Whether you're performing cardiovascular exercise or lower body strength training, one thing is certain: You'll be giving your calves a workout. If you don't want big, muscular calves, however, failing to modify your exercises with this in mind could put you on the road to building bulk. You can prevent large, bulky calves from developing if you take the proper precautions when working out.
Always talk about changes to your exercise routine with your doctor before implementing them.
Do cardiovascular exercises like running that won't build up your calves. You want to build strength in your calves, but not bulk. Cardio burns fat and will create a slimmer appearance for your whole body, including your calves. Focus on endurance running rather than sprints, as the latter can lead to excess bulk.
Perform standing calf raises to tone your calves without adding bulky muscle, suggests the American Council on Exercise. To do this, stand with your heel hanging off a step with your other leg lifted off the ground slightly. Lower your heel slightly then rise back up onto the ball of your foot. Repeat at least 15 times on each leg.
Perform the yoga pose, Downward-facing Dog, to stretch the calf muscle and prevent it from bulking up after workouts. To do this pose, assume a pushup position on the floor. Next, lift your hips upward until your rear is in the air and your body forms an inverted V-shape. Distribute your weight evenly between your hands and feet. Try to lower your heels to the floor. Hold for several seconds before returning to the starting position.
Skip the step machine and climbing workouts. These will only add bulk to your calves. Stick to low-weight exercises, but perform an increased number of repetitions.
Brenda Barron is a writer, editor and researcher based in Southern California. She has worked as a writer since 2004, with work appearing in online and print publications such as BabyZone, "Cat Fancy" and "ePregnancy." She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English literature from California State University, Long Beach.