|Causes of big calves - Fat vs Muscular calves|
"Are my big calves caused by fat or muscle ?"
Many patients ask me this.
To answer this question, we should know about the causes of big calves.
"What is the cause of my big calves"
The answer is simple.
Fat under skin in calf is not so big and doesn't make big calves.
That's the reason why liposuction in calf can't make noticeable difference.
"Then, what is the cause of my big calf muscle(Gastrocnemius and
Both muscle and fat play roles in big muscle.
That means genetic, exercise, getting weight and getting fatty can be the causes
of big muscle.
1. Congenital (Genetic)
In most of cases of big calves, genetic plays a major role.
If you find someone with big calves in your parents and siblings, your big calves
If the cause of big calf is genetic, there isn’t much that you can do to minimize
your calf muscle except calf reduction surgery
One of my patients sent me a picture of her family.
As you can see, all the members in her family had big calves.
Not only bulky calf muscle but also long calf muscle and short Achilles tendon
also makes the calf look big and short.
Asians usually have long calf muscle, short Achilles tendon, and short calf.
In this patients, any exercise can't be helpful.
Partial resection of Gastrocnemius muscle can remove the lower portion of Gastrocnemius
more and can make calf look straighter, longer, and slimmer.
These acquired causes of big calf can be controlled a little bit.
1) Muscle gain
Any resistance exercise can make calf muscle bigger.
This includes stepping exercise, jumping exercise, climbing exercise, high resistance/
Low resistance exercise such as slow but long distance running, walking in flat
terrain, swimming can be a powerful tool to slim down calf by making lean muscle
and by losing weight and fat.
Gait also may affect calf muscle.
Walking on front feet like ballet dancer may lead to building-up of the calf
If the muscle at the front of your lower leg (tibialis anterior, which have
the opposite function to calf muscles) is weak/ over-stretched, it can make
calf muscle bigger by overcompensation.
Walking on heels first and strengthening of tibialis anterior can balance calf
Shortening of Achilles tendon can make muscle longer and can make calf look
Stretching of Achilles tendon, Yoga, and Pilates can lengthen Achilles tendon
and thus making calf muscle shorter.
This is the easiest calf stretching exercise which can be done at anywhere.
Even if proper exercise, proper walking, and stretching can’t make calf noticeably
slimmer, it can prevent too much muscle build up.
2) Fat gain
Fat is accumulated not only under skin but also inside of muscle.
Weight loss can make calf thinner, but usually, calf and thigh tend to be the
last places that fat shifts from when losing weight and the first places that
fat accumulates when gaining weight.
If you need to lose fat around your calf muscles, you can only do so by generalized
fat loss through diet and cardio.
You cannot do exercises that will reduce the fat around the calf muscles alone.
There is no such thing as spot reduction.
A little bit of superficial fat(under skin) can be removed by liposuction, but
deep fat(inside of muscle) can be removed only by muscle resection.
Liposuction on calf can make irregularity so often and disclose the outline
of underlying muscle which makes it look more masculine because superficial
fat in calf is very thin.
So, liposuction is not recommended in calf usually (It is only recommended by
doctors who can’t reduce calf muscle).
It can be recommended only when fat thickness in calf is more than 2 cm (extremely
In most of cases, muscle resection is the only way to remove deep fat in calf
and to reduce calf.
Because she had fatty calf, the outline of calf muscle is not so noticeable.
But she had big calves and protruding Gatrocnemius muscle>
Partial resection of Gastrocnemius muscle made her calf slimmer, smoother, and