Focus On: Kayla Itsines Bikini Body Guide and Meal Plan

I’m really excited about today’s Focus On post, because I’ve been wanting to review the Bikini Body Guide and it features someone who inspires me regularly: Kayla Itsines.

I’ve had quite a few requests to do a Focus On post featuring her fitness and meal plans, so here we go!

More about Kayla Itsines

Her last name is pronounced it-see-nez (I used to think it was it-signs but she posted a pronunciation on her IG page)

She is a personal trainer from Australia with an INSANE social media following. She posts workouts and inspirational pics, in addition to gorgeous fruit platters, her cute dogs, and her abs.

They look like this:

Kayla Itsines abs

(Photo Source: Forbes Kayla Itsines Review)

I know, right? #girlcrush

An important note: Kayla now says she regrets calling her program the Bikini Body Guide, because every body is a bikini body and people shouldn’t strive for just one look. That’s why she has named her newer app Sweat With Kayla instead. I love this and respect her even more because of it. 

Kayla’s Guides

When I found out that she had a meal and fitness plan, I instantly downloaded it, as I like to read through these plans and see what works, what doesn’t, and any inspiration or design strategies I could use as motivation for my own plans.

Kayla has a couple of different options on her site:

12-Week Fitness Plan

90-Page Clean Eating Plan

Bundle, which is the best deal (91.27 USD for both).

I downloaded the bundle (<– and paid for them myself; not a sponsored or affiliate review).

Kayla Itsines Bikini Body Guide (BBG) in a Nutshell

-4 weeks of pre-training resistance training circuits

-12 weeks of resistance training circuits

-a glossary with each exercise

-information on tracking progress

-educational info on cardio, strength training, stretching, injury prevention, etc. 

As far as the BBG workouts go, they each consist of two rounds of two different circuits, each lasting 7 minutes (28 minutes total). You perform these workouts in a WOD-style fashion, completing the circuits as many times as you can within the 7-minute time block. The full workout schedule emphasizes cardio (HIIT and low-intensity steady state), strength, and rehabilitation (stretching). 

Pros of BBG

It’s extremely well-designed. This was one thing I noticed instantly upon opening the file. It’s clear, easy to read, and each workout has graphics depicting the motions for the exercises. I feel like it would be easy to take to the gym and follow on your phone, or even jot down quick notes of what to do.

The workouts are short. I think less than a half hour is a perfect amount, and that you can scale it to your abilities within the time blocks. You can push yourself to complete more rounds if you’re feeling amazing, or move at your own steady pace if you’re just getting the hang of it.

She has a solid fitness background. Kayla studied at the Australian Institute of Fitness and completed their Master Trainer Course. She has years of experience training clients.

The photos make it very easy to follow. They break down each exercise, so even if you haven’t seen it, you have an idea of what to do. (A quick YouTube search will always help, too, if you’re unsure of an exercise. Just make sure that it’s from a legit source so you can watch proper form.)

Loved the education section. This was packed with valuable info on cardio, stretching, strength training, and some notes on special considerations. Those following the plan with a limited background of fitness would definitely see benefits from reading this section. It’s a very helpful Cliff’s notes-ish breakdown.

Cons and Considerations of BBG

With any training plan, I think you need to have some fitness experience. If you’re going to follow a plan, it’s helpful to have awareness of proper form and basic strength training exercises, as well as a cardio base (at least 30 minutes of steady state most days of the week).

The workouts are short, but the exercises are advanced. There are some compound movements in here, as well as plyometrics, without any modifications provided. This plan was definitely written for more of an intermediate exerciser. 

You need access to a few tools: medicine ball, BOSU, dumbbells. 

Many of the workouts are redundant until the last few weeks. A lot of the workouts repeat themselves, which could be a pro or a con. Sometimes people like to be able to compare the rounds or amounts of reps they’re able to complete as time goes on -a sign you’re getting stronger!- while others would be bored with repeating the same routine. Lots of squat to overhead press, bench step ups, burpees, and pushups. 

No strength training or rep progression. This was an interesting one for me because I was excited to see how the plan progress over time as far as endurance, hypertrophy or max strength is concerned (when you vary the amount of weights and sets for each exercise according to your goals). For the entire plan, the reps stay about the same, usually 15+ per exercise (muscular endurance style training).

