Calves are a problematic body part for many bodybuilders. Usually, those who struggle to develop that area have the so-called high calf attachment a.k.a high calves.
Why is that an obstacle? People with high calves have longer Achilles tendons and shorter muscle bellies. Since the tendons represent a form of connective tissue connecting the muscle to the bone, they do not respond to stimulus with growth.
The body is designed to survive as long as possible. If our tendons get significantly bigger as a result of training, basic tasks such as walking would be a problem. Tendons get stronger and thicker thanks to weight training, but a meaningful size increase is impossible.
On the other hand, muscles grow. They have a better blood supply, which is why a muscle tear recovers faster than a ligament or tendon tear. Connective tissues have 1/10th of the blood supply that a muscle enjoys.
When people have high calves and short muscles, there’s not much to grow there in the first place. For that reason, most bodybuilders with high calves have average to weak calf development.
In the modern bodybuilding scene, a good example would be Lionel Beyeke from France and Dennis Wolf from Germany.
In the photo, you can see that Beyeke has a really long Achilles tendons and short calf muscles. There’s no space for the muscle to grow.
People who have good calf development usually have short Achilles tendons and long muscles bellies. When that’s the case, there’s more potential for muscular growth.
What can you do to fix that?
Nothing. This is a genetic factor, and people are just born this way. There may be surgical procedures that could fix the problem, but it will be expensive, painful and dangerous. You would have to spend months in a wheelchair, and later, when you train calves, the Achilles tendons will be exposed to a higher risk of injury since the genetic integrity of the skeletal muscular system has been altered.
An analogy of balloons-and-strings is useful for illustrating this muscle-and-tendons relationship. The analogy applies to any skeletal muscle, but, for this discussion, apply it to calves.
The calf muscle lies in the space between two joints, the knee and the ankle. Tendons at each end of the calf muscle connect the muscle to each joint.
Imagine that muscle between ankle and joint replaced by an UNinflated balloon which is tied at each end with a string, which itself then ties to the ankle or the knee. Adding air to inflate the balloon will make the balloon bigger, but not the strings.
Now imagine balloons of varied lengths, some longer, some very short, which could each be tied in that space. The short balloons will require much longer strings to tie them to the ankle. The longest balloons require hardly any string at all to connect them to the ankle. When those very short balloons are tied in that space and inflated, there’s still a lot of empty space where there’s only that long string.
That short balloon, long string, and empty space are the equivalent of “high calves”.