how to slim calves

I know I have a lot of information on my blog about how to get skinny legs, but I haven’t talked too much about calves. And that is because it is quite a difficult topic.

But I do get a lot of questions about how to slim calves and especially how to reduce muscular calves so I thought I would do a blog post on it for you.

Before I start, I just wanted to talk about reasons why you might have big calves in the first place.



This is why this a hard topic. A big factor with calf size is genetic.

If you were born this way and haven’t done much exercise that could change the shape of your calves, chances are that you won’t be able to make significant changes (but minor changes might be possible).


If your calf size is due to muscle, you can avoid certain exercises to prevent your muscles from getting bigger. By doing this you might also see a minor decrease in calf size.


If your calf size is due to fat, then losing weight overall will definitely help reduce the size of your calves. BUT legs are the hardest place to lose fat and tend to be the last place for women, so it will take a lot of time.


You could have also caused your calves to increase in size due to the type of exercise that you have been doing, especially if you are mesomorph or endomorph body type.

You see, there are 3 body types and they all lose weight and build muscle differently. And 2 out of 3 body type can bulk up easily.

If you don’t know your body type, I have created a special quiz that will help you learn your body type in just 2 minutes. You will get tips how to eat and train to get the best possible results. 

And it’s completely free :)

I will discuss in detail the type of exercises that cause your calf muscles to increase and which you should avoid.

If your calves were previously slim and exercise was the reason they bulked up, then you can definitely get them back to the way they were before!

Related post: How To Slim Dow Muscular Thighs


There are 4 things you need to do:

  1. Stop doing whatever exercise is making your calves bigger. The main way to reduce your calf muscles is just by using them as little as possible and giving your muscles a chance to reduce on their own.
  2. Low-intensity cardio – this will also help you lose excess fat on your lower half without building extra muscle.
  3. Lose weight overall – this will help you lose excess fat on your lower half (but remember it will take a while). To do this you need a good diet and consistent exercise.
  4. Avoid the exercises below!



Running does actual build some muscle in your calves; but running is so good for you and good for slimming down your legs that I would be hesitant to stop running.

I would make sure that you are running at a flat surface – running on an incline will increase your calf size.

how to slim calves

If you really don’t want to run, then walking is great – it will slim down your legs overall and won’t increase your calf size. Just make sure it’s on a flat surface!


Just like cardio at an incline, anything that involves walking or running uphill will build muscle in your calves. This includes hill sprints but also things such as hiking (unfortunately) and step machine.


Lots of women ask me if skipping is good for slimming down legs. The answer is no, not really.

To slim down your legs you really need to be doing walking and/or running. Skipping uses mostly your calves so will bulk them up quickly. It is a great exercise though so if you don’t care about calf size – go for it! If you do, avoid it.


As with skipping, lots of jumping exercises use your calves muscles and will make them bigger.

If you love HIIT, then you don’t necessarily need to stop it.

You can do some HIIT exercises, but I would avoid overdoing it on lower body plyometric exercises such as jump squats, jump lunges and burpees, and anything really that results in you landing heavily on your feet.


If running has been the reasons your calves have increased in size, then I would avoid running.

Running does use your calf muscles so can cause them to get bigger. But this is different for everyone. If you are OK with running, then you can keep doing it!


I should also mention my 3 Steps to Lean Legs Program which is designed to help you get lean and toned legs. There are 3 versions of the program, one for each of the 3 types. It will help you slim down and it will get you toned without causing bulkiness in your legs, calves included. :)

My program includes cardio, a complete 8-week meal plan and the style of resistance training that I mentioned in this blog post. 

Also, the resistance training part of my program now has FULL-LENGTH videos that you can follow from warm up to cool down.

To find out more about my 3 Steps to Lean Legs Program click the link below:


To find out more about my FULL-LENGTH VIDEOS, follow this link: 


And as always, if you have any questions, please feel free to ask! 



I know a lot of women notice that their calves are smaller when they run on a treadmill.

