Stubborn calves are either bored calves, they’ve “been there, done that” and refuse to grow, or they’re lost calves, they’ve been searching for the hidden treasure in murky waters but have yet to find it. Either way, these calves need some new and novel methods to encourage growth and there are quite a few to choose from, like the following:
contrast supersets where you pair slow eccentric calf raises with explosive jumps using either a barbell, hex bar, dumbbells or sandbag, or combine slow and fast speeds in one movement as I discuss in my article Time To Explode!
contrast supersets where you pair paused one-leg calf raises in full range of motion with short, quick hops as mentioned in this Q&A post
tri-set methods like the one featured in my book Mass Explosion, which involves a different rep bracket and tempo for each calf raise exercise to target high-, medium- and low-threshold motor units
drop sets as discussed in my Pop ‘Em Out Muscles article to stress and fatigue a wide spectrum of muscle fibers
rest-pause methods like “knockout sets” where you perform one long set of 75-100 reps using a 20RM load as outlined in The Cure for Chicken Calves
high-volume methods that involve a high number of sets and reps of various calf raises like the routine used by Chris Dickerson, who had arguably the best set of calves to ever walk onto a bodybuilding stage
high-intensity methods that involve the use of super heavy weights on calf raises, like Schwarzenegger did to finally get his calves to grow after taking a cue from his idol Reg Park, who put Arnold to shame by doing calf raises with 1000 pounds for 10 sets of 10 reps (in Arnold: The Education of a Bodybuilder)
Bottom Line: You need to poke at stubborn calves in many different ways to wake them out of their stupor, but once you find the right trigger, they’ll respond in a “BIG” way.