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Question
Posted by: Martie | 2009/11/10

Fat calves

Dear Doc, I am female, mid 30' s. My bmi is 19. My arms are very muscular looking with strong veins prominent (which I like). My calves however have a thick fat layer, which I can pinch between my fingers. The fat is then about 3cm thick and forms orange peel. It hides the calve muscle and makes my legs shapeless. How do I get rid of these fat deposits  do I loose more weight? I read that spot reduction exercises dont work. Your advice will be appreciated!

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageFitnessDoc

Hi Martie

Unfortunately, what you're read is correct, spot reduction doesn't work - sort of. If you look at some top athletes, it's pretty clear that the muscles they use more are more toned than others, and seem less fat. That may not be true, but it certainly seems that way (for example, Rafael Nadal's left arm). So part of the answer is to exercise the calves specifically, because that will help improve the shape, muscle definition and tone, and that's important too.

But in terms of burning fat, yes, you have to burn everywhere in order to burn in one location, and so cardio training will be most important. In this case, the two overlap anyway though. So for example, running, stairclimbing, some cycling, would cover both bases at the same time - a bit of cardio, but targeting the calves, and that would be most important. So I'm not sure if you're active, but that would be my advice, if you can do it. And you probably won't lose more weight, maybe a tiny amount, but you'd be gaining lean mass and probably staying about the same, so I wouldn't worry too much about that.

I hope that helps

Good luck

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Our users say:
Posted by: fitnessdoc | 2009/11/15

Hi Martie

Unfortunately, what you're read is correct, spot reduction doesn't work - sort of. If you look at some top athletes, it's pretty clear that the muscles they use more are more toned than others, and seem less fat. That may not be true, but it certainly seems that way (for example, Rafael Nadal's left arm). So part of the answer is to exercise the calves specifically, because that will help improve the shape, muscle definition and tone, and that's important too.

But in terms of burning fat, yes, you have to burn everywhere in order to burn in one location, and so cardio training will be most important. In this case, the two overlap anyway though. So for example, running, stairclimbing, some cycling, would cover both bases at the same time - a bit of cardio, but targeting the calves, and that would be most important. So I'm not sure if you're active, but that would be my advice, if you can do it. And you probably won't lose more weight, maybe a tiny amount, but you'd be gaining lean mass and probably staying about the same, so I wouldn't worry too much about that.

I hope that helps

Good luck

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