Well, this post has been a long time coming.
In fact it dates back to February when I was first offered a chance to try out Kayla Itsines Bikini Body Guide Program. Kayla is an Australian trainer with a gazillion devoted instagram and Facebook followers of her 12 week downloadable nutrition and workout guides.
I’d actually just signed up for the 7 day free trial a few days previously to see if I wanted to invest in the program, so timing was pretty good! I’d lost about 10lb already since New Year and was ready to really start investing some time in getting fit and strong again after a terrible year fitness wise in 2014.
One of the secrets to Kaylas success is encouraging her followers to take progress photos, so on a chilly February morning I obligingly took my Week One progress photo. I didn’t even bother to tidy up. Ooops.
So. the basic idea of the Kayla Itsines programmes is that they are 3 workouts a week, using relatively light weights and bodyweight exercises. Each week there is a legs & cardio workout, an arms and abs workout, and a full body workout made up of 2 circuits of 4 exercises that you repeat as many times as you can for 7 minutes and then take a rest for 30-90 seconds. You do each circuit twice, totalling 28 minutes of exercise.
The program also suggests cardio and HIIT sessions working up from weeks 1-4 a couple of light cardio sessions a week to more intense HIIT in weeks 8-12.
I’m not going to lie, the workouts are evil and they suck. No one LIKES burpees right? But they are only 4 x 7 minutes, and you know a break is coming so, you know, you push on. Motivation has always been a struggle for me to keep up any home exercise routine, but these were varied enough week to week and short enough that I managed to make myself do them!
I kept up my regular exercise routine and just added the Kayla workouts on top. I used running once or twice a week and my existing two Roller Derby sessions as my cardio and also attended a weekly heavy weights session with a trainer for my Roller Derby team.
Some weeks I only managed two of the Kayla workouts rather than all 3 on top of my schedule and it took me a little more than 12 weeks to complete the program due to a couple of niggly injuries. So at the end of May, when I think I was on week 10, I obligingly took another progress photo, and I was pleasantly surprised (though I still hadn’t tidied up).
I was down another 9lb, but more importantly to me I had started seeing improvements in my strength and fitness. At the beginning of the program I could barely manage 5 full press ups, and that was with a lot of working up to it, by the end I could do 10, and now I can manage 15.
By breaking the exercises down into sets you end up doing a lot more reps than you realise. One set might contain push ups and lay down push ups, while the next has commandos or 4 x mountain climbers with a push up at the end. All technically different exercises, but by the end of 4 circuits you’ve completed 90 push ups. Which is a LOT of push ups.
If I had a criticism of the program I was sent to review it’s that there were no adaptations given for the exercises. I already knew to drop to my knees for push ups when the full push ups got too much, but it wasn’t mentioned in the guide and there did come points where if I’d tried another full push up I would have fallen on my face! Since then, however, I have purchased the new updated Bikini Body Program and it DOES contain some easier adapted moves.
You might also need to be a bit creative with some of the equipment unless your house has a fully equipped gym. I could really do with some heavier weights at home, and I don’t have a medicine ball. I also don’t have a Bosu ball so I made do without it, and I had to skip anything that involved jumping on a bench as frankly my tables at home aren’t up to it. Whilst the workouts would surely be tougher with those exercises in, they’re certainly not ineffective if you do them flat on the floor instead of jumping up. There is less equipment in the earlier workouts, giving you a few weeks to decide to invest in anything you might want to add (next on my list is heavier weights)!
By the time I completely finished the program my progress looked like this.
Since completing the program I had issues with my back, which is why I’ve been deadly quiet for the last month or so, but it’s slowly getting better, and I’ve started to use the new Kayla Itsines BBG to get myself back to full strength, starting right from the beginning with the pre-conditioning sessions and really focusing on my form for all the exercises.
It is worth mentioning that at the time I didn’t have access to the nutrition program, instead I have been following an IIFYM plan (which I promise I’ll write more about soon!) on around 1800 calories a day. Without a nutrition plan you’ll still see improvements in strength and fitness with the plan, but you won’t necessarily see such visible results.
I have minor issues with the name Bikini Body Guide, I was perfectly happy to wear a bikini before I started the guide and am perfectly happy to now, but lets face it, it’s not uncommon for women to want to get in shape for bikini season, so I’ll let it go! You’ll also need to be prepared for quite a lot of pink branding with the Kayla Itsines program. That aside I think it’s an excellent program, easy to follow and simple to do at home with a few adaptations and has made a huge difference to my fitness.
The workouts start at 69.97 AUD for the 12 week plan, which sounds a lot, but it’s worth pointing out that the exchange rate makes that about £32! You can buy the plan here.
Alternatively if you’re not quite ready to part with cash just yet then you can do what I did initially and sign up for a weeks free trial. This is basically week 1 of the programme and contains 3 workouts, the workouts in the full version get progressively harder over the 12 weeks, but week 1 will at least give you an idea if it’s the kind of workout you can see yourself sticking to!
Please note, I liked the workouts so much that I signed up for the affiliate program, so I will earn a few pennies if you buy through the links above!