At long last – she brings herself to write a long overdue fitness update! Truth be told, as of late I just haven’t felt like writing about workouts (other than my regular updates on Snapchat). That said, this post and subsequent review have actually been a long time coming.
Enough mindless chatter – let’s get down to business.
Now if you don’t know who Kayla Itsines (pronounced it-seen-us, FYI) is, then I implore you to check out her Instagram profile and website immediately. The 24-year-old personal trainer from Australia has become a global sensation and fitness idol for millions of women, and for good reason. Kayla gained notoriety for developing what she calls the Bikini Body Training Guide (also known as BBG), which is a circuit based full-body workout program that also incorporates low intensity steady state cardio (LISS) and high intensity interval training (HIIT). The guide is 12 weeks long, but also comes with an additional four weeks of pre-training that are targeted towards complete beginners, as Kayla advises that you have a decent level of fitness before undertaking the 12-week program.
I first started the BBG program back in May after falling off the fitness wagon following finishing month 1 of Insanity for the second time. I did one week of pre-training before jumping into the full program and eventually got up to week 3 before my trip to Cyprus threw me for a loop and put me into a seemingly inevitable fitness rut upon my return.
Shortly after, Ramadan came and I developed low blood pressure which actually caused me to faint one afternoon at the gym. Needless to to say, my fitness routine took a nice hiatus.
Fast forward to the end of July and the end of Ramadan; I made a vow to re-start Kayla’s guide and see it through till the end. Surely enough, despite a few roadblocks like having to switch gym memberships I am proud to say that as of last week I have completed all 12 weeks of the BBG program.
Although I’ve long been an avid gym goer, undertaken months of half-marathon training (running up to 17 miles a week at one point), and finished a 60 day program like Insanity; BBG marks the first ever 12-week program I’ve completed. It may not sound like that big of a deal, but having tried and failed at other programs in the past, it felt like a personal accomplishment for me.
All in all, I really and truly enjoyed the BBG program – here are a few reasons why:
It’s only 28 minutes long: As someone with an insanely busy work schedule, I really don’t have luxury to be able to spend hours upon hours at the gym (but let’s be honest, who would want to do that anyways?)
The basic schedule for Kayla’s workouts are 3 resistance workouts per week, each consisting of four 7-minute circuits with a 30 second rest in between, and then a combination of LISS and HIIT cardio 2-4 times a week (the frequency of which range depending on how far along you are in the program). This makes the workouts incredibly manageable and easy to stick to – particularly since I prefer to work out in the morning before work.
The moves are simple and non-intimidating: Most of the exercises Kayla incorporates in the program are tried and tested classics like squats, jump squats, weighted lunges, burpees and so on, which again makes the workout that much more approachable. There is the occasional bizarre move (double bench jump squats anyone?) but each and every exercise is explained thoroughly in the glossary section of her guide. That said, make no mistake, the workouts are not easy and you’ll definitely work up more than just a sweat every time.
You see real results, fast: This one is subjective, since everyone’s bodies are different and will inevitably have a different experience with the guide. Personally, I began seeing noticeable changes in as quick as 3 weeks – both in terms of appearance and strength. This was incredibly motivating and only fueled my determination to keep going with the workouts. Also, what a difference a set of progress pictures can make! This was my first time taking progress shots consistently and I must say while I initially felt pretty silly, I am now a believer.
An obvious side note is that diet is incredibly important with the BBG if you want to see results. Kayla does offer a Vegetarian HELP nutrition guide with a fully-fledged eating plan and a section on vegan only recipes, but I wasn’t super keen on following it as it didn’t really seem to differ from my current style of eating. For the most part I just focused on eating – forgive me for using this word – “clean”, getting in a good amount of fresh and cooked vegetables, leafy greens, whole-foods plant-based protein and cutting down on salt and refined oils.
The BBG community: While I’m not incredibly attached or in tune with the online BBG community, I really appreciate how Kayla’s program brings women together. It’s great to be able to browse her Instagram page or blog and read about success stories, see progress pictures as well as the hundreds of supportive comments from women all around the world doing the program together. I even joined a WhatsApp chat group with a friend and some ladies doing the program to share progress and motivate each other which has been great for accountability.
As I neared the end of the program I was in two minds about what I should do next. My initial plan was to repeat the guide starting from week 1, but I had my reservations about that, fearing that it would be too easy and ineffective. The obvious choice seemed to be to go with guide 2.0, which consists of an additional 12 weeks of workouts devised by Kayla at an advanced level, targeted towards ladies who had completed the first guide, but I also had designs to start training for my first ever full marathon next February.
After much deliberation, I’ve decided to keep going with guide 2.0 and worry about the marathon training later. The reason being that I’m enjoying the BBG program too much, it fits in perfectly with my daily routine and I don’t want to risk overtraining by doing both at the same time.
Have you tried the BBG (or a similar program)?
Interested in a review of BBG 2.0? Let me know in the comments below!