“Before I knew it, I had developed workouts and cardio techniques, mixed with nutrition planning that achieved a certain result: a bikini body confidence.” – Kayla Itsines
For those of you that have been living under a rock and haven’t seen the remarkable Instagram page of Kayla Itsines, she is a 23 year old personal trainer from Australia taking the world by storm. She started the Bikini Body Guide as a 12 week fitness programme designed at building overall strength through cardio and resistance training, promoting a healthy lifestyle along the way. I started this journey like most girls did, stumbling across said Instagram page and being in awe at the transformation pictures of girls that have used her guides. So in January 2015, my BBG journey began.
This 12 week guide has gone global, reaching girls all over the world, all with the same objective: to get fit, healthy & be body confident. I’m always up for a new challenge and short of money for a personal trainer at the time, I thought this may be the perfect guide for me.
She has three guides, one focussing on food, diet and meal plans, the other two are workout guides compiled of circuits targeting arms, abs and legs – I purchased the 1.0 workout guide (weeks 1-12; 2.0 covers weeks 13-24). There are 3 workouts a week and each day focusses on one area, i.e. legs on a monday, abs on a wednesday and arms on a friday. You also have to incorporate LISS (low intensity steady state – cardio working at 65-75% of your max heart rate around 45 minutes at a time) as well as HIIT (high intensity interval training – working your heart rate at around 90% of your max heart rate at a time for around 15-20 minutes). The amount of LISS exercise you do will increase month by month, with HIIT only added once you reach week 9 of the guide.
So the actual circuits themselves… For each day, you’re given 8 exercises divided into 2 circuits. Each is completed as many times as you can within 7 minutes, before going on to the next one. Put as simply as I can, you repeat the 4 exercises in circuit 1 as many times as you can in 7 minutes, take a 1 minute breather and do the same for circuit 2. Take another 1 minute breather and do circuit 1 again, 1 minute breather followed by circuit 2. So all in all you’ll be exercises for 28 minutes with the minute breaks in between. Get it? Got it? Good.
Here’s an example of one of the workouts & a day’s meal plan:
[If you’re thinking of trying out this guide, but not sure whether you’ll enjoy it, Kayla has a free 7 day workout guide that you can download from her website]
Before we head onto the pictures, it is important to remember that healthy eating is more important than the exercising. Abs are made in the kitchen folks, so don’t bother working your ass off for hours in the gym everyday only to get home and stuff your face with chocolate and sweets because you ‘earned it’. It doesn’t work like that I’m afraid; so remember to change your eating habits too as you embark on your fitness journey.
So the progress pictures – this is a huge thing for anyone to do! I should note I didn’t start this guide back in January for it to take 12 weeks, take a progress picture and then throw it away and carry on with what I was doing before. It’s been a complete lifestyle change, I can say I will be using Kayla’s guides for a long long time; even if it isn’t stuck to 100%, I will definitely be using the exercises and the circuits in the guides to incorporate them into my weekly gym routines. So here we go:
I had put on ‘holiday weight’ over Christmas hence why I look bigger in week 1 above than I do in the before below, but November was a time I was happy with how I was looking after recovering from an illness I was eating healthily an exercising regularly. To compare that to how I am now makes me realise how far I’ve come and how important progress pictures are!
Legs & Bum:
Remember progress pictures don’t always have to show bodies getting smaller; because no one ever sang a song about small asses.
While my progress pictures might not be as amazing and incredible as others out there, I’m so proud of what I’ve achieved in what really is a short space of time. As well as the noticeable physical changes this guide has produced, it has also been really emotionally and mentally rewarding too. I feel confident walking into the gym knowing exactly what equipment I’ll need and what I’m going to be doing. So many girls say they get to the gym and do a mish-mash workout of cardio machines and maybe a couple of reps on a seated row machine. So instead of being lost and confused, use the guide to plan your workouts from start to finish and if you are a member of a gym, ask the staff to show you around the weights machines so you can incorporate that into your workouts too.
I love the fact that you can walk into the gym and know exactly what you’re going to do that day. Or when you get home you can spend just 28 minutes doing a killer workout and then enjoy the rest of your evening. I re-did a few weeks – another reason I LOVE this guide – as there was a few times I was too busy to complete all 3 workouts, or my diet had been slacking that week. There’s nothing wrong with repeating weeks; it’s better to do that then just move on to the next week.
