail your efforts. For example: When you have a knee injury, nothing stops you from concentrating on the upper body workouts until it is healed. Even with back injuries under guidance you can still workout safely.

 

IT WILL TAKE TIME

The Hollywood and Western Culture has programmed us to want immediate results and satisfaction. Get that out of your mind very quickly. That is the single biggest reason why people do not push through. We want it and we want it now and if it does not happen within a month or two then why bother. I got one thing to tell you – “NOTHING, BUT NOTHING IN LIFE THAT IS REALLY WORTH IT COMES EASY.” Accept that. A dream body is not designed in months , not even in years for some. It took me 11 years to get to the best shape of my life. Month after month there are small differences and they add up to significant differences on yearly basis and wow differences every few years. You cannot get to the top of a ladder without climbing the steps…only by going up step by step do you get to the top. Sure there are shortcuts people try to take but nothing this side of anabolic steroids can and ever will produce magic results (even with anabolics it takes time and a very focused approach and is NOT an overnight process!). Do NOT believe marketing advertising of supplements. 99% of what is printed and claimed is complete and utter lies.

 

IT WILL REQUIRE DEDICATION

There is no easy way to say this…You will need to be at gym 4-5 days a week, you will need to motivate yourself for intense workouts (and learn to love it!), you will need to make extreme effort with your diet preparing the food the day before, you will need to have 100% dedication to your supplement regime. This is what it will take.

 

YOU WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFESTYLE

Right now you are probably hanging out with your mates every evening. In future you will have to cut social time to the bare minimum. Your time and focus will now be in a new environment. You need to brace yourself for a total lifestyle change – friends, socializing, eating habits, time spend and more.

Having family requirements make it more challenging but not impossible. In fact your life partner and kids will see the changes and your dedication and that will instill in them even greater respect for you. You will lead now by example and what you are showing them is the best possible example a father can show to his children…that if you want something badly in life, you have to put in the effort and dedication to get there, you will show them everything worth something in life comes with great effort and dedication.

Many people also ask me how I bring my faith in Jesus and my fitness lifestyle together. They see a good looking shredded, muscled guy and struggle to bring faith and this lifestyle in the same environment. I find it very easy and actually find that my dedication to the fitness lifestyle brings me closer to God because it teaches me dedication and discipline. For me Jesus Christ is in the center of everything I do. I never cut Him out of anything and I am not shy to give Him the credit for what I’ve reached. Even before I sometimes do a heavy set…I will quickly close my eyes for strength from my Lord. I don’t care what people say or think around me…I am not doing this for them…I am doing this for me.

 

THERE WILL BE TEMPTATION

Be under no misconception…there will be many reasons for giving up. This is the exact reason why so few reach success. You will be hungry, you will miss out on drink dates with friends, you might even have to change friends, your body will ache and pain and there will be days that you feel drained and without focus. Those are the days that you just have to PUSH THROUGH and JUST DO IT. Just get yourself to gym and just do what you need to do. Steer clear from foods that tempt you. Do NOT keep those foods in your house. Temptation is what will separate the men from the boys.

Never use work-pressure or deadlines as an excuse. You HAVE to find your solutions around that. If it means early morning or late evening training, so be it. NEVER use the excuse “but I cannot stick to the meals because I do not have time at work to eat.” It takes you 2 min to pour water in a shaker, put in the protein powder and shake and drink it…2 minutes, nothing more!

This especially is one of the key areas where I found my faith helps me a lot to stay focused.

 

The above is just some of the key areas for the right mindset, but I believe these are the most important.

Master them and you WILL reach success.

Success is within each of us but so is failure as well.

You have been given the ability to reach to the stars and be everything God ever meant you to be…DO NOT LET THIS WONDERFULL GIFT PASS YOU BY.

 

I wish you success on your journey.

Be blessed

Gert Louw

TRANSFORMATION COACHING – more info here:  https://gertlouw.com/contact-me/

Gert Louw COACHING


99.99% of women will tell you “I don’t want to build muscles, just lose fat and tone”.

Now guys, keep on reading, this is going to come back to you!

When I even mention the words “weight training” to women they freak! They immediately conjure up the images that the media has brainwashed us to think of how women look that do weight training.

c7e6de87160f81c7_mornign-exercise.preview

If a woman does serious weight training naturally (without anabolic steroids) then the female hormone, estrogen, can and will never give her the appearance of a male in terms of muscle shape and size. This will ONLY happen when she starts using testosterone (anabolic steroids) that provides her with an abundance of the male hormone and thus starts changing the shape and appearance of her body and muscles.

