I am now in week four of my first attempt at getting through the Kayla Itsines Bikinin Body Guide. I thought I would do an honest post about how I have found the process so far, and what the main pros and cons are of the guide for me. I hope you find it helpful, and do keep in mind that this is only my view, and workouts are really personal things so what I like or dislike won’t be the same for you or another person. It’s about finding what’s right for you, and although this isn’t perfect, I am keeping up with the guide well and enjoying it.
Let’s start with the positives:
It’s a challenge. It seems simple, because there are only four exercises and you only have to do them for seven minutes each. So it shouldn’t be that hard, right?! But it is! And that makes me want to be better at it.
You see improvement. The rate you improve is quite surprising. The first time I did one of Kayla’s workouts, despite considering myself a pretty ok fit person, I was struggling. Because she included moves that I don’t normally opt to do – pylometric jumps etc are not something I normally encourage myself to do because they aren’t my fave.
There’s a routine. I find it really good to follow a guide that works different parts of your body on various days of the week. The workouts are split into cardio and legs; arms and abs; and full body. On the in between days you do a mix of low intensity steady state cardio (basically brisk walking up a hill) and high intensity interval training (short bursts of very intense activity with short periods of active rest in between), so you are moving for at least half an hour, six days a week. Everything is mapped out for you and it’s easy to follow.
There’s definite progress. Some of the exercises you hate the first time round don’t seem so bad once you get the hang of them. Step up with reverse lunge is murder the first time you try it, but once you actually get the hang of how to do it it’s not so tough.
It’s sweaty. The first time you get hot and sweaty during the cardio workout, it feels like your body is screaming ‘I’m not fit enough for this’. But then you realise that it’s only half an hour and it works up a real sweat, which surely is a good thing.
Strength building. Even though I’ve only done three full weeks, I already feel stronger. I think I still need to be more consistent with my diet to see even more results, but I am definitely feeling stronger in my arms, legs and core in particular.
Lack of need for loads of equipment. Ok, so you do need some things to be able to do these workouts at home, but I already had most of the equipment needed. The only thing I don’t have is a step, and instead I just use my stairs because I am too scared to use a chair in case I lose my balance! But the key thing is you can do the workouts at home and don’t need an expensive gym membership. I do have a gym membership anyway, and it’s useful for the cardio as well, but you can do it without.
The online community. Even though it can be disheartening to see perfect bodies on instagram, I definitely see the BBG hashtag as a friendly place. I haven’t posted on any of the hashtags yet (sorry!) but I do find that if I need to encourage myself to do a workout, looking on instagram and seeing the progress of others and even the videos people post of them doing the workouts is just the kick I need.
It’s winter friendly. I think the Kayla workouts would be brilliant to do outside in summer, BUT they are also really winter friendly in that you can do everything in a relatively small space without tons of equipment.
The nutrition guide doesn’t focus on calories. Instead, it focuses on food groups and how many portions of each food group you can have per day. It breaks down the portions into measurable amounts e.g. you can have six portions of carbohydrates a day – one portion is a quarter of a cup of brown rice.
Flexibility. I really like that the guide includes info on how you can move the planned workouts around, and offers advice on what not to put back-to-back (clue: doing cardio and legs one day and then full body the next is not the one). This means that I never feel like I’m off track – if I do have to miss a workout for some reason I can make it up another day by shifting the weekly schedule slightly. For instance this week on Monday I was feeling so energyless I decided to have a rest. So I did cardio and legs on Tuesday (meant to be Monday in the plan), and then will just push the rest of the week back a day to finish on Sunday with LISS. OK so it means next Monday I will have to start again without a rest day, but the flexibility means I’m more likely to stick to the plan.
And now for the cons:
The name. I mean, after the whole debate about bikini bodies and the fact that if you have a body, and put a bikini on it, you have a bikini body…yeah, I just don’t think this is the best name for it and encourages women to put themselves down.
Misleading images. I know I said above about instagram being a great support, but it can also be misleading. For instance, you will see ‘progress’ or ‘before and after’ images that are hashtagged BBG etc, but then when you read the caption is says bikini body guide 1.0 (there is pre-training, 1.0 and 2.0) round 3. I.e. they have been doing this for a total of 36 weeks, and have often added in other training, not sticking religiously to the guide. People will also put ‘BBG week 2’ but will have completed four weeks of pre-training, so really it’s week 6. And the confusion goes on. Basically, it can set unreal expectations.
The price. I got a discount, but it is still pretty pricey and you can definitely find similar things elsewhere much cheaper. Gosh, you could design your own version for free if you put the thought into it.
The cost of equipment. As I said above, the guide doesn’t need a mammoth amount of equipment, but the cost can add up if you don’t own any of it already and don’t have a gym membership. For instance, buying dumbbells and a mat and a step can really add up.
The nutrition guide is separate. Kayla also produces a ‘HELP’ guide, which stands for ‘Healthy Eating and Lifestyle Plan’, which has to be purchased separately to the workout guides. I think separating them is just a money spinner as really, you could stick to the workout guides but eat the wrong stuff and see NO difference. Similarly you wouldn’t see the results as depicted on insta if you only stuck to the nutrition guide (though you would probably see more of a result this way than by following the workouts and eating pizza every day).
The difficulty level. Regardless of the pre-workout option, I’m pretty sure that if you came at this guide completely fresh having never done any circuit training or pylometric workouts before, it would be a massive struggle, and probably not do-able. Because of this it’s not very inclusive, and kind of skews the results as you have to have a certain level of fitness to be able to even get through four weeks of the guides, so of course the results are likely to be impressive alot of the time.
Lack of adjustment options. In classes I go to at the gym, the instructors often offer us options to make the exercises easier or harder. For instance with press ups you could do half press ups on your knees, or if you want to make it harder (don’t know why ANYONE would want to do this!) you can go deeper and try to literally touch your nose to the floor each time. Within Kayla’s workouts there aren’t options. Well, at least not that are clearly presented, anyway. That can mean that if you’re struggling alot, you end up just stopping, rather than adapting what you’re doing to make it appropriate for your skill or energy level.
Not knowing if you’re doing it right. Although the guide has explanations of the exercises in, and you can look up videos online, unless you happen to have a wall of mirrors in your home or are doing this in the gym where there are lots of mirrors, you won’t know if you’re doing the exercises correctly. Now this might not seem like too much of a big deal, but I know from previous experience how keen our bodies are on taking the easy route whenever possible, because the harder route hurts. You can adjust your posture slightly during an exercise and it makes it a hell of a lot harder, and because nobody is watching with the Kayla workouts, you could be cheating and getting away with it. But I suppose this is a common problem with all guides/exercise DVDs etc, so not unique to Kayla’s guides.
So, that’s my take on the guides so far. I’ll keep you updated with how I get on, and hopefully will be able to share my thoughts when I reach week 12, even if I have to do so kicking and screaming and rolling around on the floor in a pool of my own sweat. What a beautiful image.
Have any of you followed this guide before? How did you get on with it?