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how to lift weights without getting bulky

One of the main complaints I hear from women is that they have been lifting weights or doing a lot of high intensity interval training (HIIT) which has made their legs bigger. Jeans and shorts become too tight, inner thighs start rubbing together and your legs just generally look thicker and bulkier.

I’ve been in this exact same situation! I hated it, and I hated having big legs. Being a personal trainer myself I was a bit conflicted because every other trainer always pushed heavy weight lifting (especially squats!), and that’s what I was expected to do. But it didn’t like what it was doing to my body.how to lift weights without getting bulky

It wasn’t just my legs that were getting bigger either. My upper back was really broad and my crop tops and gym singlets didn’t fit anymore. Overall I felt like a bigger, bulkier version of myself. I didn’t look slim and petite like I used to. BUT one big bonus that comes with a lot of HIIT and weight lifting, is that I had really well defined abs. All the photos of women on social media who lift heavy, always have solid abs.

I wanted to be able to know how to lift weights so that I could be toned with nice abs, but without getting big legs and becoming too muscular all over. I now know how to exercise to get these results, and I want to share this with you.


I know you might thinking that you should just avoid weight lifting altogether and only do cardio right? Well I’ve done that before too! I only did cardio and yes I was very slim. But I still always had fat around my hips and belly that I found hard to get rid of. It wasn’t until I started lifting weights that the fat really started to disappear and I finally had abs!

Here are some reasons why it is still important to lift weights.

Lifting weights will give your body tone and definition

Any type of resistance training will build muscle – even if you’re lifting low weight and high rep, doing endurance based workouts, pilates, or even yoga – they will all build muscle. But the thing is, you need muscle to give your body tone and definition. There is a certain way of lifting weights that will help you get toned without getting bulky, which I will talk about further down.

Lifting weights will help reduce body fat levels and prevent the “skinny fat” look

Having muscle also helps with keeping your body fat levels down. A lot of women (and men) who only do cardio and avoid lifting weights will look “skinny fat.” Skinny fat is a term used to describe people who appear slim or skinny, but actually have quite a high percentage of body fat. I used to be skinny fat, and whenever I avoid resistance training, I go back to being skinny fat.

Lifting weights has lots of other benefits

There are SO many other benefits of lifting weights such as improved sleep, reduced stress and anxiety, improved mood, lowered risk of heart disease, diabetes and osteoporosis, plus lots more. It really does benefit you both on the inside and out!


As you can see, lifting weights does provide you with a lot of health benefits, and can change your body. The way you lift weights will determine whether or not these changes result in you becoming bulky or slim and toned.

Exercises to get toned without getting bulky

The key to being able to lift weights without getting bulky is:

  1. The right exercise selection. Doing certain exercises that work your upper body, core, hips, butt and thighs, and avoiding certain exercises that make you bulky (these are discussed below).
  2. Lifting lighter weights. By lighter weights, I mean 1-2 kgs dumbbells, a resistance band, ankle weights or just your own body weight. Because the weight is lower, you will be doing much higher repetitions.

how to lift weights without getting bulky

Using lighter weights with higher reps and doing different types of exercises, will not make you bulky. It will build muscle in a way that will tone you up, without making you look bigger. I use these ankle weights for almost all of my workouts. They’re quite affordable on Amazon and are great for travel!

Get Ankle Weights Here

Example workouts

This is an example of some of the workouts that you can do to tone up without getting bulky. These are all the type of exercises in my Skinny Legs eBook.


Pilates exercises are exactly what I have been talking about – lighter weight (often just using body weight or ankle weights) and focuses more on exercises to tone up your core and butt, rather than heavier exercises such as squats and lunges.

I’ve also been to a few reformer pilates classes and these are great for toning up without getting bulky! The reformer machine uses resistance bands and a moving platform – it’s fantastic for your core. Sometimes you will also use very light dumbbells in these type of classes for upper body work.how to lift weights without getting bulky


Swimming is great for toning up your arms, and doubles as cardio! When I used to do cardio only, I also did some swimming. My arms were really toned and I didn’t do any weights or boxing.

Yes, professional swimmers have bigger arms and shoulders, but they train twice a day, 6 days per week, and that is why this happens. Swimming 1-2 times per week won’t cause you to become bulky.


Boxing is amazing for toning up your arms really quickly, but not making them bigger. And it’s also great for your core too! I notice a significant difference after just a few weeks of boxing. But just be careful about what type of boxing class you do. I’ve been to a few classes that do more of a boxing circuit so it still includes a lot of squats, wall sits, burpees, etc. Try to attend a boxing class that’s main focus is boxing.how to lift weights without getting bulky

Exercises that make you bulky – avoid these

I know a lot of other personal trainers won’t like to hear this. The following exercises are great for your body, but they do build a lot of muscle and can make you bulky. If you want a leaner look, these exercises should be avoided.

Also, I am mostly talking about exercises for mesomorphs and endomorphs. Most ectomorphs can lift weights without getting bulky. But for the other two body types, these exercises should be avoided.

Any heavy weight lifting

Any time you lift heavy, low rep (i.e. less than 6 reps), or to failure, you will build muscle in a way that will contribute to bulkiness. Avoid any maximum strength type exercise.

Squats and chin ups

I can see the personal trainers cringing. Yes, these exercises are great for your body and use LOTS of different muscles. But for me, squats just make my legs bigger and chin ups make my back broader. They build SO much muscle and really change the shape of my body, in a way that I do not like. These 2 exercises will make you bulky. Other exercises that will most likely contribute to bulkiness include overhead pressing, deadlifts and lunges.


CrossFit includes LOTS of squats and squat variations, burpees, deadlifts, chin ups and overhead pressing exercises, exercises that I suggest you avoid if you don’t want to increase your muscle size. Crossfit can make your legs bigger and bulkier.how to lift weights without getting bulky


Any short bursts of energy using your legs will make them bigger because of the muscle fibers it recruits and energy system your body uses.

By short bursts I mean around 30 seconds. A lot of people do their sprints by running as hard as they can for 30 seconds and then resting for 30-60 seconds, and repeating. Unfortunately, this type of sprinting will make you bulky.

I do some sprinting (but only when I am already very fit). I prefer to do my sprinting as more of a fast paced run. I run faster than normal (but not at my maximum) for 2 minutes, and then rest for 1 minute. By the end of the 2 minutes, you should be so puffed that you need to stop. This type of running will still get you fit really quickly, and won’t make your legs bulky.

Hill Sprints

Any type of hill sprinting will make you bulky, especially your quadriceps (the muscles at the front of your thighs). Avoid doing these.

Incline Treadmill

Walking on an incline on the treadmill will use your quadriceps and may make your legs bigger. Walking is amazing for slimming down your legs, but it’s best done on a flat surface.

Step Machine

I’m sure you’re getting the theme here – anything uphill will bulk up your legs. The same goes for the step machine.

Exercises that may make you bulky – use with caution

These are exercises that I am always questioned about. A lot of them really depend on the person and their body type. But I will try to provide some general advice.

Spin class / cycling

If you are an endomorph body type, I would avoid spinning / cycling because it will make your legs bigger and more muscular. You probably already have shorter and muscular legs so there’s no need to increase the muscle size.

Mesomorphs can do it, but just monitor the changes in your legs and see if it makes them bigger. For me personally, I can do a spin class once per week without getting bulky. But a lot of mesomorphs can’t (especially if you are a combined mesomorph / endomorph body type). I would keep spin classes to once per week maximum.

High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)

This is a tough one because it’s such a great workout, but if you overdo it on leg exercises (jump squats, jump lunges, burpees, box jumps, etc), you will get big legs. You can still do HIIT, but it’s all about the exercise selection. I still enjoy doing HIIT workouts but the exercises I do are different.

I have written a blog series of HIIT workouts that won’t make you bulky, so you can use this for some ideas.
how to lift weights without getting bulky


This is another tough one, because it is great cardio, especially if you can’t go outside. Skipping will help you lose weight overall, but won’t necessarily slim down your legs. Skipping will also probably make your calves bigger as skipping really focuses on your calf muscles. If you want small calves, it is best to avoid skipping. I personally don’t do any skipping.

Cross trainer / Elliptical

I know a lot of women use the cross trainer in place of the treadmill, especially if they have knee injuries. The cross trainer is a good alternative if you can’t walk for some reason, but is not as effective as walking for slimming down your legs. The cross trainer will build muscle in your quads because of the pushing down motion, but it will not build as much muscle as cycling or weight lifting. Also it won’t strip the fat from your legs as effectively as walking.


I have done a barre class before and was surprised at how leg focused it was. We did lots of squats, squats jumps, squat holds, etc. It wasn’t really what I was expecting. I’m sure different teachers have their own different barre routines, but the class I went to would definitely make my legs bigger. Many women have also told me that they have developed big legs since doing barre.

I don’t think this is the case for all barre classes or all body types, but just be cautious.


A lot of models don’t do any running because running actually builds muscle. It doesn’t build the same amount of muscle as cycling or weight lifting will, but it will still build muscle.