Those women who understand this have risen to incredible heights with fantastic feminine body shapes.

A woman must do the same exercises that a man performs to get her body to look great. That exercises is NOT cardio. It is intense weight training, covering systematically all muscle groups stimulating muscle growth.

Those interested in the program I’ve been following: available now fully customised (for women also) on all levels, just for you. Every little secret, every hard-earned practical fact, every scientific study that actually support the (very) few supplements between all the thousand ridiculous advertisement claims have been filtered en incorporated into one system that MAKES A DIFFERENCE click here: 

https://gertlouw.com/my-transformation-secrets/

When growth occurs in both men and women, THAT is when the body starts taking on incredible shape. Muscles are what gives the body shape NOT low body fat! You can have incredible low body fat and you will look terrible, especially naked. Muscles are the key in BOTH men and women to give that killer shape.

The female hormone (estrogen) will only allow a muscle growth within the confines of this hormone, which means more subtle, feminine shaped muscles.

The male hormone is a potent muscle-building hormone and will allow muscle to grow within the confines of this hormone which means bigger size and more manly shaped muscles.

Now regarding the guys, NONE of the top bodybuilder of today are natural. They can only achieve such great size by using anabolics and other substances.

The male hormone will limit growth for men to an athletic and aesthetic body with serious weight training. ONLY by using anabolic steroids and the likes can you grow pass this natural limit.

body-typesC

A = SHAPELESS BODY DUE TO VERY LOW MUSCLE MASS.

B = THE MAXIMUM MUSCLE DEVELOPMENT THAT CAN BE REACHED FOR FEMALES AND MALES NATURALLY (WITHOUT ANABOLIC STEROIDS).

C = THE LEVELS REACHED WHEN MALES AND FEMALES USE ANABOLIC STEROIDS AND OTHER SUBSTANCES.

This clearly indicates the incredible effect, natural muscle development has on both the male and female body.

This is NOT called toning! This is called serious and intense resistance weight training. There is no other way for both men and women. To stimulate and build the muscles to achieve an awesome and incredible shaped physique.

So guys back to you! If any guy tells me he does not want to build muscles because he doesn’t want to look muscled, with respect, you have no idea what you are talking about. Muscles give shape to the body and muscle development in a natural environment only results in an incredible aesthetic physique.

If you tell me you want a shapeless body, then well, I understand but will still question your sanity!

So guys and girls…the point I am trying to get across is “DO NOT BE AFRAID TO DO SERIOUS RESISTANCE WEIGHT TRAINING – THAT IS THE ROAD TO AN AWESOME LOOKING PHYSIQUE AND THOSE THAT REALIZE THIS ARE IDOLIZED WHILE THE REST ARE JUST TREADING ALONG NEVER REACHING ANY SUCCESS.”

Click here to view video “Supplements that WORK”

Wish you all happy training

Cheers

Gert Louw


Click here to view video “Program for washboard abs in 90 days

 

How many times have you heard similar slogans and the only requirement was this or that supplement that will do the trick, or a simple exercise that is supposed to produce magic results.

In this article I will tell you how to get that coveted 6-pack in 90 days BUT one thing you need to understand, there is NO magic pill that will ever produce a 6-pack (not even anabolics can do it alone!) and there is no single exercise that on its’ own can give you a 6-pack.

You will see that I said, “90 days”. There is a very good reason why. 90 Days is a period in which the body can actually make a visible difference in muscle-building and fat loss with the necessary skill applied.

To get that coveted 6-pack you need to do two major things:

  1. Build the ab-muscles to increase in size (enlarge the peaks and valleys).
  2. Decrease the fat layer covering the abs while feeding the muscles for growth.

cutting

So let’s get down to business…

How do you build the muscle of the 6-pack in a 90 day period?

