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How To Slim Calves

By Rachael Attard, Updated May 6, 2022
how to slim calves

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

 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 lose calf fat, and especially how to slim calf muscles.

If you’re wondering how to lose weight in calves and what the best slim calves workout is, then this blog post is for you.

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

WHY ARE MY CALVES SO BIG?

how to slim calves - what causes big calves

1. GENETICS 

Genetics, a big factor when it comes to calf size, is why this is a hard topic. 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 big calves.

But keep in mind that legs are the hardest place to lose fat from 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 to note 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 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 the step machine.

3. SKIPPING 

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

To slim big calves and legs, 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 should be a part of your slim calves workout.

Try power walking, steady–state running (both on a flat surface) or swimming for 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 tipTry 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 you might slim big calves too. 

That said, you cannot spot reduce fat, so it all really depends on where you tend to store fat and where you lose fat from 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 TO SLIM CALVES (AND YOUR ENTIRE BODY) 

best workouts for slim calves

As I mentioned, you cannot spot reduce fat, even if it would be great to know the exact calf slimming exercises.

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 help you lose calf fat, 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 they 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 how to lose calf fat and muscle so you know that the biggest focus should be on the diet and the right type of workouts.

My program includes cardio, a complete 8-week meal plan and the exact style of resistance training that I mentioned in this blog post. These calf slimming exercises will help you overcome that problem area.

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 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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159 comments on “How To Slim Calves”

    Precious says:

    How can I get rid of this big muscle calf in my legs.. Am a female

      Lean Legs Support says:

      Hi lovely! Calves are a bit tricky because genetics is a big factor. Most of the time, losing weight overall would help.

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

      You can find out more about it here

    Robin Flores says:

    I’d like to know how to slim KNEES. I have fat knees, so I can never wear shorts, only capris… I know slimming overall will help, and I’m working on that, but are there specific exercises to slim knees?

    Rebecca says:

    Hi! My calves are a bit tricky, they’re for sure large but I can’t tell if they’re muscular or fatty. When I do not walk or tense there’s an excessive layer of fat but as I stand or tense the muscle is visibly big. What do I do?

      Lean Legs Support says:

      Hi lovely,

      Calves are a bit tricky because genetics is a big factor. Usually, you can slim them down through a combination of light intensity cardio, light resistance exercises, and adjusting your diet for weight loss.

      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 :)

    salma says:

    Hi,
    I am a mesomorph and I noticed my calves getting bigger from power walking every day. Power walking is the only exercise I do, so I can’t say my calves are getting larger from anything else. I do however walk between 7.5- 8.0 km/hr as that is where my heart rate is at its fat-burning mode. Could it be because of the speed and the intensity, if so, what can I do about it. Also how long do you reckon I should be walking for to avoid over-exercising.
    Many thanks xxx

      Lean Legs Support says:

      Hi lovely,

      Calves are a bit tricky because genetics is a big factor. If you’re power walking on an incline then it can also cause unwanted bulkiness so make sure that you always do it on a flat surface. When power walking, the best is speed is where you’re feeling a little bit puffed but still be able to hold a conversation. Losing overall weight can also aid not only in slimming down your calves but also your legs so aside from cardio, you can also incorporate light resistance workouts into your routine and adjust your diet for weight loss by eating at a calorie deficit. :)

    vaishnavi agrawal says:

    from where can i download your free leg slimming plan??

      Lean Legs Support says:

      Hi lovely,

      To access some of Rachael’s free content like the ‘Train Like A Model 5-Day Course’ or her ‘7-Day Slim Legs Diet’, you can register an account in our Lean Legs Platform. It will only take 2 minutes and it’s completely free. You can do that through this link.

      You will find her free content and other workouts under the ‘INSPIRATION & FREEBIES’ tab. :)

    INYENE MOLOGE says:

    Hi, I love to wear high hills but my calves gives me low self esteem because they are so big that they hurt whenever I try hills.

      Lean Legs Support says:

      Hi lovely,

      Calves are a bit tricky because genetics is a big factor. Since you can’t spot reduce, one of the ways to slim down your calves is by losing weight overall and power walking is one of the best types of cardio that could help you slim down your legs without bulking them up.

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

    Melissa says:

    Hi,
    Does the calf equipment at the gym work to reduce muscular calves? If so, should I use less weight and quick reps? My calves are naturally muscular. They bulk up just from walking.
    Thank you!

      Lean Legs Support says:

      Hi lovely,

      It activates the muscles in your lower leg and can actually make you build more muscle there. Calves are a bit tricky because genetics is a big factor. The right type of cardio and resistance training could help you slim them down.

      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 :)

      Love,
      Len

    Kamalembo Esther says:

    Helo, have a problem about my calves. I like putting on short dresses but my legs are the problem. These calves can’t enable me do that, please help me how to get rid of them and is massaging also the best way too to remove calves from my legs.

      Lean Legs Support says:

      Hi lovely,

      Calves are a bit tricky because genetics is a big factor. Most of the time, light intensity cardio like power walking and light resistance workouts could help slim them down.

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

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

      Love,
      Len

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