Will Walking Give You Big Calves?

Walking Legs
Big Calves?. altrendo images/Stockbyte/Getty Images

Some women worry that walking will give them big calf muscles that they don't want. Other people hope that they will build big leg muscles from walking.

Walking should produce lean, long muscles and tone the muscles you already have rather than produce bulky muscles. Bodybuilder Hugo Rivera confirms that new walkers may see a slight increase in their calf size, with the emphasis on slight. He says you would have to be a genetically unique individual to have significant growth in your calf muscles from walking, especially for women.

Bodybuilders do not achieve calf growth from just walking. They use specific exercise programs and a strict diet to get those results.

Did You Get Big Calves From Walking?

If you think your calves are bigger, that is your body image reality. Did you measure them before you started walking? Or, is that what you see in the mirror when you look at yourself?

Any muscle will be larger right after exercise. A muscle swells during exercise as it gets more blood supply power it with oxygen from the red cells and remove the byproducts of energy production. Look at your calves first thing in the morning rather than after a long walk.

Rivera says that the shape of your calves is pretty much determined at birth. You are born with longer or shorter lower legs, and calf muscles set higher or lower. Avoiding hills or stairs may reduce bouts of intense, short-term exercise which might cause you to build bulkier muscles.

It's Probably the Fat, Not the Calf Muscle Underneath

Bulk generally comes from fat overlying the muscle, not muscle. How are your clothes fitting since you started a walking exercise program? Are you gaining or losing inches at your waistband? People add extra fat all over the body when they gain weight, even in places you would not expect.

For example, your rings and watchband fit snugly when you gain weight and are loose when you lose weight. The same will happen to your calves as you gain weight.

Gaining and Losing Fat Bulk

You should be burning off fat with your walking program, but only if you are eating fewer calories than you burn each day. Unless you are tracking how much you eat, you may be eating more than you think. You may be replacing the fat just as fast as you are burning it off. Some studies show that women eat more when they exercise more. If you haven't been tracking your eating as you have increased your walking, start keeping a food diary to see where extra calories may have sneaked into your diet.

Don't Stop Walking Due to Body Image

Nothing is more attractive than a healthy glow. Not only does walking improve your fitness, it also reduces your risks for all major diseases including diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and cancer. The minimum daily requirement is 30 to 60 minutes a day of exercise to reduce your health risks. Don't give up exercise because of how you think you look. People always appreciate an energetic, healthy person, or one able to bounce back from a health crisis due to their overall fitness.

If how you feel about your legs is damaging how you feel about yourself, then there are simple ways to hide them. Wear pants. There are many yoga-style pants available for walking and exercise with wider legs to hide your perceived flaws. For dress, select long lean skirts or pants that will hide your calves and lengthen your line.

Pants and Boots That Fit Big Calves

When you have big calves, it can be a challenge to find boots that fit and tights that aren't too tight. Online shopping can make it easier to find wide-calf boots. Many online vendors have a search function for wide-calf boots. Get a measuring tape and measure your calves to see what dimensions you will need.

You are likely to find that each leg is a little different, so measure both.

You can search for looser-fit tights and running pants that will work best for you at the gym and outdoors. It's often the case that you need to try before you buy, or to use online sources that allow easy returns.

Source:

Ratamess N, Alvar B, Evetoch TK, Housh TJ, Kibler WB, Kraemer WJ, Triplett NT. Progression Models in Resistance Training for Healthy Adults. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. March 2009, Volume 41, Issue 3, pp 687-708.

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