  • The abs (and calves) are of a different muscle fibre type that get stimulated for growth with more frequent training than the other muscles groups and also at a higher rep range per set.
  • For just about all the other muscles you will perform (for muscle growth) about 8 reps per set. For abs we are talking closer to 25 reps per set.
  • Other muscles will generally be trained once a week intensely. Abs can and for the purpose of this discussion must be trained up to 3 times a week intensely, typically Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
  • Forget about fancy moves, stick to proven fundamental exercises that build muscles. One word here – CRUNCHES! There is NO other ab exercise that stimulates the 6-pack growth like the crunch. Various forms of crunches exist, ie: exercise ball crunches, legs in air crunches, crunch bench, etc…

 

About CRUNCHES 

The purpose of a crunch is to contract the muscles of the abs really intensely. When performing any type of crunch, you need to lift the shoulders and upper body just slightly and crunch with the abs. You need to focus the abs so hard at the crunch that you feel pain. If the abs do not start paining after a couple of reps you are NOT doing the crunch correctly. Very few exercises deliver the intense pain the crunch delivers and 99% of people do it wrong because they don’t like the pain. A saying from one of my favorite movies is: “Life is pain princess. Anyone tells you differently, well they are lying.” So suck it up and do it. If you really want that 6-pack you will learn to LOVE that pain!

Here follows your plan of attack for growing the ab muscles:

 

upper-body-crunchesimagesimages (1)exercise ball ab crunches

 

The above is all different versions of the crunch. The crunch focuses on the ab area but not the obliques.

To get the obliques to stand out it is usually just a matter of putting in a slight twist with the crunch, alternating between the two sides.

A dedicated oblique exercise is the following – RUSSIAN TWIST:

ath_todd_duffee_medicine_oblique

This can be done with a medicine ball or holding a weight. However when this move is performed your technique must be perfect or you can hurt your back. Keep the abs contracted and stop the move with your abs and core and not the back or other muscles.

The last ab exercise of note that works the ab to the core and WILL make the abs ache for at least two days is LEG THROWS, yep, good old-fashioned leg throws. Your training partner must throw the legs straight down with force and to either side without you knowing where he is going to throw it.You are not allowed to touch the ground. (If you don’t have training partner, try and find someone to help you with this, I consider it an important aspect of developing impressive abs.)

leg throws

These are the three types of ab exercises to stimulate growth.

Your training must be as follows – Monday, Wednesday and Friday you must do an ab session consisting of:

  • 4 sets of 25 reps of CRUNCHES (any form of crunch)
  • 4 sets of 50 reps LEG THROWS.
  • 3 sets of 25 reps RUSSIAN TWIST with weight.
  • 3 sets of 25 reps of CRUNCHES (different variation)

 

You doing this consistently for a 90-day period and you WILL stimulate the abs for growth. But now come the even bigger part of the trick!

No matter how good you train and stimulate the abs for growth, if you do not feed the body now correctly NO GROWTH WILL OCCUR!

The Diet is critical for 2 reasons

  • To feed the muscles to grow (after they were stimulated for growth by the exercises).
  • To cut down the fat layer on the tummy. If the fat layer on the tummy is more than 12%, no matter how good those abs are, they will be covered by an invisible cloak!

 

Now, how do you cover the above two points? Well, I can refer you to a serious diet structure specialized for this kind of deliverable, but instead I am going to make it easy for you.

Stick to these basic simple diet rules and you WILL see results:

  1. You must eat 7 small meals per day – evenly spread out from point of waking to point of going to bed.
  2. Each meal must contain clean protein, low GI (Glycemic Index) carb and some veggies – generally fist size portions.
  3. You must drink a BCAA and L-Glutamine shake during training to prevent muscles going catabolic.
  4. You must drink a WHEY shake and L-glutamine with banana after training – immediately (replace one meal)
  5. You must get at least 3 tablespoons of salt free, sugar-free peanut butter in per day – this is critical to keep your hormone levels healthy!
  6. You must drink 4L (1.05 gallon) of water per day.
  7. Alcohol only once a week and not more than 500ml of wine (2/3 of a bottle). No carbs at meal when drinking alcohol.

 

As easy as that! 90 days later and that 6-pack will be rather impressive!

Regarding genetics – I’ve never met a person that was unable to increase muscle size by following growth principles (including right diet, etc…). The abs are like any muscle, when sufficiently stimulated they will grow if fed correctly!

Last point…

Although the above plan will deliver 6-pack results, that body is going to look all the more impressive with not just a 6-pack but broad strong shoulders, deep chest, muscled biceps, strong legs and a v-back. Make this an opportunity not just to get that 6-pack in 90 days but an impressive body from head to toe!

