Cattle Drive…

Just right…

Aside from the relief pitcher in professional baseball, the recreational bodybuilder is perhaps the most idiosyncratic animal on the planet.  It is common knowledge among us that if all things in the workout are not wholly aligned with, and aimed at the center of the universe, no set of repetitions, no exercise, and no workout is valid.  It takes but one little thing to be out of place, and the whole ordeal is null, and void.

The right shorts must be worn.  A drink at the water fountain every 3rd set.  The bar on the bench press must be rolled back so many times before the liftoff.  Eye contact with lesser lifters causes the pump to instantly deflate.  No chalk…?  No deadlift.  These are just some examples of being, just right with the workout gods.  I have taken most of my workouts in the same gray tank-top for 12 years.  On days when said shirt is unavailable, I have a sincere feeling of being lost as I train.

Raising cattle…

Among the best compliments one can offer a bodybuilder is to say, “those aren’t calves, those are cattle” in reference to the lower legs.

Those who know me know that I take calf training very seriously when I’m in full-on bodybuilding mode.  More so than I should.  Perhaps this is because my genetic predisposition to large calves, is as Dick Cheney’s is to tolerance.  At least one of us was willing to admit weakness, and work hard to overcome.

For many years I trained calves in bare feet because Arnold did.  “Because Arnold did” is probably at the very root of my personality disorder.  As I have aged, I have estranged myself from that affliction.  However, from age 13-30 “because Arnold did” was my disease.  Though I don’t have imposing calves, they do stand out, and that is simply from years of consistent training.

Maybe not a Texas Longhorn, but well beyond being, just a calf...

Maybe not a Texas Longhorn, but well beyond being, just a calf…

About eight years ago I took to calf training in shoes rather than bare feet as Arnold did.  This was due in large part to a bunion I have expanding on the knuckle of my right big toe.  Also, Arnold be damned, I found that after 20 years of blind following, I was able to get deeper inside my calves, stimulate more growth and shape when wearing shoes while training them.  Perhaps it was Arnold’s drugs, and not his bare feet that made the larger impact for him…

Sole Mates…

Making the transition from training calves with shoes on vs. barefoot was not easy.  However, as both a runner and hoarder, I had many old pairs of running shoes to choose from.  The selection process took nearly a month, and involved at least 6 pairs of shoes that had previously been my primary running shoes.  Eventually my Goldilocks shoes were found; a pair of lesser Asics shoes which I received for free when I purchased a $200 pair to run a marathon in.

For 8 years these Asics were my sole calf training shoes.  They were as important in the equation as the equipment we trained on, and in a real sense, they were my training partners on lower-leg day – until today.   Worn, torn, and worn some more.  Washed.  Bleached.  Dried.  Worn more and more to a point of no return.  Holes in the toes.  Tread coming off.  Stability gone.  It’s time to say goodbye old friends.

I decent burial, I guess...

I decent burial, I guess…

Nothing beats a nice pair…

My split today called for shoulders, and calves – my first day in 8 years training with new partners.  I selected the pair of Mizuno running shoes which I had previously worn while running the Ragnar relay from Huntington Beach to San Diego.  Fuck running.

I selected this pair because their shape and structure are similar to the Asics I just laid to rest.  Narrow toe box.  Thick sole.  Not an abundance of stench due to my consistent lack of wearing socks.

My new mates...

My new mates…

Like any rookies, they did okay their first time out.  Not a stellar performance, but I drafted them for their future potential, not to have an immediate impact.  It will take time for my new calf shoes, and I to get more familiar with each other – to be on the same page.  Today we did Seated Calf Raises, 5 sets of 5 reps – heavy.  We followed that with Toe Presses on the leg press machine for 3 sets of 10 reps – moderate.  It was good.

I am hopeful that some level of soreness will manifest in my cattle overnight.  Should that happen, it will reinforce that I drafted the correct shoes.  If not, I may consider another pair by way of free agency.  We shall see.  Be well…  rc


Please check back in 2 weeks to see what happens when I push the “stop” button on the blender in my head.  Oh, and there is this from Patrick Sweany.  Enjoy…

11 responses

  1. I’m struggling with which shoes to pick myself these days, it can be trying. Hope you’ve picked the calf burners 🙂 Nice cattle btw 🙂

  2. Ah, for me, with my no fat pads in the balls of either feet, the hardest thing for me is really having to concentrate on leg day to feel the legs, calves, butt workout. When I had to wear my Hoka shoes, that was hard cause they work so well to insulate my feet. Now I can wear a less cushioned shoe but I still have to be careful. I guess with all my running & cardio plus my decent calves genes, I am lucky for that part. 🙂

  3. Hey there Roy,

    I always come on your blog inhaling and exhaling goodness about training, nature and life. I look forward to coming on here (even though my netbook sucks and finds it difficult to keep your page loading because my netbook is slow). Still, it’s a real treat to read your going on’s.

    So much of what you express I can relate to like the many rituals a gym-freak (:-p) goes through and just how less than physique people in the gym create disappointments and as you said deflates the pump. I know oh so well, it’s scary. 😉

    For years I took calve training very seriously and I built them pretty good with heavy weight, high repetitions and no little than 15 sets. I had cut back at some point because I got scared of them; how hard they were getting. But I’ve been working them twice a week lately. It was hard to walk at first but I eventually pulled through.

    It’s nice to hear about your cattles. It’s nice to see them too. I want some cattles. I want some diamonds. I want to scare people when they look at my calves. Anyhow, did the sneakers you chose this time around get the job done? 🙂

    *chuckles at the Arnold disease* I love it!

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