12 Exercises To Lose Calf Fat And Diet And Lifestyle Tips For Slim Calves

Tone up the lower half of your legs with these easy-to-follow yet effective methods.

Reviewed by Dr. Sudhansu Singh, BPT
Written by Charushila Biswas, MSc (Biotechnology), ISSA Certified Fitness Nutritionist
Edited by Ravi Teja Tadimalla, Professional Certificate In Food, Nutrition & Health
Fact-checked by Sindhu Koganti, Certified Health & Nutrition Life Coach  • 

Calf muscles are present at the back of your lower legs. Like other parts of your body, you can accumulate fat in calves too. So, the question is, how to reduce calf fat and make your legs look shapely? Gaining fat in the calves may make your lower leg look bigger than the thighs. Do not worry, we can help you get rid of the excess calf fat. Just a few tweaks in your diet, workout, and lifestyle can make your calves slimmer. Read on to know how to lose calf fat the healthy way. Scroll down!

protip_icon Workout Blueprint: Exercises To Lose Calf Fat
  • Frequency: 2–3 times per week
  • Benefits: Tone the leg muscles and enhance leg strength.
  • Equipment Needed: Dumbbells, exercise mat.
  • Space Required: Small area
  • Assistance Required: No
  • Who Should Avoid: People with joint issues, knee pain, or back problems.

12 Exercises To Lose Calf Fat

Consistency and patience are the two most important qualities you need before starting any weight loss plan. It takes time and effort to lose weight and body fat and there is no quick fix for losing calf fat. Exercising is a great way to lose overall body fat. Though there are no spot reduction methods to get rid of fat from one part of your body, a few exercises, when done correctly, can help reduce the size of your calves, build long and slender muscles, and make your legs appear slimmer. Nathan Lloyd, a licensed personal trainer, says, “If you’re looking to reduce calf fat without losing too much weight overall, the best way is to do strength training exercises. Strength training exercises are designed to build muscle mass and increase your metabolism. The more muscle you have in your body, the faster your metabolism will be, and the more calories you’ll burn every day.” However, the amount of weight you need to lose will vary depending on your individual body type and genetics. Therefore, it is best to seek a physical trainer before starting the plan. Here are 12 exercises that will help you lose the excess fat from your calf area. Take a look:

1. Standing Calf Raises

Target – Calves and hamstrings

How To Do

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, chest out, and shoulders rolled back. Place your hands on your waist and look ahead.
  2. Raise both the heels and balance your body on the balls of your feet.
  3. Hold this pose for a second, and then lower your heels to the floor.
  4. Repeat this quickly to feel your calves burn and melt some fat.
  5. Do 3 sets of 25 reps.

2. Seated Calf Raises With Weights

Target – Calves

How To Do

  1. Hold a dumbbell in each hand and sit on a stool or chair. Place your feet flat on the floor, and the handles of the dumbbells on your thighs, just above your knees. Point your elbows slightly out, keep your spine straight, and legs shoulder-width apart, and look straight.
  2. Keeping the balls of your feet on the floor, raise your heels.
  3. Hold this pose for a second, and then lower the heels to the floor.
  4. Do 3 sets of 20 reps.
protip_icon Quick Tip
Use low weight dumbbells if you are a beginner—15 to 20 pounds should be sufficient to start with. Avoid this exercise if you have any lower body injury.

3. Weighted Sumo Squat With Calf Raise

Target – Calves, hamstrings, quads, and glutes

How To Do

  1. Hold a dumbbell with both hands. Stand straight with your legs wider than shoulder-width apart. Turn your feet out, keep your back straight, roll your shoulders back, put your chest out, and look straight.
  2. Flex both the knees and lower your torso until your hips are almost in line with your thighs.
  3. Hold this pose for a moment and then slowly raise your body. Right before your legs are straight, raise your heels.
  4. Place the heels down and flex both your knees and get down to a sumo squat.
  5. Do 3 sets of 12 reps.

4. Plie Calf Raises

Target – Calves, glutes, and quads.

How To Do

  1. Stand straight with your legs wider than shoulder-width apart. Squat down, keep your back straight, and extend your hands in front of you and join them as shown in the image.
  2. Raise your heels and balance your body on your toes – almost like you are wearing high heels.
  3. Lower your heels a little, and just when they are about to touch the floor, raise them back to the original position.
  4. Do 3 sets of 12 reps.

5. Skater Hops

Target – Calves, hamstrings, quads, and glutes

How To Do

  1. Stand straight with your legs together.
  2. Bend both your knees slightly and lift your right foot off the floor. Bend your right knee fully so that the shin and thigh are at 90 degrees to each other. Lean forward slightly and get into a “runner stance” (as shown in the image).
  3. Hop on your left leg and land on your right foot so that the legs are wider than shoulder-width apart. Lift your left foot off the floor simultaneously. Flex your left knee fully so that your shin and thigh are at 90 degrees with each other.
  4. Hop on your right leg and land on your left foot.
  5. Do 3 sets of 12 reps.