For the meal plan, I didn’t see any approval from a Registered Dietitian, but I could be mistaken. (If you have the plan and I missed it, please let me know!) In the US, it’s beyond the scope of our practice as a personal trainer to prescribe dietary recommendations without an RD or doctor approval. 

Is the Kayla Itsines Bikini Body Guide Worth the Cost?

Kayla Itsines BBG - Is it Worth It?

If you’re looking for motivation and a structured plan, than yes, the BBG workout plan is worth it. I’m not convinced the 90-page meal plan is worth it because it included very basic meal ideas, making it not worth the extra investment. If I spend money on an eating plan, I want some new ideas.

Kayla herself is a powerhouse, and I really enjoy following her on social media. She has inspired thousands of women all over the world to make healthy changes, and enjoy fitness/healthy living, and that alone is something I admire.

Have you heard of Kayla Itsines or tried her plans? Who’s your favorite “celebrity” trainer? 

Just a heads up: comments like “Does anyone have the plan I can buy from them or you can send me for free?” will not be approved. Thank you for understanding and respecting the hard work that goes into creating plans such as these. 

xoxo

Gina

Other Focus On Posts:

Orange Theory Fitness

BODYSHRED

Pure Barre

Jazzercise

BodyPump

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Comments

  1. I did Kayla Itsine’s program to prepare for my wedding and personally I loved it. I thought I would hate all the plyometric work but I actually looked forward to all my workouts. I would definitely recommend it to anyone looking to expand their fitness routine. I think you could do it as a beginner but it’s pretty intense and you get sore a LOT. For people who don’t have access to a gym I think this is a great option too.

    That’s my two cents 🙂 Thanks for writing this up Gina!

  2. What a great inspiration she is! My favorite fitness celeb right now is Michelle Lewin…but I will look more into Kayla’s stuff as well! I feel all good fitness trainers have something valuable and unique to offer.

  3. I have thought about trying this but don’t want to get bulky…..anyone have thoughts or experience on this? Also, could you do the workouts at home (during naptime)?

    • This workout plan definitely will not make you bulky. You are using light(er) dumbbells and bodyweight only and the workouts (and diet) are not designed to build bulky muscles.

      You can absolutely do these workouts at home during nap time. I used an ottoman for the step-ups, and sturdy dining room chairs for some of the other moves, and for moves that required a BOSU, I just did them without.

    • Women don’t have enough testosterone to get bulky, so I wouldn’t worry about getting bulky.

    • I’ve been doing this for almost a year, and I did not get bulky. I am toned and tightened. I do this at home. I use my stairs for a lot of the moves. I even use my coffee table. I don’t have a medicine ball, so I just use my kettle bell or dumb bells. You don’t have to use a bosu ball. I don’t have one so I just do regular burpees. Just use what you have. The only thing I did buy to do the workouts is a $3 jump rope.

  4. I do Kayla’s program and I absolutely LOVE it! I got it in January. I did BBG 1.0 (Weeks -12), then went right in to BBG 2.0 (Weeks 13-24). I took 1 week off and did other workouts. Then I repeated BBG 1.0 Weeks 1-12. I just finished, and am doing it again and in week 2. I love the workouts. As a full-time working mom of 3 kiddos, I love that the workouts are only about 30 minutes. They are tough and intense. I am soaked with sweat after. I have seen great results, which is why I keep doing it. I highly recommend it!

  5. Lindsey Garst says:

    I love the workouts, especially to modify at home when weather/motivation prevents me from getting to a class or when traveling for work. I prefer group exercise classes, but I love being able to scroll through Kayla’s guide on my phone to pick a workout that fits what I’m looking for that day (e.g., cardio and abs, arms and abs, full body). Quick, challenging, and very effective!

