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Diamonds that are offered by the best jewelers are developed by millions of pounds of pressure and by a good deal of time. While the calf muscles have the potential to look like huge diamonds, it sometimes feels like great calf development takes a couple of millennium to develop. If your lower leg diamonds are a bit flat, you can build some nice peaks with standing barbell calf raises. This basic barbell exercise is not fancy, and it does not require any special machines, but it will selectively add muscle mass and greatly enhance the appearance and shape of your legs. In addition to looking great, well-developed calf muscles will help you jump higher or run a bit faster for all your activities.

Calf Structure and Function

The gastrocnemius muscle forms most of the diamond-like shape. The upper and middle regions of the medial gastrocnemius form the medial part of the diamond just below the knee. The lateral gastrocnemius forms the outer part of the diamond. The soleus muscle sits just below the gastrocnemius muscle and it is the final component to this diamond. The medial and lateral heads of the gastrocnemius muscle fuse together at a common attachment and attach to the heel bone (calcaneus) via a thick tendon (Achilles tendon).

The soleus muscle fibers create the lowest part of the calf diamond. Training the soleus muscle will also push the gastrocnemius away from the bones of the lower leg, and thereby enhance the shape of the calf. The soleus fibers are visible on either side of the Achilles tendon between the bottom edge of the gastrocnemius and the heel. Thus, to fully complete both upper and lower parts of the diamond, the medial and lateral heads of the gastrocnemius must be symmetrically developed.

The primary function of lateral and medial gastrocnemius muscles and the soleus muscle is to plantar flex the foot at the ankle joint (i.e., they raise the heel). Because both heads of the gastrocnemius muscle cross the knee joint they can assist in movements that flex the knee joint (e.g., lying leg curls for the hamstring muscles). However, these muscles are unable to exert maximal forces at the ankle joint and the knee joint simultaneously. If your wish is to maximally activate the gastrocnemius, your knee must be straight during heel (calf) raises. Straight knees will tighten this muscle and slightly stretched muscles will always contribute to force production more completely than muscles that are not tight and stretched. Standing barbell calf raises are among the oldest calf exercises but it is still among the best back-to-basics calf exercise that exists.

Standing Calf (Heel) Raise

1. Place an Olympic barbell on a squat rack and load it with a weight that is similar to the weight you use for barbell squats.

2. Place a six-inch block near the front of the squat rack. This block should be about 4-6 inches wide to provide an adequate base. Make sure that the surface of the block and the soles of your shoes are not too smooth or slippery.

3. Place the bar across the upper trapezius above your shoulders, as if you were setting up to do a barbell squat. You can wrap the bar with a towel if you wish.

4. Take two steps forward from the rack and step up on the block with both feet.

5. Position the balls of both feet (not your heels) on the foot block about shoulder-width part and straighten your knees. The weight should be transferred directly down your spine, but do not let your buttocks extend backward.

6. Rise up on your toes as high as possible, and hold this position for at least 1 second. The higher you can lift your heels, the better.

7. Lower your heels and make an attempt to touch them to the floor (which should be impossible, otherwise the block is not high enough). You may need to lean a bit forward to keep your balance as you lower your heels, but be careful to control your body so that you don’t lean too far. Make the stretch slow and deliberate and hold the stretch for 2 to 3 seconds at the bottom position.

8. Continue to the next rep and rise as high as possible, but make sure the knees do not bend on the upward movement.

Pointing the toes straight ahead will activate both heads of the gastrocnemius about equally; however, if you tend to roll to one side or the other when you go up on your toes, the side you roll to will achieve the preferential work (because it shortens the most). Try to completely get up on the balls of your feet on each rep at least on the first part of your set.

Once your calves become fatigued and you cannot complete another rep, you can squeeze out a couple of more reps by flexing your knees and then quickly straightening them on the way up. This will help to boost the weight up a little more for these final two “cheat” reps of your last set or two. Another approach to push fatigued calves a bit further is to complete 4-5 partial reps once you are unable to complete a full rep. Simply go up as high as you can, hold this for a second, and then drop as low as you can to get a super stretch.

You will find a huge difference in your calf shape in only a few months, but, just like real diamonds, it will take several more months of hard work to get them to impeccable condition. Even if your calves are not the polished gems at the moment, you will soon be sending your baggy track pants to Goodwill and showing off your lower-legged new diamonds.


Ciolac EG, Garcez-Leme LE and Greve JM. Resistance exercise intensity progression in older men. Int J Sports Med, 31: 433-438, 2010.

Ekblom MM. Improvements in dynamic plantar flexor strength after resistance training are associated with increased voluntary activation and V-to-M ratio. J Appl Physiol, 109: 19-26, 2010.

Hebert-Losier K, Newsham-West RJ, Schneiders AG and Sullivan SJ. Raising the standards of the calf-raise test: a systematic review. J Sci Med Sport, 12: 594-602, 2009.