6. Arm Plank With Knee Dips

Target – Calves, hamstrings, core, and shoulders.

How To Do

  1. Get into an elbow plank pose. Keep your core engaged.
  2. Flex your right knee and touch the floor with it. Bring it back to the plank pose.
  3. Flex your left knee and touch the floor with it.
  4. Do 2 sets of 12 reps.

7. Endurance Running

Image: Shutterstock

Target – Full body

How To Do

  1. Do a light warm-up like spot jogging, jumping jacks, and stretching before you start.
  2. Start jogging on the road or on the treadmill. If you are running on the treadmill, set the incline to 3 degrees.
  3. Run slow and for a longer duration to lose overall body fat as well as calf fat.
  4. Do it every alternate day for 15-30 minutes.

8. Stair Climbing

Image: Shutterstock

Target – Calves, hamstrings, quads, and glutes

How To Do

  1. You can do this on the stairs at home or work or at the gym on a StairMaster machine.
  2. Warm up by spot jogging and doing a few warm-up stretches.
  3. Climb up and go down the stairs at a moderate pace.
  4. Use your toes instead of the entire feet so that you can work on your calves.
  5. Increase your running speed gradually with time and practice.
  6. Do 2 sets of 3 reps.

9. Jump Squats

Target – Calves, hamstrings, quads, and glutes

How To Do

  1. Stand straight with your legs shoulder-width apart, chest out, and shoulders rolled back.
  2. Push your buttocks out, bend your knees, and get into a squat or sitting on a chair pose.
  3. Swipe your hands up above your head and jump.
  4. Land softly on the floor.
  5. Do 3 sets of 15 reps.

10. Single Leg Squats

Target – Calves, hamstrings, quadriceps, and glutes

How To Do

  1. Stand straight with your legs hip-width apart.
  2. Lift your right leg off the floor in front of you, raise both your arms in front of you, at the shoulder level, and with the palms facing down. This is the starting position.
  3. Bend your left knee and get into a sitting posture. Keep your right foot flexed.
  4. Hold this pose for a moment and then straighten your left leg and get back to the starting position.
  5. After you complete 10 reps, switch legs and repeat the same.
  6. Do 2 sets of 10 reps.

11. Hand Under Foot Pose

Target – Calves and hamstrings

How To Do

  1. Stand straight with your legs shoulder-width apart.
  2. Keeping your back straight, bend forward and slip a hand under each foot.
  3. Slowly bring your head toward your knees and bend your elbows outward so that you can achieve this pose easily.
  4. Hold this pose for 5 seconds and then go back to step 2.
  5. Do 2 sets of 3 reps.

12. Calf Stretch

Target – Calves and hamstrings

How To Do

  1. Stand facing a wall. Place your right foot forward near the wall and the left foot behind it. Make sure that the foot is facing the wall. Place both your elbows and forearms on the wall, shoulder-width apart.
  2. Lower your glutes and core and press against the wall with your forearm so that you feel a stretch in your left calf and hamstring.
  3. Switch your legs and repeat.
  4. Do 2 sets of 3 reps.

protip_icon Quick Tip
Perform modified and low-impact versions of these exercises if you have knee pain or joint issues.

These are the 12 mixed workouts that you must do at least 3-5 days a week to see results. In addition, resistance band exercises, skipping, leg press, leg curls, plyometrics, and leg extensions may help lose calf fat. Also, creating a caloric deficit and providing plenty of hydration to your body may also aid weight loss and in turn help lose calf fat. Check out the diet and lifestyle tips that will help you get results quickly. Scroll down.

Diet And Lifestyle Tips To Lose Calf Fat

It is not possible to target fat loss in a specific area and there is no special diet that will target fat loss in the calves. However, following a healthy diet can help reduce your overall body fat, which may help reduce the fat in the calves too. According to Nathan Lloyd, a certified personal trainer, “The first thing you need to do is make sure that your diet is in check. If you’re eating a lot of carbs and sugar, then your body will be storing more fat on your thighs and calves as glycogen (carbohydrate) storage sites.”

He also adds, “You also need to make sure that you are getting enough protein in your diet—this will help your body build muscle mass, which can help you burn more calories overall. Next, if you have a sedentary lifestyle, try incorporating more cardiovascular exercises into your routine. Finally, if you want to target specific areas with specific exercises, try doing high-intensity interval training (HIIT).”

A study conducted between 2006-2019 on 22,659 participants from the UK revealed that people who consumed ultra-processed food on a regular basis are at a higher risk of developing overall obesity. They also risk an over 5% increase in their BMI, waist circumference, and body fat percentage.