  6. I follow her on Social Media and have been semi-considering her plans, so now I think I’m gonna seriously consider it 😀

  7. I followed most of Kayla’s fitness program over the summer (like you said, the equipment requirements can be a pain if you’re working out from home, and the last few weeks are hard to follow if you don’t have the BOSU, a bench, etc.) and I definitely saw results fairly quickly. I was working out 4-5 days per week beforehand, but didn’t really have a set regimen and enjoyed the structure of her plan. The biggest con for me was how hard it could be on your joints at times – knees and ankles were feelin’ exxxtra creaky! But you definitely work up a good sweat, even if you can only crank out a couple rounds of each exercise in the 7 min cycles. I also don’t think that people should expect to see the kind of change that is displayed in the transformation pics that she posts. Like with all diet/fitness communities, people see great photos and expect a quick fix, when a lot of her examples are people who have overhauled their routines over a long period of time. She seems to have good intentions, though, and I would definitely recommend the plan 🙂

    • Yes to the joint issues! All the lunges and step ups did not make my knees happy.

      I think this was a really good review – I personally use the workouts once or twice a week because I got too bored with the repetitive moves and my joints did not like it. The workouts are tough and always leave me sore!

  8. I love trying out other trainers fitness plans! I feel it gives me ideas for workouts that I write for my clients. Plus, its nice to know what your clients are talking about when they mention a certain plan, workout or trainer! I am definitely going to check this out! Thanks for posting it Gina!

  9. Christine T says:

    Thanks for posting this! I’ve been following Kayla on IG for a while now … I do find her very motivational and she is not shy to call people out when they are being disrespectful.

    I do anticipate that I would get bored with the repetitious nature of the workouts as I like variety (been doing OTF for a month now and LOVE LOVE LOVE it for that reason).

    • This is my biggest concern with the plan as well! I’m worried I would grow bored doing the same similar movement. however so many people rave about the workouts, and I am looking for something to switch it up when my legs don’t feel like running. I’m definitely going to consider this further though!

  10. Thanks for this post! There are so many different trainers and programs out there that it’s hard to sort the good from the bad. Your Focus On series is my favorite for sorting through them 🙂 I never would have found Chalene without your Focus On: Turbofire post. Have you ever thought about reviewing some of the youtube HIIT-oriented channels (established ones like Fitnessblender or Melissa Bender but also more up and coming ones like Millionaire Hoy)?

  11. Honestly, I’m fascinated by her following but once I looked at her program closer I wasn’t that impressed. The workouts are great if you’re 20 and can do any high intensity move and have no injuries to work around. I also felt the meals were very basic. As with anything, I think you have to find what works best for you and that’s great if this works for others. I’ve seen some amazing before/after pics on IG from her program.

  12. I’ve been really curious about this program. Your review is really great. I haven’t seen one like it. Thanks for the honest opinion!

  13. Thanks for the review. Her abs are inspirational.

    & you, too! I’m amazed at how much you’ve been posting lately with a new born. SUPER mom!! xo

  14. I don’t have any experience following her plan, but I know a lot of people love it. I had to stop following her on IG bc there were so many stylized pictures and focus on body presentation. I used to have an issue using pictures like that in a negative way to push myself to unrealistic ideals, so I figured it was better safe than sorry to just cut it out. That’s just me and how my brain works though–I know many people love her IG account!

  15. I’m in my fourth week of these workouts and I have loved it so far!! I can do the workouts completely at home with just a few modifications. They are quick and easy. I would 100% suggest an accountability partner to do them with you too, though. I wouldn’t be able to do 12-weeks straight of these workouts without someone checking in with me and saying…HEY! Did you do your workout today!?

  16. Erin Miller says:

    For some reason I am not getting your emails anymore?? Do I need to sign up again?

  17. I’ve completed BBG 1.0 twice and can echo both the pros & the cons. The workouts are fast & efficient and will leave you a hot sweaty mess every single time. The ‘results’ I saw were really impressive. I am in a good shape to begin with, but BBG definitely carved out ab definition and made my legs stronger and leaner. My cons list is similar to yours above – very repetitive and weeks 9-12 are awful, like to the point that I dreaded every workout. It is certainly NOT the only workout program I could do on repeat, I need more variety, different training plans, classes, etc., but its 12 weeks and it WILL kick your booty. It undoubtedly will make its way into my training some time in 2016…and maybe I’ll even tackle 2.0 🙂
    Hope you, pilot, Liv, and baby P are all doing well!! hugs & love!! xoxox

  18. The plans just seem so overpriced to me.

  19. Kayla Itziness and other fitness IG people really concern me. As an RD I’ve seen a lot of students (i work at a university) get into disordered eating following her regimen.
    It bothers me that shenis goving out meal plans which i think have a calorie count attached to it.
    Also, I think her image can portray an unrealistic ideal for so many young women.