Hebert-Losier K, Schneiders AG, Newsham-West RJ and Sullivan SJ. Scientific bases and clinical utilisation of the calf-raise test. Phys Ther Sport, 10: 142-149, 2009.

Moore, KL and AF Dalley. Clinically-oriented Anatomy, Fourth edition. Baltimore, Lippincott Williams & Williams, 571-592, 1999.

Riemann BL, Limbaugh GK, Eitner JD and Lefavi RG. Medial and Lateral Gastrocnemius Activation Differences During Heel-Raise Exercise with Three Different Foot Positions. J Strength Cond Res, 24:2309-2314, 2010.

Young W, Elias G and Power J. Effects of static stretching volume and intensity on plantar flexor explosive force production and range of motion. J Sports Med Phys Fitness, 46: 403-411, 2006.

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By: Stephen E. Alway, Ph.D., FACSM
Title: How to Get Bigger Calves
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Published Date: Tue, 20 Jul 2021 14:31:53 +0000




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Ripped Leg Blast for Carved Thighs



Powerful and thick thighs require gut-busting exercises like squats and leg presses. However, once you have acquired adequate thigh mass and strength, you should consider adding some balance and sharpness to the muscle bellies in your thighs. Although tough to accomplish, leg extensions provide a great way to carve the separations between the muscle bellies, and to accentuate the “teardrop” shape of the four quadriceps muscles of the anterior thigh.

Active Muscles in Leg Extensions

The three vasti muscles comprise most of the anterior thigh.1 The vastus medialis covers the medial (inner) part of the femur bone (thigh bone). When it is well developed, it forms a teardrop-like shape over the medial side of the knee joint. The vastus lateralis muscle attaches to the lateral (outer) part of the femur bone. The vastus intermedius connects to the femur bone between the vastus lateralis and the vastus medialis muscles. The fibers of all three vasti muscles come together at the quadriceps tendon, which crosses the patella (kneecap) to attach to the tibia bone just below the knee.1

Together, the three vasti muscles extend the leg at the knee joint, although the vastus intermedius may be more fatigue resistant than the vastus lateralis.2 The vastus medialis oblique (VMO), which is a small part of the vastus medialis muscle, attaches to the medial part of the patella. It is thought to help the patella track properly during movement of the knee. Improper tracking can increase the likelihood for knee injury.

The vastus medialis and especially the VMO part of this muscle are primarily responsible for tibial rotation (rotation of the tibia bone of the lower leg on the femur) during knee extension. This rotation or “twist” has been shown to increase the activation of the VMO portion of the vastus lateralis even more than doing knee extensions with the hip adducted (thigh rotated so that the medial portion of the knee is facing mostly upwards).3 Dorsiflexion of the foot (moving the ankles so the toes are pointing towards your head) also increases the activation of the VMO by more than 20 percent.4 Likely this is because the dorsiflexor muscles stabilize the tibia during knee flexion and resist rotation of the tibia on the femur as the knee straightens.

The fourth muscle of the quadriceps group is the rectus femoris muscle. It attaches to the anterior part of the hip bone just above the hip joint.1 The largest bulk of the muscle fibers are located on the upper three-quarters of the thigh, whereas the largest belly of the vastus medialis and vastus lateralis are more inferior (i.e., closer to the knee). The distal end of the rectus femoris muscle becomes tendinous and it creates a deep valley between the lateral and medial vastus muscles as it approaches the knee.1 It assists the other quadriceps muscles by extending the leg at the knee joint, although it is less effective when the hip is flexed than if it is straight.

Leg Extensions

The three vastus muscles of the anterior thigh are strongly activated by single-leg knee extensions. The rectus femoris is not activated as strongly, but it does undergo some overload when the anterior thigh is under contractile effort, about halfway up to the top of each repetition.

1. You should always warm up your knees with some stationary cycling prior to getting into leg extensions. Furthermore, the resistance on your first set should be fairly light to allow the joint to fully warm up before you get to the heavier stuff.

2. Adjust the knee extension machine so that the pivot point of the lifting arm is directly adjacent to the center of the side of your knee joint.

3. Position the ankle roller/leg pad over the lower part of the leg (above the ankle joint).

4. Take about three seconds to slowly extend (straighten) both leg so that the weight is lifted upward from the stack.

5. Continue upwards until the tibia and the femur bones form a straight line and the knee angle is straight. Hold this for two seconds at the top.

6. Slowly lower the weight (about four seconds down) towards the starting position. Once the knee has reached 90 degrees, start the upwards extension phase again. Continue for 12-15 repetitions for the first set. Lower the number of repetitions but increase the resistance for subsequent sets.

7. On the next sets, lift the weight upwards until the knee joint becomes almost straight, but just slightly short of a total knee lockout. Be careful that you do not “jam” the knee joint into a fully locked out position, because this could cause knee cartilage damage5, especially with heavy weights. Hold the top position for a count of three before lowering the weight.