Endomorphs in particular need to be careful with running. Running is an amazing exercise for slimming down all over and for slimming down your legs, but if you build muscle really easily (like an endomorph will), I would run with caution. When you are running, monitor the changes in your legs and see if it makes them bigger. If it does, I would avoid running. But if not, keep doing it!

Lifting weights will differ according to your body type

There are 3 main body types – ectomorph, mesomorph and endomorph. You must understand your body type to know how much weight lifting you can do without getting bulky.


Ectomorphs are naturally very skinny (think Victoria Secret models) and find it difficult to gain weight (both muscle and fat). This body type can lift very heavy without getting bulky and often get amazing results with weight lifting.

However, a lot of models do not lift very heavy because of the potential to get bulky. Everyone’s bodies are different and some models may be a combined ectomorph / mesomorph body type, and they do have the ability to get too muscular. Having big legs is something that no model wants so they are very careful about this.

If you are a true ectomorph, heavy weight lifting will make you toned and it’s very unlikely that it will make you bulky. If you are a combined ectomorph / mesomorph body type, you still have the ability to get bulky if you do the wrong type of exercise.


Mesomorphs can be slim or overweight, but they have the ability lose and gain weight (both muscle and fat) very easily. I am the mesomorph body type.

Mesomorphs need to be careful not to do too much weight lifting and high intensity interval training (HIIT) because this can make them bulky.


Endomorphs have a curvier body type, with shorter arms and legs. This body type has a much harder time trying lose weight and they find it very easy to gain muscle, especially in their legs.

I would suggest that endomorphs avoid any heavy weight lifting and HIIT, because this will just make them bigger. I know a lot of personal trainers say that lifting heavy weights is the key to slimming down, but for endomorphs, this isn’t really true. Their focus should be more on cardio with lighter circuits (that don’t focus on legs).


Resistance training alone will not make your legs smaller, it will just make them more toned. If you want to get smaller thighs, you need to do cardio! I have written a really detailed blog post on how to do the right type of cardio to get skinny legs, so have a read of this for more information.
how to lift weights without getting bulky


  • There are 3 main body types and each of them have different exercise requirements. Your body type will determine how bulky you get and what type of exercise you can and can’t do.
  • To lift weights without getting bulky, you need to lift lighter weights (i.e. 1-2 kgs dumbbells, a resistance band or just body weight) and higher rep, PLUS you need to choose the correct exercises.
  • Exercises that are great for toning up without getting bulky include the workouts in my Skinny Legs eBook, pilates, reformer pilates, boxing and swimming.
  • Certain exercises will cause bulkiness, including squats, lunges, deadlifts, chin ups, and overhead pressing. Other exercises that make you bulky include heavy weight lifting, crossfit, sprints, hill sprints, and the step machine.
  • Exercises that may make you bulky and should be done with caution include cycling, HIIT, skipping, cross trainer, barre and running.


I created my Lean Legs eBooks to help women understand how to lift weights without getting bulky, and how to get skinny legs with the right type of cardio.

My eBooks include a full workout and nutrition program which will help you get a lean and toned body, and amazing legs!

Because all of us are different, I have created separate eBooks for each of the 3 main body types.

Click here to find out more about my ebooks.Steps to Lean Legs ebook Rachael Attard

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139 comments on “How To Lift Weights Without Getting Bulky”

  • Paige says:

    Hey Rachael I’m loving your blog! I just wanted to ask a few questions. I don’t really have access to the gym at the moment so have been doing alot of workouts at home , I use dumbells and just recently bought a barbell. Ive been doing a lot of plyometric based training like the ones you suggested and was just curious, will I get the same lean toned figure If I keep doing that (with light weights and more repetitons) rather then lifting heavy weights with less repetition? The barbell is only an 18kg set and I feel like its heavy enough for me, but when I saw that you and a lot of other girls are lifting upto 50-60kilos, I was a bit unsure if I was training correctly, do you have any suggestions? Haha thanks paige

    • Rachael Attard says:

      Hi Paige,
      Thank you! You will definitely get a lean and toned figure with plyometric training and weights with your barbell and dumbbells. However, you won’t see the same strength gains that someone lifting 50kg will. It depends on what your goals are. If you would like to improve strength then maybe buy a few extra plates to put on the barbell? But if your goal is just to improve muscle definition you should be able to achieve this with your current equipment. You may get to a point where you will need to increase your weights though to keep seeing improvements x

  • Charnelle says:

    Your posts are always so informative and easy to understand. Thank you! :)

    • Rachael Attard says:

      Thanks Charnelle! x

  • Colie says:

    Love this! I appreciate all of your blog posts, thanks again rachael for being so generous and providing all of us with this remarkable information!

    • Rachael Attard says:

      You’re most welcome Colie! :) x

  • Caroline says:

    Hey Rachel! I was just wondering if you could help me… I play hockey a lot, I play lacrosse and I ride horses in the hunter jumpers. I have activity every night except Friday nights. Thats my break night. When I am not doing hockey, lax, or riding horses I run and do cardio. I tend to eat healthy foods ,but I can’t seem to slim down! My family tells me I need to loose weight. I just don’t know what to do! Please help

    • Rachael Attard says:

      Hi Caroline,

      It could be a combination of things. Perhaps you could try to vary your workouts (well those that you have control over, i.e. your cardio) and re-think your diet. Lots of people think they eat healthy when in fact they’re eating too many processed foods, carbs or fats etc. There could also be other factors such as stress, lack of sleep, hormonal imbalances or thyroid problems. If you don’t think you’ve got any serious health issues, let me know if you have any other specific questions relating to your diet and exercise. Good luck hun! xx

  • Caitlin says:

    Hi Rachel,
    I really want to slim my thighs down would regular walking and slow jogging help with this? I add in hills and flats but would this work on its own or should I add in other exercises as well which would definitely take an inch of them?x

    • Rachael Attard says:

      Hi Caitlin, if you’re looking to lose an inch from your thighs then walking and jogging on a flat surface is best! You should see results just by doing this regularly xx

  • Belinda says:

    Hi Rachel, I’m hoping you can offer me some advice as I really feel I’m at my wits end.
    I am trying to slim my bum and thighs as I’ve been running long distances (10-14km) about 4 times per week but I have gained 5kg over the past 2 years despite my diet being great according to my dietician.
    Consequently I’ve started with a trainer who recommended I stop running all together, keep doing my Pilates 2-3 times per week and I’m doing 2 resistance/high intensity sessions with her per week which consists of a circuit with high reps of weights & then we finish with 10-15mins of something like bike sprints, skipping & the rower going as hard as I can. I am soo frustrated as I just seem to be getting bigger in the areas I’m trying so hard to get smaller. I don’t know how this is possible as I’m so disciplined and I do what everyone says and this works for them! What do you suggest cos I can’t stand to get further from my goal….?

    • Rachael Attard says:

      Hi Belinda, I’m so sorry to hear that you have been having all of these problems. I don’t think you should stop with your running altogether. I would suggest doing running twice per week (perhaps 10km maximum and could even do some HIIT running). And then I would suggest maybe 2 HIIT sessions and 1-2 pilates sessions. Just talk to your trainer about your concerns and if it’s your legs that you are concerned about, I would lay off bike sprints or too many weighted leg exercises such as squats etc. It sounds like you’re already great with your diet so keep that up! :) xx

      • Belinda says:

        Hi Rachel

        thanks for getting back to me.
        I spoke to my trainer and she is all about ‘trusting the process’. I see circuit training and weights work for so many women ESPECIALLY when they transform from doing cardio only to weights plus high intensity sessions.
        Maybe I haven’t stuck to it long enough to the point where I build that muscle and then my legs start to get smaller instead of just bigger with the layer of fat still covering them?
        Currently I’m power walking most days of the week 6-8km, two high intensity pt sessions which includes weights / cardio and 2-3 pilates sessions.

        Should I give it more time?
        The before and after pictures you have posted- what did you do or that person do to get that end result?

        thanks again, Bel


        • Rachael Attard says:

          Hi Bel, sorry for my late reply, I must have missed this comment. It sounds like you’re on the right track so I would just give it a bit more time – maybe about 4 weeks! For my before and after photo for my legs I did LOTS of power walking and some HIIT sessions. I also did a little bit of running xx

  • shweta arora says:

    I really liked your blog….u really kind of provide us wid lot of knowledge about our bodybnd clear about oll d myths around….I really appreciate that. I wud appreciate if u r able to clear my query….m going to a gym since years…nd my main focus is to have lean nd thin legs. earlier I did lots of lundges sqats deadlift wid my bodyweight…bt now since 6 months I hv been engaged in weight training…wich provide me wid a strong feelng inside me. But there is a certain doubt in my mind nd u r d perfect person to clear the same…for leaner nd toned lrgs shud I lift heavy? should I engage myself in weight training? or shud I only engage myself in cardio? m really workibg hard on my body since years nd have seen lot of effects bt m nt happy wid my lower body results. ur blog recommended to do cardio bt I dnt want to let my whole body get effected by it nd leads to weight loss….since I dnt want to loose my weight.plz help me to clear such doubts nd being more fit wid apt knowledge. ..wll appreciate ur reply
    thank u

    • Rachael Attard says:

      Hi hun, I would suggest for you to do a combination of both weights and cardio. I would not suggest really heavy weights (unless you are naturally very slim and find it hard to build muscle). Focus more on light weights and HIIT circuits, plus cardio and walking xx

  • Meg says:

    Hi! So just recently I’ve started a cross-fit program that I’m doing an for an hour 3 times a week. This includes weights (squats with bar, etc.) a little bit of cardio, abs. I’m looking to slim down and tone my body. Do you think this program is best suited for what I’m looking for, and if not do you have any suggestions? To add to this I run about 6 miles a week.