The only thing I can put this down to is the fact the treadmill moves underneath you so probably don’t need to engage your calf muscles as much as running outside when you need to push off the ground harder.

For me personally, I don’t experience any physical difference between running / walking outside or on a treadmill. But it’s really up to the individual.

how to slim calves


Avoid running on your toes as you will use your calves more this way. Run with a heel to toe strike motion and use supportive shoes.


No. It is very very unlikely that any form of stretching or massage will cause your calf muscles to atrophy or get smaller.

I have written a whole blog series on how to get skinny legs so please read these blog posts for lots more information! And if you have any other questions, feel free to leave a comment below xx

Picture of Rachael

Rachael is an Australian born certified personal trainer and nutritionist who holds a Bachelor degree in Science.

After struggling for years to find an exercise and diet program that is tailored to women striving for lean and toned body with no bulk she designed her Lean Legs Program. This program is tailored to each body type and focused on helping women get toned but feminine bodies, without getting bulky.

Her mission is to empower women and help them stay in shape in a healthy and balanced way.

77 comments on “How To Slim Calves”

  • Anita Chung says:

    I live on a hill and walking for sure will involve going up or down some hills. I am very concerned about building up my already-muscular calve muscle. Should I avoid walking in my neighborhood?


    • Diana - Lean Legs Support says:

      Hi lovely,
      If this is your only option then I would keep walking. We usually recommend walking on a flat surface, but if you’re unable to go to the gym or don’t have access to a treadmill, any kind of walking will be good! xx


  • ennievic says:

    I will be so glad if advice work

  • Grace Kang says:

    Hello, I’ve been wanting to incorporate weighted squats (goblet squats, in particular, to help with my form) hip thrusts, and lunges into my workouts. Will that grow my calves? What about elevated glute bridges?

    Thank you!

    • Diana - Lean Legs Support says:

      Hi lovely,
      Yes, squats and lunges will make your calves bigger, whether you use extra weights or not. Glute bridges won’t make you bulky, just make sure you’re activating your glutes while performing the exercise (not your quads). xx


  • Nicola says:

    Hi Racheal, I’ve just started your program today and I’m wondering if kickboxing workouts are ok to throw in?

    Thanks, Nicola.

    • Diana - Lean Legs Support says:

      Hi lovely,
      Yes, you can give kickboxing a go, it’s a great cardio workout! :) xx


  • H. says:

    I had long and lean legs before I started exercising. Due to specific exercises, my calves got bigger so I’ve quit working out. That was two years ago and I still have a big piece of muscle there.
    My bodyweight is okay. 178 cm/ 65 kg.
    Your test says I’m ectomorph but I would’t get muscular calves if I was?
    I’ve tried to workout sometimes but I quit because I can’t be doing all at once – losing my calves and building a great body (example great gluteus). I feel like I’m in a magic circle. I don’t want to sacrifise my whole figure but still afraid to run or do any lower legs exercise. Should I make some periods of getting rid of calves/slim down and then building my body?
    Thank you <3

    • Diana - Lean Legs Support says:

      Hi lovely,
      If you gain muscle in calves easily, you could be between the ectomorph and mesomorph body type. This could also be genetic, so you can only slim them down to a certain degree.
      I would recommend doing glute focused workouts that target your glutes without making your legs bigger. It’s also important to maintain the mind-muscle connection while doing these so you can make your glutes do the work instead of thighs or calves. I would also avoid doing too many jumping exercises as they can make your calves more muscular.

      Our program has been designed to include the perfect type of resistance training and cardio to give you a lean and toned look, without making you bulky.
      It’s an 8 week workout and nutrition plan that will help you slim down your legs, but will also help you slim and tone your upper body and core too (the workouts are full body). There are also extra booty workouts for a rounder, perkier butt.

      It also includes a full meal plan, a separate recipe ebook and demonstration videos.

      If this is what you’re looking for, I would definitely recommend giving our program a go. You can find out more about it here:

      Lean Legs Program


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