How to build shapely calves when nothing else works

Here’s one for the bodybuilders. Well, not just the bodybuilders of course, but this is a group more focused on body proportion than most. And, for bodybuilders, calves seem to be one of their more frustrating and perplexing areas to build.

Why are calf muscles so stubborn?

Our calf muscles have worked hard all our lives. From the day we took the first step we have been exercising those muscles daily. They are already well developed, maybe even up to 80% of their maximum size, just from walking around. So, getting the last 20% is going to take hard training and even then, they may become stronger and more efficient but not much bigger. You can thank your genetics for this.

Genetics play a big part in the size of the calves to start with, and in the way muscle builds in response to weight training. So, if you have short muscle bellies and long tendons you may struggle to make any difference to your slim calf muscle no matter how much you train them. But don’t give up! There is plenty of advice for calf-focused exercise online to help you reach your natural “maximum” growth no matter what genetic group you belong to.

How to get bigger calves when all else fails

Fortunately, for those whose calves have reached their training plateau and refuse to grow anymore, there is another option. Calf augmentation. Silicone implants inserted into the lower leg to create a more defined muscular appearance. This procedure is very popular with bodybuilders, transforming those skinny lower limbs into shapely, balanced legs.

Are calf implants worth it?

Calf augmentation has a very high “worth-it” rating. The best thing is the results are immediately noticeable and scarring is well hidden behind the knee which should fade to barely visible at all in time. Calf implants are considered safe and complications are rare.

Where do I begin planning for calf implants?

Make an appointment with a reputable plastic surgeon that has experience with this procedure. Dr Mark van der Velde, is based in Cape Town and has a special interest in calf augmentation surgery.

During a consultation, he will examine your calves, assess your skin quality and measure your muscle compartments paying special attention to size and shape. There are several procedures and implant options that will be discussed here as well as what to expect as a realistic outcome.

Calf implant recovery and how long do they last?

Recovery from calf implant surgery can take up to 2 weeks during which you should stay off your feet as much as possible and elevate your legs. No running 4-6 weeks after surgery but after you have healed you can get back into your normal routine. Your implants should last 10 – 15 years at which time you can choose to replace or to remove them.

For more information about calf implants and other plastic surgery procedures visit our website:

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