Home / / Why I Don’t Lift Heavy Weights Anymore

Why I Don’t Lift Heavy Weights Anymore

By Rachael Attard, Updated Aug 18, 2020
why i don't lift heavy weights anymore

I’ve been working out in a gym for about 10 years now (but more intensely over the last 6 years). I’m a qualified personal trainer, I worked at a functional training gym that focused on strength, I did HIIT, I did CrossFit, I’ve done triathlons, I’ve done heavy lifting.

But now my training is very different to what is was back then. I don’t focus on heavy lifting and my goals aren’t about trying to squat a certain weight or do a certain amount of pull ups. This is why I don’t lift heavy weights anymore.


To put it simply, I don’t like the way it makes my body look. This is very specific to me and my ideal body shape.

Every time I go down the heavy lifting path and start a new strength focused training program, my legs become really muscular and my back becomes really broad.

The difference is so much that I need to buy new clothes as my bras and shirts no longer fit around my bust, and my jeans don’t fit around my thighs.

I’m a mesomorph body type which means I gain muscle quite easily so if you are also a mesomorph, the same thing may happen to you.

Some of you might be thinking I’m crazy and that there’s nothing wrong with having muscular thighs or a broad back. But it’s just not for me and I’m not happy like that. And being happy is important. You should never do a workout program if:

  1. You don’t like the results;
  2. You don’t like doing it; or
  3. You think you should be doing it because everyone else is.


I know there is a lot of pressure put on people now in the gym to lift heavy. I will admit that sometimes I feel embarrassed going to the gym and doing a “girly” class, doing ab exercises, doing a body weight circuit or using the really light dumbbells and doing things like donkey kicks.

I feel like people are looking at me like “oh she’s a newbie.” I’m definitely not. But I still feel that pressure.

why i don't lift heavy weights anymore

I think social media has a lot do with it – all those hashtags #girlswholift #legdays #squats.

I’ve even had personal trainers approach me when I’m on the treadmill (thinking I’m a beginner) asking me if I want help with a program. Ummm no thank you. Cardio is part of my program and I like it :) I like doing it and I like what it does for my body.

I don’t judge women who lift heavy or do crossfit – they love it so I’m happy for them! So I don’t think other people should judge me and other women because we DON’T do these things.


Don’t worry about what everyone else is doing!

Don’t do something just because you think that’s what you should be doing or because everyone else is doing it. You shouldn’t dread working out either – it should be something you actually enjoy.

If you don’t like lifting heavy weights, don’t do it! If you think Pilates is a waste of time, don’t do it! Everyone’s different. There are SO many ways to exercise and get in shape these days, you don’t have to conform to what everyone else is doing to get results and be happy.


So what am I doing now? Mostly I follow my own 3 Steps to Lean Legs Program. The workouts in here are lower intensity resistance circuits that are all light weight (using body weight, light weights or a resistance band), and also includes a mix of cardio. I like doing cardio because I actually feel SO good afterwards and it helps me keep a leaner look.

I admit that I am not as strong as I once was. I can’t do a pull up and I can’t pump out 20 push ups on my toes like I once could. But I don’t aspire to do these things. You can still be fit, healthy and in good shape without lifting heavy weights.

I’m much happier now with the way I look and feel. And I actually love doing these type of workouts. So for me, it’s a win win! My workouts have changed a lot over the years. But I honestly don’t see myself going back to heavy lifting.

I would love to hear from any of you that are in the same situation! xx

Picture of Rachael

Rachael is an Australian born certified personal trainer and nutritionist who holds a Bachelor degree in Science.

After struggling for years to find an exercise and diet program that is tailored to women striving for lean and toned body with no bulk she designed her Lean Legs Program. This program is tailored to each body type and focused on helping women get toned but feminine bodies, without getting bulky.

Her mission is to empower women and help them stay in shape in a healthy and balanced way.

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72 comments on “Why I Don’t Lift Heavy Weights Anymore”

    Neha says:

    Hi I am based in India and really want to try out your workout. But my concern is with respect to the nutrition as I am a vegetarian( not vegan ) and don’t think I will be aby to follow it. What do you suggest?