 

Interested in my online coaching? Here are the systems available: ONLINE COACHING

 

Wish you all happy training! Cheers

Gert Louw

www.gertlouw.com

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After many requests I finally made a video on my building phase training program. This is the program I follow to add maximum muscle mass.

No fancy stuff, hardcore and sticking to the basics with lots of compound moves.

  • I train only 4 days a week due to the heavy intensity lifting.
  • My Training days are Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday.
  • My rest days are Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays.
  • Before every training session I will do a 10 min warm-up with light weights.
  • EVERY SET MUST FINISH IN MUSCLE FAILURE ON THE LAST REP OF THE SET – key to growth!

Cardio? Well what you must accept is that cardio is a MUSCLE KILLER!
Your muscle size will be directly equivalent to the amount of cardio you do. More cardio = smaller muscles no matter how good you train or diet.

So in the building phase I severely limit cardio (in fact I am not doing any!).

My body-fat levels are solely determined by my building phase diet: https://gertlouw.com/2014/10/27/muscle-building-phase-sample-diets/

My weight is 90.3kg right now and at 1.75m tall that is a lot of muscle and my heaviest ever, so I am moving into new territory…nice!

 

Here follows the video I did – hope u enjoy and maybe learn something…

Click on the following link to view video: “Training program for MAX muscle growth”

 

Wish you guys much growth!

Gert

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Getting calves and abs to GROW!

ab_muscles anatomy-calf

Probably the two hardiest muscle groups for most people to train and grow is the calves (well, legs for that matter) and the abs.

Sure there are some genetic gifted lads out there that just blow up by looking at a protein shake but for us average folks it sometimes is close to impossible to get hose two muscle groups to grow and respond effectively with training.

And then you get these over 40 dads climbing up on the treadmills and their calves are the size of my waist. I am not joking here…it is ridiculous. Maybe it is something to do with why South Africans are so good in Rugby? Well, I am Afrikaans and a South African but I sortoff missed that gene…! I’ll go and talk to my mom and dad!

chris-dickerson-calves massive-calves

But for us average folk, there is a good reason why calves and abs don’t respond the same as other muscle groups to training.

The two muscles you use more than any other muscle in your body is the calves and the abs.

For just about everything you do, these 2 muscle groups are active and busy working while all the other muscles groups only get used infrequently as when needed.

What it boils down to is that calves and abs specifically have a type of muscle makeup that respond to different type of training type and frequency than all other muscle groups.

Because they get use so often, you have to train them in a fashion that they will understand.

The key here is “frequently”.

lower-abs_2 bodybuilder-abs734488_474407839273067_2086405842_nBoth these groups need to be trained 2-3 times a week. And they must be trained HARD. Hitting them with a higher frequency than once a week is just about the only way that most of us is going to get a decent growth response from calves and abs. You don’t have to do too many sets and exercises but at least 2 x 3 sets of 2 different exercises.

Burnouts is a good idea because it is a “language” calves and abs will understand. With burnouts you will start at the heaviest weight and do about 8 reps, then without resting lower the weight one step and do as many reps to failure. Continue with this until you can only squeeze out 2 reps. It hurts like hell but is great for growth stimulation for calves and abs.

All the other muscles groups should be trained only once a week at high intensity.

Training other muscle groups more than once a week is moving very close to overtraining, which will mean a decrease in muscle size as well as feeling exhausted the whole time.

Slot calves and abs in once a week before a training session and once a week after a training session and on the last day of training do them on their own.

calves 2

Many guys struggling with calves and abs had good success with such an attack.

Obviously all the other factors needs to be in place: eating for muscle growth, resting well enough and train wisely.

Wish u MUCH success!

transformation legs II

 

For those that want to know more, here is a much more technical article from [www.bodyrecomposition.com] about how to train calves:

Calf Anatomy and Fiber Typing

The muscle group called the calves actually include several muscles although most only focus on two: the gastrocnemius and the soleus.  The primary function of these muscles is to act as plantarflexors (pointing the toe) although the gastroc also has very weak knee flexion activity (which is why some people will catch calf cramps on leg curl type movements).

This is also why doing calf work with the knee bent (e.g. seated calf raise) tends to work the soleus preferentially, since the gastroc crosses the knee, if the knee is bent, the gastroc can’t contribute as significantly to force output.  Put differently, if you do a straight legged calf movement, both the gastroc and soleus get trained, if you do bent-knee work, only the soleus really works.

