Last week I completed the 12 week BBG program! I’ve talked about it here before when I first started, but BBG is a circuit training workout program designed by Kayla Itsines. It is massively popular on Instagram and girls who do it are really inspiring and super strong. I thought I’d write a review of sorts since I have gotten so many questions from readers on Instagram. Maybe it is something you’d like to try! Below is an overview of some of the things I’d like to have known going in and what the experience was like.
These exercises are short 30 minute sessions but they are extremely difficult. If you’re anything like me, you might feel like barfing after you finish them at first. They are made up for four circuits consisting of two different sets of exercises (see here for an example). Each round is 7 minutes and you have to perform the circuit as many times as you can in the seven minutes. When the 7 minutes are up, you get 30 seconds rest and then you move on to the next circuit. It’s totally non-stop but it’s only 30 minutes and it’s very effective. If you’re someone short on time who hates the idea of spending hours at the gym, it’s a great workout!
If you are feeling intimidated by BBG definitely try to spend 3-4 weeks doing some consistent cardiovascular activity to prepare your body before you start. Prior to BBG I always loved bootcamp style workouts and HIIT so it was a good transition going into BBG. The Sweat app has you do 4 pre-training weeks before you start, it will help get your familiar with the exercises!
It’s really important to watch your form with these exercises and be careful with your back and neck. I was supposed to finish BBG two weeks ago technically, but I had to take two weeks off when I hurt my neck. One day I was exhausted but determined to finish my full body BBG session. I pushed myself way too hard and next thing I knew I locked my neck doing push-ups. It was awful. I tried to keep working out days after that and it just made it worse and prolonged the injury. It took me two weeks of serious rest before I could work out again, and I could have avoided all of that if I just went at a safer pace. Don’t try to hulk it out, and if you can’t perform the number of given reps, just do what you can and go at your own pace.
Even though BBG is done with minimal equipment and you don’t technically need a gym membership, it helps a lot to have a gym so you have access to all the equipment you’ll need. I had a hard time making due at home when I couldn’t get to the gym. You really do need two strong sturdy benches, weights, a bosu ball and a medicine ball.
It’s super important to fuel yourself correctly before your workouts. I don’t think BBG would be a good workout to do while calorie restricting because it demands a lot from your body. After leg day I found myself going back for seconds after almost every meal and craving protein like crazy. I just listened to my body and started eating more. I found on days that I neglected to eat a healthy rounded meal before a BBG session, the workout was awful and I couldn’t give it my all.
The program outline of BBG has you doing three 30 minute resistance workouts a week and 3-4 LISS (low intensity steady state cardio) or HIIT (high intensity interval training) during the rest of the week. LISS is pretty loosely defined within BBG, and I took it as “whatever exercise I actually enjoyed”. Prior to BBG I did Ballet Beautiful for three years so LISS for me was either a Ballet Beautiful session or a long walk with my boyfriend. I did some plyometric HIIT sessions of my own design during BBG and those really turned me into jelly.
I stuck to way I normally eat during these 12 weeks. I love to eat and I don’t like restriction of any kind. I already know what works for me so I didn’t even look at the BBG food plan. I tracked macros for a while earlier this year and that taught me a lot about what a healthy diet looks like. I aim to eat 1700-1900 calories a day. I’ve not been eating as clean because we’re getting ready to move and it’s so difficult to find the time to cook. I try to eat healthfully 80% of the time but lately it’s been more like 60%. I’ve definitely had a lot of ramen, halloween candy, ice cream, cocktails and tex-mex the last few weeks while we pack up our house. Moving is hard!! I don’t even have any plates to eat on right now.
Meal prep is the best strategy I’ve found to eat healthy. On Sundays Jeff and I try to roast a bunch of veggies, cook up some chicken, hard boil some eggs, and chop up greens. Sometimes I assemble all of the meals I’m going to eat the next few days so I can just grab and go (or eat them at my computer while I work if we’re being honest). I repeat the same meals all the time. Breakfast is really the only meal I don’t cook ahead of time. Here is an example of an ideal day of eating for me!
A day in the life of eating:
Breakfast: 1 egg + 4tbsp egg whites scrambled, 5 stalks broiled asparagus, a bit of kimchi, and a slice of Ezekiel toast with almond butter sprinkled with Trader Joe’s super seeds mix.
Snack 1: An apple with protein butter and 1/4 cup of trail mix.
Lunch: Huge salad with baby kale, chopped red pepper, cucumber, shredded carrots, pickled red onions, roasted broccoli, topped with 3 oz tuna and dressed with apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, a touch of honey and tahini.
Snack 2: Chocolate sea salt RX bar and Lemon Aloe Alkaline water
Dinner: 80g of chicken breast with 1/2 a baked sweet potato, and roasted brussels sprouts and broccoli.
Dessert: Chia and oat pudding with a scoop of Vital Protein Collagen and cinnamon, topped grain free granola, Siggi’s yogurt, blueberries and coconut.
How I Feel Now:
Results-wise, I’m happy with the changes I see. 12 weeks isn’t really that long of a time int the grand scheme of things so I wasn’t expecting much of a change. Kayla encourages you to take progress photos along the way, which I wasn’t very good about, but I did manage to take these two and I’m glad that I did. I didn’t realize how much change had happened until I looked at these side by side. I actually gained 3 pounds over the last 12 weeks last I checked, but my smallest jeans are feeling roomier. I wish I’d done measurements because the fat burn is real.
Most importantly I feel a lot stronger. When I first started, I was really weak on upper body strength and 15 push-ups would have me really winded It’s really fun once you get past the first half of BBG and realize, “Hey, I’m actually doing this!”. The workouts are incredibly hard and never get easier, but you just get stronger. I felt myself losing momentum in weeks 6-8. I powered through the difficult weeks and I found that weeks 9-12 were the ones I enjoyed most. By the end I looked forward to every workout. Now that is over, I’m ready to start on BBG 2.0 (the next 12 week program). This is is our actual move week so I may hold off until after December 1st to start though!
Hope this post helped answer some of the questions I received! I’m dying to start BBG 2.0 straight away but first we have to conquer our move. This is our third time moving houses in the last three years and we are dreading it, haha. Forgive me if this week is slow in updates, it’s going to be a little chaotic moving on Thanksgiving week!