View Full Version : selective recruitment of gastroc and soleus

07-07-2009, 12:19 AM
im frequently asked how to get bigger friggin calves. so here is a study that validates what many already know- and that we can selectively recruit the gastroc and soleus. so whats this mean? simply target both the gastroc and soleus for maximum hypertrophy of the calf or triceps surae.

signorile et al. (2002) studied muscle activation of the gastroc and soleus using emg outcomes during plantarflexion exercise with different knee angles- 90, 135, and 180 degrees of knee flexion. the results showed statistical significant differences in muscle activation of the medial gastroc and soleus at 90 and 180 degrees of knee flexion. soleus had the least amount of activation at 180. medial gastroc had the greatest amount of activation at 180.

curiously, lateral gastroc had less activation than medial at 180 degrees. but still greater than soleus. ill have to ponder about this for reasons including origin insertions and confounds in food positions.

anyway, back to what we care about and that is hypertrophy. we should consider training not only gastro but soleus as well for the maximum calf development.

i will speak more about other variables later- includinng fiber type, contraction type, contraction velocity, and foot positioning.

what do others prefer in calf training?


The muscles of the triceps surae group are important for performance in most sports and in the performance of activities of daily life. In addition, hypertrophy and balance among these muscles are integral to success in bodybuilding. The purpose of this study was to compare the muscle utilization patterns of the 2 major muscles of the triceps surae group, the soleus (SOL) and gastrocnemius (lateral head = LG and medial head = MG), and the tibialis anterior (TA) as an antagonist muscle to the group. Their electromyographic (EMG) signals were compared during 50 constant external resistance contractions at a level established before the testing session. Eleven experienced subjects contributed data during plantar flexion at 3 different knee angles (90, 135, and 180[degrees]). Both root mean square amplitude and integrated signal analyses of the EMGs revealed that the MG produced significantly greater activity than either the SOL or TA at 180[degrees], whereas the LG was not different from the SOL at any knee angle measured. Data also revealed that the SOL produced less electrical activity at 180[degrees] than at the other knee angles, whereas the MG produced greater electrical activity. As would be expected, the TA produced lower EMG values than any of the triceps surae muscles at all angles tested. These data indicate that selective targeting of the SOL and MG is possible through the manipulation of knee angle. This targeting appears to be controlled by the biarticular and monoarticular structures of the MG and SOL, respectively. The LG appears less affected by knee position than the MG. Results suggest that the SOL can be targeted most effectively with the knee flexed at 90[degrees] and the MG with the leg fully extended. The LG appears to also be more active at 180[degrees]; however, it is not as affected as the MG or SOL by knee angle.
(C) 2002 National Strength and Conditioning Association

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