Home / / How To Slim Calves

How To Slim Calves

By Rachael Attard, Updated Dec 18, 2020
how to slim calves

Last Updated on June 1st, 2020 16:59 pm

I know I have a lot of information on my blog regarding how to get lean legs and slim down your muscular thighs, but I haven’t talked too much about calves.

That is because it is quite a challenging topic. It all comes down to whether your calf size is due to muscle or fat.

I do get a lot of questions about how to make your calves smaller, and especially how to slim calf muscles.

If you’re wondering how to lose calf fat or how to get rid of the calf muscle, then this blog post is for you.

Let’s start by understanding the reasons why you may have big calves in the first place.

WHAT CAUSES BIG CALVES?

how to slim calves - what causes big calves

1. GENETICS 

This is why this a hard topic. A big factor with calf size is genetics. Take a look at your parents or your sibling’s calf muscle – do they seem the same size as yours? 

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.

2. FAT 

If your calf size is due to fat, then your response on how to lose calf fat is the same as losing weight overall.

Losing weight will definitely help slim your calves.

But keep in mind that legs are the hardest place to lose fat and tend to be the last place for women, so it will take more time to see the results.

3. MUSCLE 

If you’ve done a lot of workouts that target your calves, especially heavy ones, then it is very possible your calves have increased in size due to muscle (especially if you have a genetic predisposition for more muscular calves).

In that case, you can avoid certain exercises to prevent your calf muscles from getting bigger. By doing this, you might also see a minor decrease in their size, especially if your calves have been ”pumped up’’ from workouts.

ARE MY CALVES MADE OF MUSCLE OR FAT? 

It’s important noting that it’s very hard to really build up calf muscles unless you have a genetic predisposition.

If you’re not sure if your calves appear bigger from fat or muscle, you can check your BMI (body mass index) – that will give you some idea.

For pro athlete women, 14% to 20% is the average body fat, whereas for someone who works out regularly – a few times a week – that range is 21-24%.

I also have an easy test applicable for calves: flex your calves.

The hard bit is muscle. The soft stuff over it is fat. That should be your starting point.

WHY DID MY CALVES GET BIGGER FROM WORKING OUT?

how to slim muscular calves - learn your body type

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

You see, there are 3 body types and they all lose weight and build muscle differently, and 2 out of 3 body types 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 also get tips on how to eat and train according to your type to get the best possible results. And it’s completely free! :)

I will discuss in detail the type of exercises that may cause muscular calves and which workouts 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!

HOW TO SLIM DOWN MUSCULAR CALVES 

There are 3 things you need to do:

  1. Stop doing whatever exercises that made your calves muscular in the first place.
    The main way to reduce your calf muscles is by using them as little as possible and giving your muscles a chance to reduce on their own.
  2. Do more low-intensity cardio
    This will also help you lose excess fat on your lower half without building extra muscle.
  3. Focus on losing 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.

STEP 1: STOP DOING EXERCISES THAT WILL PUMP UP YOUR CALVES

avoid workout that will make you calves bigger

All the exercises below are great for overall fitness and fat loss, but if your main goal is to slim your calves, then you should definitely avoid: 

1. CARDIO AT INCLINE 

Running does actually build some muscles in your calves, but running is so good for you, and good for slimming down your legs in general, that I would be hesitant to stop running.

That said, if it seems like your calves bulk up easily, I would make sure that you are always running on a flat surface – an incline will increase your calf size.

To get rid of the calf muscle size (if you bulked it up), avoid Stairmaster and running with an incline on a treadmill.

Also, running for a long-duration (steady-state cardio) will not generally build a lot of muscle as much as sprinting does, so I’d stick to that. 

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

2. HILL SPRINTS OR ANY UPHILL EXERCISES 

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 often (unfortunately) and step machine.

3. SKIPPING 

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

To make your legs and calves thinner, you really need to be walking and/or running. 

Skipping uses mostly your calves, so it will bulk them up quickly if you have a genetic predisposition for muscular calves.

It is a great exercise, though, so if you don’t care about calf size – go for it! If you do, better avoid it.

4. PLYOMETRIC / HIIT EXERCISES 

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

If you love HIIT, then you don’t necessarily need to stop if your focus is on making your calves smaller.

You can do some HIIT exercises, but if you want to slim down muscular calves don’t overdo lower body plyometric exercises, such as jump squats, jump lunges and burpees, and anything that results in you landing heavily on your feet.

