Since I mentioned last week that I’ve been following the Kayla Itsines Bikini Body Guides you guys have sent me so many messages asking what I think of them and if they’re worth investing in! Personally I love them but to give you all a better insight into what is involved I thought a blog post would be the best way to explain….
I first came across Kayla Itsines on Instagram – with over 3.3million followers and thousands of hashtags about her she’s kind of hard to miss. At only 23 years old, the Australian Personal Trainer shot to fame when her guides became a global hit and women from all over the world started posting their progress pictures on social media. She has developed a massive following and a search of the term #kaylasarmy on Instagram returns over 600k results.
The thing that Kayla apart from others offering similar programmes is the fact that her personality shines through her social media and with this she has managed to build a global community of women who respect, support and encourage each other as they all have common interests and goals. So great is her popularity that she recently held a sell out Bootcamp World Tour taking in Amsterdam, London and New York as well as a number of Australian cities.
After following her on Instagram for a while I decided to try out one of her free 7 day guides (which you can get here). I really liked it so went and bought the 12 week exercise guide and nutritional plan which was €80 for both (or €47 individually) and you can get them from www.kaylaitsines.com. I was attracted by the fact that the workouts are short, doable from home and promise great results. I wanted a programme I could fit into a busy schedule and this does.
To be honest, I haven’t used the nutritional guide as much as I thought I would, partly because I like to come up with my own recipes and partly because I felt some of the meals took too long to prepare. However, if you are looking for a guide to eating healthy it is actually very good and there are both meat-eater and vegetarian guides which is a big plus. I like that she follows the Australian Dietetics Council guidelines so you know her recommendations are based on sound research. She doesn’t cut out any food groups and her meals plans are well structured with explanations of all of the food groups and micronutrients (have a look at her blog for some example recipes but things like eggs and avocado on rye bread, oat smoothies, wraps and curries feature a lot). The plan includes a 14 day guide with breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks as well as recipes for each. It’s based on a daily caloric intake of 1,600 calories but because of how she has structured the plan I found there was a lot of food and I was rarely feeling overly hungry.
The part I really like about her guides is the exercise plan. I love the style of training and the fact that it only takes 30 minutes meaning that it really is manageable to fit in everyday. The type of training is a combination of resistance plyometrics (which involves a lot of jumping, bodyweight movements and light weights) and low intensity steady state cardio. The guides come in a printable PDF format which I bound into a booklet so I can have it in front of me when I’m training at home or in the gym. Each of the resistance plyometric workouts is laid out as in the photo below – with two circuits, each containing four different exercises. Depending on the day you could be doing a leg and cardio workout, arms and abs, abs alone or full body.
Each circuit “only” takes 28 minutes to complete – however it feels a lot longer! Even though it’s called a “Bikini Body Guide” don’t be fooled into thinking these workouts are going to be easy! But this is a good thing and if you’re doing these right you should be dripping in sweat by the end! On circuit days (3 per week) the exercises are presented as in the photo above. There are two circuits consisting of 4 exercises in each. Basically you set your timer for 7 minutes, do as many rounds of circuit one as possible (depending on your fitness this is usually 1-2.5). Then you take between 30-90 seconds break and do the same for circuit 2. Repeat so that you’ve done four circuits in total. I should also mention that the guides contain 4 weeks of pre-workouts for anyone who hasn’t trained in a while which is a great idea.
In between circuit days you do 35-45 minutes of low intensity steady state cardio (LISS) which is just a brisk walk. Later on in the guide she starts to incorporate some high intensity interval training. This, along with the increase in intensity of the circuits each week helps prevent plateauing. When I started doing the guides the first time, I made it to week 5 before I went on holidays but hadn’t always done the LISS training (I found it really boring). This time around (I’m re-starting from week 1) I’ve realised the importance of LISS so am being more diligent about getting it done (and I’m using it as an excuse to watch an episode of a Netflix show each time).
I love the exercise guide for a number of reasons:
- I like going to the gym and having a set plan for what I’m going to do, otherwise I try make up my own plan and end up getting bored, wasting time and then not going back the next day.
- The circuits are tough and as I’m the sort of person who likes to feel the burn to feel like I’m working hard enough they tick this box!
- The guides be done from home or the gym and don’t involve much equipment. If you are serious about following the guides from home then it would be worth investing in a few light dumbbells, an exercise mat and a skipping rope. However she gives alternative exercises for most things if you don’t have the equipment or can’t do something.
I asked a few other people what they think of the guides and some people didn’t really like the amount of jumping and explosive movements involved while others said they didn’t feel tired after and still wanted to go and lift some heavy weights but doing this would contradict the guides advice (and also I just don’t know how you’d have the energy!).
The exercise guide alone is 189 pages long and gives extensive advice on the rationale behind her programme, explanations for how to do each exercise, the importance of stretching and rehabilitation (e.g. foam rolling) and how to do each. I was really impressed with the amount of information she gives in the guides and it’s well worth reading fully.
To conlcude, I really like these guides. I think they are well written, scientifically backed and most importantly, sustainable. Her diet plan is based on Dietetic Council guidelines and her workouts are simple and quick meaning they can be done anywhere, anytime. They’re becoming more and more popular and I’ve spotted a few people in the gym doing them so it’s a great conversation starter! If you are thinking about trying it out then I’d recommend trying her free 7 day guide to see if it suits you. If you’ve any other questions about the guides that I haven’t answered then just leave me a comment!
(Photos taken from @kayla_itsines Instagram page)