    Thanks so much!

    • Rachael Attard says:

      Hi Meg, crossfit is definitely an awesome form of exercise and will definitely help you tone up quickly! Whether or not it will slim you down really depends on your body type. If you are ectomorph or mesomorph, it should be great to help you slim down. If you are an endomorph it may help you slim down but also may bulk you up.. It works differently for everybody. I would give it a go and do it maximum 3 times per week and do steady state running 3 times per week to keep lean xx

  • Pooja says:

    Hey Rachael…im 34 mommy of 2 kids…hav been working out in the gym regularly with cardio Hiit and weight trainng…hoever..i dnt see my inner thighs toned amd upper arms…the day i do tri and biceps..they llok good but again normal…as far as my legs go..they are not shapely thought i do heavy leg workout with sqauts lunges curls n deadlift….my routine is 2 times legs in a week one day shoulder tri n bi..then chest n back..and 1 day hiit…pls help

    • Rachael Attard says:

      Hi Pooja, that’s great that you are getting to the gym so regularly! I would perhaps add in some cardio (both running and walking) and perhaps mix up your weight training so you are doing full body workouts rather than having 2 specific days dedicated to legs xx

  • heather says:

    Hi Rachael! I am interested in purchasing some of your books and learning more about your training… I have messaged you before and done some research and found that I think I am a mesomorph… I hold muscle well. I am short. 5ft 1 and weight 120. I am not FAT but hold weight mostly in my thighs yet overall i would say I am “boxy” and hold overall muscle well in arms and entire body.. so i need to focus on keeping the fat off the body to show off the muscle I actually to have… I worry about training because I do put BULK on easily and I keep hearing about weight training… and since I am short and have SHORT legs… and when i did that wrist test the thumb and and index finger touch.. lol… and i do not tend to have a big stomach or anything.. i want to really really lean out my legs but they are so prone to put on MUSCLE that i feel like its a DAUNTING task…. seems like i am not sure what “weight training to do” and what diet is best for me… i have been an NPC competitor and am not new to the diet thing.. but would love to see how you could help me… ? what e book or plan would be a good start for me?? thank you so much! I look forward to your help and hope to hear from you! LOVE YOUR SITE! – Heather

  • Becca says:

    Im hoping to lose weight on my thighs and calves have have been using the seated leg press, leg extension and lying down leg curls on minimal light weights with high reps. But im not sure if these are actually good to slim and tone down my legs? I do bulk quite easily so im not sure whether or not i should just give up weight training altogether?

    • Rachael Attard says:

      Hi Becca, it would be better to do other leg exercises that use your entire body such as squats, burpees etc, (rather than machines) but just keep in mind that these type of exercises do build some muscle but are also great for leaning out your entire body. I would avoid machines and do lighter exercises plus some cardio. Don’t give up on weight training because it is still important – just modify it :) xx

  • bella says:

    Hi rachael! I love ur post very much its amazing!! but can i ask you something, my upper body is very slim even everybody said i’m too skinny and need some carbs, but my CALVES is very huge but i dont know if it’s a muscle or fat, well it’s not tone so i think maybe it’s a fat. My thighs is small too only my calves is the problem. Please can you help me to slim it down with a fast way and not making it bulky? Thanks a lot:)

    • Rachael Attard says:

      Hi Bella, slimming down calves is a really hard one as they are more genetic, and most exercises use your calves. Do you do any exercise at the moment? xx

  • Matisse says:

    Hi Rachel!
    Im trying to slim my legs down but also tone my bum. I’m trying to keep up a routine of reformer pilates 2-3 times a week and I run for 30 minutes on 10km/h 5-7 times a week, do you think running at that speed and time is helping? If i include your recommended HIIT resistance training do you think this will help me with getting rid of the fat on my legs? I was also wondering what exercises you recommend that will tone my bum but not bulk my thighs? My main area of concern is the tops of my thighs (inner and outer) and was wondering what you best recommend to get rid of the fat and reduce the size? I have so many questions hahah sorry! Also any tips on reducing calf size around achilles/ankle?

    • Rachael Attard says:

      Hi Matisse! I like lots of questions so don’t worry :) Have a look at this blog post for some workout ideas to tone your bum and not increase the size of your legs. Pilates 2-3 times per week is great! I would reduce your running to 3 times per week and try to increase your speed a little bit each time. On the other days, I recommend power walking. Power walking will help to get rid of the fat on your inner and outer thighs. Unfortunately calf size is a little harder to change because it’s genetic and more about your body structure. But if you have excess fat here, losing weight will help reduce the size of them. Good luck! xx

      • Matisse says:

        Thanks so much Rachael! what speed would you recommend for power walking? x

  • Belinda says:

    Hi Rachel,
    Thanks for the great info. I’ve gone from an active job to a non-active job, and one day I discovered my jeans didn’t fit. Joined the gym and got a trainer. Now I fit my jeans again, but my thighs look huge (to me). I’m not sure what I am — tall and lean but big legs. The trainer currently has me doing SkiErg, Deadlifts and lunges 2 days a week, and squats the other 2 days (along with some upper body exercises). Is this why I’m not rocking my jeans like I used to? Or will it happen?

    Thank you,

  • Belinda says:

    Re my above query, FYI I was a waitress for 30 years, now I sit on my bum and edit books. I was wondering, in retrospect, if the constant walking involved in waiting tables was why my legs were leaner, and I’d seemed to escape the family curse. I was also wondering if perhaps they look worse to me because everything else is coming back to where it was (I am 54…) And if you do ever write a book…

    • Rachael Attard says:

      Hi Belinda. I would say that being a waitress would have definitely helped keep your legs slim. You would have been walking around and on your feet all day. That is why I recommend doing lots of walking to keep your legs slim (read blog post here). This type of workout program will build muscle in your legs. If you overall goal is weight loss, it would probably suit you. But if you already think your legs are too big, this program will make your legs even bigger. What I suggest is some walking, running and lighter resistance training (read blog post here for ideas). I actually do have an eBook for this specifically! Here is the link to my eBook :) xx

  • Belinda says:

    Thanks Rachel — I’m wiry up top, but have the family rugby legs. With exercise and waitressing, they’d avoided the curse, and now it seems the only part of my body to build muscle are my legs! I don’t need to lose weight — 59 kgs and 175 cms tall. Will that make a diff? My tummy has tightened back. Is it possible it’s going to go and I’m over-critical, having not to worry in the past? My gut feeling (no pun intended) is that you are right, as they’ve never looked so…round.

    Much appreciated. Now to approach the trainer…


  • Belinda says:

    On the other hand, if I’ve gone from 30 years of waitressing and gymming to editing and sitting and using the elliptical 20 mins a day, will 6 weeks of these exercises do permanent damage, in terms of large thighs? If I say to him next time my goal is to slim down my legs and get back calf definition? Yes, true rugby legs. Beef to the ankle, as Grandma used to say.

    Sorry to keep bothering you, I’ve just found my new guru…


    • Rachael Attard says:

      Hi Belinda, no 6 weeks of this program won’t do permanent damage. You could just monitor is and see how you go – but if you do build too much muscle, it will just take longer to reduce the muscle size. If you don’t need to lose weight, changing your workout program to the one I suggested won’t make much difference – it will just help you tone up differently. Weights and HIIT are definitely great for helping keep your tummy lean, so you could always do a bit of a combination of the program he’s given you, with cardio and lighter resistance training. Perhaps ask him to make your program more full body and less focus on legs? The decision with what to do is really up to you, but if it were me, I would modify it xx

  • Belinda says:

    Rachel, you are a wonder. Thank you for your reply. Knowing how to ask for what I need is the ultimate empowerment! And you’ve provided that — the info and the empowerment.
    Thank you yet again,

  • Belinda says:

    I do want to say my trainer is fabulous, noticed I needed an efficient workout so I can not stress about being away from work too long. So he has taken into consideration the 15 minute downhill walk (to the beach, the joy) and the 15 minute uphill back. I figure if I’m armed with info and concerns, he’ll take all into consideration.

  • Heather @ Boston Girl Bakes says:

    Hi Rachel! So glad I stumbled on to your blog! I have always struggled with my legs- leaning them out without bulking out is so tough. I’m a definite mesomorph- when you say light weights what do you suggest? Also I used to run a lot more and it was great for my thighs bit my knees bother me now after only 15 minutes- any good alternatives? Been using an elliptical but just not as effective….thank you!!