Now that I’ve finished BBG 1.0 and started sessions with my personal trainer, I am going to re-do weeks 1-12 before I move onto BBG 2.0 to do weeks 13-24. I’ll be using more weights to build more muscle, as well as adding in more machine weight workouts on the days I work each muscle group. I think the Bikini Body Guide is so versatile in that you can take certain exercises you do like from different weeks and make you own little circuits. You can make them 6 exercises long, or just repeat two exercises with more reps. The guide really helps you get a solid understanding of the exercises you need to do to get the results you want – and it won’t always be exercises you enjoy *cough cough commandos* but you will need to do them to get the bodies you want – sorry!
Tips & FAQs
Do I need a gym in order to complete the guide?
No you don’t. I completed the majority in the gym simply because I was there using the treadmill or weights machines for other exercises. Really the only thing I needed from the gym was the weights and the bench, but this can be bought for home use, or you can use alternatives e.g chairs and water bottles. These are the pieces of equipment you’ll need:
Do I have to do the workouts on the days specified?
No. You can change them around, or complete them on days that suit your lifestyle. Kayla recommends doing your resistence workouts Monday, Wednesday and Friday so that you can complete your cardio training in the days in between and allowing for a rest day on Sunday. If you’re busy or have plans on certain nights of the week then you can simply do them another day. Just make sure you do complete them all during the week you’re on
How many times am I supposed to complete each circuit in the 7 minutes?
This varies hugely with everyone. You should aim to do it at least once, anything over and above this is really good going. There are some circuits that are easier than others so you will find you can complete those ones 1.5 times or even 2 times. I would stress not to focus on how many times you can complete them, it’s much more important to focus on technique to ensure you’re doing each exercise safely and properly.
Do you have to purchase both the exercise and nutrition guides?
No. While you do get a better deal if you buy both together, I didn’t find the nutritional guide that useful. I think it is targeted at those that have no idea about what foods they should and shouldn’t eat. If that is you then I’m sure you’ll find it useful. If however you do have a basic knowledge of the right foods to eat and understand how much of them you should be eating then a little bit research on Google can give you the further knowledge you need. It is good for giving you daily diet plans so but is only for 7 days so again you’d have to research your own meals anyway. I find blogs are really good for meal inspiration and there’s thousands out there so give those a read first as they don’t cost anything!
It’s my first workout and I couldn’t finish the circuits because I felt sick/got too tired etc. what do I do?
I’ve heard of a few people that this has happened to. People see the exercises and underestimate just how intense they are when done non-stop. I’d recommend continuing with the week 1 workouts but repeat week 1 until you complete them fully. It’s just about building up your stamina to a point where you can exercise full out, more or less non-stop, for 28 minutes. Even if you consider yourself to be fit and healthy you may still find these circuits challenging. FEAR NOT as there is no time limit on the guides; once you’ve bought them they’re yours for life and you can take as long as you need to complete them.
What has been your biggest noticeable change while doing the guides?
My stamina! Without a doubt my fitness levels are so much better. In terms of my body change, probably my legs. As you can see from the pictures above, I’ve gained a lot of muscle on my legs yet they feel smaller than they used to. In other words, they’re a lot leaner. Also my sides from my chest right down to my thighs are really flat; while I haven’t got that washboard stomach (yet) my middle is definitely leaner too. But everyone’s results will be different as you all hold your weight in different places. Either way, you WILL notice a difference in your body after 12 weeks of BBG and eating healthy.
Tip #1: Run through each exercise of a new circuit
So you can get an idea of what you’re doing and how you can switch from each exercise to the next to make sure you’re not wasting time in the 7 minutes allocated for each circuit.
Tip #2: Progress pictures
Take as many pictures as you can, before during and after. From every angle, not just front and side views. Take one of your arms, of your legs, and of your back. You’ll notice your progress so much more in pictures than you will looking in the mirror everyday.
Tip #3: Throw away those scales!
Well, not completely, just don’t rely on them. If your goal is fatloss, then you’ll see that when your clothes get looser, if your goal is to gain muscle and become leaner then your weight will most likely stay the same so scales will make no difference. Take measurements of the following body parts and you’ll see them drop as the months go on: upper arm / bust / waist / abdomen / hips / upper thigh / lower thigh
I hope this has been useful for those of you that are interested in this guide, or if you were just intrigued as to what I’ve been up to during the last few months of my fitness journey. As I said before, I am not where I want to be, but when I look in the mirror I am such a different person than I was 3 months ago, and I can thank Kayla Itsines for that, as well as my hard work and dedication. If you’ve got any more questions comment below and I’ll answer! A wise, & rather special, person once told me to do whatever it takes in life to ensure I am the best, and happiest, version of myself. Make sure you do the same!
And don’t worry, it does get easier! …. Nah I’m just kidding. But you do get stronger! Good luck with your fitness journeys, make it a good’un!