How Can I Shrink the Size of My Calves?

Updated June 13, 2017

The calf muscle is made up of the gastrocnemius and the soleus on the back of the lower leg. The calves can become too large for your liking due to physical training methods, genetics and excess fat tissue. There are several methods that can be employed on your own without spending money or with the help of medical physicians.


Cardio exercise (such as running, walking, cycling and swimming) will get rid of any excess fat without building more muscle.

Stretch for 15 minutes before and after physical activity. Stretching, yoga and Pilates increase flexibility and make the muscles longer for a thinner appearance.

Strength train your calves three to four times per week. The key is high repetition and low weight exercises. You will improve your muscle tone without getting big calves. Do not use heavy weights or the result will be big, bulky calves. Try this exercise:

Calf raises: Hold a light dumbbell in each hand, or none at all, and stand with your feet shoulder width apart. Push up onto your toes and the balls of the front of your feet. Slowly lower back down until your feet are flat on the floor. Try standing with your toes pointing inward and outward for variety. The alternative to this exercise is to use the calf raise machine at a health club. Adjust the weight on the machine before you begin; use between 4.54 to 13.6kg. Position your shoulders under the pads and hold onto the handles. Perform a cal raise by pushing up onto your toes and slowly lowering back down.

Calf Reduction Surgeries

Selective neurectomy surgery gets rid of the nerve for the gastrocnemius, which causes the muscle to die. According to, the calf muscle size is reduced by 1 to 3.5cm and the recovery time is short. This method can be unpredictable and can cause the soleus muscle in the calf to work overtime, which can result in an abnormally shaped calf. Radio frequency can be used in selective neurectomy surgery to reduce scarring and improve results. Calf reduction may be as great as 6cm.

A partial muscle resection is able to give a much more accurate and reliable result than selective neurectomy. This method works by cutting out parts of the muscle to sculpt the desired size of the calves. Recovery time can take 6 to 12 months. The surgery causes scarring.

According to, the most invasive surgery for calf reduction is total excision of medial gastrocnemius. This surgery removes the whole medical gastrocnemius and eliminates the entire function of this muscle. There is scarring after surgery that will take time to fade away. Like the partial muscle resection, recovery time can be as long as six to 12 months.

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About the Author

Ashley Farley has been a certified personal trainer since 2008. She is also a writer specializing in healthy living, fitness and nutrition topics. Farley has an Associate of Science in mental health services from the Community College of the Air Force and is pursuing her B.A. in English at Wright State University.