Anatomically, the soleus essentially lies ‘underneath’ the gastroc but both give the calf its distinctive diamond like shape (when developed).   As I sort of alluded to above, the soleus doesn’t cross the knee, the gastroc does (why it can function as a weak knee flexor).

Many people seem to still think that the calf is a primarily slow twitch muscle but this is incorrect.  The gastroc is actually a fast twitch muscle and is involved in explosive type movements.  This is actually part of what is colloquially referred to as Black Man’s Calf Syndrome.

Black bodybuilders have commonly been completely unable to develop calves and the function of the calves is part of why.  High/short calves are excellent for jumping and sprinting but have little potential for growth, they are simply too short.  Black bodybuilders (or white bodybuilders for that matter) who have a short/high gastroc with a long tendon will make fantastic jumpers and sprinters; but great calves they will never have.

In any case, the soleus is predominantly a slow twitch muscle as it is more involved in overall stability (what rehab types often call a tonic muscle) of the ankle complex.  The difference in fiber type between the gastroc and soleus has implications for training that I’ll get to at the end.

I really should note another issue with the calves and that has to do with the very tiny lever arm of the achilles tendon relative to the ankle (the axis of rotation).  Because of the specific anatomy of the calves, a rather small muscle can actually generate a massive force (technically: torque) around the ankle.  This is one reason that many people can use such absolute massive amounts of weight on calf work (in addition to something I’m going to talk about below).

draft_lens19333238module158197748photo_1333542428_

So Why are the Calves So Stubborn?

I haven’t honestly ever seen anything to suggest that the calves are genetically resistant or prone to muscle growth but there is one lesser well known biological fact about calves that contributes to the difficulty in making small calves into big cows (see what I did there?).

I’m assuming that everybody reading this knows or has heard of androgen receptors (AR).  The AR is what testosterone and related molecules bind to and one of the effects is to stimulate protein synthesis.  In men, there is a distinctive pattern of AR whereby there is a higher AR density in the upper body (especially the traps and shoulder girdle which is why steroid users tend to have their shoulders BLOW up when they take anabolics) decreasing as you move down the body.   If you think about it, this makes sense, since the typical wide shouldered v-shape is sort of the ideal ‘male’ physique, and we evolved like this for a reason.

By the time you get to the calves, the AR density is very low.  So even if you train the absolute hell out of them they simply don’t get the same training effect because testosterone can’t exert as much of an effect.  Even the legs of most men don’t have the same androgen receptor density as the upper body; yes, I’ve just given you guys an excuse for chicken leg syndrome.

On this note, my friend and altogether too smart guy Bryan Haycock once hypothesized to me that he thought that modern bodybuilders had better legs and calves than guys of old due to their essentially year round anabolic use.  By constantly bombarding even the low AR number of the legs and calves with constant dosing (not to mention that studies show that steroids actually upregulate the AR number), he felt that this contributes to better leg size (compare for example, the size of Lee Haney’s legs to that of Arnold in his prime, despite all that squatting with logs, Arnold had proportionally smaller legs compared to his upper body).

In any case, this is a big part of the reason that the calves are so hard to develop.  I’d note, and this is purely an empirical observation on my part, that some people seem to have somewhat reversed patterns whereby AR density seems to be higher in the lower body and lesser in the upper body.  These folks develop legs easily but the upper body never seems to catch up.  Women, especially those carrying more weight seem to have this happen but I’ve seen it in men too.  Again, no research on this, just an observation over the years.

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What We can Learn from Kangaroos

There’s another aspect of calf function that most ignore but that I think contributes massively to most people’s complete inability to develop their calves.  Everyone reading this at some point been in the weight room and seen the absolute skinniest of folks bouncing enormous amounts of weight on calf exercises without appearing to be working very hard.  They couldn’t do this on any other exercise, did you ever wonder what was going on?

To understand what I’m going to explain, I need to talk about elastic tissue and how it stores and recoils energy.  Tissues like tendons are termed elastic tissue (meaning that they can stretch/deform and come back to normal afterwards), if you load them quickly (e.g. through a fast eccentric), they actually store energy which you can then get returned to you if you move quickly enough.  This is part of why it’s always easier to bench out of a bounce than with a pause (there are other reasons that aren’t relevant here).  So just remember that: elastic tissues can store energy and return it if you move quickly enough.