    • Rachael Attard says:

      Hi Heather, I have actually stumbled across your blog before! Love your work ;) Yes the elliptical isn’t as effective. Walking is really great for slimming down your legs. You don’t necessarily need to run, it will just help you slim them down quicker. So I would focus on doing lots of walking. For the resistance exercises, have a look at this blog post for some ideas on the type of workouts I suggest. Otherwise, anything that is body weight only or lighter weights / resistance bands and higher rep would be good! xx

  • suresh says:

    hi racheal..u r blog is really nice…my body type is endomorph..i want to reduce my thigh fat ..jst now i started my workout …i m doing squats, lunges, ( without weights ) and donkey lift ,skipping for 3 times per week …should I add any other exercise ? I need to loose weight on hips and thighs…Please help…

    • Rachael Attard says:

      Hi there, I would definitely add in cardio as this is a great exercise to lean out your legs and lose weight overall (read more about it here!). Squats and lunges might make your legs bigger.. Have a look at this blog post for some other workout ideas. Good luck! xx

      • suresh says:

        thanks for the reply mam …..stair running workout and burpees will help to reduce the fat on thighs ?

        • Rachael Attard says:

          I think these workouts will help but it depends on your body type and the rest of your workout program. I would definitely make sure to fit in some cardio (especially walking and running) as it is great for getting rid of fat on your thighs and butt. Have a look at my butt workout too xx

  • suresh says:

    how to reduce fat on butt ? what type of exercise i should do ? please help mam…

  • marie says:

    Hi I have just started at gym I am only 32 and have really bad wrinkles saggy knees I am a size 8 and have in the past had weight issues but have been 9 stone for past 5 years and solved diet issues I am currently leg training doing 15 sets of each leg weights but am worried I am not doing those correctly as I have no pain after working out now i am desperate as I really want to feel comfortable to take my children swimming Amy help would be really appreciated Thankyou

    • Rachael Attard says:

      Hi Marie, if you don’t feel sore after your workout that is OK! You would still be using your muscles and doing a proper workout, but you probably aren’t feeling sore because you didn’t go hard enough. I would perhaps have a personal trainer (or friend) show you the correct technique or I’m sure you could find the info you need for each exercise on Youtube somewhere. With the knees, it could be a bit genetic. But I do have a similar issue myself. I find that the more cardio I do (especially walking), the more they improve. So I would continue with your weights and do some cardio and I’m sure they will improve over time! xx

  • Nataly says:

    Hi I just came across your blog and I was wondering if you could help me somehow…I have a huge problem with my hips and thighs. I researched all kinds of excersizes for sliming down there, but nothing seems to work. I’m ganing a lot of muscle from the littlest excersize and even though I am on a suitable diet I just look bulky. My upper body is very slim and toned, but my hips and thighs keep driving me crazy. I have a thigh gap, but I feel like it’s getting smaller and I don’t want to lose it. Here are the excersizes I do two times a day ( early in the morning and right before I go to bed ) : 5 side step ups on each leg, 10 side planks with leg lifts, 10 lateral lunges, 15 inner thigh lifts, 5 bridge raises, 10 pile squats, 10 donkey kicks, 10 sec wall sits, 15 fire hydrant kicks and 5 side lunges. I’ve been doing those for a month… I’ve been trying to get toned legs since june 2016 (I did different excersizes and ran atleast 2-3 times a week), but what I’ve got now is nothing near my dream body. I was wondering what can I actually do to slim my hips and thigs and keep my thigh gap. I would be really thankfull for any help. ( Sorry for my english. It’s not my first language and I rarely have the confidence to write any comments :D )

    • Rachael Attard says:

      Hi Nataly, I can definitely help you :) If you want to slim down your hips and thighs then you need to be doing more cardio – both high intensity (running) and low intensity (walking). In terms of your workouts, I would do more full body exercises, and avoid overdoing it on lower body exercises, especially if you’ve been gaining a lot of muscle. Here are some workouts that you can try – here, here and here. Good luck! xx

  • Maria says:

    Dear Rachel.
    First of all I want to say I love your blog, you’re great at what you’re doing! I’m 14 years, turning 15 in June (so obviously not very old and not very good at English – from Denmark – so I really wanna apologize for all my mistakes in the text:/). I’ve been working out in the gym for a little over a year now. I have always been the skinny type, not like completely completely skinny and flat, but pretty tall and slim. I always ate whatever I wanted, and how much I wanted until a little over a year ago. Then I started thinking that I needed to loose some kilos, even though people have always told me that I was skinny. And I was, I just didn’t like my body, so I thought, that I would eat all clean and workout in the gym every other day. So I dis and have been for a year now, I don’t eat neither bread, pasta, candy, chips, fast food, butter or any of that stuff, like ever. I am way more happy for my body than I have ever been, but I’m just so so scared of getting bulky. That’s is just NOT what I want, and I really don’t know, what I should do to not get bulky and get big and muscular legs. As I said, I am naturally skinny, but I just really feel like my thigh gap is getting smaller, specially when I’m walking. I don’t think it is so big as it used to be, but I don’t know what I’m doing wrong? I almost don’t do any exercises that targets the leg at all, and I eat totally clean all the time? Some weeks ago I started doing more reps and light weight, instead of heavy weight and a few reps, because people told me that that was what I should do to get lean and toned instead of bulky and muscular. I’m really chasing the Victoria Secret look, but I feel a little lost, because I feel like my legs have gotten to big. It is not much but still. I want legs like the Victoria secret models, not the bulky ones. Are there any way I can like get thinner and longer-looking legs without loosing the muscle in my butt? I also feel I have problems loosing the last piece of stomach fat, you know like my muffin top, but I eat clean and exercise, why won’t it go away? I’m so sorry for writing this much, I really hope you can help me, but I totally understand if you can’t. I hope you have a great day or evening, I don’t know when or if you will even see this, but yeah hahah
    Love Maria

    • Rachael Attard says:

      Hi Maria! Yes you are still very young so just remember that your body will change as you get older. With your legs, it really just depends on what exercises you’re doing. I would continue doing lighter weight and higher rep, and then focus more on exercises that tone up your butt, rather than using your legs. Here is an example of a workout that would be great. And with the lower stomach fat, the best thing to get rid of this is diet and higher intensity exercise such as running or HIIT. Good luck lovely! xx

  • Kris says:

    Hi Rachael! Thank you for your informative posts. :) You talk a lot about running reducing leg fat, but will this help decrease muscle as well? I recently started lifting weights and my calves and quads apparently respond VERY quickly to it. (Mesomorph). I’m backing off the weights and hoping long bouts of cardio can help slim my legs back down to how I am used to them, although I am sure reducing muscle takes time. Do I need to do anything differently to reduce muscle rather than fat? Thank you!

    • Rachael Attard says:

      Hi Kris, you’re welcome! I have actually written 2 blog posts on how to reduce muscular thighs and calves so have a read of these for more information on this. It should answer your questions! But if you have any more, feel free to comment and ask :) xx

  • Diana says:

    Hi Rachael,
    last time I went to the gym, I had the test that measures how much fat and muscles I have. The coach told me I should not gain any more muscles and I should just work on burning the fats. Would you tell me how I can accomplish this? Will that be with only a diet or a combination of a diet and a workout? And there is a thing I don’t understand: how is it possible that I have the right amount of muscles but my metabolism level is so low?
    Thank you for your help and for this great article

    • Rachael Attard says:

      Hi Diana, that is a good question. If you have a lot of muscle but still a slow metabolism, there is something else going on. Have a read of this blog post that I just posted as it could have some helpful information for you. There are several things that could be causing a slow metabolism such as high cortisol levels, thyroid problems, some nutrient deficiencies, etc. Burning fat with these type of issues will be hard. If you don’t want to gain any more muscle then I would avoid resistance training for now and just focus on a good diet and cardio xx

  • Susan George says:

    Can you tell me will dump-bell sumo squats and dump-bell stiff leg deadlift help me to burn fat on my thighs and hips ..?

    • Rachael Attard says:

      Hi Susan, those exercises will help you tone up your lower body but not get rid of that – have a read of this blog post. And also just be careful with these type of exercises if you bulk easily xx

  • C. says:

    This is the best blog in the whole world. I so appreciate all the advice you give. So, I’ve been following your advice about the walking and I like what I’m seeing. But I’m coming off dance cardio, which I loved more than anything. However, at the end of the day I want results, and the dance cardio was bulking. Could you string together some of your HIiT non-bulking moves with walking drills, step touching (non-impact) to make things more interesting and more like “dance”? I’m also interested in de-bulking the calf. Again, I live on the West Coast of Canada where it rains more days than not, so the challenge is to create an indoor, at-home workout. I don’t ever want to join a gym again. It’s so much easier to work out at home. Thank you for the advice. This is exciting! Thank you.

