The ability to grow calf muscles is part genetics and part work. While nothing can be done about your genetic inheritance, you can certainly get to the gym and start working on this oft-neglected body part. It doesn't make much sense to have a big chest, bulging biceps, a wide back, muscular thighs, and scrawny calves. Not only does it look disproportionate, it could also mean that these muscles are underdeveloped and weak. So, where do you start?
There is no magic formula for developing strong calf muscles. If you understand that progressive overload is the first rule to building muscle and increasing overall strength, then this simple approach to building up those less than impressive calves should make perfect sense.
You should work your calves using exercises that specifically target them. Increase the number of reps and amount of weight consistently. And you should also perform them at the end of your leg workout at least two times per week.
Sean Hyson (C.S.C.S.) recommends a two-pronged approach which includes a standing calf raise and a seated calf raise. The standing calf raise works the gastrocnemius which is the larger diamond-shaped muscle at the top of your calf. The seated calf raise targets the soleus muscle, which runs along the side of your calves. If you work legs twice a week, then do the seated calf raise on one day and the standing one on the other.
To get started, choose the amount of weight that will allow you to perform at least 10 reps. You may use a machine or hold dumbbells, a barbell, or plates--whichever you prefer. The goal is 30 reps total, even if you must break it up into multiple sets to finish. If you perform 3 sets of 10 reps, then rest for 45 seconds between each set. Each week, try to add 5 reps to your total. In about a month, you should be able to complete 50 reps in 5 sets or less. At that point, you should increase your weight by 20-30 pounds but drop your total reps to 30 again.
To further engage your calves, be sure to incorporate exercises like jumping rope, running, ladder drills, and stair climbing. In just a few months, you should start to see some impressive results! Here is a bit of motivation. Now get to work!