    • I don’t follow her meal plan per se, but I have bought it and it’s actually really good, there’s no calorie count associated, and I think if I put it into a calorie counter it would come out pretty high. She promotes eating a good balance (including carbs!) – I do get what you’re saying though, there’s certainly lots of others out there that are promoting really low cal diets!

  20. Thanks for the post, Gina, I haven’t learned about her before and appreciate your input. I am ordering your HIIT book as a gift to myself for a new health journey I’m on and will plan to check out Kayla’s materials a little more. Hope you and your family are all doing great. xo

  21. I have been reading a lot about her and her program and finally downloaded BBG 1.

    I love the fact that the workouts are short and most of them do not require any equipment besides weights, however I found that they are quite advanced for someone new to all this, like you also mentioned.

    Therefore, I took a lot of info from her guides as well as a lot of research online in working every muscle group and I am making out my own HIIT workout which lasts about 20 minutes and it kills me every time (in the best way possible).

    So yeah, Kayla is definitely an inspiration, but I was not able to cope with the repetition and the precise routine.

    Still love her though! #thoseabs

    http://www.maximalista.co.uk

  22. I have bought the bundle and currently doing the 1st guide, I’m really enjoying it. The workouts are tough, and you get up a good sweat. I do think I’ll find the workouts a little repetitive eventually, but I’m also doing the guide only following the workouts (not the prescribed LISS/HIIT) and doing my own thing the rest of the time. I need to lean down, so think this is great for that, but think I’d eventually want to add some weight training into it. But great review Gina! Hope you’re all doing well xx

  23. Of course, I’ve been incredibly curious as to what her plans entail because they are so popular. I knew the workouts were short and mostly bodyweight, so interesting to hear that they don’t have much in the way of progression. Definitely not something I need (my goals are much more about strength), although I love that she has been so successful and is getting more and more people to be active. That’s what it is all about! Thanks, Gina! 🙂

  24. I’ve seen a lot of posts on her and her program seems to have great results. I’m a runner so I base my workouts on progressing there. I could see incorporating a couple of her workouts a week but to me that isn’t worth the price. But if I ever took a solid break from running would consider.

  25. I love Kayla! I’ve completed the full 12 week program, and now do her workouts about twice a week in addition to my own HIIT, steady-state, and bootcamp training. I would agree that the nutrition guide is a bit of a waste, and her suggestions for healthy fats are very limited! Also, her IG can be a little too focused on having the “perfect” body, even though she does a great job of promoting positive body image and strength.

  26. Great post! Thanks Gina 🙂

    I believe that the nutritional information is all based off of the Australia nutritional guide. So it is fairly basic and promotes all food groups, no elimination dieting.

    I like how she promotes a simple healthy way of eating. I have always believed one has to eat very low carb to be that lean, but clearly, as she is one heck of an example, this is not the case!

  27. Christina says:

    Was so excited to read this post! i started following kayla on instagram after my friend highly recommended her program and she really is such an inspiration. thanks gina for writing a focus on post on her – i def want to give her program a try when i switch up the rotations of my workout programs!

  28. SO happy to see your review on Kayla!! Also, as a Registered Dietitian, it is refreshing to see your comments on the diet plan. I bought Kayla a while ago and it is definitely a tough one, still working my way through!

  29. Thanks for doing this review! I follow Kayla on social media and have gone back and forth on whether to buy the plans or not. This was helpful… Thank you!

  30. I loved reading your inspirational blog:) Am a new blogger on the topic of inspiration at: inspiringy.blogspot.com

  31. Thanks for featuring Kayla Gina! I have been doing the BBG for a while now and absolutely love it! The workouts are short and can be done anywhere (gym, house, outside etc…). There’s also no need to buy expensive workout equipment! The BBG community on Instagram is also amazing, so motivating.