8. Lower the weight slowly (four to five seconds) towards the starting position where your knee is flexed to 90 degrees. Just before the weight stack contacts the remaining plates at the bottom, start lifting it upward for the next repetition.

The downward movement should be slower than the upward phase because you are resisting the pull of gravity. The slow lowering of the weight stretches the muscle under a resistance and this is a great stimulus to improve muscle shape and size.6

Make sure that you do not hold your breath during the lift upwards.7 Rather take a breath at the bottom (start) of the lift, and exhale as you extend the knees/legs. Take another breath at the top and slowly exhale as the weight is lowered. Take another breath at the bottom and repeat the sequence.

This is a mechanically simply exercise, but it really can be very challenging and blood depriving8,9, especially if you try to control the weight as it is moving up and down. However, if you are willing to work through some discomfort, you will be soon enjoying your new shape and slabs of carved thighs.

GettyImages 674163248 600


1. Moore K.L. Clinically Orientated Anatomy. Third Edition. Williams & Willkins, Baltimore, 1995; pp 373-500.

2. Watanabe K, Akima H. Neuromuscular activation of vastus intermedius muscle during fatiguing exercise. J Electromyogr Kinesiol 2010;20:661-666.

3. Stoutenberg M, Pluchino AP, Ma F et al. The impact of foot position on electromyographical activity of the superficial quadriceps muscles during leg extension. J Strength Cond Res 2005;19:931-938.

4. Coburn JW, Housh TJ, Cramer JT et al. Mechanomyographic and electromyographic responses of the vastus medialis muscle during isometric and concentric muscle actions. J Strength Cond Res 2005; 19:412-420.

5. Senter C, Hame SL. Biomechanical analysis of tibial torque and knee flexion angle: implications for understanding knee injury. Sports Med 2006;36:635-641.

6. Alway SE, Winchester PK, Davis ME et al. Regionalized adaptations and muscle fiber proliferation in stretch- induced enlargement. J Appl Physiol 1989;66:771-781.

7. Garber CE, Blissmer B, Deschenes MR et al. American College of Sports Medicine position stand. Quantity and quality of exercise for developing and maintaining cardiorespiratory, musculoskeletal, and neuromotor fitness in apparently healthy adults: guidance for prescribing exercise. Med Sci Sports Exerc 2011;43:1334-1359.

8. Denis R, Bringard A, Perrey S. Vastus lateralis oxygenation dynamics during maximal fatiguing concentric and eccentric isokinetic muscle actions. J Electromyogr Kinesiol 2011;21:276-282.

9. Ueda C, Kagaya A. Muscle reoxygenation difference between superficial and deep regions of the muscles during static knee extension. Adv Exp Med Biol 2010;662:329-334.

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By: Stephen E. Alway, Ph.D., FACSM
Title: Ripped Leg Blast for Carved Thighs
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Published Date: Mon, 25 Jul 2022 19:11:16 +0000

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PRIMAL Preworkout



Training hard and intensely is the only way to train – you can’t step into the gym in low gear or
asleep at the switch and expect results. To get the most out of every training session with no
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your limits and that’s what Animal’s PRIMAL Preworkout delivers.

A Better Pump

PRIMAL is Animal’s most comprehensive pre-workout supplement ever, and is scientifically
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helps increase exercise capacity and endurance and helps optimize vascular endothelial function,
aka vascularity.†

Other key benefits of PRIMAL come from four scientifically formulated blends that work in tandem
to deliver the ultimate pre-workout:

• Endurance & Performance Complex so you can train longer and harder. Beta-alanine,
betaine and taurine are combined as a powerful endurance trio†. Beta-alanine is a vital ingredient
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powered by a combination of tried-and-true caffeine, along with an herbal complex of green tea,
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which helps the production of citrate synthase, an important enzyme that is responsible for
producing more ATP†.

How to Use PRIMAL
30 minutes prior to training, consume 2 rounded scoops (20.3g) with 8-12 oz of water or your
favorite beverage. Users that are sensitive to stimulants should start off with 1 rounded scoop
(10.1g) to assess tolerance.

PRIMAL Preworkout

• Enhances energy and endurance†
• Supports muscle hydration†
• Supports intense focus†
• Contains AstraGin ® to support nutrient uptake†
• Contains Senactiv ® which helps the production of citrate synthase, an important enzyme that is
responsible for producing more ATP†
• Absorption and nutrient enhancers
• Great tasting, easy to mix

PRIMAL is a pre-workout that will power your performance and enable you to crush it every time you train.

For additional information, visit
†These statements have not been evaluated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. This product is not
intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

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By: Team FitRx
Title: PRIMAL Preworkout
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Published Date: Thu, 21 Jul 2022 16:51:41 +0000

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