Here are some more tips:

  • Avoid Consuming Fattening Foods – Avoid foods like wafers, bagels, pizza, burger, processed meat, deep-fried chicken, and fries (1). Unless you lose the overall body fat, you will not lose an inch of flab from your calves.
  • Consume Slimming Foods – Foods like veggies, fruits, grains, nuts, healthy oils, lean protein sources (fish, eggs, lentils, beans), brown sugar (in limited amounts), whole wheat flour, and quinoa will help you slim down by mobilizing the accumulated fat (2), (3).
  • Avoid Wearing High Heels – Wearing high heels can make your calf muscles look bulky and short (4). Also, wearing them regularly without proper foot support can also be harmful for your hips and low back.
  • Avoid Exercises That Put Too Much Resistance On Your Calves – Your aim is to lose calf fat. But doing too much resistance training that targets your calves will only make them look bulkier. Lose the calf fat first by doing cardio and moderate resistance training.
  • Avoid Cardio At A High Incline – Running or brisk walking on an incline is great for losing calf fat. But if you do it on an incline of more than 3 degrees, you will end up making your calves look broader.
  • Avoid Sprints – Sprints are great for building muscle strength and power. But right now, you should focus on endurance or long runs so that you can shed the calf fat.
  • Avoid High Knee Exercise – Doing high knee exercises will build the calf muscles. And if you build muscle without losing the fat, your calves will look bulkier than before.
  • Get A Massage – Getting a massage in your calf area can help increase the rate at which the fat is being mobilized. This will help you lose the calf fat quickly.
  • Avoid Late Night Eating – If you have followed all the instructions throughout the day, only to succumb to late-night cravings, you will not be able to lose fat (5). Brush your teeth before you go to bed to curb your cravings.

Infographic: What Causes Calf Fat Or Big Calves?

Though no spot reduction methods exist to eliminate calf fat, regular exercise and diet changes can help trim your calves. However, in some cases, you cannot reduce calf fat as quickly as you think. Want to know why? Then learning about the different causes of big calves can help. Check out the infographic below to learn what causes big calves.

what causes calf fat or big calf (infographic)

Illustration: StyleCraze Design Team

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Download Infographic in PDF version

The muscles at the back of your lower legs can also accumulate fat without enough activity. While it may not affect you to start with, it alters the shape and feel of the way your legs look. How to reduce calf fat then? Standing calf raises, seated calf raises, weighted sumo squat, running or jogging, cycling, and stair climbing or step-ups, along with the right posture, and balanced diet, would help you get and feel some relief soon.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does lifting weight make fat calves bigger or slimmer?

Nathan Lloyd says, “Your calf muscles are made up of two different types of muscle tissue: slow-twitch and fast-twitch. When you lift weights, your body uses both slow- and fast-twitch muscle fibers to perform the movement. When you engage in a strength training workout, you are increasing the amount of fast-twitch muscle fibers in your body—and that’s good! Your calf muscles will look more toned and more defined as a result of this increase in fast-twitch muscle fibers.”

Will walking help me lose calf fat?

Yes, walking can help you lose calf fat. Walking is a cardio exercise, which helps burn calories. When you burn calories, you will use up stored fat, resulting in fat loss.

How can I tone my calves?

After you have lost the calf fat, do HIIT  workouts to tone your calves and legs. You may also train at the gym and target your calf muscles to get proportionate and toned calves.

Why are my calves so big?

Your calf size depends on various factors – genetics, hormones, diet, and lifestyle. Reducing your overall body weight will help shed fat from your calves as well. But if your calf fat is genetic or hormonal, talk to a doctor.

Is calf size genetic?

Yes, the calf size is determined by genes, diet, and lifestyle.

Do squats work calves?

Squats primarily work on the glutes and thighs. But jump squats and single leg squats tend to work on the calves as well.

Why do calves burn when running?

The muscles in your calves are activated when you run. Running causes oxygen depletion and lactic acid accumulation, which gives your calves a burning sensation. Take deep breaths and rest for a minute before resuming running.

Are my calves made of muscle or fat?

Your calves contain both muscle and small deposits of fat. However, the amount of fat in your calves depends on factors like genetics and your lifestyle. Also, there is one way of distinguishing fat from muscle. Calves that contain small deposits of fat are softer to the touch while calf muscles will feel more defined and visible.

Key Takeaways

  • For toned and shaped calves, do exercises such as weighted calf raise, skater hops, stair climb, and jump ropes.
  • Do calf stretches every day to strengthen the calves.
  • Avoid doing exercises that put too much strain on calves such as high inline cardio, sprint and high knee exercises.
  • Avoid consuming food with excessive fat and sugar content.

Get ready to slim down your calves with this easy-to-follow workout! Learn how to lose calf fat and get toned calves in no time! Check this video to know how!


Articles on StyleCraze are backed by verified information from peer-reviewed and academic research papers, reputed organizations, research institutions, and medical associations to ensure accuracy and relevance. Read our editorial policy to learn more.

  1. Junk Food: Impact on Health
  2. Defining the Optimal Dietary Approach for Safe, Effective and Sustainable Weight Loss in Overweight and Obese Adults
  3. A nonrestrictive, weight loss diet focused on fiber and lean protein increase
  4. On High Heels and Short Muscles: A Multiscale Model for Sarcomere Loss in the Gastrocnemius Muscle
  5. Nighttime eating: commonly observed and related to weight gain in an inpatient food intake study
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