For several weeks now, I’ve mentioned in passing several times about how I’ve been working my way through the popular Kayla Itsines BBG program, an exercise regime largely based around resistance training with short bursts of intensity (HIIT) mixed in. Although I’m technically halfway through the original 12-week program, I’ve actually been doing the program for 11 weeks since I completed the 4-week Beginner module first (before starting the “official” 12-week program) and since I had to repeat a week due to sickness.
First off, since I assume most of you aren’t overly familiar with the program, I’ll do a quick rundown for you. As said above, the official program comprises 12 weeks total, with there being 2-3 resistance training workouts each week mixed in with some low-intensity cardio (at the beginning of the 12 weeks) and then adding in additional HIIT cardio workouts near the end. The resistance training workouts each have two circuits of four moves each, and you cycle through each circuit as many times as you can in two 7-minute intervals, for a total of 28 minutes. (So you do Circuit 1 for seven minutes, then Circuit 2, then go back to Circuit 1, then finish with Circuit 2 again). Each resistance training workout targets a different major muscle group, so on Mondays you do Legs and Glutes, Wednesdays you do Abs and Arms, and Fridays you do a Full-Body workout that mixes in moves from both Monday and Wednesday. After each 4-week period, you graduate to harder and harder moves, as well as more repetitions of each one.
Okay, with that intro out of the way, I can now get down to my thoughts. Because BOY, DO I HAVE THOUGHTS!
(Tip: If you do end up deciding to purchase the BBG for yourself, you don’t have to pay full price for it! I went ahead and searched for coupon codes before I bought mine and found some at Retail Me Not, which will save you at least 10%. Just passing it along!)
***Note: there are a few affiliate links in this post, but this is NOT a sponsored post by any means–these are just my honest thoughts on how the BBG process has gone for me so far!
1. These workouts are hard. Like, really hard.
I got an inkling of how hard the workouts would be on day one of the BEGINNER workout because for the next five days after, I literally could hardly move my legs without feeling excruciating soreness. Of course, I chalked this up largely to the fact that this was my first more intense workout since having a baby in June and figured it would get a lot better. Well, while the soreness hasn’t *quite* matched what it was after that first workout, I am still ridiculously sore after EVERY workout (and since I do 3 a week now, I’m basically just a walking ball of soreness all the time).
Also, I am currently finishing Week 6 of the program, and I STILL can’t do a lot of the moves like you’re supposed to. For example, any move that involves a push-up motion, I still have to do on my knees (not because I can’t do a full push-up on my toes, but because I can’t do the NUMBER of push-ups in the circuit that are required). For the workout I did yesterday, I had to modify over half the moves, just because I wasn’t physically capable of doing the full version for the reps specified.
Now, lest you think I was in some kind of terrible shape before starting these, I wasn’t–yes, I’d recently had a baby, but I had exercised up until the very end of my pregnancy, and I’d resumed pretty close to my usual exercise routine 3 weeks postpartum. Sure, resistance and strength training have never been my jam, but I thought I’d have done enough of those kinds of moves in my dance cardio and boxing classes to have a leg up on these workouts.
Honestly, I don’t know how ANYBODY could just dive right into the 12-week program without completing the Beginner series first UNLESS they were already in the habit of doing difficult resistance training multiple times a week already.
2. I very much have a love/hate relationship with the whole thing so far.
As I mentioned above, strength/resistance training has never been my thing. In fact, I kind of avoid it, to my cost. Over the years, I’ve halfheartedly gone occasional bouts where I did some kind of it regularly (usually only when my arms started getting a little jiggly), but I’ve never been great at really pushing myself strength-wise, at least not for a really long time (and definitely not since having kids).
I was hoping that completing these workouts 3X a week would help me get over my dislike of resistance training, but that still hasn’t happened–I still kind of dread the days I have to do the workout, and because I’m still sleep-deprived and struggling to find a sense of balance now that I have two kids, that makes it hard to just get into it right away first thing in the morning.
However, I cannot deny that I have been loving the results I’ve been seeing so far (and I haven’t even tweaked my diet or even been perfect about doing all the workouts as you’re supposed to, either). I also have been pretty astonished at how fast my strength has built up–since the workouts kind of go in 4-week cycles, you tend to do a lot of the same kinds of moves within each 4-week segment, so it’s really quite easy to see how much progress you’re making as time goes on. For example, burpees used to make me soooo sick to my stomach (and I HATED them), but now, I don’t even usually have to rest at all in between doing them–I can just knock out all the reps in one go.
