Big calves are a problem for many people. The calf muscle is made up of two major muscles -- the soleus and the gastrocnemius. Big calves can be the symptom of excess fat stored around theses muscles. Some exercises also bulk up the calf muscles to give the appearance of big calves. You can prevent big calves by maintaining lean muscle mass, avoiding certain exercises and doing the right ones.
Maintain a schedule of at least 150 minutes of cardiovascular exercise every week. Cardio is the key to keeping any area of your body from getting large. Jogging, running, cycling and dancing are examples of cardiovascular exercise that will help you maintain lean legs.
Replace resistance exercises that build large calf muscles -- such as calf raises -- with compound lower body exercises. Squats and lunges, for example, work multiple muscle groups, including the calves. By working multiple muscle groups in one exercise, you are also burning more fat.
Add at least two days of full-body resistance exercises to your fitness routine. Resistance exercises build lean muscle mass, which burns fat even after your workout is over.
Use light weight for lower body resistance exercises. Do not avoid lower body resistance exercises, just use lighter resistance to avoid building larger calves.
Eat a healthy diet consisting of lean protein, leafy green vegetables and whole grains. Follow the USDA guidelines for portion control by filling half of your plate with fruits and vegetables at every meal. Replace sugary drinks like soda and juice with water.