You’ve probably noticed a lot of cyclists out there with these wicked big calves. They look great and give an impression of pure strength, but do they contribute to providing more power and speed on the bike?
My buddy, Wade over at Cycling Tips is one of these dudes with killer calves, and those are his bad boys in the picture at the top of this post. Wade also just happened to pass over this great little diagram on legs and how the pedal stroke relates to each body part.
As you can see in the diagram, the calves play a role right around the 5:00 mark of the pedal stroke and is somewhat on the low end of muscle groups used in the stroke. But I personally can’t help but think that strong calves do help make you faster… even if just slightly. The reason I say this is because all it takes is a glance down to the calves of pretty much any pro rider and you’ll see a nice set of Gastrocnemius’ on them. Not all of them, but I think that’s because not everyone has the potential for massive looking calves. But I’ll guarantee that they’re still strong even if they don’t look that way. I don’t feel that having shaved calves is what makes them appear bigger and stronger… they’ve been built up in response to the work load they take while pounding the pedals.
Just have a look at these boulders on the legs of Yaroslav Popovych… he’s just one of the cyclists with amazing calves, but his are just incredible.
So to sum up, it’s safe to say that big strong quads will make you a faster cyclist… but I also feel that strong calves will help out as well. It may just be a small advantage, but still helpful none-the-less. How about you? What’s your take on calves and cycling? Let’s hear it.