Scads of women want to shrink their calf muscles. But is this possible via the treadmill? Well, here's the deal. While spot reductions are not possible, if you work out regularly on a treadmill over an extended period of time, you will start trimming your overall body fat, which, in turn, will lead to slimming an inch or two of fat from around your calves. Plus, treadmill walking or jogging revs your heart rate as your heart pumps more oxygen-rich blood, and even walking at a slow, 3.5-mph pace burns between 314 and 391 calories an hour depending on your weight.
Before you start any workout, stretch and warm up for five to 10 minutes. The best warm-up involves dynamic stretching, which gets blood flowing to your muscles. This typically involves continuous gentle arm and leg swings but can include marching in place, swinging your arms across the body or reaching your ear to your shoulder or your chin to chest. Try a walking/jogging stretch. Place your left leg straight behind you and your right leg in front with your knee slightly bent. Hold the position for 30 seconds. Switch sides and repeat. Step on the treadmill, set it to a slow pace and walk for three to five minutes before starting your workout.
The best way to tone your calves on the treadmill may be the easiest -- walk briskly, says Jennifer Burke, a New York certified trainer and fitness manager. Picking up the pace and intensity to a jog can yield slightly faster results. Set the treadmill speed to 5 mph and jog at this pace for at least 30 minutes. You must first start shedding body fat overall to start slimming your calves. So to see results, you'll need to clock 30 to 40 minutes of treadmill time at least four days weekly. Be patient -- results can take at least one month to appear.
Make your treadmill workouts more interesting on your journey to sleeker calves with intervals. This involves setting the treadmill to a faster pace of at least 5 mph, completing a short burst of higher-intensity jogging or walking and then setting the machine to a slow pace and walking. Start by sprinting or going as fast as is comfortable with your fitness level for about 20 seconds. Then slow your pace for one minute. Repeat this throughout a 30-minute workout, increasing the speed by 1.5 to 2.5 mph from your slow speed at each interval and keeping the incline around 1 percent. Hills are another more intense treadmill workout. You can set the machine to either hills or intervals and then modify your speed and your intensity to what is comfortable.
Cool down by walking at a slow pace for three to five minutes. To avoid injury after a treadmill workout, especially overuse injury, spend five to 10 minutes using a foam roll on the muscles you worked the most -- in this case, focus on the calves. The so-called self-myofascial release that the rolling provides steamrolls any knots in your muscles and eases tension in your connective tissues. Always stop if you feel sharp pain. When you identify a sore spot, stop there and hold this area over the roller or 30 to 60 seconds.
- Jennifer Burke; Certified Trainer and Fitness Manager; New York City
- Mayo Clinic: Exercise for Weight Loss: Calories Burned in One Hour
- University of Virginia: Environmental Health and Safety: Ergonomics -- Dynamic Stretches
- FitnessMagazine: Our Best Cardio Workouts
- Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images
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