    • Rachael Attard says:

      Hi C, that’s great that you’re liking what you see! Hmm I’ve never thought about doing that, I guess it would be more like a class? I’ll try to put one together for you, but I can’t say I’ve ever taught a dance class before! Also have a read of this blog post on how to slim down calves xx

  • Annette Payne says:

    Hi Rachael, I think you are fabulous. I am 43 and had a total knee replacement a few years ago. I used to weight 117lbs, but because if poor diet and inactivity I gained a lot. So 3 months ago I got tired of being over weight at 170lbs, I began doing Jane Fonda low impact step aerobics. I would crash diet and lose 10 lbs then work on maintaining for a couple weeks and do it again. I have lost 25 lbs and thought I was doing good. I want to lose 25 lbs more but its not working as quick as the first 20 lbs did. I only just found you on the internet, and WOW! I never heard of the 3 body types before. I am definitely Mesomorph! When I was a girl I was a tomboy and spent most days on a dirt bike and my legs have always been extremely muscular, until my accident then the TKR that is. I look much better since I dropped 25lbs and began cardio but my stomach is still huge. I was holding off on working my stomach until I lost some weight I figured I would just make it look bigger if I built muscle behind fat??? I really don’t have much money and I need to know what my menu should look like on an extremely low budget. I also have 3 boys to feed who hate eating healthy. I am trying to put together a workout routine from all the great advise you have given. Thank you so much for all you do.

    • Rachael Attard says:

      Aww thank you so much! You’re already doing great – 25lbs is a lot of weight that you’ve already lost so don’t feel discouraged! Yo yo dieting and exercise definitely doesn’t help (I used to be like this too). Don’t go too hard too soon or you will continue to keep crashing after a few weeks. Start with something that you can do long term, even if it’s just 3 days per week of exercise and then you can always add on from there. Slow progress is better than fast progress then going backwards, and will also mean you’ll develop better habits. Stomach fat is hard to lose – I wrote a blog post on how to lose fat from stubborn areas so have a read of that for more information. In terms of your diet, you don’t have to cook anything fancy. Just try to focus mostly on fruit and vegetables, protein and then healthy fats (which you can incorporate into your cooking – olive oil, oily fish, etc). If you need to, you can always make something different for your boys (I know that’s a lot of effort!) and then make a few meals in advance for yourself – meal prepping is an amazing way to stay on track. Good luck with everything! I know you can do it xx

  • Jane says:

    Hey Rachael,
    I just came across your website – good stuff! Just wanted to ask you if you could clarify this.

    I am an endomorph and having a hard time losing weight. I need to lose at least 10 kgs. I do HIIT 3 times a week, usually treadmill with running for 45 sec and 1 min rest. I do resistance training 3 times a week, doing things like squats, lunges, bicep curls, etc.

    From reading your post, am I suppose to use lighter weights and do different exercises as a part of my resistance training to avoid bulking? What excersizes would these be (not just for skinny legs)? And for HIIT, I shouldn’t be running since that could cause bulk? Then what HIIT can I do on the treadmill?

    I would really appreciate any advice you have to give. Thanks Rachael!

  • Lil says:

    Hi Rachael,

    I’m still in school and I’m on the track team. In middle school I was a pretty good sprinter and now in high school this coach wants me to continue sprinting. However, I am not seeing the times that I used to have and my turnover rate just isn’t fast enough. I usually run the 100 and 200 but lately I just haven’t been able to move my feet quick enough. The worst part of all this is that my calves are extremely bulky and muscular and I don’t like that look. How am I supposed to wear a dress? I’d like to slim down my legs but in order to do that I’d have to switch to long distance running. Everyone in long distance has done it since the beginning of the school year in cross country but I’m only participating in outdoor. Also the workouts that I perform as a sprinter include lots of squats and leg presses and such. What should I do? I want lean legs but I don’t see a solution. Track is the only sport I do right now.

    Thanks :)

    • Rachael Attard says:

      Hi Lil, that’s a tough one! I guess only you can make this decision and decide whether you want to stick with sprinting or try long distance running. Long distance running will definitely help you achieve a slimmer look, but it is also important to do what you love. You can always work on slimming them down after you finish the season. I hope you are able to make the decision! I wish you all the best xx

  • shaik mansoor says:

    Hi Rachael my self Mansoor I’m fed up with my cross and bulky short legs actually I’m very short like 5.5ft so my upper body is slim and fit but my legs are heavy and shaped out I have tried my exercises like squats lounges jumping longe s etc but I can see only my legs are building and getting shaped out and my pants and shorts look ugly on me
    I have a question that by lifting weights and building upper body are there any chances that I can get skinny and slim legs

    • Rachael Attard says:

      Hi lovely, exercises such as squats, lunges, and jumping exercises do help with overall fat loss, but tend to bulk up your legs, especially if you are shorter. I would avoid these. Lifting weights for your upper body doesn’t seem to be as much of an issue for women, but can still bulk you up too. To slim down your legs, you really need to do cardio (read more here) and I would recommend lighter resistance training to tone up without getting bigger. Good luck! xx

  • LeeLee says:

    Hi Rachel.
    This is really helpful!!

    However I have a few questions!

    I eat healthy and I started eating about 1500-1700 calories a day. My main goal is to basically slim down like a Victoria Secret model. The healthy way. I am not built that big but not small either. I’m like an average girl.

    I don’t want my thighs to be big and I also really want to loose fast around my thighs(inner and outer)
    I want to work towards girl abs too. I currently weigh 60kg and I’m 5’6 inches tall.
    i am scared to lift to many weights since I don’t want my muscles to get bigger. I don’t know what to do. I have 3 months to get in perfect shape and I really need some help.
    Can you please advise me!

    If I run 2.5km on a flat surface and bike 20 minutes(incline 1 for both). Will I build big muscles. At the gym they also have a curcuit with arm and leg workouts. The lowes is 2.5 kg but I feel like I do 15 of thw 15kg and I don’t feel it that much. Is that too much, how much kg should I do for the thigh exercise?
    Should I do any other cardio?

    What about extra exercises, is there anything you would recommend for me? I really want to get my stomache, legs and butt in shape(including my love handles) without building too much muscle. I do not have a personal trainer, I go to the gym on my own and I am 16 years old.

    Is the cardio I’m doing not enough?
    How long will it take to show results?

    Is it possible to perfectly slim down in 3 months?
    Or is the goal too unrealistically?

    • Rachael Attard says:

      Hi LeeLee! Well it sounds like you’re already doing great with your diet, so well done! I wouldn’t do any biking if you’re worried about your legs getting bigger. I would do the running and then walk afterwards – walking a lot will really help you get rid of the extra fat on your legs, so definitely do that. I’m not sure what type of thigh exercises you mean, but if they’re for inner thigh, I would avoid these. They will just make the muscle here bigger, not slim them down. I would have a look at all the workouts I have posted on my blog (and Youtube/Facebook) and gives those a go! You can definitely slim down in 3 months – that’s a good goal. Do the running, walking and workouts such as this, and this, and you will get the results! xx

  • Ash says:

    As a swimmer myself I can tell you that swimming twice a day 6x a week does not cause muscles to bulk up. Swimmers also incorporate weight training, high amounts of protein, and dry land (workouts before practice that are done on deck.) So don’t shy away from swimming, once a day 5x a week will get you seeing results in as little as 2 weeks depending on your build and muscle tone.

    • Rachael Attard says:

      Thanks for the tip Ash! xx

  • Bee says:

    Hi Rachel,

    I’m loving this Blog and have practically been on it for the last 24 hours restructuring my work out regime. I used to do Tracy Anderson and over the years seemed to completely forget about working out to match your body type! I’m an Endomorph body type but really haven’t been training as I should! Spin hiit sessions x3 per week. 3 x body attack, weight machines for leg presses etc, and rowing, grit cardio, grit ploy, Trx and kettle bells

    So far this week I’ve walked 1 hour briskly every day (okay I know it’s only tueaday)
    And tonight I did the hiit running – run for 2 mins and walk for 1, I only managed 5 reps it’s was a killer!!

    Little bit stuck with resistance training, can I still do TRX and Kettlebells with a 10kg weight? I am presuming that’s too high?

    And can you see anything in my current regime which I can keep in there such as body attack, grit?

    I’ve got a holiday in 6 weeks and really need to shift the weight… and drop 14lbs do you think that’s possible?

