Many women who have a pear-shape body type, struggle to slim down their legs. And especially want to know how to lose weight in calves.
It’s not an uncommon problem and unfortunately, it’s one that comes primarily from genetics, but there are a few things you can proactively do to slim your calves if you consider it a problem area. Some women just long for lean legs like the bomb Instagram selfies they see from models and influencers.
Of course, your calves are beautiful just the way they are, but if you’re looking to trim a little fat and lose weight in calves, here are my top tips!
What causes thick calves?
Absolutely no one wants to hear this, but big calves largely come from genetics so you can thank mom and dad for your lack of tall boot options. The truth is a double edge sword. If you yearn for slim legs and you were born with big calves then there isn’t a whole lot you can do in the way of major changes but on the flip side, bodybuilders that want huge calves will have a hard time if they aren’t genetically gifted with them. Even if most of your family members have large claves, there is still hope. Genetics is one factor in calf size but not the only influence. Your body shape and type also dictate how hard or easy it is to build muscle.
Your calves are mostly muscle but they also contain some fat. If your overall body fat percentage is high, then it’s more likely that going on a diet can help reduce calf size. You’ll have to have patience though because weight loss can take quite a while to show up in the legs, especially for women. It won’t be until close to your goal weight that you see any results in the calf area. Having a diet high and salt can also contribute to thick calves due to water retention.
Another minor reduction you can make is to stop doing exercise that directly contributes to calf muscle growth. It’s possible that even without trying to, your normal exercise routine is beefing up your claves. We will discuss later the exercises you should avoid if you’re looking to reduce calf muscle mass.
Tips to lose weight on your calves
If you want to lose weight on calves instead of making them bulky, then you should focus on low impact exercises. This can include fun activities like swimming, cycling, and even gardening or other chores and hobbies. If you want to work out quite a bit without building muscle then the best activity by far is walking.
Walking on a flat surface will helps you to burn calories and lose weight as well as toning the legs. Avoid stairs or walking up hills, this includes walking on a treadmill at an incline. The incline is what builds leg muscles when walking or running. Running is a fantastic healthy cardio exercise that’s good for your heart as well as your waistline. However, walking brings less intensity and therefore less chance to build extra muscle in the calves.
Check the post “Walking for weight loss” with tips and recommendations on how to walk for the best fat-burning results.
Setting Up A Walking Routine You Can Stick To: If you’re new to regular workouts then take it slow in the beginning. A brisk 10-15 minute walk a day for the first week will help get you set up for success. As you start to take longer walks, map out a safe route without too many hills in your neighborhood using an app like “Map My Run.” Always dress appropriately for the weather with layers you can shed if you get too overheated. Take a water bottle with you to avoid dehydration. Make the time fly by as you listen to your favorite beats or an audiobook while you walk. This is a great time to get caught up on all the self-help books you’ve been meaning to read! Set a time schedule and stick to it, making your health a top priority.
Don’t Use Heavy Weights
Tone muscles are essential for a slim body type, but overdoing it will achieve more of a bodybuilder physique you might not be going for. While it’s tempting to avoid weights altogether, you don’t want to dismiss their benefit to your overall look and health. Muscle bulk is built by overextending the muscles, instead, you want to work them without pushing their limits. Try doing more reps but with small weights. This will tighten and tone without adding bulk.
If you want to lose weight in calves, you should add at least two strength-training sessions per week to your fitness routine. Just avoid exercises that bulk up the calves. You can do bodyweight exercises that strengthen the muscles – squats, deadlifts, lunges are all amazing for toning your legs and also burning more calories. Building muscle helps reduce body fat so you don’t want to be afraid of it. Simply avoid overexercising calf muscles and you’re good to go.
Get A Massage
Many women who try to lose weight in calves swear by the “slim calf massage” method. The theory is that these actions help reduce the water retention that tends to pool in the legs (especially calves), and also that it relaxes dense muscle fiber found in the calves.
For the best daily calf massage, first, soak your legs in warm water or wrap the calves in hot moist towels for 10-15 minutes. Then, using massage oil and your hands, massage the tissue for up to 10 minutes. It will not only help slim your calves but also can help you relax, releasing tension throughout the body. This can be done DIY style in your own home, no need for an expensive spa treatment. Check my post “Anti-cellulite massage” to learn more about different techniques to make legs lean and toned.
Try Stretching And Yoga
Another great way to lose weight in calves is through stretching exercises like yoga and pilates. Some yoga poses target flexibility in the calves such as downward dog, the crescent lunge, and warrior I and II. Pilates combines elements of stretching with strength training and aerobic exercise that works all muscle groups in the body. Use yoga or pilates with a balanced low-fat diet to gain a slimmer figure. You’ll also burn a surprising number of calories with yoga workouts and they are low-impact. It’s great for all ages and ability levels.
