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– Angle of the Toes

Different Foot Positioning During Calf Training to Induce Portion-Specific Gastrocnemius Muscle Hypertrophy – 2020 – Nunes
– 22 men performed a whole-body resistance training program 3x/wk for nine weeks, with differences in the exercise specific for calves
– Calf-raise exercise was performed unilaterally, in a pin-loaded seated horizontal leg-press machine, in 3 sets x 20-25 reps for training wks 1-3, and 4 sets for wks 4-9
Results – % change after training
Lateral Gastrocnemius: Toes Inward 8.9% . Toes Forward 6.3% . Toes Outward 5.3%
Medial Gastrocnemius: Toes Outward 8.0% . Toes Forward 6.0% . Toes Inward 5.0%



– Calf Raise (Plantar Flexion) vs. 45º Leg Press

Multi- and Single-Joint Resistance Exercises Promote Similar Plantar Flexor Activation in Resistance Trained Men – Gentil, Botarro – 2020
– ARTICLE: Plantar Flexor Activation in Multi- and Single-Joint Resistance Exercises .
– 22 trained men 3.6 ± 1.4 experience years who performed one set of each exercise using a 10-repetition maximum (10RM)
1. Calf Raise: standing position using a Hammer Strength machine; knees fully extended; ROM from full ankle extension to full flexion
2. Leg Press: Hip angle of 90º when knees were fully extended; movement went from full knee extension to 100º knee flexion.
– There were no significant differences between exercises for any muscle 
Lateral Gastrocnemius
: Calf Raise 50% . Leg Press 50%
Medial Gastrocnemius: Calf Raise 50% . Leg Press 50%
Soleus: Calf Raise 50% . Leg Press 50%


– 8 Exercises

Electromyographic Analysis of the Triceps Surae Muscle Complex During Achilles Tendon Rehabilitation Program Exercises – 2011 – Mullaney
– 20 healthy lower extremities (10 participants, 27 ± 5 yrs old)
– Muscle activity was recorded during 8 therapeutic exercises commonly used following an Achilles repair
– Maximal voluntary isometric contractions (MVICs) were also performed on an isokinetic device
– Each exercise was performed for 8 to 10 repetitions to the pace of a metronome to keep pace consistent (1.5 secs per cycle)
– medial head of the gastrocnemius
– lateral head of the gastrocnemius
– soleus

Exercises – MVIC
1. Hopping: single-leg jumps: 130%
2. Heel Raises: single-limb: 110%
3. Lateral Step-ups: 60% 
4. Walking: 48% 
5. Supine Plantarflexion with red TheraBand: 42%
6. Prone Ankle Pumps: 38%
7. Single-leg balance on wobble board: 22%
8. Seated Toe Raises: 9% 


– Plantar Flexion combined with Knee Extension

Simultaneous Knee Extensor Muscle Action Induces an Increase in Voluntary Force Generation of Plantar Flexor Muscles – 2016 – Suzuki
– We hypothesized that coactivation of the plantar flexor muscles and knee extensor muscles would result in a higher plantar flexion torque
– 8 male volunteers performed maximum voluntary isometric action of the plantar flexor muscles with and without isometric action of the knee extensor muscles
Medial Gastrocnemius: 98% to 111% 
Lateral Gastrocnemius: 106% to 138% 
Soleus: 115% to 133%
– The resultant plantar flexion torque also significantly increased by 11.5% of the predetermined maximum



Calves – Beardsley

#1. Training with light loads does not cause greater calf muscle growth

– It has been suggested that muscles that contain predominantly slow twitch muscle fibers might respond better to being trained with lighter loads, while muscles that contain predominantly fast twitch muscle fibers might respond better to being trained with heavier loads.
– Yet, recent research has shown that the predominantly slow twitch soleus muscle does not respond better to being trained with light loads than with moderate loads, and that the balanced gastrocnemius muscle similarly does not respond differently from being trained with either light or moderate loads

#2. The calf muscles are comparatively difficult to activate fully

– Some muscles are more difficult to activate fully than others (as assessed by reference to the gold standard method of voluntary activation).
– In general, there is a relationship between muscle size and voluntary activation levels, with larger muscles being much harder to activate fully than smaller ones.
The calf muscles are a moderately-large muscle group, and are therefore relatively difficult to activate fully.
– This is important, since the activation percentage of a muscle tells us how much of the muscle (by volume) can be trained during a maximal effort.
– When there is a large activation deficit, then a large amount of the muscle will not be trained even when training to failure.
Strength training programs can increase voluntary activation levelsTraining with heavy loads is the best way to improve voluntary activation.
Increased voluntary activation is an adaptation that tends not to dissipate very quickly after it has been achieved.
– Thus, it can be performed in one strength training block and remain in place during future strength training blocks, during a periodized training program.
– Some research involving the quadriceps (another muscle that displays very low levels of voluntary activation) has shown that when heavy loads are used in an initial strength training block, greater gains in muscle size are achieved in future strength training blocks that involve moderate loads.
– The same effects would likely be observed for the calf muscles.
– The ability to activate a muscle fully does depend somewhat on the exercise and the joint angles that are used. Even when they involve the same muscles, some exercises and joint angles make it easier to achieve higher levels of voluntary activation than others. In the case of the calf muscles, it is curious that the plantar flexors are easier to activate to a greater extent when knee extension is performed simultaneously with plantar-flexion, compared to when plantar-flexion is performed in isolation.


#3. Muscle length affects the relative activation of the gastrocnemius medialis and lateralis

– Certain exercises preferentially activate or develop one or other of the three calf muscles.
– The gastrocnemius lateralis is more strongly activated when peak force is produced at a long muscle length
– The gastrocnemius medialis is more strongly activated when peak force is produced at a short muscle length.
– Therefore, external resistance type can be altered so that the gastrocnemius lateralis is preferentially developed (by using weight as resistance in a calf raise exercise) or alternatively that the gastrocnemius medialis is preferentially developed (by using elastic resistance during a calf raise exercise).
– Weight causes peak forces to be applied at the start of the lifting (concentric) phase of an exercise; elastic resistance causes peak forces to be applied at the end of the lifting (concentric) phase of the same exercise.

#4. Hip rotation angle affects the relative activation of the gastrocnemius medialis and lateralis

– Hip rotation angle does directly affect proportional gastrocnemius lateralis and medialis hypertrophy.
– Training with the hip externally rotated (such that the foot is also pointing outwards), causes preferentially more gastrocnemius medialis hypertrophy
– Training with the hip internally rotated (such that the foot is also pointing inwards), causes preferentially more gastrocnemius lateralis hypertrophy

#5. The calf muscles recovery relatively quickly after exercise

– Although the quadriceps are the muscle group that is least susceptible to damage after exercise (contrary to popular belief), the calves are not far behind.
– Since they are relatively difficult to activate fully and also comprise a high proportion of slow twitch muscle fibers, they are very resistant to all kinds of fatigue, including muscle damage.

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