Today’s post has been much requested and I’m so glad to finally be sharing my review + detailed experience with the BBG workouts that I completed in 2018.
As a bit of history…when I was in Portugal my friend Merritt inspired me to do a workout with her one morning. (She worked out every morning of our trip – I did only once – ha!) She’s been doing Kayla Itsines’ Sweat or Bikini Body Guide (BBG) workout for years at this point and I watched her transformation since then and was always in awe and intrigued but I don’t belong to a gym and my studio apartments haven’t offered the space to work out. It was halfway through our ab workout in Porto that I remembered the building I had just moved into offered a (small) gym that would allow me to, at long last, try this BBG workout I’d heard so many good things about. (And seen, too. The transformations are pretty amazing for people who stick with the program.) It came at the right time, too as I was feeling a bit stagnated in my workouts and not really seeing any change.
Feeling inspired and committed following my return from Portugal, I downloaded the 1.0 version of the BBG workout, printed + bound it and got to it in early July.
If you follow me on Instagram you know I talked a lot about my BBG efforts. It helped to hold me accountable by sharing my 3 x week workouts. And, in turn, I heard a lot of positive encouragement from you guys! Some who had done the program, some who were currently doing the program or some who wanted to try it. Conversing with you guys about BBG helped push me through to the finish line.
Now, if you read this post, there will be some redundancy but I wanted to share a complete picture of what my experience was like with BBG.
First of all…What is BBG?
In a nutshell, the BBG 1.0 workout is a 12 week program featuring a variety of resistance and strength training workouts with High Intensity intervals. The program also recommends Low Intensity Steady States (LISS) throughout the week. (I didn’t commit to LISS rather relied on the fact that I walk a lot in NYC and do yoga every week). The HIIT workouts are 28 minutes and they each consist of doing 2 circuits, 8 times total (Circuit 1 x 4 and Circuit 2 x 4). The workouts target different areas and are done three times per week. In an ideal world you complete Legs on Mondays, Arms on Wednesdays and Abs on Fridays. The circuits are 7 minutes each (you’ll do Circuit 1 twice within 7 minutes then Circuit 2 twice within 7 minutes and then repeat that from the top for a total of 28 minutes). The workouts are hard. I honestly couldn’t believe just how hard they were. In looking at each exercise you can most certainly under estimate the toughness! I generally ended each workout dripping in sweat and was almost always sore the following day.
Where to Start & What You’ll Need
BBG is available via the Sweat app which is super popular (and lots of you guys recommended it to me!) but, as mentioned in this post, for 1.0 I opted to buy the PDF and have it printed and bound so that I wasn’t on my phone and distracted during the workouts (except to keep time of the 7 minutes and play music). I also kept the PDF in my Dropbox folder on my phone so I could easily access it while on the road. I’ve just started 2.0 and this time around I’m doing the app and really like it so far as well! It’s great to see the movements in motion and have the app keep time for you. It also offers various bonus challenges and additional workout programs.
BBG provides what they call Beginner Workouts which I highly recommend completing before you dive into the 12 week program. They were hard even for someone like me who works out several times a week! They’ll also help familiarize yourself with the format and a lot of the moves so I think they’re a great way to start your BBG journey. I did 5 weeks of the Beginner workouts before I moved onto the Training workouts. The workouts do require some equipment (free weights, a medicine ball, a bench, a mat) and I recommend doing the workouts at a gym because of how sweaty you get but you can make it work at home if you have some space for it and space for the equipment.
Consistency & Accountability
I have never been a morning workout person but with BBG I almost always did the workouts first thing so I could knock them out and not spend the day dreading them. I have found this has been key for my completion rate. They’re also way more fun to do with friends so see if you can convince a girlfriend to join you from time to time! Carly and I kept each other going by doing the workouts together when we were in Nantucket and in the Catskills.
Having an accountability group and friends participating in the workouts is super helpful and helps when you feel like you can’t go on. Get your friends on an email thread all together or on text so you can encourage one another and, of course, commiserate. I’ve also found a lot of motivation in following the founder Kayla herself on Instagram because she shares great Before & Afters of other BBG users that make you want to keep going. I also like seeing how quickly/efficiently she does some of the moves.
I highly recommend doing the program fully through without taking breaks. Every time I took a week or even a day off, it proved harder to get back into it.