3. My results have not come in the ways I was expecting them to, at least not initially.
I kind of expected that I might not lose weight super fast on this program (at least not at first) because I’d be building muscle, and on that count I was correct–I didn’t lose hardly anything (maybe just a pound or so) for the first 4 weeks. However, I did think I would notice more of a difference sooner on my actual measurements, but I didn’t for awhile–once again, around 4-6 weeks. But, THANK GOODNESS I was taking weekly progress pictures because even though the scale and the measurements in the standard places (bust, arms, waist, hips) didn’t show much difference, the pictures DID.
Now that I’m 11 weeks in, I’ve still only lost six pounds, but I’ve also lost five inches all over and around 4-5% body fat. Plus, I can actually see discernible stomach muscles for one of the first times ever, so I haven’t been too disappointed.
4. The workouts take longer than advertised (at least for me).
Part of the mass appeal of the program is that it basically promises big results in only 30 minutes, three times a week. And while you ARE actually only working out for 28 minutes, I’ve found that the whole regime takes me about 32-35 minutes, just because I need a lot longer than the mere 30 seconds between circuits to catch my breath and regroup. Still, I can’t complain–35 minutes isn’t an exorbitant amount of time, especially when you think of the results you’re getting from it.
5. Although it’s advertised as an at-home workout (and I’ve been doing it at home thus far), it requires quite a bit of equipment.
At first, I was good with my set of 10-lb. dumbbells and a sturdy folding chair acting as my workout bench. Sure, I was using dumbbells rather than a medicine ball and pretending to have an imaginary jumprope every time I was supposed to do skipping exercises, but it worked. Now, however, I’m having to get quite a bit more creative, incorporating the piano bench in several of the moves and stealing Raven’s stepstool from the bathroom for others.
Looking ahead, I think I’m going to invest in at least some new workout equipment, especially because I plan to repeat this 12-week program in the future. For now, I’ve got my eye on this basic workout bench that’s under $50 and possibly this Bosu Ball, though I might try and get by without using one (or just go to the gym for those workouts). I’ll probably also eventually invest in a basic jump rope, especially since you can get a decent quality one for under $10. The only thing I’ll worry about getting soon is the bench though, as my piano bench/folding chair situation has gotten a bit sketchy and has almost caused injuries a few times…oops.
6. In the long run, I consider this program as saving me money.
In the beginning, before the workouts got super challenging, I was able to continue going to my hip hop and Refit classes twice a week in addition to doing the resistance training. Now, however, I’m usually so sore from my BBG workouts that I’ve just been sticking with walks on my days off, which means I’m not needing to shell out for every aerobics class I go to. If I end up continuing this program and repeating it when the 12 weeks are up (to see if I can do the whole program without modifications), I will have effectively saved money on workout costs, as I now own the ebook for life (and paid $45 or so for it) and am not paying as much for group classes at our local rec center (where I was paying around $20 every month or so before).
I know you can find free workouts online, but the reason I did finally decide to drop money on this was two-fold—firstly, I am more likely to want to commit if I have dropped money on something, and secondly, I am generally much more motivated to follow through with a program that gradually builds upon itself and that has a set routine to follow, rather than just selecting workouts for myself at random and doing them. It’s the same reason why I almost always need to be training for a race in order to run super regularly (and especially to push myself)–I need that end goal, or at least some kind of measurable process to follow.
(For several months, I was super tempted to just buy a copy of her book, which includes workouts AND tons of menus and healthy recipes that follow her clean eating plan, but I wanted something longer than just the 28 days that the book outlines. However, as the book right now is a steal at just over $13, I’ll probably invest in it anyway and maybe do the 28-day program before I start the 12-week one over again.)
7. I can already safely say that no other exercise program (including training for a marathon) has ever changed my body this much, in this short of an amount of time.
While training for races did often help me shed around 5-10 pounds (over a 4-month training session) and helped me maintain a relatively lean frame, it wasn’t until I was running a LOT (like, 10-mile runs at a time or more) that I noticed much of a difference in my physique, and even then, you usually couldn’t see definite muscle tone. (For a week-by-week breakdown of my marathon training, click here.) Now, though I’m still 20-25 pounds heavier than I was when I ran my marathon or my first half-marathon, I am seeing a lot more muscle tone all over–more so than I ever have before, which makes me excited to see where I’ll be when I finally shed the last of the baby weight (fingers crossed that I’ll get there–I’ve still got 8 pounds to go! Maybe I should actually start following her recommended diet plan now too rather than indulging in M&M’s on a daily basis, ha ha…).
Now, let’s just all hope that I can stick with this thing for 6 more weeks (especially since looking at the workouts ahead make me wonder how I’m ever going to do it)!
Have you ever done the BBG before (or anything like it)? What was your experience like?
You Might Also Like:
The Body After Baby series I did after I had my daughter (with monthly progress pics/stats)
This post on how I learned firsthand not to just count on weight to help me see progress that was being made
The series I did last year on the weekly tweaks I made to become healthier (with progress stats)