      Sanja - Lean Legs Support says:

      Hi lovely,

      thanks for reaching out! <3

      You can always modify the meal plan to suit you! You can substitute the meat with some vegetarian options. Or, what some girls do, you can mix the vegan and regular meal plan to make a vegetarian one :)

      As long as you are following the Program and eating a healthy diet on a slight calorie deficit, you will get results <3

      I hope this helps! xx


    A man. says:

    You’re right the emphasis on 1-5 rep heavy lifting is very much in fashion, but like most fashions, it’ll pass.

    I used to box and when I stopped I carried on the calisthenic component of the training – hill sprints, pull-ups etc

    Lifting heavy bores me rigid. It’s like a mundane job to me.

      Sara - Lean Legs Support says:

      Hi lovely <3,

      Thanks for reaching out!

      It definitely is a trend and it will pass! :)

      There are people who actually enjoy lifting weights and that's absolutely okay! Also, not everyone has the same definition of bulkiness!

      However, there are a lot of girls who don't like it and don't want to build muscle or find it boring like you and those are the lovely girls Rachael's trying to help achieve their goals! :)


    Sue Forbes says:

    Just like you, my shirts don’t fit anymore. They keep creeping up on me around the bust. My arms are big and my back is broad. I hate it. How do I change my body back to the way
    it used to be.?

      Marina - Lean Legs Support says:

      Hi lovely,

      Thanks for reaching out! We understand what you’re going through and we want to help as much as we can :)

      Rachael used to do CrossFit that made her upper body bulk up so she wrote a whole blog post on how to slim muscular upper body! You can find it here: https://www.rachaelattard.com/slim-muscular-upper-body/

      Also, Rachael has created 3 Steps Lean Legs program that will help you get a lean and toned body without bulking.

      The program is an 8-week workout and nutrition plan designed to help you slim down your legs, but it will also help you slim and tone your upper body and core (the workouts are full body).
      It also includes a full meal plan, a separate recipe eBook and demonstration videos.

      You can find out more about the Lean Legs Program here:


      Let me know if you have any other questions xx


    TJ says:

    Hi Rachel,

    I’m excited to have come across your blog. I’ve been on a long hiatus from actively working out. Perhaps boredom of my routine and overtraining led me astray. I’m excited to jumpstart working out actively again.

    Do you have an actual article with a sample workout week to follow? I’d like to try a weekly sample meal plan and workout series prior to eventually buying your program. I know walking is a big component but didn’t know the structure of how a workout should go.

    Please advise.

    Thanks in advance.

    Yeullim says:

    Hi Rachel, is that you in the photo doing donkey kickbacks? If that is you im definitely going to try your programme, you have the body shape that I am aiming for. I personally dont like the ‘too muscular and broad’ look that often comes with strength training.

      Diana - Lean Legs Support says:

      Hi lovely,

      Yes, that’s Rachael on the photo doing donkey kickbacks :)

      The program in the eBook is an 8 week workout and nutrition plan designed to help you get lean and toned without bulking. It will help you slim down your legs, but will also help you slim and tone your upper body and core too (the workouts are full body). It also includes a full meal plan, a separate recipe eBook and demonstration videos.

      You can find out more about the Lean Legs program here:


      Love, Lean Legs Club support xx

    Jules says:

    Hi Rachel, I’m very very new to the whole lifting thing and I was wondering what range of kg do you consider light, medium and heavy?

      Diana - Lean Legs Support says:

      Hi lovely,

      Body weight is light, so are resistance bands or dumbbells less than 5kg. Heavy weights is any weight heavier than that, and especially barbell exercises.

