Muscle and Brawn Forums

Muscle and Brawn Forums (
-   Articles (
-   -   Jim McLellan’s Crippling Calf Routine — From 1964 (

BendtheBar 06-10-2011 11:28 AM

Jim McLellan’s Crippling Calf Routine — From 1964
Jim McLellan’s Crippling Calf Routine — From 1964

Jim McLellan’s Crippling Calf Routine — From 1964

I’ve got a confession: I have scrawny calves.

Over the years, I’ve tried nearly everything.

Some calf routines helped a little. Some were useless.

And while I often got discouraged about my puny calves… I kept trying.

I could fill a book with number of calf-growing-routines and techniques I’ve tried.

And I’m STILL searching for new things to try. So a while back, I was leafing through an old muscle magazine. And I stumbled across “The Jim McLellan Calf Routine.”

As the story goes, Jim put 1.5 inches on his calves in two months with this routine. Others have done the same — or even slightly better.

I was intrigued. But the original article was a bit short on details. So I tracked down the man himself to get some answers.

A few days later, I’m on the phone with Jim McLellan himself. Usually, I like to pace around when I’m on the phone. But this time, my butt stays in the chair. Why? Because a few days prior to the phone call, I tried the Jim McLellan calf routine — and, as promised — I was absolutely crippled for a full week afterward.

But the pain was worth it. I haven’t even used the routine for a full two weeks yet and my calves are already a half inch bigger.

So without further ado, here’s the Jim McLellan Crippling Calf Routine.

The Routine:

Find a place where you can do standing calf raises with additional resistance. If you’ve got a standing calf machine at the gym, perfect. Or you can do this routine inside the smith machine – put the barbell on your back and stand on a 4-inch block.

I work out at home so I do my calf raises standing on a stair step with a hip belt on my waist for additional resistance.

Start with 15 smooth reps. At the bottom of each rep, dip your heels as low as you can so that your calves really get a great stretch. And at the top of each rep, raise your heels as high as you can so your calves are forced to contract fully.

Keep these reps slow and smooth.

Immediately after your 15th rep, you’re going to “shake” your calf muscle. Here’s how it’s done: Leave one foot on the block, so you are still supporting the load with one leg. Take your other leg and try to get your calf muscle to violently “flop” around by shaking your lower leg. Do this for about 5 – 8 seconds, then switch legs.

Then, do the shakes one more time for each leg.

SIDE NOTE: Interesting side note about these leg “shakes.” I found this old-school video of Polish weightlifters practicing and training. And even though this video is ancient, you can see these elite athletes practicing leg “shakes” after their workouts. Check it out here.

Now, do 8 more calf raises. Again, slow and smooth.

Then, calf shakes again. Shake the left calf, then the right, then the left again, and then right again.

Then, 8 more calf raises. By this point, your calves will be on fire… but the fun is just beginning.

After the final rep, you’re going to stay on the block and immediately start doing “burns.” These are short, fast, bouncy calf raises. Don’t worry about dropping your heel as low as you can or rising up as high as you can on your toes. Just focus on speed – knocking out as many mid-range calf raises as you can.

You should be trying to actually explode off the block — in reality your toes won’t leave the block but you should be trying to do these fast enough so that it feels like you’re about to lift off the block. Then you come crashing down and your calves are forced to stop the momentum.

This will LOOK like you’re cheating — but what you’re really trying to do is torture the calves and do the burns for as long as you can. Don’t bother trying to count reps — you will be moving too fast for that. Just fight through the pain for as long as possible.

When you can’t take another second, now it’s time for negatives. Stay on the block, and do a full calf raise with both feet, but then remove one foot from the block and lower yourself slowly using only leg. Lower yourself all the way to the bottom, then lift yourself up again with both calves. And at the top, remove the opposite leg and again lower the weight slowly using only one leg.

Do 10-20 negatives for each leg. When you’re finished with these, take a 3-5 minute rest. Massage your calves, walk around a bit and give each calf a good stretch. It will be painful, but do it anyway.

After the 3-5 minute rest period is over, do the entire routine again.

After two weeks on the above routine, you’ll make the following change: After the negatives, add another round of “burns” and then another round of negatives. Making this change will help increase time under tension and keep the progress going.

Ok, so that’s the basic routine. Here are a few additional notes gleaned from my conservation with Jim McLellan.

#1) Train calves 4-5 times per week. The calves are brutally tough and they need to be punished over and over, many times in the same week to make them grow.
#2) Use the same amount of weight for the entire calf training session.
#3) Train calves first in your workout.
#4) You don’t need to use heavy weights for this routine to work.
#5) The key is punishing/torturing your calves. It’s all about how long you can deal with the pain. Do NOT be nice to your calves.
#6) Don’t stop when you can’t get a full rep. That’s not failure. Keep going until you can’t raise up your heel even a single inch. When your calves are so fried that you can’t make your heel raise up even a single inch, that’s failure.
#7) Most people with great calves go them from their parents – not from hard work.
#8) If you were born with terrible calves, you’ll probably never have great calves. But you can improve on what you’ve got by working hard on this routine.
#9) Funny story: Back in the day Jim was training his calves using the above routine. And a local football player laughed at him and called him “Bambi” because Jim’s calves were so tiny.

So Jim challenged the football player (who had naturally good calves) to try the routine. The football player accepted and Jim put him through the paces.

The next day, Jim was back in the gym — but the football player was no where to be found. Turns out he was stuck in bed – his calves were so sore he couldn’t even walk! “Bambi” crippled the big football player. In fact, the football player called the doctor to give him so muscle relaxers to help him deal with the soreness.

So there you have it: The Jim McLellan Calf Routine. I’ll be running this routine for at least the next 8 weeks. If your parents stuck you with scrawny calves, why not try this routine for the next 8 weeks along with me? We can all suffer together and document our results in the comments section.

Happy training, and thanks to Jim McLellan for sharing his routine.

therealmarcogalindo 06-10-2011 02:03 PM

This is tremendous, I to have terrible calves & have tried everything, absolutely everything to try to "fix" the problem, but have found no success.
So im deff going to try this out..

BendtheBar 04-11-2013 11:29 AM

Thought I would bump this for those with stubborn calves.

brad1224 04-11-2013 03:02 PM

def going to give this a try. my calves are small as hell

All times are GMT -5. The time now is 05:58 AM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.5
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.