How to Lose Calf Fat

Medically Reviewed by Tyler Wheeler, MD on July 18, 2023
3 min read

Many things play a role in losing weight. Eating healthier, strength training, and stretching can improve your overall health. Losing weight in your calves can be trickier. You’ll need to restrict your calorie intake and target this area of your leg with the right workouts. 

Here are tips to build leaner legs.

Your calf muscle has three separate muscles. They all come together to form your Achilles tendon. 

To lose some fat, focus on building muscle mass. Exercises that target your calf muscles will help. You can do bodyweight exercises -- exercises that simply use your own body weight -- or you can include weights to make your workout more challenging. 

One example of a muscle building calf workout is a heel and calf raise. Stand upright with your arms crossed over your chest. Then lift your heels and rise up on your toes. 

You can hold this position for a few seconds, then lower your heels to the ground. Repeat this exercise 10 to 15 times. Hold on to a sturdy object to help keep your balance. 

Stretch your calf muscle, focusing on the back of your leg. Take it slow if you’re new to stretching, and warm up first.

To stretch your calf, stand at arm’s length away from a wall. Put your right foot behind your left foot. Bend your left leg forward and keep your right knee straight. You should also keep your right heel on the floor. Keep your back straight and hips forward. 

Hold this for 30 seconds. To deepen this stretch, you can slightly bend your right knee while bending your left leg. Switch legs and repeat. 

High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is a great way to lose weight. It can help you burn calories, boost your metabolism, preserve muscles, target hard-to-lose fat, and up your endurance. HIIT exercise targets all parts of your body and overall health, making it a great option for helping you lose calf fat.

For successful HIIT workouts, try to get your heart rate up to 80% to 95% of your estimated maximum heart rate -- for a short amount of time. Keeping your heart rate in this range from 10 seconds to 3 minutes will help you get the most out of these workouts. Always have a cool-down period afterward to bring your heart rate back to a normal range again. 

To get the most out of these workouts, do HIIT workouts in a quick circuit -- go from one exercise to the next quickly. When you focus on your lower body, you’ll strengthen and tone your calf muscles.

A low-impact way to lose calf fat is by walking often. As you get older, going for walks is a worthwhile way to get moving without putting too much pressure on your body. 

A daily walk also keeps your calf muscles from becoming large and bulky. If you’re looking for leaner calf muscles, walking on an even surface can keep your muscles from getting bigger. 

Lipedema is a medical condition that causes fat to build up in your lower body. This condition typically affects your glutes, thighs, and calves. There’s not an exact cause of lipedema, but it does run in families and can be inherited. 

Lipedema and the build-up of fat on your calves may be linked to hormonal changes in your body. Dieting and exercising can help your heart health, but it won’t affect your lower body weight. 

Some other symptoms of lipedema include pain and swelling in areas where fat has built up. If your condition gets worse, it may be harder for you to walk. Lipedema can also affect your mental health. Exercising is good for improving mobility and helps reduce swelling. 

Talk to your doctor if you struggle to lose calf fat. They may have suggestions just for you.