The calves are groups of muscles located on the backs of the lower legs that enable the body to raise the heel and push off with the feet. Some people consider large calves to be unsightly and may wish to reduce body fat stores located on the calves to make them look slimmer and toned. Reducing fat around the calves requires dedicated dieting and physical activity; even when most body fat has been eliminated from the calves, they may still seem "fat" due to the presence of muscle tissue.
Do at least 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise a week. Good exercises are swimming, cycling and arm cycling. Distance running can be a good general fat-burning exercise, but it will also tend to build muscle mass in the calves, which may be counterproductive if you want to reduce the overall size of the calves.
Reduce your calorie intake by avoiding foods high in fat and refined sugars, and by only eating enough to satiate hunger. The key to losing fat is to burn off more calories each day than you eat. Even two hours of cardio a day won't cause fat loss if you eat too much. Try to eat three square meals a day and never eat to the point of feeling full or stuffed. If you need a snack, eat fruits or vegetables instead of chips or cookies.
Increase the duration of your cardio routines over time. When you first start out you may not feel able to go longer than 30 minutes, but as your fitness improves try stepping up workouts from 30 minutes gradually up to an hour. It can take months or even years to fully realize the results of lifestyle changes like an altered diet and a fitness routine.
Avoid high-intensity activities that utilize your legs. Increasing workout intensity is normally good for burning calories, but more intense, shorter workouts will tend to build larger muscles. Instead of increasing intensity, focus on increasing duration. Since many people want both to burn fat from their calves and slim them down overall, it is best to avoid engaging the calf muscles too powerfully as it may increase the size of the calf muscles even as fat levels go down.
Tips & Warnings
- Allowing the calf muscles to atrophy through inactivity may be an effective way of reducing the size of the calves, but muscle mass will break down along with fat, which can decrease physical ability and may make the calves more susceptible to injury.
- Going up stairs tends to build calf muscle; avoid stair steppers or climbing long flights of stairs if you do now want to build calf muscle.
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