Many people (including me) find that stretching helps to make calves look slimmer. So give this method a try and see whether it will work for you.
You may also find my other post “How to lose leg fat in 1 week” useful as I share other tips that help to make legs slimmer in a short time.
Reduce Total Body Fat
The main reason, besides genetics, that’s so hard to lose weight in your calves is that fat isn’t generally stored in the legs to start with. Even as your weight fluctuates you won’t notice a huge difference in the size of your calves. That’s why you can be an optimal weight but still have thick calves. You can also be a little on the heavy side and not suffer from chunky calves. Body types are largely genetic and fat mostly gets stored around the mid-section. But all hope is not lost, decrease your total body fat percentage (aka losing weight) will help you slim down everywhere, calves included.
To lose weight in calves you need to eat healthy and follow some basic rules:
What to avoid:
1. Animal fat is simply terrible for your body and you can eliminate it by cutting out fatty meats like bacon and beef. If you love those things, you can substitute with lean grass-fed beef with all visible fat trimmed and turkey bacon.
2. Excess sugar leads straight to belly fat and increased fat all around the body. Processed foods, we often call them convenience foods, are loaded with extra sugar. Many drinks like soda, fruit juice, and fancy coffees, are also loaded with sugar and easy to drink quickly letting the sugar grams ramp up at an alarming rate without intention.
3. Processed carbs literally turn to sugar in your body, that’s why people with diabetes are told to reduce their carb intake as well as their sugar intake. Bread, cereal, and pasta are the main sources of carbs we get into trouble with.
So what should you eat if you’re looking to reduce body fat?
You can find a lot of information in this post “How to burn fat fast“. But in short, think about whole fresh foods that haven’t been processed in a factory and packaged into a box. Fresh fruits and veggies can make up a large portion of your diet. Leafy green vegetables like spinach will help you feel full and they are full of fantastic vitamins your body needs. You can also eat lean protein sources like chicken, turkey, fish, beans, eggs, and low-fat Greek yogurt. If you need some grains in your life go for whole grains like oatmeal, brown rice, and barley.
Lower Your Sodium Intake
Water retention is when excess fluid builds up inside your body and it can be caused by something serious like heart disease or simply by having a diet high in sodium. Stress and sitting for long periods of time can also cause water retention in the legs.
So if you want to lose weight in calves, it’s a good idea to try reducing water retention. The number one way to do it is by eating less sodium, or salt. Processed foods are full of extra sodium so try to stick to a clean diet of fresh fruits and vegetables with lean proteins. You can also decrease water retention by taking a magnesium supplement, especially for women during their menstrual cycle. Light exercise & massage can also help avoid fluid retention in the calves.
Another great way to reduce puffiness is to flood your body with water. We’ve lived and died by the “ 6 to 8 cups of water a day” rule but it turns out that that’s more of a memory trick and water consumption isn’t a one-size-fits-all situation. Your size, body mass, and the amount of exercise you do will all help determine how much water you need. Larger humans and those that work out and sweat a lot will need more water. But try to aim for at least 1,5-2 liters a day. It’s a good idea to keep a reusable water bottle around throughout the day and especially during workouts.
Foods to avoid when eating a low sodium diet:
- Start by eliminating the salt shaker from the dinner table
- Now avoid processed carbs like bread, rolls, and bagels
- Cold cuts and other processed meats are very high in sodium and should be avoided.
- Canned soups and frozen meals usually have a lot of added sodium to increase their shelf life. Foods with a high shelf life should always be met with skepticism.
How to make calves look slimmer
Don’t despair if you don’t see immediate results or drastic results of any kind. If you were not born to have a willowy figure then it wasn’t meant to be. Having strong, toned calf muscles can certainly be seen as a plus. Losing weight, reducing your body fat percentage, and doing exercises that one but do not add bulk to your muscles will all help you slightly reduce your calf size and achieve slimmer legs.
If you can’t get the exact desired results you are looking for, fashion is there to help give you a boost. Here are a few fashion tips for helping to make calves appear smaller:
- Accentuate the top half of the body
- Go for drapey fabrics that flow
- Wear a full-length skirt
- When wearing shorter skirts add black tights
- Wear at least medium height heels, also a chunky heel will help
- Do not wear ankle straps as these draw attention to the calves
- And finally, wear clothes you feel comfortable in so that your confidence shines through!
A regular routine of low-impact aerobics, a balanced low-carb diet, and a few massage sessions a week can go a long way towards eliminating bulky calves. You’ll also notice natural weight loss and better health among other health benefits.
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