Does running make your calves bigger?

By September 21, 2020

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Some people wish to look thinner through running, but they may be disappointed to find that their calves get even bigger. Why’s that? Does running necessarily lead to bulkier calves? The answer is both yes and no.

Long-distance running and sprints

Marathon competitors tend to be skinny, as long-distance running will stimulate stress hormone cortisol, which can prevent muscle gain. Plus, the prolonged aerobic exercise constantly burns calories, thus bring you a slim look.

On the other side, sprints ask for a more powerful lower body. An athlete who is good at sprints generally has bigger calves, stronger quads, hamstrings, and glutes.


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Your genetics will also influence the shape and size of your legs, and whether or not they are easy to get bigger. There are three body types in total. Ectomorphs are hard to gain muscle even if they do lots of exercises. Mesomorphs gain muscle easily but also lose muscle and fat quickly. Endomorphs, however, probably already have bulk legs, so it’s better for them to avoid running and other exercises that build muscles.

Intensity of training

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Do not start to run for a long time (over two hours) and for a long distance. Since your body does not adjust to such intense training, you’re likely to tear your muscle tissue and make it appear bulkier afterward, especially if you are running at the fast pace and engaging the fast-twitch muscles. If you really prefer distance running, start instead by building up slowly. For instance, run two miles at the beginning and add a mile every week.


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You may think that you need some fuel to support your running, that’s totally wrong. If you take in carbs first, your body will consume them before burning the fat. But if you run on an empty stomach, your body will use the stored fat first. This helps a lot when you are trying to lose weight and have slimmer legs! Of course, if you want to gain some muscles, you do need to take some calories before running. The thing is that you’d better avoid carbs and choose food high in protein, as that will boost the muscle growth process.

So whether running will make your legs bigger depend on yourself. In general, it’s better to run for a long distance than being a sprinter, build up your training pace slowly, and choose not to eat before running. It’s not easy to follow all these information at once, though. Just take your time, adjust your running pattern, and you’ll notice your legs start melting gradually.

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