Document, Document, Document
BBG recommends you take a photo of yourself at the onset of the program and then every four weeks. I really can’t recommend doing this enough. The photos ended up being my biggest motivator in keeping the program up. Every four weeks I could see subtle but noticeable results which kept me wanting to wake up each time and get the workout done. I actually looked forward to this milestone every four weeks. For me the photo I took at the onset of the program was also kind of a wake up call at seeing the improvements I could make. (My before and after photos are at the bottom of this post.)
Words of Advice
Listening to your body is key during these intense workouts. Since I have low back pain I have had to make some minor modifications to certain moves to ensure I’m not aggravating the problem. I also find it super helpful to always be tightening your core during the moves. Your form will be improved and the moves become a bit “easier” to complete when you do this.
Before every workout I would remind myself: you get out of it what you put in. Mental toughness is key during the workouts. You’re going to want to quit halfway through often. This is definitely when I would have to mentally tell myself I’ll be so happy when I complete it. It’s also when I would remind myself of my accountability group and how I wanted to be able to share I made it through.
I did not lose any weight but this was not surprising to me. I made no dietary changes during the 17 weeks I did the program and I’m rather sure I probably added a decent amount of muscle during the course of the program. The biggest results I saw were in my hip and waist. I am down a jean size to 27 (however can still fit – albeit more comfortably- in my 28s) which I am thrilled about. I think you can really see the hip difference in the photos within this post. Truthfully, all my clothes fit better now and that makes all the hard work 100% worth it. I feel a lot more confidant in what I wear nowadays – particularly in high waisted jeans.
I wasn’t going to post the following but decided to do so with the hopes that it’ll encourage all of you at some point this year to do something that’ll help you feel more confidant and proud of what you accomplish.
I have just set out on BBG 2.0 and while I know I have a ton of work ahead of me, I am excited to see myself continue to get stronger and leaner. I really appreciate + respect my body and am not trying to get really thin but rather would prefer to get exactly what BBG 1.0 provided: feeling better in my clothes and feeling stronger overall. I particularly hope to get some additional definition in my arms and core.
I still do hot yoga every week and really think it compliments BBG by allowing you to stretch. I also will do an occasional pilates reformer or boxing class to supplement these workouts to keep things interesting. Variety has always been what keeps me motivated and therefore I maintain my Classpass membership while I am doing BBG. Whenever it comes to working out I think finding out what works best for you is always they key to success. A regular ol’ gym membership got me nowhere as I have to be told what to do. That’s one of the things I love about BBG. It’s prescriptive in exactly what you do and for how long.
. . .
I hope you guys found this helpful! If you have any questions feel free to ask them in the Comments below or always feel free to email me. I also can gift 1 month free of the Sweat app to new users so contact me if you’d like to give it a go and I’ll send you the sign up code.
And in case you’d like some recommendations on what to wear for BBG:
- I love this tied back tank for Arms days and also wear it regularly to spin or boxing classes. For BBG I’ll wear it on Legs days. I also really like the Athleta Ultimate Train Tank as I prefer high neck workout tanks and this one fits my criteria for sweaty workouts. I wear size Medium.
- Another favorite workout top is the Vuori Energy Tank. I love this tank so much I now have it in two colors! It is the softest fabric ever and it is so flattering on. You can see it on in this post. I have a size Medium.
- For BBG, barre and pilates classes I swear by Outdoor Voices leggings. My favorite are these (the Hunter color is my favorite!) but I also own and love these. I own the leggings in both Small and Medium but prefer my Medium. I love that these leggings really stay in place. I’d caution you against the lighter colors though as I have a pair in pale pink and I can’t wear darker underwear with them.
- The other leggings I wear for BBG are from Lululemon. I love these and these.
- My go-to sports bras for BBG Arms is this simple and inexpensive one from Nike however for the workouts that involve more jumping like Legs, I will wear this sports bra or this one. The former is hard to get on but SO worth it as it is the best supporting sports bra I’ve tried. (And I’ve tried a lot). My full guide for sports bras for bigger boobs can be found here.
- I wear these cross training shoes for BBG and they were well worth it. A lot of the BBG moves require good foot support and my other sneakers didn’t cut it.
- The Alo High Waist Airbrush Legging are great as they definitely sculpt and smooth and look really good on. They come in loads of colors and I may get a bright, fun color next. I have a size Small. They are on the thicker side so they’re best in Fall & Winter.
Even more of my favorite workout clothes for BBG.