The Biggest Calves in The Golden Era of Bodybuilding

In this article you will find out how Arnold Schwarzenegger managed to turn his biggest weakness into a muscle that’s worth posing at bodybuilding competitions.

In the early days of the 1960s when Arnold Schwarzenegger began his professional bodybuilding career, his calves were practically non-existent.

At that time calves were a muscular group that didn’t have priority in bodybuilding, especially in Europe.

In 1966, 19-year-old Schwarzenegger took part in his first international bodybuilding competition. In this competition he learned that there is more to bodybuilding than just a well-developed upper body. Chet Yorton took part in this competition and won.

The form and the figure owned by Chet Yorton was an example of the new approach to bodybuilding, where no part of the body should be favored. These are the beginnings of the concept of symmetry and aesthetics in bodybuilding.

Consistent with these principles of symmetry and consistency of the whole body, Chet built an excellent pair of diamond-shaped calves that were perfectly in harmony with his well-built body.

The lesson is learned

Schwarzenegger had a great competitive edge and didn’t want to lose, after his first defeat in 1969 Arnold decided that his calves would never be an obstacle to his bodybuilding aspirations.

He decided to build the largest and most impressive calves that existed at the time.

For greater motivation and in order to achieve the desired result, Arnold began to exercise according to the advice of his idol, the great Reg Park.

Reg Park’s advice was to exercise as intense as possible, and not to see the workout for calves as something occasionally done at the end of the workout.

According to Reg Park, the most important thing is to treat the calves as any other muscle group and to devote sufficient time and intensity to exercise to achieve great progress.

Arnold immediately accepted these tips and began to exercise seriously, six days a week, he shocked this muscle group by lifting weight of 220 kg in the following exercises: standing calf raises, donkey raises, and cerebral calf raises.

What Arnold saw was that the calves were a muscular group that was more difficult to develop, but that was an even greater challenge and motivation to continue to focus more intensely.

His formula heavy-hard-frequent began to produce visible results. Soon, his calves which were subjected to incredible intensity and stress during his workouts started to have the desired shape and size.

They began to grow and develop so much that rumors began to arise that Arnold was visiting a plastic surgeon, rumors that he accepted with a huge smile.

20 inch miracle muscles

In 1973 as the winner of Mr. Olympia, Arnold owned the largest and best calves at that time with incredible 20 inches. Bodybuilding proffesionals believe that even nowadays his calves would stand out from other professional contenders.


Arnold’s training program


Monday / Wednesday / Friday

  • Donkey calf raises – 4 series with 10 reps in a series
  • Standing calf raises – 4 series with 10 reps in a series
  • Seated calf raises – 4 series with 10 reps in a series

Tuesday / Thursday / Saturday

  • Standing calf raises – 4 series with 15, 10, 8, 6 reps sequentially
  • Calf Raises on a leg press machine – 4 series with 10 reps in a series.