Everyone has that thing they always forget. Their password, where they parked their car, their date’s name (although we have slightly less sympathy for those people).
For lifters, it’s training forearms and calves.
Often cast to the side as an afterthought, with maybe a few half-hearted sets thrown in at the end of a workout, the forearms and calves are the forgotten few. The muscles every lifter knows are there, but continually neglects training. Just like that musty, moldy protein shaker buried at the bottom of your gym bag, you keep promising yourself you’ll do something about it, but you never do.
Smaller, isolated muscles like the forearms and calves are often neglected because they just don’t have the same allure and glamour as the powerful pecs and boulder shoulders we see adorning our Instagram feeds.
But when it comes to muscular symmetry, neglecting the little guys means you’ll wind up with muscular imbalances and asymmetry throughout your body, meaning you’ll never truly reach your peak physique, or conquer that comp you’ve been prepping for.
There’s no sense having sleeve-splitting biceps with forearms that could be mistaken for a string of uncooked spaghetti.
From a functional perspective, muscular imbalances can also increase the likelihood of injuries, as the stronger muscles overcompensate for the weaker ones, leading to plenty of irritating strains and sprains which keep you out of the gym.
So what’s the lowdown on these forgotten few, and why should we pay more attention to them?
While the forearms are often worked as a secondary muscle when we train back and biceps, it’s often not enough to stimulate growth. We need to hit the forearms, and in particular the brachioradialis, with targeted exercises. Not only is a pair of Kai Greene sized forearms aesthetically pleasing, but also offers massive gains in grip strength, which is beneficial for exercises like deadlifts, rows and pull ups.
We know, they’re the hardest place to gain mass! Most blame lack of calf definition on genetics, however the reality is most lifters aren’t giving their calves the attention they deserve. A stronger set of calves is beneficial for explosiveness through the legs as well as knee and ankle stability, not to mention they’ll captivate crowds in summer. When training calves, it’s important to do a balance of both seated and standing exercises, to recruit both the soleus and larger gastrocnemius muscles. Pro tip, do your calf exercises in a pair of Ryderwear D-Mak weightlifting shoes. The flat sole offers a barefoot feel, getting you closer to the ground for greater muscular recruitment.
So how can we turn the forgotten few into the stars of the show?
Watch Ryderwear athlete Jaco De Bruyn take you through a targeted calf and forearm workout below!
DB Hammer Curl: 3 x 10
DB Hammer Preacher Curl: 3 x 10
DB Forearm Curl Seated: 3 x 12
DB Forearm Curl Supinated: 3 x 15
Seated Calf Raise Toes In 3 x 15
Seated Calf Raise Toes Out 3 x 15
Leg Press Calf Raise 4 x 15
Standing Calf Raise 4 x 12
Level up your physique and try these exercises next time you’re in the gym!