Monday, April 4, 2011

Developing Calves for Speed and Vertical Jump

The Triceps Surae (calves) consists of three muscles: the gastrocnemius medial head, the gastrocnemius lateral head, and the soleus.  Most experts believe that the gastrocnemius consists mostly of fast-twitch muscle fibers while the soleus is made up of mostly slow-twitch fibers.  Furthermore, evidence shows that knee flexion at 90 degrees or greater will shorten the gastrocnemius thus leaving the soleus as the primary mover during plantar flexion.

William Stern (1991) describes a workout that should develop your calves for speed and jumping ability.  Since they gastrocnemius is mostly fast-twitch fibers, the standing calf raise should be done quickly on the way up and slowly (up to 4 seconds) on the way down.  Select a weight that is heavy enough to perform between 8 to 12 reps.

The soleus muscle will get a more effective workout if your knee is bent and the exercise is performed slower.  Both the concentric and eccentric portions of the seated calf raise should last up to 4 seconds each.  Select a weight that will allow you to perform 15 to 20 reps.

As with most exercises, the most effective exercises will be conducted through a full range of motion.  Make sure that your calves reach a full stretch and a full contraction for each rep.  Also, pausing up to 5 seconds and the bottom and at the top of each movement will help in developing your calves.

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