STEP 2: DO MORE LOW-INTENSITY CARDIO 

do more cardio for slimmer calves

I talk a lot about the benefits of cardio for fat loss and lean legs, and in this case, more importantly, reducing the muscle from your calves and legs in general.

Low-intensity cardio burns fat (and in some cases, even muscle) and will decrease your overall body mass, so it will help make your calves smaller.

Try power walking, steadystate running (both on a flat surface) or swimming –a great cardio workout.

USE THE TREADMILL 

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

The only thing I can attribute this to is the fact that the treadmill moves underneath you, so you 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, I don’t experience any physical difference between running /walking outside or on a treadmill. But it’s really up to the individual.

ADJUST YOUR RUNNING TECHNIQUE 

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.

Bonus tip: Try fasted cardio for quicker results.

STEP 3: FOCUS ON LOSING WEIGHT OVERALL 

overall weight loss for slimmer calves

When you lose weight, you will lose both fat and muscle, so that automatically means your calves may look a lot thinner. 

That said, you cannot spot reduce fat, so it all really depends where you tend to store fat and lose fat first.

For example, I lose weight from my upper body faster than my lower body.

It helps to know your body type and how well you respond to certain diet and exercise regimes.

Remember – diet is the key to slimming down calves and losing weight overall; exercise comes second.

So, focus on eating fewer calories than you burn doing the day.

You can download my 7-day meal plan for free. It’s designed to help you get leaner.

BEST EXERCISES FOR SLIMMING DOWN YOUR BODY 

best workouts for slim calves

As I mentioned, you cannot spot reduce fat. Instead, you should do more workouts that will keep you lean and toned without adding too much bulk in the process.

Here are some tips:

1. DO MORE STRETCHING & FOAM ROLLING 

If you’re used to doing much heavier workouts for your lower body, you can often ”shorten’’ your muscles due to repeated stress. 

Don’t get me wrong – stretching won’t necessarily make your calves smaller, but it will help you loosen tight muscles and get you more flexible.

If you’ve done a lot of workouts that were targeting your legs, it might be that your muscles feel tight.

As a side effect, you can feel like your thighs and calf muscles are a bit loser and it might even appear slightly thinner.

2. TRY YOGA AND PILATES

Yoga and pilates-like workouts will keep you in shape without adding too much muscle in the process.

They particularly focus on having a strong core – which will improve your overall posture and keep you toned and in shape.

3. 3 STEPS TO LEAN LEGS PROGRAM FOR SLIMMING DOWN MUSCULAR LEGS

I should also mention my 3 Steps to Lean Legs Program that is designed to help you get a lean and toned body.

It is particularly focused on getting leaner legs, so it will help you slim down calves.

There are three versions of the program, one for each of the 3 body types: ectomorph, endomorph and mesomorph.

It will help you get slim and it will give you leaner legs without causing bulkiness – calves included. :)

By now, you’ve learned that for getting rid of calf fat and muscle you need to focus on diet and the right type of workouts.

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.

This is the example full length and full-body workout from my Program you can do at home at any time. All workouts are designed to make you slim, not bulky!

To find out more about my 3 Steps to Lean Legs program, click on this link.

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


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.

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144 comments on “How To Slim Calves”

    Lola San says:

    Can I buy an App to download on my smart TV ?

      Lean Legs Support says:

      Hey lovely,

      If you have a smart TV that has an internet browser app, you can log in and watch Rachael’s workout videos on your TV. Or, you can cast your mobile/tablet screen to your TV, if you are able to cast from device to device. You don’t need to purchase any app :)

      I hope that helps. xx

      Love,
      Len

    vaishnavi agrawal says:

    hey i have one more doubt i have fatty calves not muscular calves so can i do
    skipping or any hiit exercise coz i dont have muscular but fat calves? isnt these exercises muscle calves persons should avoid but my calves stored fat so these will be effective for me? plz reply

      Lean Legs Support says:

      Hi lovely,

      Calves are a bit tricky because genetics is a big factor. Skipping is great cardio but can’t be a substitute for walking and running because it won’t slim down your legs. It does burn a lot of calories which is great, but the motion uses your calves heavily. Skipping will most likely contribute to bigger calves and can make your legs bigger all over. The same thing applies to HIIT workouts since they engage your quads a lot. When it comes to the type of exercises that you should do, we should first start figuring out your body type. Feel free to take Rachael’s Body Type Quiz.