    Thank you xxx

    • Rachael Attard says:

      Hi Bee, oh wow I’m happy to hear you like my blog! You definitely have been training very intensely which a lot of people find hard to do, so doesn’t sound like you lack motivation! Good work with the running and walking – keep it up :) I think TRX and 10kg kettlebells is fine, as long as you don’t do too many squats and lunges (if you’re trying to reduce muscle size in legs). I would probably only do grit cardio for now and body attack, maybe just once per week each. 14lbs in 6 weeks is doable but will be a challenge! Good luck and I’m sure you will look amazing for your holiday :) xxx

      • Bee says:

        Thank u so much, I really appreciate ur response and so sorry to ask again but just so I’m clear and can lock into this new regime what do u think of the following and have I covered everything?;
        So the grit cardio, attack, and the hiit running will cover my three times a week cardio sessions. And the daily 1 hour walks 6 days a week will help burn my leg fat.. for for my three strength work outs per week I can do 1 x 30 minute upper body TRX, 1 x 30 minute upper body 10kg kettle bells and for the other strength class could I do Pilates or yoga?
        (I did one of ur resistance workouts on YouTube today, the yoga push up one and it was awesome I sweated loads which I found fascinating as it was low impact) :-)

        If there is anything else u could think of for me to shift that 14 lbs in that tight timeframe that would be a big help. Thank you Rachel xx

        • Rachael Attard says:

          Hi Bee, yes if you can fit all of that in, then that will help you lose weight quickly (plus diet!). It is quite a lot though so if you can’t do it all, you can definitely scale it back. I wish you all the best! xx

  • Lisa says:

    Hi! So as an Endomorph I have been having a real hard time getting this weight off.. I do like the leg press machine at the gym and how strong & shapely it has made my legs, but I don’t want to overdo it.. I have been doing 100 presses at 130-150lbs. Is that too much? I am 5’2 and weigh 155lbs, gained 25 of them after the birth of my baby 4.5 years ago and ready to let them go!

    • Rachael Attard says:

      Hi Lisa, I’m sorry to hear that. Wow yes that is a lot, both in terms of reps and amount of weight. I’m not too sure what else you have been doing but I would mix up your workouts – you can do resistance training, but also try HIIT and high intensity cardio. I’m also not too sure if your goal is to get smaller legs or not. If you don’t want to lose your muscle, then continuing with leg weighted exercise and any type of HIIT is great! Also remember that diet is the most important thing when you’re trying to lose weight! Good luck xxx

  • Mary says:

    Hi Rachel,
    I just came across your site. I have been working out for over 20 years regularly, progressively increasing the complexity of my workouts, and I consider myself to be very fit. I do strength training 3 times/week and cardio (running or kickboxing) 2-3 times/week. I have observed over the years that indeed as I increased the weight, I got bulkier, although the trainers on my videos (I am a busy mom, so I workout at home) say that is not possible. I have an athletic build with thicker legs and I am 5’3″, but it is relatively easy for me to lose weight once I start dieting. I am ready to try your workouts, and would like to purchase your e-book. However, I have a question: Is this a total body workout (abs, legs, arms), with emphasis on leg slimming, or mainly a leg workout routine? Also, are the routines for the three main body types included, or do they have to be purchased separately (just double checking before I purchase). Thanks!

    • Rachael Attard says:

      Hi Mary, wow you sound very fit! That is great :) My workouts in my eBooks are full body so you will also work your upper body and core. And there are 3 separate eBooks. So after you buy the eBook, you’ll get an automatic email from me and you will be able to download whichever eBooks suits you best! If you have any other questions, please feel free to ask xxx

      • Mary brown says:

        Thank you for your reply Rachel! So, if I understood correctly, I need to know my body type prior to purchasing the workout because I will have access to only one of f the ebooks. However, if I am a combination of two body types (I think) because I have thicker athletic legs, but I’m not curvy at all on my upper body, and I can lose weight relatively easily when I diet, and I think I’m closer to mesomorph than endomorph, what book would you recommend to get the very best results? Also, are your workouts intense (advanced)? Or more like beginner/ intermediate (would I sweat a lot?). Thanks again!

        • Rachael Attard says:

          Hi Mary, if you are between the 2 body types, I suggest doing the endomorph one. But you do have the option to download both eBooks (for no additional cost). The workouts are different to normal weight lifting and HIIT so you won’t sweat in that same way and have a really high heart rate. But they are more challenging endurance wise. I still sweat doing them (but I sweat a lot haha). At first they might not look too difficult, but when you do them, they are difficult xxx

  • Mary says:

    Thank you for your reply Rachael! I think I will enjoy the workouts (I do sweat a lot as well!) : )

  • Julia says:

    Hello Rachael,

    I don’t do comments at all. But this was inspiring and so informative. Great job explaining all you did. I will be using your suggestions in my work out. I am small – 5′ 2″ was always between 105 and 125 now I’m 170. Gained lots of weight in my upper body because of a trainer who gave me very heavy weights. Was always trying to find a solution to reversing this weight. I was very unhappy until I found your sight.

    • Rachael Attard says:

      Hi Julia, thanks so much for the comment! I’m sorry to hear that this happened to you but just know that it is reversible! I hope all of the information and workouts on my blog help you get back to your best :) xx

  • Ana says:

    Hi Rachel, I’ve done exercise all my life, but I don’t have the results I would like to. I do trx 4 times a week and yoga twice a week, but my legs are not toned at all. What can I do to tone my thighs without gaining volume? Do I need a diet?

    • Rachael Attard says:

      Hi Ana, it sounds like you just need to modify your workout program a little bit :) I would do more lighter resistance training such as the circuits on my blog (and eBook). If you want to slim down your legs you can also add cardio. Good luck! xx

  • Claire says:

    This endomorphs thanks you for this blog from the bottom of my heart!!

    I bulk right up from heavy lifting and trainers will look me in the eye and tell me what’s happening to my body is impossible.

    I asked one if he knew what the word ‘gaslighting’ meant. Thank you for making me feel sane.

    • Rachael Attard says:

      Hi Claire, aww you are so welcome! I’m very happy to help. Do what you know is right for your body hun. No one knows your body like you :) xxx

  • Zeb S says:

    Hey ..i am mesomorph 5’5 I look slim overall but i do have bulky thighs and saddlebags .I run on low intensity and moderate speed for 20-30 mins followed by squats , lunges leg raises and leg circles ..I really want to tone and get lean thighs and decrease glutes and get rid off saddlebags. What type of exercises and cardio would you recommend??

    • Rachael Attard says:

      Hi lovely, I would recommend either walking or running faster. And I would also avoid squats and lunges if you have bulky thighs that you want to get rid of. I would do the circuits on my blog (and in my eBook!) plus the cardio I mentioned xx

  • Dana Marie says:

    Hi rachael! I am also a mesomorph, standing at 5’3. I look fine overall, but would like to tone up my legs as they’re a little flubby and also trim them down a but. I used to run, sometimes interval running and sometimes steady state running but feel it’s just been building up more muscle and making my thighs bulkier which is not what I want, especially since im short. I do walk to and from campus everyday and the walk in total is about 30 min. Would you still recommend the running? Or should I focus more on my walking and resistance training for my legs? Thank’s Rachael!

    • Rachael Attard says:

      Hi Dana, I would focus more on walking and resistance training and stop the running. Good luck! xx

  • Eva says:

    Hi Rachael,

    I’m so glad I ran across your blog. Love everything you share here. I have a few questions and hope that you could help me. I’m 5’4″ and currently 130lb and 26.5% body fat. My goal is slim down to 110lb and 20% body fat. I think I have the worst body shape that I don’t know what type I fall into. I have very small breasts, no waistline (around 29″), and big thighs (around 22″) when comparing to upper body. My bums not small too but not very very big (37″at most). My calves are also big (14.5″).

    I’ve been going to the gym for a while and seeing my lower body getting bigger :( Finally I saw your blog. So here’s the question:

    Should I avoid squat and lunges at all? Or I should still do some but just do them without weights? I’m also doing yoga (4 days/wk) and pilates (2 days/wk). Some days I go to classes back to back. Looking into barre as well but probably will only do it 1-2 times a week. I also just signed up kickboxing circut class (30 min.) and I will add power walking to my cardio (can only walk as fast as 4.2, is it enough?) Hate running though.

    Sorry if that’s too many questions. I’d really appreciate if you could help me.

    • Rachael Attard says:

      Hi Eva, I’m not 100% sure on body type but I would say you might be a meso / endo combination, otherwise maybe closer to the mesomorph. I’m sorry to hear that your lower body is getting bigger. Because of this, yes I would avoid squats and lunges for now. Adding in some kickboxing and cardio will be great! And walking 4.2mph is a very good speed. Good luck! xxx

  • Natasha says:

    Hi Rachael!

    This is such an informative article and I’m definitely reading more of your writing!

    I hope you can help me clarify a few questions that I have! I have been going to the gym for almost 2 months alternating between weight and cardio exercises. Because I have naturally big thighs with what I call “baby fats” surrounding my thighs, I find it very hard to be losing those fats although my upper body looks significantly slimmer. I’ve been doing lots of squats and leg presses and my thighs have started developing muscles, but I’m afraid that it will make me look even bulkier than before. What do you recommend for losing thigh fats without bulking up?

    • Rachael Attard says:

      Hi lovely, definitely walking! It is amazing for getting rid of thigh fat and won’t bulk you up. Have a read of this if you haven’t already :) xx

  • Tamera says:

    Hi Rachel :)

    I’ve read most of your posts and I find them really helpful. Two years ago I lost weight now I’m sitting at a comfortable weight of 52kg however I have a combination of both mesomorph and endomorph body types. So when I do workout it’s difficult to stick to something for too long as I’ll gain muscle then when I switch to another plan it works for a bit then I end up gaining muscle again. Is there anything you suggest I do.