And that brings us to kangaroos.  Ever seen a kangaroo hop, ever notice how bouncy they are?  As it turns out, when kangaroos hop for distance, they do it in a very certain frequency.  And research has shown that this frequency allows them to load the tendon on the back of their leg to get a massive amount of elastic recoil; this allows them to keep going and going without using much muscular energy.  It’s massively efficient because tendons don’t really get tired.

Do you see where I’m going with this yet?  The human achilles tendon, the elastic tissue connective the calves to the bottom of the foot works similarly (not to nearly the magnitude of the kangaroo mind you).  This is an adaptation for human locomotion, when you walk and the shin moves forwards, it loads the achilles which gives you a bit of energy return, it saves energy for walking and running

Quite in fact, running shoes have tried to build mechanical versions of this, spring type cushions in the heel of shoes that return energy when you run so that less muscular energy is required.

What do you think is happening when people do bouncy bouncy calf work?  That’s right, they are basically using the elastic energy return potential of their calves to move enormous amounts of weight without performing much muscular work; and since the combination of tension and work is what stimulates growth…biology isn’t the only reason most people’s calves don’t grow.  Most people just train them terribly.

I honestly think this is where the idea of doing massively high reps on calves came from: when you bounce, you use such a tiny amount of muscular effort with each rep, that you have to do hundreds of reps to get the muscle to feel anything at all.

Of course, there’s a much easier solution; you’ve probably guessed what it is but this brings me to the next section: how to train the calves.

How to Train the Calves

First, let’s sum up what I’ve covered:

  • The gastroc is primarily a fast-twitch muscle
  • The soleus is primarily a slow-twitch muscle
  • If you do calf work with straight legs, you work both the gastroc and soleus
  • If you do calf work with bent legs, you work only the soleus
  • When you bounce, the achilles tendon does much, if not most of the work and the calf does little

I didn’t mention the androgen receptor density thing because, short of taking steroids year round, there’s nothing you can do to control that.  But with proper training, we can take all of the above into account.

First, here’s my standard go-to calf routine.

A straight legged calf exercise: 5 sets of 5 done in the following fashion.

From a dead 2 second pause, explode up, squeeze for 1 second at the top, 3 second eccentric (for tempo freaks, this would be written X/1/3/2: explosive concentric, 1 second squeeze at the top, 3 second negative, 2 second pause at the bottom).  Take 3 minutes between sets and GO HEAVY.   When you get all 5 sets of 5, add weight at the next workout.  The gastroc is fast twitch, it responds to heavy loads.  The explosive concentric out of the pause will maximize tension, the squeeze makes sure that you’re controlling the weight, the slow eccentric is critical for growth.  Note: be careful on the pause, don’t overstretch the calves or you can give yourself plantar fascitis.  But don’t cut range of motion either.  You want some stretch on the calves, don’t try to drop your heels as far as possible.

Follow that up with:

A bent-knee calf raise: 3-4 sets of 8-10 done in the following fashion.

From a 2 second pause, take 2 seconds to squeeze the weight up, brief pause at the top, 2 second eccentric (so 2/1/2/2).  60-90 seconds rest and use as much weight as you can in good form, you may have to drop weight after each set due to fatigue.  Being slow-twitch, the soleus will respond to longer sets and more of a fatigue stimulus. This should hurt like hell.

Putting it a little more clearly:

  • Straight leg calf raise: 5X5/3′ rest on a X/1/3/2 tempo
  • Bent knee calf raise: 3-4X8-10/60-90″ rest on a 2/1/2/2 tempo.

That’s it, do the above twice per week (once every 5 days if you have poorer recovery) either as specialization or after legs.  Oh yeah, and you need to be gaining weight to grow calves (or any body part).  You’re not going to build muscle out of thin air and wishful thinking and if you’re not gaining weight while doing the above, you won’t grow anything.

Do the above for an 8 week cycle, take the first 2 weeks sub-maximally (you won’t be able to walk the first week if this is your first time dead pausing calf work) and then push the weights as much as you can (especially on the heavy sets).  After 8 weeks, drop the weight for 2 weeks and either hit it again or move on to something else.

I can’t guarantee that the above will turn your piddle calves into cows but compared to how 99% of people train calves, the above coupled with a slight caloric surplus can only help.

http://www.bodyrecomposition.com/muscle-gain/training-the-calves.html

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