      Love, Lean Legs Club support xx

    Cat says:

    Thank you so much for being brave enough to say this! I found your blog today when I googled ‘how to lose muscle from my back and shoulders’. I’ve been training heavy the past 3 years or so and I really hate how my back and shoulders have got so wide. I’m like you, my shirts and tops don’t fit anymore! I’m just under 5’3″ and have always been petite, and I really just want to get back to that, but being really toned. From reading your blog I realise that it can be done. I’m going to start powerwalking tonight. Should I be doing an hour a day? Do you have approx. times of how long it takes to reduce muscle? I’m going to overhaul my nutrition too, I’ve been focusing too much on macros and making sure I have enough protein.

      Viktorija - Lean Legs Support says:

      Hi lovely,
      Power walking is great is you want to slim down your legs, 1h a day is recommended minimum but of course you should do it as much as you can.
      Some women see results after only 2 weeks, but there were cases where the results started showing only after week 6, so keep going and be persistent!
      Rachael would love to help you as much as she can :) that’s why she has created her Lean Legs program and Lean Legs Training Club.
      The program in the eBook is an 8 week workout and nutrition plan designed to help you get lean and toned without bulking. It will help you slim down your legs, but will also help you slim and tone your upper body and core too (the workouts are full body). It also includes a full meal plan, a separate recipe eBook and demonstration videos.

      You can check out the Lean Legs program here

      Love, Lean Legs Club support

    Maria says:

    Hi Rachel

    Legs is something I have always struggled with really would like some advice. I have PT sessions twice a week and my trainer always says I should do weights and less cardio. Now I really love cardio and I love running. I’m constantly told I need to do more weights and less running. I am so confused and really want advice on what cardio is good for fat loss.

      Rachael Attard says:

      Hi Maria, pretty much all PT’s will say more weight lifting, less cardio. But it really depends on the person and their goals. If you are wanting to slim down your legs, you definitely need cardio. And you need to focus on exercises to tone this area without adding bulk. I would keep with your cardio, especially if you love it! xx

    Analia says:

    Thank you so much for this post! Finally someone gets me!
    I´ve been training for almost 2 years in the past and at some point I’ve started feelling the same way as you. I mean, I used to watched myself in the mirror and think: this is not what I want. I hated my legs and my arms, I thought they were too big.
    So eventualy I quited the gym, but not because I wanted too, but because I didn’t saw the results I wanted. It was like all the effort that I was making was in vane. I felt really sad with my body at that moment.
    But, now, after reading all your blog and looking to all your great advices I’m happy to say that I returned to the gym :) But, this time, I specifically told my personal trainer that I wanted to stay skinny. So what I’m doing now is a LOT of cardio, like 45 minutes or and hour, and then a smaller routine that only involves lifting light weight or doing exercises with my body. And, also, I started yoga, which I really love and I think it helps me getting my body flexible.
    Now I feel happy with what I do, because I’m doing things that I actually like and because I’m getting the results that I want. And that’s all because of you and this great blog. Thank you so much again. I hope you keep doing this so I can continue learning about exercises and food!

    Greetings from Argentina.

      Rachael Attard says:

      Hi lovely, oh I’m so so happy to hear that! Good on you for trying again and being determined to get what you want. I wish you all the best! xx

    Hannah Mackay says:

    Thank u so much for this. ive been lifting heavy for 2 years now and don’t wanna do it anymore. don’t get me wrong I enjoy working out etc but I love playing competitive hockey and love running along with bodyweight HIIT style workouts more, I’m wanting to stop heavy lifting and go back to doing bodyweight again. ive been reading a lot online and this is the first page I found that made me not dread giving up heavy lifting and reassured me that I can still look toned fit and healthy also through following a healthy diet without heavy lifting. I want functional strength(something I had when I played several sports-still play hockey) and ran and did bodyweight. I lost a lot through just heavy lifting and cardio. I miss it and yes its nice to be strong but I just don’t enjoy it anymore and longterm, playing my hockey,running,cycling and doing bodyweight sounds much more fun
    THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THIS. I feel confident now ill be ok xxx

      Rachael Attard says:

      You’re welcome Hannah! Yes you will definitely be OK. I’m excited for you that you are going to try a different way of working out now :) Good luck! xx