Fascial release and stretching will help build strong calf muscles.
Muscle growth is a key component of most exercise programs. While resistance training is very effective at increasing muscle growth, improved flexibility and mobility via stretching of the fascia will further facilitate muscle growth in the two muscles that comprise the calves, the gastrocnemius and soleus muscles. Like any other muscle, these two are covered by a fibrocollagenous tissue known as fascia, which when left alone can constrict muscle growth rather than aid it; facial stretching is key to achieving optimal training gains.
Prior to performing stretching or mobility work on the calf muscles, you should first practice some fascial release techniques. Start in a seated position on the floor, and place a tennis ball, lacrosse ball, or foam roller underneath your calf muscle. Roll your calf muscle down to the achilles tendon, making sure to pause on sore or tender areas to release tension in the fascia at that point. Perform five to 10 rolls for each leg.
After the fascia has been sufficiently released, practice some basic mobility drills including calf raises, donkey calf raises, or ankle eversion and inversion to stimulate different areas of the muscle. Proper mobility exercises will warm up the soft tissues and increase blood flow, enabling the muscle to stretch and grow to a greater extent than if it was cold. Spend five to 10 minutes each workout on mobility drills for the calf muscle to warm up the fascia and stimulate muscle growth.
Once you have sufficiently released the fascial tension in the calf muscle and performed a thorough warm-up, the muscle will be more apt to see improvement and growth from training. When training the calves, it is important to train both standing and seated calf raises to train both the gastrocnemius and soleus muscles. Be sure to complete a full range of motion from dorsiflexion to plantar flexion in both movements for optimal growth. Workouts vary but a standard calf training program can be three sets of 10 to 15 reps of each exercise.
Post-Workout Fascia Stretching
It is vital to perform fascial release and work on flexibility after a workout. Releasing the tension created in the workout will help stimulate the muscle to respond and grow. After a workout involving the calves, be sure to repeat the fascial release techniques. A recommended stretch to perform post-workout would be to place the foot in an upward diagonal angle against a wall and push the knee down and forward, stretching the calf and achilles tendon. Complete two reps of 30 seconds each for both sides.