    With the eating plan, I don’t follow it to the letter, but I gained a lot of insight into general nutrition. I would recommend it. While I’m not sure if it was approved by a RD, she does say the following in the product disclaimer on page 2: “The content in this book is written with the assistance of two Accredited Practising Dietitians from NPA Ptl LTD (Nutrition Professionals Australia)”.

    Thanks again for featuring Kayla! She has certainly helped me get on my fitness and health lifestyle journey 🙂

  32. I have never heard of this and will definitely check it out! I’m looking at finding a set fitness plan for post partum!

  33. Catherine says:

    I have both of Kayla’s plans but admit I didn’t follow 1.0 to the letter and didn’t even start 2.0! What I liked about the plan is what others have mentioned; quick, tough workouts. I also liked that she built in a couple of days to do LISS. While I didn’t necessarily do LISS on those days, at least I was able to do my “own thing”. What I don’t like about most workout plans is that you are only supposed to do their specific workouts and then I miss doing other things. Alas, even throwing my own workouts in a couple of days a week didn’t prevent me from getting bored. Also, I hated ab and arms days ;)! Thank you for this post; it is good to hear a professional’s take on it. Hugs to your family :)!

  34. Kayla is for sure a powerhouse. Found the program easy to follow, but I got realllllllly bored and eventually stopped after about two weeks and went back to my weight training. I would say I’m erring on the side of intermediate/advanced trainer, but started it originally with a friend who was just getting into fitness (she LOVED it). I think it’s a great way to get excited about fitness – she’s so motivational! What I love about her program is how empowered you feel with the BBG community. Take a peek on her insta page and you’ll see soooo many young girls and women pulling together — super cool!

  35. I’m a big fan of Kayla’s workouts. I’ve been using her pre-training weeks as a way to exercise while I get used to the altitude in CO. In the beginning, I couldn’t do the entire 7 minutes for each section so I just did each of the sections 2x through (about 20 minutes total). Man, was it a workout! I was completely sore the next day. It’s an easy way to sweat at home (or wherever).

  36. I love Kayla’s IG! But I feel like these plans are way to expensive! You can find a lot of free plans, workouts and tips on the internet and educate yourself with books about nutrition for less money. You don’t need a certain plan to be fit. My experience taught me that being flexible with your training methods makes it much easier to integrate it into your lifestyle – so I prefer to create my own fitness routine. Thank you for this post! xx Ana

  37. I’m super late to this (catching up on blogs on a Saturday AM 😉 ) but the one thing I thoroughly enjoyed about Kaylas program was how it teaches you how to format an effective plan of action for exercise. Everyone’s goals and interests are different, however as someone who always liked to design my own workouts, I always went too hard all the time. Really highly intense workouts 7 days a week and sometimes long distance running added. This program taught me the effectiveness of each type of exercise as well as balancing high intensity training (Her resistance and her HIIT) with low intensity training. I’ve really enjoyed the freedom of simply walking some days as my workouts! I think it helps prevent plateauing!

    Amanda

  38. I’ve just started doing the Kayla fitness plan, I’m on week 3. I’m really enjoying it and I like the fact that the work outs are short as I can fit that in in my lunch hour. They are touch though and I thought my general level of fitness was quite good.
    Has anyone else tried the?
    x

  39. I LOVE your Focus On posts! There are so many great workout options out there to try and rotate between that it’s difficult to know where to start. I’m curious to hear what you think about Tracy Anderson. Would you ever consider doing a Focus On her workout plans?

    I already know you’ll say the nutrition plan is terrible – because it is. She recommends a diet WAY too low in calories. But what about her workout methods? They’re a little different than what you see with most workout plans. I feel like it’s a combo of barre and dance cardio – both of which I know are a regular part of your workout life. Curious what you think.

    Thanks!
    Erin

    • Fitnessista says:

      i actually like her workouts! (i think her nutrition program is ridiculous though)
      i could definitely do one on her workouts <3
      xo

  40. I’m sure she’s an awesome trainer but I just can’t stand fitness gurus who constantly post selfies of themseves in their sports bras. Fitness is not just about looking hot shirtless and I feel like so much fitness social media only showcases the aesthetic gains of fitness. The ones that highlight the struggles and less glamourous moments is what I connect with .

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