    • Rachael Attard says:

      Hi lovely, it sounds like you need to find a plan that works for YOU. Perhaps give my style of training a go if you bulk up easily. Trying different programs is the only way you’ll know which ones works for your body and your goals (and which ones don’t). Good luck! xx

      • Tamera says:

        Thanks for the feedback:) definitely will give your program a try

        • Rachael Attard says:

          You’re welcome! xx

  • Jules says:

    I’ve been using ankle weights when doing strength training and the workout moves are very simple; fire hydrants, donkey kicks, etc. Yet when I did a monthly measurement check, I notice that my thighs are grow slowly. Should I continue to use ankle weights and hope that it’ll slim down or stop using them? I’m wanting thinner thighs and I don’t know if I’ll have the opposite effect or why it’s happening.

    • Rachael Attard says:

      Hi Jules, oh I’m sorry to hear this! :( These type of workouts build a small amount of muscle so if you’re not doing any cardio or anything else to try and lose weight, you may not be reducing fat on your legs (just adding size with muscle). I would keep these resistance style workouts to 3 times per week maximum (overdoing it can cause you to build up too much muscle) and you can stop using the ankle weights for now. I would also make sure you’re doing cardio and of course eating healthy and at a calorie deficit to lose fat xx

  • Safa says:

    Hi rachel! Your blogs helped me alot in figuring my workout plan,but ive hit plateau now :( besides doing low cardio such as power walks three times a week, can I do the jillian micheals 30 day shred program for rest of the week? It helped me to lose weight but I found that if I overdo it, it makes my shoulders broad and legs bulky? But since it counts as resistance and strength training with short surges of energy, (its a 20 minute workout) im quite confused as to whether it will help or not? Thanks :)

    • Rachael Attard says:

      Hi lovely! Well if it makes your shoulder broad and legs bulky, I probably wouldn’t do it but it’s up to you! I would try the circuits on my blog or eBook (if you haven’t already) xx

  • Carmen says:

    Hi Rachel! I am trying to slim down a bit and also focusing on getting more defined abs. I bulk up really easy -even when on calorie deficit, which is fantastic for toning my arms and core, but a problem for my legs, as I hate the bulk down there. I’ve now discovered TRX and I really like how it works my core, but I am worried it will make my legs bigger because even when just doing exercises targeting the core I still can really feel the burn in my legs. Just wanted to know the effect you think TRX may have on my legs (just by doing core exercises) and whether I should avoid it or not.

    Thank u!!xxx

    • Rachael Attard says:

      Hi lovely, core exercises on the TRX shouldn’t work your legs too hard (you will obviously still use them though). So I don’t think it would bulk them up (unless you’re doing one legged squats and other targeted leg exercises). I think it would be OK to do but just monitor your legs and see if you experience any unwanted changes :) xx

  • Elisabeth says:

    Hi Rachel,

    I love this post! I currently walk 8 miles a day or more, and will run every now and then. I want to tone up but slim down. Do you think I am doing enough cardio to lift weights and not become “bulky”? I tend to be average weight with long legs and tall. I don’t see a body type fitting my description so I am confused. Thank you xx

    • Rachael Attard says:

      Hi Elisabeth, you definitely do lots of walking – good for you! If you do the wrong type of exercises, it doesn’t matter how much cardio you do, you’ll still build muscle. If you are a skinny body type, there is much less chance of you bulking up. I’m not sure on your body type if you have long legs and are tall (i.e. the ectomorph body type), I don’t think you need to worry too much about bulking up! xx

  • Kim says:

    Hi Rachel!
    I’ve been reading your blog recently and I think it is amazing and I feel like finally someone understands my fear to get bulky quads.
    But I am really confused now. You see vs models are my inspiration I adore their bodies and their hard work. But you said that heavy lifting and hiit and spinning classes and hill runs are all have a big chances to bulk up the legs. But most of them actually do all those exercises they do a lot of heavy weighted squats hiit lunges bike and many more and still their legs are not even close to be bulky. And I know that maybe they have another body type but I really want to have legs like they do. I read your posts about body types and it comes out that I am an ectomorph and a mesomorph and a year ago I have done squats and all the things you say to avoid but I don’t really remember what happened with my legs but it came out I quit with them and I had really skinny legs after that but I didn’t felt they were toned as much as their legs are. At that period I was underweight and my parents took me to a nutritionist and over the last 6 months I had a giant diet plan of 3000 calories in order to gain weight and I wasn’t allowed to do any kind of sports. Know I am good and back to my routine but steel I am allowed to do just 40 min of workout a day since I can lose weight too fast if I will do more than this right now. Now my weight is good but I want to lose a little bit weight and tone up since after 6 months of doing nothing I am totally out of shape. But I think my body builds up muscle pretty quickly and I don’t want it to happen in my legs area. And now sorry for talking too much and thank you for reading this but I really don’t know what to do. I don’t know maybe my legs won’t bulk up if I’ll do 10kg squats and lunges and kettlebell squats and sumo squats and step machine and other leg exercises that work on my quads. But I am afraid to try again cause I am afraid to get bigger legs and I don’t want to be disappointed. Another problem is that I really like lifting weights and I regularly do 3 sets of 15 reps on each exercise. And something even more confusing is that I saw in a few of your old videos that even you do many kinds of squats lunges and hiit sections that include squat jumps box jumps and so on… Please help me I am really active but I don’t know what to do and which exercises I need to avoid and which I can do without worrying about my quads. I am really inspired by the joja page on Instagram if you know it. It’s a page of the vs angels Josephine Skriver and Jasmine Tookes and in this page they share how they workout and the exercises they do and as I mentioned earlier they do a lot of things you said to avoid. I wish I could do those exercises without getting bulky quads. Maybe I should first rich to the weight and the legs look I want by doing the exercises you recommend doing and than trying to do their exercises and see how my legs change. I love you very much and thanks for reading and please answer me.

    • Rachael Attard says:

      Hi lovely! Well first of all, pretty much of all of the Victoria Secret models are ectomorphs so they will find it very difficult to get bulky. I also follow the joja page and love it! I know they both go very heavy with the weights and this might sound weird, but last year in the VS show, Jasmine’s legs were a lot bigger walking down the runway compared to previous years. Have a look! Josephine is absolutely tiny so that’s why she can’t really get too muscular. It sounds like you are the ectomorph body type also, so I think it would be very difficult for you to get bulky. I would try doing a combination of lighter exercise and HIIT and weighted. I think this would be good for your body. I used to do HIIT and heavy weight lifting when I first started this blog. I liked it, but eventually my legs (and entire body) got too big and muscular. You can read my story here. I hope that answers all your questions! xx

  • G says:

    Hi Rachel,

    I think I am an endomorph – will rowing with resistance set at the lowest make me bulky?

    Best regards,

    • Rachael Attard says:

      Hi lovely, hmmm potentially. I think doing a little bit of rowing is OK but I would avoid doing too much of it! xx

  • Jen says:

    Hi Rachael,
    I just found your site and the info you give is great, and makes me super hopeful that I can meet my goal of getting thinner legs!
    I think I’m a mesomorph, and am considering starting a rebound exercise/ trampoline workout program, because of the convenience- I think it’s something I could commit to doing regularly. Do you think if I do this at low intensity it would be ok and not cause bulkening?
    Thanks so much! xo

    • Rachael Attard says:

      Hi Jen! Aww thank you :) This type of workout won’t really slim your legs and the constant jumping will add some muscle. Whether that’s bulky or not, I’m not too sure. If you really enjoy it then I think it’s definitely worth a try! But I would just be wary. Good luck! xx

  • Adam says:

    Hi Rachael, Don’t know if you had a guy comment on here before :) I enjoyed your article and had a few questions. I have very bulky legs! massive calves, quads and butt. I have tried very many things like leg exercises with low weights and high reps, running on the elliptical, HIIT and constant stretching. I have even now stopped leg exercises completely because there is a rule out there that “if you don’t use it you lose it” hoping that my leg muscles will decrease just from not being used, but I am still running on the elliptical for 30 minutes. I also do not know which of the 3 body types I am. I have an unproportionate body, bulky legs/butt, small arms, love handles. I am not on a strict diet but don’t eat that unhealthy either. I go to the gym 4-5 times a week and nothing really seems to work for me.

    Please help :)

    • Rachael Attard says:

      Hi Adam, I think i’ve had one guy before so not many! ;) What you said about “if you don’t use it, you lose it” is generally true. By stopping the leg exercises, you will decrease the muscle size. You are still using them with the elliptical so might be why the results are taking a while. Running on a treadmill would be better (and long distance). Losing muscle is actually quite hard and takes a while (time may depend on your body type), so you just need to be patient. I would focus more on upper body and core workouts for a while to give your leg muscles a chance to reduce. Trying out yoga classes could also be beneficial! I hope that helps – good luck! xx

  • Javiera alcalde says:

    Hi! Your book helps yo to reduce the fat in the legs?

