I almost got killed because of my calves. The incident happened when I was 14 years old and training at the Mid-City Health Club in New York. I was an avid reader of bodybuilding magazines, with Ironman being my favorite. As such, I was excited when an article was published in Ironman that year about a calf training routine that was purported to add up to two inches to stubborn calves. The routine was developed by a guy from Colorado named Jim McLellan, who claimed to have gained 1-1/2 inches on his calves by using the routine. Similar to most others, calves were a weak point on me, and the thought of adding a quick inch or so to my calves excited me. Here, as recounted by bodybuilding author Stuart McRobert was what became known as the "Ironman calf routine":
You must use a standing calf machine, one with a high enough block that you can’t touch your heels to the floor at the bottom of each rep. Keep your knees straight or just slightly unlocked.
Following a light warmup set, select a weight with which you can just squeeze out 15 reps of two-legged calf raises. Do full-range-of-motion reps, in a deliberate, smooth manner. Hold at the top, fully contracted position of each rep for a second. Don’t rush the reps.
Immediately after completing the 15th rep—and while staying in position on the calf machine (but set the weight down)—take your left foot off, raise it a little, and shake it twice so that the calf muscle flops around each time. Then put your left leg back on the block, take your right foot off and shake it. McLellan urged not to take more than eight seconds each time you shake a leg. After shaking both legs, perform eight reps of the two-legged calf raise, then do the shaking again, then another eight reps, then a further bout of shaking, and another eight. (You may not get all eight reps on each of the three sets, but do the best you can and aim to build up to three sets of eight as the weeks go by.) Immediately after the third batch of eight reps, and without any more shakes, do “burns.”
Burns are short, quick but controlled bounces over the bottom three or four inches. Do them until your calves scream so much that you have to stop. Even then you’re still not done. Immediately go into the top, fully contracted position on two legs, then on your left foot only slowly lower yourself all the way down. Go up on two feet, and slowly lower using only your right foot. Then up on two, down on your left, and so on, continuing to alternate legs for 10 to 20 reps, depending on how much you can stand. The . . .
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