Are calves just genetic? And how to still grow them?

When it comes to your muscles, there is only one change you can make: the muscle’s size. When it comes to the shape, insertion point, and other muscular traits, there is, unfortunately, nothing you can do.

Truthfully, this is the sad and depressing curse of genetics…

Got extremely rounded biceps? That’s genetics. Always had a rock-solid chest, again, genetics. However, while we cannot change the physical development of the muscles we are born with, we can certainly enhance them!

That being said, in this article, I’m going to go over a very troublesome muscle group. For many, this muscle may appear under-developed and this can be an incredible annoyance. I am, of course, talking about the calves and I’m going to teach you how to grow them! Let’s do this.

First things first…

Before I explain how to grow your calves, you must understand how genetics play a role in this. Firstly, keep in mind that everyone is different. In terms of muscular development, nobody has the same physique and this is perhaps a truly beautiful thing as it makes everyone unique.

Secondly, the physical appearance of your calves and any other muscle for that matter are dependant on several unchangeable factors such as muscle insertion points, joint/limb length, and the length and width of your muscle bellies.

Since this may sound confusing to some, it is simply easier to keep in mind that numerous genetic factors outline the appearance of your muscles. The only thing we can do to change the appearance of our muscles is to grow or shrink them.

Are your calves all genetics? Or can we do something?

As mentioned earlier, the appearance of your muscles all comes down to your limb length, joints, and muscle insertions. All of these are affected only by genetics. However, as I also previously stated, while we cannot change the physical development of our muscles, we can certainly alter the size of them!

So to answer the big question; are your calves all genetics? Yes and no. We might not be able to change the foundation of the calves but we can definitely grow them.

So, without further ado, let’s discuss how we can grow your calves!

How to grow your calves using calisthenics

To effectively grow any given muscle, you will need three things; a strong training stimulus, protein, and sleep. The training stimulus is what breaks down the muscle and forces it into a state of adaptation.

This state of muscular adaptation is enforced in the presence of both sleep and protein intake. When you effectively combine all three, you will have a muscle that gets broken down and then repaired into a bigger and stronger one.

Now that we have outlined the process of muscle growth, we can effectively put it into action with some great workouts!

3 great calf exercises

  1. Calf raises. Calf raises are the foundation for any calf workout. They involve the basic raising principle that most calf exercises include. To execute this exercise, place both feet together and press your legs together. From that point on, simply push yourself up with the balls of your feet until your heels are completely off the floor. Continue this motion until completion.
  2. Ledge calf raises. Over time, the standard calf raises will become ineffective in terms of muscle growth. This is because as the muscle grows and adapts, the muscle will no longer break down from the same continued amount of stress. This is where the ledge raises come in. To do this you will need to do the previous exercise listed whilst standing on a ledge. Ensure that the ledge is perfectly fitted across the center of both feet.
  3. Calf lunges. Another fantastic variation of the calf raises is the calf lunges. This movement involves the same motion as the first exercise listed but with a twist. The twist being the lunging motion! To execute this movement, you must complete the normal lunge exercise, and as you come to the end of every rep, with the front leg, complete the calf raise motion. 

There you have it, 3 excellent calf workouts.

See also: How to create a hard calisthenics leg workout

Try to ensure that each exercise is done with enough reps and set to break down the calf muscle. As mentioned earlier, this will help to ensure that the muscle is always able to grow bigger and stronger.

Why others may have bigger calves than you

If you’ve ever wondered why everyone around you seems to have bigger calves than you, you aren’t alone. More people ponder very similar thoughts than you might think and it is perfectly normal.

However, while it may be normal to have these thoughts, you certainly aren’t wrong…

There will, without a doubt, be people that naturally have bigger calves than you. It is not down to anything other than calf genetics. However, while this may be the answer to the question, it does not answer its biology.

Biologically speaking, if you appear to have smaller calves than the average person, it may be because you have poor muscle insertion points.

For those of you who don’t know, the muscle insertion point refers to where the tendon of that particular muscle connects to the bone. In terms of appearance, this matters greatly as it affects whether the muscle looks short and thick or long and thin.


After a read through this article, you will not only understand how to grow your calves but what separates a genetically small calf from a larger one. In addition, you will now understand just how big of a role genetics play in all of this. Specifically, the structure and appearance of the calf muscle itself. 

While genetics certainly play a huge role, as mentioned above, they do not control every determining factor…

Regardless of your genetics and how your calves may look, with the exercises listed above, you can very easily and quickly build up size and strength in your calves. Over time, you will forget ever being ashamed of your calves altogether