A couple of months ago I decided to start Kayla Itsines‘ #bikinibodyguide. It’s pretty hard to miss this Australian bombshell’s enviable abs popping up all over fitness instagram accounts and the amazing transformations of women around the world who have been using her guide and I wanted to find out what it was all about!
What is it?
The Bikini Body Guide is a 12 week exercise training plan that aims to help women achieve their ideal body, and recognises that what this looks like will be different for everyone. Essentially though, the guide is focused on fat burning and building lean muscle through a combination of cardio training techniques, resistance training and rehabilitation (stretching) sessions.
Throughout the 12 weeks how much of each type of training you do will change, as Kayla uses a progressive overload technique. The guide provides you with 12 weeks worth of resistance training circuits, that incorporate plyometric (jump) training, body weight exercises and hypotrophy (strength building). You perform 3 resistance sessions a week, each lasting only 28 minutes and focusing on either legs, arms or abs.
Where can you do it?
A great aspect of this guide is that you can complete the workouts at home, in the gym or outdoors. I personally started off by doing the workouts in the gym, but then found it more cost-effective to invest in a few piece of equipment and complete the workouts at home!
All you need is a set of dumbbells (3-6 kg), a skipping rope, a bench and a mat. A bosu is used in some of the circuits, but not many, therefore I decided not to invest in that piece of equipment.The guide also suggests a medicine ball, but this can easily be replaced by dumbbells.
Is it worth it?
Yes, this is honestly a fantastic guide. I have often seen circuits in magazines and been confused as to how you complete the exercises. However, Kayla’s guide includes a step-by-step glossary on how to complete every single exercise in the resistance training circuits as well as the stretches. She also provides in-depth information in an education section covering a variety of topics such as posture, injury prevention and general training principles.
This is the first time I have ever had a fitness plan that I was working through week by week and found this aspect particularly motivating. There is also a great community on social media, particularly on instagram, just search #bbg or #kaylasarmy and you will find thousands of supportive girls all going through the same thing! Although I did not see as dramatic a transformation in my body as others who have completed the guide, I did still build muscle, particularly in my arms. The biggest difference is in how I feel though; I feel a lot fitter and more aware about what works for my body and sometimes it is important to focus on that, rather than just physical changes!
However, there is a reason the hashtag #deathbykayla was invented- these circuits are incredibly tough. I would regularly collapse in a sweaty mess at the end of each workout and have to lie down and recover for a bit before I could start the stretches! Obviously this makes it great for anyone who is short on time and wants a quick high intensity workout. For me though, by week 12 I was not looking forward to the workouts because of how strenuous they were. Don’t get me wrong, I do love high intensity, challenging workouts. It’s just that personally I find them much more enjoyable when I’m in a group, like a bootcamp class, as then you’re surrounded by people and you’re all going through it together. I also prefer this style of intense training once or twice a week, and not as the focus of my workouts.
So my advice would be to try it out if you want to learn more about circuit training, if you are new to working out or want a time-effective way to exercise. But at the end of the day remember that life is too short to be doing something you don’t love! Working out should be something that you look forward to, get excited about and love doing. So if Kayla’s Guide works for you and you enjoy it, then stick with it! There are plenty of girls who repeat the guide multiple times and are seeing fantastic results.
Personally, although I have really enjoyed the experience and learned an incredible amount from it, I will not be repeating the guide. This is because I’m now living in London and want make the most of the amazing fitness events here and spend time doing workouts that I am passionate about; whether that be dancing, boxing, pilates or the whole host of other classes that London has to offer!
Who else has done Kayla’s Guides? How did you find them?