Hey guys! Today we’re talking all about fitness guides. I thought I would write up this post as it is something I would have found really helpful when I was trying to shake up my gym sessions. The concept of fitness programs -usually in the form of 12 week workout guides -really exploded thanks to Kayla Itsines’ BBG guides and subsequent Sweat with Kayla app. I’m sure that you all know what BBG is, but in case not, or if you need a recap, here’s a brief overview: personal trainer Kayla Itsines became popular in her local area for her female-only workouts which encompassed body weight-based circuit training and so launched a PDF guide to purchase, alongside a nutritional guide. Through clever social media marketing and utilisation of an exercise program that produces slim, yet strong bodies, the BBG (bikini body guide) trend exploded to millions of women worldwide, who can be found on Instagram as one huge community.
Circuit Training Guides
This guides use resistance training in the form of bodyweight, basic strength training, pylometrics and cardio. They are popular as they are less intimidating and more accessible than heavy weights and can yield dramatic results. Many of these guides don’t require a gym, making them a cheaper option, and appealing to those who dislike the gym environment.
Kayla Itsines’ BBG and Sweat with Kayla
The BBG workouts, available as PDFs or a subscription-based app primarily focus on 3-4 resistance based workouts per week. The circuits -featuring burpees, pushup and goblet squats for example -are divided into four lots of seven minute rounds. These circuits get your heart rate up pretty high and get your muscles working. Alongside this, you build up to a few sessions of low intensity steady state cardio (LISS) that gets your heart rate in the “fat burning zone”. Typically, recommended LISS is power walking or cycling. Strictly speaking, running isn’t LISS as your heart rate can go up beyond the fat burning zone, but that will depend upon you as an individual. Once you have been doing BBG for a few weeks, you’ll be introduced to high intensity interval training (HIIT). This involves maxing out on an exercise, such as sprinting, burpees, or lunges, for 20-30 seconds and then resting for a similar or slightly shorter time. Because this kind of exercise has your heart rate going flat out, you’ll only do it for a few minutes so it is great for when you’re short on time.
Pro’s -potential to see dramatic results (e.g. ab and other muscle definition), increased general fitness and lung capacity. The BBG community is famously strong and supportive, with global meet ups regularly occurring and many followers becoming “insta-famous” in their own right.
Con’s -Risk of overtraining. By the end of your first 12 weeks, you’ll be needing to fit in 4 circuit days, 1 HIIT session and several LISS sessions, meaning that you’ll be spending a lot of time working out by the end. The nutritional guides that can be bought to accompany BBG workouts have also been criticised for being too low in calories.
Amanda Bisk’s Fresh Body Fit Mind
This is the program I personally follow! Amanda is a former commonwealth pole vaulter, elite sports coach and yoga teacher. She set up the guides after having to retire as an athlete due to chronic fatigue. The FBFM guides have two short workouts per day Monday-Thursday, which will either be a full-body resistance circuit or a form of cardio, such as jogging or sprint intervals. On Fridays, there is a test circuit to help you track progress, with Saturdays set aside for you to choose an activity of your choice and Sundays for resting and stretching. Periodically throughout the guide, there are targeted circuits, HIIT sessions and an extra rest day every few weeks. The guides are designed so that on the Monday-Thursday workouts you do the two workouts at different times during the day to keep your metabolism high. However, if this isn’t possible for you, you simply do the two workouts at the same time and you’ll still be done in around 45 minutes, plus stretching. For those interested, you can also purchase a stretch guide.
Pro’s -developed by someone highly qualified, with stretching/yoga actively built in to the program. The free choice day is great to allow you to enjoy something different without compromising on the program. The community is smaller than BBG, but this means there’s more chance of getting your voice heard, especially on the private Facebook group. Amanda interacts with her followers, offering advice and extra workout tips.
Con’s -although short, trying to fit in two workouts per day won’t work for everyone.
Sophie Gray’s Way of Gray
One I tried last year, Sophie’s workout guides have recently undergone a make over to look a little bit more like the Sweat with Kayla app. I haven’t seen the update or nutritional guide, so I’m not quite sure how much has changed. The main appeal of Way of Gray workouts is that they are completely equipment free, and the update is based on follow-along videos rather than tiny pictures. Sophie is a holistic nutritionalist and has recently put a lot of emphasis into her social media on mental health and self love. Because of the lack of equipment, there’s often quite a lot of pylometics involved, so beware!
Pro’s -zero equipment, no complicated rules or extras -just follow the workouts.
Con’s -doesn’t promote upper body strength in the way that other guides do.
The Weights-Based Programs
These guides are devised to help women start working in the weights section of the gym -something that can be both daunting and confusing.
Progress Pure’s Curve Guides
Set up by Molly, who was getting bored of tradition guides but couldn’t find any guides on weightlifting, Progress Pure combines nutrition and training for optimum results. With the help of a nutritionalist and personal trainer, Molly set up the Curve Guide and tested it on herself and three other women over the course of 12 weeks.The guide uses four days of training and customisable macro goals. This means you can work towards your own personal goal without having to spend your life exercising.
Pro’s -all-around training and nutrition offered, without leaving you spending all day in a gym and eating low calorie meals.
Con’s -only focuses on weights
Lauren Gleisberg’s LG Accountability
Lauren Gleisberg offers a great range of guides depending on your goals and whether or not you have gym access. Like Kayla, Lauren has really utilised the social media scene to create a big community of “sisters” following the guides. From what I know of Lauren’s weight training program is that it sits half way between the body weight-based guides and the more traditional weights exercises. She features glue bridges and leg raising exercises as well as weighted deadlifts to create a more varied workout approach.
Pro’s -strong, supportive community. Exercises are designed to be enjoyable, particularly with social media engagement. The nutrition information is also highly targeted for specific results, e.g. fat loss.
Con’s -the training program is slightly shorter, at 8 weeks, with several phases so those with a little experience in weight training may find that the guides aren’t quite for them.
Jamie Eason’s LiveFit
This one is quite new to me, but seems to have great reviews. The LiveFit training breaks down the program into three phases, with the first month entirely avoiding cardio so that you can focus on a transition to weight training and better eating. The program seems to go into a lot of depth so if you are serious about getting into weight training, this will probably be the guide for you. Bloggers such as Abbie Sterling have moved on from BBG to LiveFit after wanting more of a challenge. There’s weekly emails, videos and advice available to help you along the way.
Pro’s – Seriously in depth weight training advice. Cardio is built in to the second phase and advanced nutrition in the third so you won’t have to deal with all the information at once.
Con’s -if you don’t want to be completely committed to weight training, this probably isn’t for you. By the end of the program, you will be training six days per week and carb cycling as part of your nutrition, which may just be too much work for a lot of people.