A Journal of Strength, Health, and Self Cultivation
This is the apparatus that was “featured” in my muscle-building dream last night. The four upright two-by-fours are lap jointed with the side base boards for extra strength. In addition, the calf board is bolted to the unit at a desired position, and it can be removed when not needed. Drawing and copyright by Robert Drucker.
Although I regularly have vivid and detailed dreams, I don’t ordinarily dream about about muscle building. But, last night things were a bit different than usual. A few hours after drifting off into a deep sleep, I found myself in an unknown gym training my calves hard and heavy with a rather interesting power-building apparatus. This apparatus allowed for placement of a barbell at any desired position like a power rack, but the barbell was sandwiched between two pairs of two-by-fours. In addition, a small-diameter pipe (quarter inch nominal) was secured to the barbell-end of each two-by-four with metal clips. The muscle-building apparatus was also wood screwed securely to a thick plywood base. This design utilizes the weight of the lifter to keep the apparatus from moving as the barbell is pushed upwards.
The two-by-four pipes, which were lightly oiled on the outside to minimize friction, served to “guide” the barbell by allowing up and down movement only. This arrangement proved invaluable for calf training, and I did three different exercises for this muscle group. First, I performed calf raises on a mounted calf board while holding the barbell with my hands. This exercise not only gave my calves a tremendous beating, it torched my forearms and grip to the limit. It even had my back muscles pleading for mercy.
Second for my lower legs, I performed traditional calf raises with the guided barbell resting across my shoulders. I found this movement to be a VERY effective muscle builder because the force of the barbell was 100% direct on the calves, and the resistance was 100% steady. Most commercial calf machines, in contrast, do not provide a direct and steady force because the angle of pull varies throughout the range of motion.
My third movement for the lower legs was the seated calf raise. I did this movement by adjusting the barbell height, sitting on a bench, placing a padded board across my knees, getting my knees and the padded board underneath the barbell, lifting up the barbell from the bolted support boards by raising my toes on an attached calf board, and then removing the barbell support boards so that a full range of motion could be achieved. And, at the termination of a set, I would push up the barbell with my toes just a bit and replace the support boards before lowering and securing the barbell. This procedure worked great, and the seated calf raise done on this special apparatus gave further growth encouragement to my aching calves. So much for the idea that a bodybuilder needs both a seated calf machine and a standing calf machine; the “dream” machine can do it all!
With my calves on fire during my unconscious adventure, I awakened after my second set of seated calf raises. And upon awakening, I rushed to draw what the “dream” machine looked like before it vanished from my memory.
Now, looking at my drawing a day later, I can see plenty of room for improvement, and many details must be added before I can say that the design is complete. Nonetheless, the “dream” machine seems like it would be a great piece of equipment to have in a home gym. It would be relatively inexpensive to build, and it would offer a lot of bang for the buck. In addition to calf raises of all sorts, this nifty unit could be used to perform leg presses, press lockouts, pullups and chin-ups, hanging leg raises, quarter squats, and many other muscle-building exercises.