      And if your calves got bigger from training or you’ve gained weight, I’m happy to tell you that our 3 Steps To Lean Legs Program could help you with that :)

      You can find out more about it through this link.

      Love,
      Len

    Ananya says:

    Hiii :))
    I am a mesomorph. I don’t feel comfortable because of my thicker thighs .my thighs, quads, calves looks bulky. I am a student thatswhy I can’t afford your program now :((( could you please tell me what to do ,which exercises should i do. Currently i am doing 1 hr power walking . I also do home pilates ,yoga and dance. Which exercises can i do to slim down my leg fat …Please tell me🥺🥺🥺

      Lean Legs Support says:

      Hi lovely,

      Here are some general guidelines for your body type. :)

      You can join our Lean Legs Platform where you can download Rachael’s free meal plan and her free week of follow-at-home workout videos (the workout videos are part of the “Train Like A Model” series. It will take you 2 minutes to register through this link and it’s completely free. :)

      Love,
      Len

    jaime says:

    hi! ive got an endomorphic body type, and my legs are really bulky–mostly from fat. I run on the treadmill everyday at 5mph for 20 min, but it has almost no effect on my legs, so can u let me know what I should be changing? hoping you can help, thanks!

      Lean Legs Support says:

      Hi lovely,

      Here are some general guidelines for endomorphs. Feel free to give it a read to know the right type of workouts and diet for your body type.

      If you have more questions, feel free to email us at info@rachaelattard.com

      We wish you all the best in your fitness journey! xx

    vaishnavi agrawal says:

    before my calves were slim but after passing school my calves became so fatty not muscular plz help me what should i do is it genetic or normal please reply

      Len - Lean Legs Support says:

      Hi lovely,

      Calves are a bit tricky because genetics is a big factor. If your legs get bulky easily and you want to avoid building more muscle, the best exercises to avoid are those where you can feel your quads burning. And if your calves got bigger from training or gaining weight, I’m happy to tell you that our 3 Steps To Lean Legs Program could help you with that :)

      I hope that helps. xx

      Love,
      Len

    Jennifer says:

    I have a bigger calves or calf muscle. Because of this i was lose my self confidence. I am very insecure to those have a perfect legs.
    Because of of big calf muscle my long time bf was broke up with me and its very awful for me. . I already read your research and i think its true. I think it is heredetary coz im checking my aunties legs she had.

    So im hoping if theirs posibility how to get rid my bigger calves or how to make it slim.

    Waiting for your response. And hoping you can help me. Thank you so much

      Len - Lean Legs Support says:

      Hi lovely,

      Calves are a bit tricky because genetics is a big factor. spot-reducing isn’t really possible so for you to lose fat in certain areas of your body, you need to lose weight overall. You should also avoid exercises that engage your quads a lot since they can contribute to bigger calves. Following the right type of exercises and diet for your body type will definitely help. Feel free to take Rachael’s body type quiz and email the results to info@rachaelattard.com so we can give some general guidelines. :)

      And if your calves got bigger from training or gaining weight, I’m happy to tell you that our Lean Legs Program could help you with that :)

      You can find out more about it here.

      I hope that helps. xx

    Eve says:

    Hey Rachael! Is there any way you could make a blog on how to box without bulking up legs? It would be so so beneficial :) Thank you so much!

      Len - Lean Legs Support says:

      Hi lovely,

      Thank you for this great suggestion! We will make sure to forward this to Rachael. :)

      Feel free to try Rachael’s at-home cardio workout (boxing). You can watch the video through this link.

      I hope that helps. You can email us at info@rachaelattard.com if you have any questions. xx

      Love,
      Len

    Elakya says:

    Your blog was really helpful. Thanks a lot.

      Sara - Lean Legs Support says:

      Hi lovely <3

      Thanks for reaching out and you're absolutely welcome!:)

      Love,
      Sara

    Paris says:

    Thank you sm for this info! I’ve always been insecure of my bulky lower body and I hated how stocky I looked! I’ve always wanted to have slimmer legs that don’t make me look short asf! Can’t wait to try these steps and avoid any exercises that will increase my calve size!

      Sanja - Lean Legs Support says:

      Hi lovely,

      thanks for reaching out! <3

      I'm so glad that you're enjoying Rachael's blog. xx

      Love,
      Sanja

    Anomynous says:

    What are some workout/exercises that I can do on a weight bench that will get me toned not bulky?

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