BBG is the program everyone’s talking about-have you tried it?
#BBG in the Instagram world = motivation. Kayla Itsines, the founder of the Bikini Body Guides, built a community of women with the same goal: challenge themselves for 12 weeks to gain both physical AND mental strength and find their best selves. This program is tough- the workouts are brutal and it takes mental toughness and commitment to complete each workout. I’ve broken down the program-what it is, how it works, and my thoughts and results-everything you need to know in deciding if it’s for you.
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Disclaimer: I am not a fitness professional. All opinions are my own.
So, what is BBG, exactly?
BBG is a 12 week program of AMRAP circuits (AMRAP -as many rounds as possible). The circuits are a mix between body-weight movements and weighted exercises. When I purchased the program it was a PDF version only, but now it is an app. I’ve completed two rounds of BBG, and I still incorporate the circuit workouts in to my routine although I no longer follow the program. Sean will even do a circuit with me every so often! He finds them challenging, and we have fun doing the work out together!
Each week of the program is a combination of 3 “Kayla workouts,” 2-4 LISS sessions, and 1-2 HIIT sessions. The number of sessions of each category varies by week. Kayla’s workouts are broken down in to focused circuits. For example, Monday is leg day and Wednesday is arm day. LISS (low intensity steady state) workouts are chosen by the athlete-i.e. the program doesn’t have a designated workout. LISS activities vary depending on level of fitness and fitness goals. Some examples include: incline walking on a treadmill (incline of 15 @3.0-3.5 MPH for 30-45 mins), spin class, or lifting session. The goal of LISS is to maintain a heart rate in the “fat burning” zone, or a sustainable state for a 30-45 minute period. HIIT (high intensity interval training) is a 10-15 minute session broken out in to all-out work followed by rest (for example, treadmill sprints of 30 seconds sprint, 30 seconds rest for 15 minutes). The goal of HIIT is to reach max effort for shorts bursts-this increases your metabolic rate AFTER the work session for a longer period of time as you recover.
Picture Credit: Elizabeth Grant Photography
-You can do BBG anywhere: I initially started the program because I was able to do it at home and outside-summers in New England are short so I try to find creative ways to work out and spend less time in a gym. If you travel, the circuits are an excellent workout to do in a hotel gym!
-Requires minimal equipment: yoga mat, 5lb, 8lb, or 10lb dumbbells, a bench (I use old wooden chairs), medicine ball, jump rope, water bottle. You can pretty much find substittues for any/all equipment needed, but I linked some inexpensive options!
-Quick and efficient: 30-45 minutes, 5-6 days a week. If you do your workouts at home you’re saving another 15-30 mins of commuting to and from the gym! It’s an easy workout to squeeze in when you’re tight on time.
-Workouts are preplanned: This program is very well structured, and it makes planning and scheduling workouts a breeze. I personally find a workout schedule motivating (vs. daunting) because I can check each workout off my list day by day! It also takes away the question of WHAT to do in the gym.
-Forces different exercises: Would you willingly do 90 burpees? (that’s my Kayla workout record)!
-High impact: A lot of the exercises are jumping, which over time wears down joints, knees, and feet. Also, if you choose to run or sprint for LISS/HIIT you’re adding additional high-impact sessions. I’ll put it this way: 3x/week of Kayla’s circuits hurt me. 5-6x/week of CrossFit does not.
-Repetitive: While having structure is a huge pro, after a while, to me, the workouts got boring and I honestly started to dread them around week 8. I love my gym time- dreading it is a sign that this is not a long-term solution for me. Read how I motivate myself for the gym here!
-Focus on REPS: Focusing on AMRAP EVERY workout offers little variety and is not, to me, consistently motivating or achievable. I would love variation guidelines (i.e. one week up weights by X% to focus on quality vs. quantity of reps).
-Accountability: If you’re doing this program alone (I highly recommend doing it with a friend!!), it gets tough to stick with it. When I did the program with a friend, we only missed one workout in the 12 weeks.
I did not take the infamous before and after photos for two reasons. 1. I didn’t know how to take mirror photos and couldn’t be bothered (lol it’s the truth!), and 2. Photos that are meant to show progress causes me to over-analyze, hyper-focus, compare, and critique my body. I know myself enough that photos would only encourage those bad self-critical behaviors I try to avoid. Would I have seen physical results if I took the pictures? Maybe, but for me it was a choice I made in my experience.
That being said, I did not get the visual results/achieve the “goals” I set and I could determine that without progress photos (aka a 6 pack in 12 weeks-not realistic). However, I did get stronger! Measurable results: I was able to do more pushups, more burpees, and move more efficiently. When I began the program I used 8lbs dumbbells, and by mid-program I switched to 10lb dumbbells.
BBG Bottom line:
I realize my opinion of the program may not be a popular one…
The program is a great way to get moving, have a plan, and workout efficiently. If you need structure in workouts and help in creating a gym routine-I would say give it a try, but be in tune with the impact on your body and mind. The program will give results, but it is a grind to get through the 12 weeks both physically and mentally-it wore me out in both respects! Scaling down an exercise or taking rounds slow and focused may help instead of hurt.
The workouts themselves as individual workouts are still something I opt to work in from time to time, but the program as a whole is not a long-term solution for me. I can’t say that where I am in my fitness journey doesn’t owe some credit to BBG because it does. I was proud of myself in finishing the program and feel the hype of the community at that point in time, and at the time it was the right decision for me.
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Have you tried BBG? What did you think of the program or what questions do you have?