If you have access to an elliptical machine, you have the ability to do a beneficial aerobic exercise that can help you burn fat and reduce the size of many parts of your body. Since using the elliptical machine is more of an aerobic workout than one that builds muscle, it may help you get smaller calves. However, you'll need to use the machine in a certain way in order to get the results you want.
Consult your doctor before beginning any new exercise program.
Pedal forward. Elliptical machines have both a forward and backward motion, but going in the reverse direction creates more tension in your calves and hamstrings, advises MayoClinic.com. Since you're not looking to build muscle and bulk in your calves, moving in the forward direction is the way to go for you.
Incorporate arm motions and make long strides. Your goal in using the elliptical is to burn enough calories to start blasting fat -- not to build a lot of muscle in the legs. By including the arm motions into your workout, you'll be incorporating more intensity into the workout throughout your entire body, and not just focusing on your legs. Stand up straight and pull in your abs to recruit more muscle groups. If your elliptical doesn't have an arm motion, you can add one by standing up and moving your arms in an alternate motion to your legs as you pedal.
Use little to no resistance. Increasing the resistance on the elliptical machine will help build muscle, but since you're not interested in building muscle, focus on a longer workout that will burn more calories and not put excess intensity on your muscles.
Develop a plan to burn enough calories to create a calorie deficit. In order to get skinnier calves, you need to focus on burning fat through a combination of aerobic exercise and calorie reductio, which will help you get skinnier overall. More specifically, you need to burn 3,500 more calories than you consume every week in order to lose 1 pound of fat. Do this not only by burning 200 to 400 calories on your elliptical several days a week, but also by reducing your meal portion sizes, limiting your consumption of alcohol and sweets, and eating more fruits and vegetables, advises the American Council on Exercise.
Nicole Vulcan has been a journalist since 1997, covering parenting and fitness for The Oregonian, careers for CareerAddict, and travel, gardening and fitness for Black Hills Woman and other publications. Vulcan holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and journalism from the University of Minnesota. She's also a lifelong athlete and is pursuing certification as a personal trainer.