Calves Are Genetic

I did not even know this was a plausible theory till one of my friends brought it up the other day.      I thought calves developed based on your calf muscles. The more exercise and physical activity you did with your legs, the more well developed and muscular looking your calves would become. This hypothesis has since proved to be false, as the genes from your parents play a critical role in the way your calves are presented.

According to this website, “calf growth is at least 90% genetic.” Your calves look the way they do because your mother or your father have similar characteristics. The author of this article gave the anecdote that his mother, father, and even his sister all have big calves similar to his from just sitting around the house and watching TV, while he was at the gym training them. This genetic cause is a direct correlation as to why it is hard for calves to change and get any bigger, like most body builders would desire. The author continues his anecdote with the fact that he tried multiple workouts in order to get those bigger calf muscles. “I tried a lot of things – rest-pause, heavy negatives, static holds, farmer walks on my toes, and what not. Guess what? Zero growth? The article goes on to explain that seeing a professional body builder with smaller calves than “your fat uncle” is not something out of the ordinary. Body builders wouldn’t ignore their lower legs. Most insert implants into their calves to make them look more proportionate to their thighs.

There is that small percentage of third variables that allow some individuals to get their calves to grow bigger. Guys with the larger calves have extremely long muscle bellies. In this instance, the muscle appears to attach so low that it almost reaches the heel. The Achilles tendon is also super short. These guys and girls have no problem exercising and seeing the results in their calf muscles. Their calf muscles can get bigger just from walking or engaging in basic exercises. Scientists concluded that, “the bigger the muscle the more potential it has to grow. You can’t change the number of fiber muscles, you can only make them bigger.”

Most professional sprinters and runners are known to generally have high calves and long Achilles tendons. This article explains that tendons are like rubber bands in comparison. They absorb that force while you run and return it, causing that motion of your calf muscle if you’ve ever seen someone walk or run. The longer the “rubber band” the more force it can produce.

Usain Bolt with high calf insertions.

Usain Bolt with high calf insertions.

If you research the most successful runners, most will have high calf insertions and small calves in general. Running coaches are said to scout for runners with high calf insertions because of the other body characteristics that come with it, like less body fat, longer legs, long glutes, and a lighter built with their body in general, which is important for professional runners. However, its these high calves that have a very small potential for musical growth and can take a very long time to build.

Sucks, but it seems like for the most part, the calves we were born with are the calves that are here to stay.