April 16, 2013  |  Fitness

how to slim calves, does running make calves bigger, exercise and calf sizehow to slim calves, does running make calves bigger, exercise and calf size

Does running make my calves even bigger?  What kind of exercise should I do to slim down my calves size? Those must be the two most popular questions I’ve ever got on the fitness BBS.

Well, let me tell you this: first off, I used to ask my trainers the exact same questions over and over; secondly, I’ve been running and doing all kinds of fitness exercises over 5yrs (enough to be a guinea pig:).

Honestly, here are what I’ve found out:

  1. Genetic is the key! Looking at your parents or siblings, if bigger calves run into your family, there is really nothing you can do to minimize them. From the human anatomy stand point, there is something called “Achilles tendon”, which is a tough band of fibrous tissue that connects the calf muscles to the heel bone. If genetically you have a short Achilles tendon, then your calves will look bigger because the muscles have to extend lower down your leg to meet the short tendon.
  2. Endurance running won’t make your calves bigger! Seriously, sprinting develops the calves, but endurance running does not. The key is to run slower but for longer distances. Although you may notice what appears to be an increase in size after a long run. That is due to the “pump” you get from the increased blood flow to your calves muscles while you’re running and it is not permanent at all.
  3. Yoga, Barre and Pilates are great exercises for calves. The specifically designed movements will stretch the calf muscles to shape them longer. Key is you have to practice them over the time. A few months may not be long enough.
  4. Keep your heels down. Let me simply put this way, wearing high heels all day long, 5 days a week will surely develop your calves muscles as you are constantly targeting that muscle group.

Thank you so much for reading, and I hope you find this helpful~~~! :)


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  1. I totally agree. Genetics IS the key. I have always had slim legs, and the various exercises I have done over the years really haven’t affected my calve size.

    I have been doing yoga, Pilates, and ballet body fusion regularly, and found out that these are very effective exercises for toning and strengthening the legs, especially outer and inner thighs. Maybe when you get a chance, you could share with us your experiences with exercises for thighs. I’d be very interested.

    Thanks for your lovely photos and great post!

    p.s. I have a pair of red shoes that looks exactly like yours. :)

  2. 谢谢无风

  3. I feel tired everyday and have to drag myself to finish the routine. I thought exercises were supposed make me feel good and energized.

    I take rest a day or 2 every week and I don’t know what I did wrong:(

    • 1) what did you do in terms of exercise?
      2) what’s your nutrition plan?
      3) Bottom line is to “listen to” your body. Fitness is a journey, not a race…take you time and do it little by little~~~!

      • 1)
        about 1 hour jogging (road)
        about 30 mins play with my pair of 5lbs dumbbell

        about 1 hour yoga

        All Chinese food, hard to calculate calories, and not sure what’ve burned either

        If “listen to my body”, I’ll be staying in bed for whole day:)

        —–Although I’m hopeless but still so nice to see you with all these fantastic pictures.^_^

  4. Love your post!
    I have a question about workout in the morning – what do you eat before the workout? I feel I shouldn’t exercise right after eating, but it doesn’t sound right to start with an empty stomach… That bothers me. Could you share your morning routine with us? Thanks very much!!

  5. 对于吃什么都不胖的人,锻炼时还需要注意饮食么?什么运动适合瘦子呢,35+,瘦已经不再美丽。

  6. 你是榜样,:),我最近又把锻炼捡起来了,加油!

  7. 你身材比例太漂亮了!

  8. Hi there. I have really big calves (37 cm)and I only stand 5’0. I don’t think its a normal proportion though and I don’t think its hereditary since most of my family members have slim calves and I’m the only exceptional. That’s why I really want to have slim calves. Could you give me some tips on how to slim it down? Hoping for your quick respond. Thank you :)

    • Kirsten,
      1) if you feel you have more body fat to cut (including calves), then overall body fat reduction will help.
      2) if you are overall lean, and have bigger muscles around calves, I recommend barre exercise. Pure barre or bar method, which helps to stretch and lengthen the muscles instead of bulking it.
      3) Avoid high heels and sprinting types of exercises.
      Hope it helps :)

  9. It seems that in my case its genetic (from my father) my calves are very muscular , no fat at all :/
    So it’s kinda bothering me when I want to wear slim jeans etc… Whereas my brother is the complete inverse lol (more like my mother)

    So I was wondering : Is running 30 minutes called endurance ?
    (12km/h speed )

    Or do I need to Run longer with lower speed ?

    • Yes! Genetics play huge role in terms of calves sizes and shapes.
      12km/hr is a bit on a fast end, but should be OK. You can try 10km/hr for 40mins + as well.

      • everyday i would run on the treadmill for almost 1 hour.

        15 minutes – 6.5 mph
        15 minutes – 7.0 mph
        15 minutes – 7.5 mph
        15 minutes – 8.0 mph
        HIIT once in while..

        is this ok? i target to reduce my body fat percentage. but will it affect my calf making it larger? been doing this for almost 2 months with 1 day rest in a week..

        thanks in advance! ^^v

        • This kind of speed will bulk your calves based on my experience.
          You need to run slower (5-6mph) for an hour to burn.
          Also, resting is as important as training, you may want to try take 2 days off instead.
          Other than running, try some weight training program as well, as running itself won’t do too much in a long run.

  10. 无风mm, 我平常也运动,每周5次,椭圆机,跳操,慢跑,一年下来感觉腿没有怎么变细,大腿前侧好像长了肌肉,侧面看起来鼓起来, 不是你那种平的。这个怎么办呢?做什么运动可以瘦大腿前侧,谢谢。

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