How To Slim Calves

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 poiny

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.

100 comments on “How To Slim Calves”

    Khuliso says:

    Good day, please assist My calves are too muscular their very strong how can I deal with that to soften them

      Sara - Lean Legs Support says:

      Hi lovely <3,

      Thanks for reaching out!:)

      Here's a blog post you will find very useful!<3

      If you have any other questions feel free to write to info@rachaelattard.com! <3

      Love,
      Sara

    Nushka says:

    Hi
    It seems that I’m getting bulkier and my calves are really getting heavier how can I reduce it I do not do any workouts but I run everyday it is because of that ?

      Sara - Lean Legs Support says:

      Hi lovely <3,

      Thanks for reaching out!:)

      It could be that running is bulking you up!

      Do you know your body type? If not, you can go ahead and to this Body Type Quiz!:)

      Once you have the results feel free to write to info@rachaelattard.com and I will be able to give you some detailed tips!:)

      Love,
      Sara

    Ifunanya says:

    I’m really worried about my claves because they look big to me and I want it to slim down cause am into modeling and I dont really know what causes it’s enlargement. Which exercise will I engage in on daily basis that will not reduce my hips but will make my legs thin and most importantly my calf muscles.

      Sara - Lean Legs Support says:

      Hi lovely <3,

      Thanks for reaching out!:)

      Firstly, do you know your body type? If not, you can take this Body Type Quiz, it will only take you a couple of minutes!:)

      Once you know your body type I will be able to give you some useful tips!:)

      Feel free to write to me at info@rachaelattard.com

      Love,
      Sara

    Jolene says:

    Hi Rachael, I am going into Week 2 of your program and already seeing some small results in my thighs and quads. However, my goal is to slim my calves down. Years of running, HIIT training and even barre have made them very bulky. I am power walking every morning in a fasted state walking laps around a certain area in my neighborhood but am worried as there is a very slight incline on one side of the block. I can feel it as I walk up but it is minor and I feel my quads working more than my calves. I don’t have a treadmill and this block is the most ‘level’ I have been able to find close to me. Am I being too paranoid about this skewing my results? I am also omitting the ankle weights as I really want to remove any extra stress on my legs.

      Ana - Lean Legs Support says:

      Hey lovely,

      If the incline is not really noticeable you can continue running there, it is hard to find a totally flat surface in the neighborhood. :)
      If you by any chance notice your quads bulking up, avoid that part of the path.

      And make sure that your ankle weights re not heavier than 2 – 5 lbs. :)

      Hope I helped! xx

      Love,
      Ana

    Gabriella says:

    Hey Ana,
    I did lose weight from my legs am just worried am not there yet as my BMI says am currently underweight. I am 5ft9 and I measured my calf size and its at 13cm. It still looks big to me. Am I on a right track. Awaiting your response.

      Ana - Lean Legs Support says:

      Hey lovely,
      Everything you are doing is fine. :)
      Maybe your body just needs a bit more time!
      Some girls get results more quickly than the others, it is perfectly normal. :)
      Stay dedicated and positive. :)

      Love,
      Ana

    Gabriella says:

    Hey Ana,
    I consume 1200 calories a day. My daily workout routine is an hour walk and body weight exercise. I also work out about 4/5 times a week. So is there something am doing wrong..

    Gabriella says:

    Dear Rachel, I need your opinion. I’m 30 and 5ft9. I weighed 60kg so my BMI is healthy. I love my body shape but I seem not to be comfortable with wearing shorts because my calves are bigger than my whole body. For the past 2 months, I have been on a fat loss journey so I can slim my legs. I’m now at 54kg, I lost weight overall but my legs are still carrying the most weight. I checked my BMI and it says am underweight. I am worried. Please your opinion matters. Do I continue losing weight till I get my skinny legs? Awaiting your reply.

      Ana - Lean Legs Support says:

      Hey lovely,

      I hope that you are eating at least 1200 calories per day because that is a bare minimum for girls! If you are not, then your body is going in starvation mode.

      Can you please tell me what kind of exercises you do? And if you walk, what kind of surface it is?
      Walking is the key to it, so make sure you walk at least 10 000 steps a day. :)

      Love,
      Ana

    Fatima says:

    I’m very worried about my calves they are way too bigger than rest of my body and i haven’t done much workout either i have big thighs too but calves are more bulky i really want to slim down my calves. Can you please help me suggesting some workout that may slim my thighs and calves and not make my butts bulky too..

      Sara - Lean Legs Support says:

      Hi, lovely <3

      Thanks for reaching out!

      Calves are a bit tricky because genetics is a big factor, but we can still work with that! :)

      If your calves got bigger from training or gaining weight, I’m happy to tell you that Rachael's Lean Legs Program could help you with that :)

      Hope this helps!

      Love,
      Sara

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