Spot reduction, or targeting a specific muscle for weight loss, doesn't work. Rather, take a multifaceted approach, consisting of diet, cardio and resistance training, to slim down all over, including your calves. A diet consisting of whole grains, lean sources of protein, vegetables, healthy fats and fruits will help you lose weight. Doing 150 minutes of cardio each week, specifically cardio that challenges your lower legs such as cycling, running and jumping rope, will help reduce fat on your calves. Integrate calf exercises into two or three resistance-training sessions each week. And be sure to check in with your health care practitioner before beginning a new exercise regimen.
Burn extra calories and tone up with compound exercises, which are exercises that challenge more than one muscle at a time. Slim your calves and tone your backside with this exercise. Stand up straight, position your feet shoulder-width apart and bend your knees slightly. Stick your hips out behind you, aligning your knees and ankles. Tighten your abdominal muscles and straighten your back. Lower your hips toward the floor, stopping when your hamstrings are parallel to the floor. Remain in the lowered position and lift onto the balls of your feet. Lower your heels to the floor and shift your weight onto them. Do 12 to 15 more heel lifts, stopping when your calves fatigue. On the final rep, push through your heels and stand up.
The jump-and-reach tones your calves, hips and butt. Stand up straight, bend your knees and position them above your ankles. Stick your hips out behind you and shift your weight onto your heels. Lower your hips toward the floor, stopping when your heels are about to lift off the floor. Straighten your arms and reach them behind you. Push through your heels and jump up while simultaneously swinging your arms overhead. Your body forms a straight line as you jump. Land softly on the middle of your feet and lower gently onto your heels. Make sure your knees are bent as you lower -- locking them may cause knee injury. Complete 12 to 15 reps, stopping when your muscles fatigue.
Add Some Weight
Holding dumbbells during calf raises increases external resistance, placing more demands on your lower legs. Hold a moderately heavy dumbbell in each hand and stand up straight. Hang your arms by your sides, relax your shoulders and position your feet shoulder-distance apart. Shift your weight onto your heels, then push through your heels and lift onto the balls of your feet. Pause in the elevated position, lower your feet to the floor and shift your weight onto your heels. Complete 12 to 15 repetitions, stopping when your calves fatigue.
One at a Time
Single-legged calf raises tone the calves. Isolating each leg prevents you from using the other calf during the lifts. Stand up straight, lift your right foot off the floor and shift your weight onto your left foot. Bend your left knee slightly, tighten your abdominal muscles and gaze forward. Push through your left heel and lift onto the ball of your left foot. Lift as high as possible, then lower your left heel to the floor. Shift your weight onto your left heel and repeat. Complete 12 to 15 repetitions, stopping when your calves fatigue.
- American Council on Exercise: Jump and Reach
- American College of Sports Medicine: ACSM Issues New Recommendations on Quantity and Quality of Exercise
- ACE Personal Trainer Manual; American Council on Exercise