    • Rachael Attard says:

      Hi lovely, yes it will :) xx

  • Julia says:

    I am on a dance team (we practice three days a week) and I also work out every day. I focus mostly on cardio. My workout may be rock climbing, running, or stair climbing depending on the day. I usually end my workout session with body weight ab conditioning.
    I used to be tiny, but in the last two years I have become quite muscular. The issue is it isn’t the leanest muscle in the world. My workouts haven’t really changed in the last five years except I added rock climbing in. My diet has changed because I struggled with mild anorexia, so I had to stop restricting foods. I eat more than I used to for my health.
    Do you think I should change my workout routine or just try to alter my diet a bit? I am definitely working on my diet, but I don’t know if my workout routine is working for me.
    Thank you!

    • Julia says:

      I forgot to mention that I am not trying to alter my diet in an unhealthy way. I am just trying to eat less sugar and processed food.

      • Rachael Attard says:

        That’s great! xx

    • Rachael Attard says:

      Hi lovely, I would try to alter your workouts to focus on those that won’t bulk. Check out the free workouts on my blog for ideas :) I think recovering from anorexia should also be a top priority so I would continue to focus on that! xx

  • Shannen says:

    I’m so glad I found this website. I gained so much tricep muscle in barre classes and it’s more than my biceps and shoulders so my arms look really bulky even though there’s almost no fat on them. I seem to gain muscle in certain areas really quickly and I’m so over reading that women can’t get huge muscles without eating a ton of protein and really trying to. I naturally have a lot of muscle and gain it easily so thanks for not making me feel crazy. Also, thanks for posting help on the subject.

    • Shannen says:

      Is there anything I can do to now decrease my tricep muscle mass? What tricep exercises don’t increase the muscle in the back part of the arm? Thanks!

    • Rachael Attard says:

      Hi lovely, I’m really sorry to hear that. I know it’s crazy that everyone says women can’t get bulky. If you feel bulky, no one should be able to tell you otherwise. Anyway, have a look at this blog post on how to slim down a muscular upper body. The best thing to do would be to stop the workouts that are building the muscle in your triceps, and avoid using them for now. This will give them a chance to go down in size. Good luck! xx

  • Lorenza says:

    Hey Rachel,
    glad to finally find someone who addresses this issue. It is very common to find personal trainers say that women can’t get too muscular or bulky, that it’s a myth blah blah blah… but as an ex pro athlete I can confirm that my quads tend always to get bulky if I don’t pay attention to the kind of workouts I do and also to the intensity and the frequency. I always study and observe my body (like you do I’d say), because I did so many experiments and errors on it I don’t wasn’t to risk anymore; so I’d like to know your thoughts. Will try to keep it short.
    1) ballet class: I am following a class called ballet beautiful (online). At the beginning it totally changed my body as it elongated my legs and toned my body. The issue is that I am like a nazi Sergeant, means I started to use just that as cardio every day for even 2 hours (Allegra jumps, lots of plies, tendus) etc.. even if the founder says you can’t bulk from her classes, I think that every activity where you use your legs so much has the potential to make your legs bigger, right? This isn’t like barre, ok, but what do you think about a classe like it? Ballerinas are always very skinny and have to be damn careful about NOT put too much muscles on their quads.
    2) trampoline: I did it as alternative of elliptical or run when I rent a house with that in the living room; I enjoyed it very much because it was very gentle on my joints and, because I have a hernia, it was a good choice. I think that the rebound could potentially reduce the bulkiness effect of the soil. What do you think? I’d like to buy one of this to change my routine!!
    3) now I can tell you what made my legs BIG LIKE HELL: Step, sprints, HIIT with jumps, plyo weights… I was kind of depressed when I started to see my body changing and you want to know the worst part? It took me more than 1 year (you read right yes), to lose all the muscle!! Also it is a great shame because when I decided I wanted to increase my butt, keeping my legs out was almost impossible, even from bridges, thrust etc my quads were always involved. And I always prefer the model look with lean thighs (even not super toned), than the muscular body builder kind.
    Of course I have always walked hours with good results, the problem is that I am so well trained now that I could walk like 4 hours with issues so I don’t even know if it walking is doing anything to me anymore (and incline isn’t an option I am learning here)…

    Ok I’ll stop here otherwise you won’t reply! Thanks so much in advance, have a lovely day !!


    • Rachael Attard says:

      Hi lovely! OK I’ll get straight to it :) 1. I think ballet classes are fine for not bulking, but as you said, using your legs a lot and doing this type of workout 2 hours per day would probably cause your legs to bulk. I would just try to do it 1 hour, 3 times per week at the maximum :) 2. Trampoline can bulk your legs so I would choose another type of cardio such as running or swimming. 3. Not sure if you asked a question there, but I would try my butt workouts as this will help build your butt without making your legs bigger. And also, I would say that you are a mesomorph. You could be meso-endo, but it’s quite rare to be an endomorph and to be so tall (jealous of your height!) xx

  • Lorenza says:

    Oops Rachel forgot to say I am 5”11 (weight is unknown but if not ideal, getting back to it), I am a vegan who eats fish (so eat very healthy); I think I am meso with some eso? I tend to put muscle too easily on my lower body but also lose easily if I eat clean but it depends because I have a lot of issues (thyroid disease autoimmune, celiac disease,…), so it is hard to tell, when I struggle to lose weight, if it’s because of my health issues or my body type!! Because I am tall and I think esomorph have usually a lot of fat and I am more on the muscular side I tend to think I might be more meso. Just to let you know more about myself :)

  • Lorenza says:

    Sorry I meant endomorph with meso!! Sorry about the confusion …

  • Lorenza says:

    Thanks for your reply @rachael!
    I like your blog very much because you finally address this issue I had for such a long time! I mean, come on, every time I was looking for skinny legs, I was always finding results like squats, HIIT, etc etc. I have to say that with a lot of mistakes I agree with everything you say!! I did your butt workouts and sometimes I increase the difficult adding some weight to the it.. :D ! You were right, number 3 was more me thinking out loud not a question, was just a confirmation of your theories!:)
    I am sure I’ll write you again telling you about my progress; I am trying to avoid barre and stick to ballet 3 times per weeks with yoga and resistance training (abs and arms), on the other days so that I am not going to overtrain legs.
    Regarding barre (and then I’ll Stop here): I was surprised to noticed that my quads became toned, yes, but absolutely not as huge as I would have expected before starting (consider that I was working out with barre 3/4 times per week last year and was happy with my legs). So I guess that the movement of the barre is quite different from the classic squats and lunges, otherwise I would became a bodybuilder!!:DD

    thanks for your reply so much!:)

    • Rachael Attard says:

      Hi lovely, you’re so welcome! :) I would love for you to keep me updated on your progress! Wishing you all the best hun! xx

  • Ira says:

    Thanks for all these tips, Rachel! I am a fan from the Philippines <3

    • Rachael Attard says:

      Aww you’re welcome! I’m Filipino too if you couldn’t guess ;) xx

  • Kate P says:

    I am 52, endo/meso, 5’2″and have always had large, muscular legs…they have kept my knees healthy, but my quads also curve out in the front all the way to my knees. I hate that look. The only way to thin them down is for me to get down to 110 lbs (I am 145 now) and dieting to lose weight over 50 truly sucks and makes me hate life (can you say, basically eat nothing?!!). I used to be able to run for 20 min a day and lose weight easily. But all that running and athletics in my past has taken a toll. I recently had an artificial joint replacement in my big toe, and the left big toe is probably next. After my surgery and trying to get back in to working out, I am sure my gait had changed and now have horrible plantar fasciitis in my other foot, making walking extremely painful, even with inserts, resting, different shoes, etc. The extra weight I am carrying is not helping, either. I bought a recumbent bike and gave up my treadmill to give some relief to my foot. I like doing that for my cardio…and added a weight lifting routine which included squats and lunges and higher weights. So between those my legs are getting huge! Besides swimming in the summer, can you recommend another possibility for cardio for me? When I have done HIIT in the past my legs balloon. I do like the bike, I am not upping the resistance at all, just trying to get my heart rate around 130-137 for about an hour at a time x 5 days per week. I am going to switch my strength workout back to pilates videos again after reading your blog. I really wish I could go back to my power walking, but my feet just can’t take it. I also coach, so I am on my feet walking around a lot too, and often have 8000-10000 steps per day. My feet ache at the end of the day. Do you have any suggestions for me besides liposuction lol? So discouraged. Getting old sucks…waiting for my hips to go out next after my lifetime of workouts! My advice to youngsters: invest in high quality shoes!

    • Rachael Attard says:

      Hi lovely, I’m so sorry to hear of your troubles. I think doing the bike would be fine for your cardio, just keep the resistance light as you have been doing. And yes change up your HIIT to lighter exercises like pilates and the workouts on my blog. It sounds like you’re very active throughout the day and do a lot of walking anyway so I don’t think you need to add any more, especially with the issues with your foot. Also just keep in mind that there could be other things that affect your ability to lose weight other than diet and exercises (have a read of this blog post for more details). Good luck lovely! xx And thanks very much for the tip about the shoes! I agree – I wouldn’t be able to walk a lot without my orthotic inserts and the best quality shoes xx

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