Kayla Itsines Bikini Body Guide Review: Equipment

Kayla Itsines, Bikini Body Guide, Equipment, Substitutions, dumbbells, mat, weights

Today I wanted to talk about the Kayla Itsines 12-week Bikini Body Guide program – or more to the point, what equipment you need for the Kayla Itsines BBG program. I thought I’d do a full post on this because when I first looked at starting this program, I was a little worried about shelling out so much money, not just for the training guide but also for the equipment required to actually do the moves. So as I’m in the final week of the 12-week program, I thought I’d share my experience on this as well as what equipment I did and didn’t use!

All up, I think I paid a little over $100 for the program – first, $69.97 for the actual guide and about $45-ish for the equipment I needed. To be honest, I really could have done all my workouts at my gym which had all the equipment required… buuut I knew I was going to be waaay sweaty and falling apart midway through my workouts and dying all over the place and really I’d rather do that in the privacy of my own home than right next to the weights section in the gym where all the muscle men are working out and most likely judging me! Also, on the days where I’m feeling extra lazy, it made it just that bit easier to start working out when I knew all I had to do was throw on some workout clothes and stumble into my living room rather than make the drive to the gym!

All right – now on to the equipment! First, I’m going to list the equipment that Kayla recommends you use for her Weeks 1-12 Bikini Body Guide program. Then I’ll follow up with what I actually used as well as what substitutions I made.

So first of all, according to the FAQ on Kayla’s site, this is the equipment you will need for the program:

  • A pair of dumbbells (3-5kg each)
  • A medicine ball (6-12kg)
  • A flat bench (or two)
  • A bosu ball
  • Skipping rope

After a little tweaking and adjusting, this is what I ended up with for the overall program:

Yoga mat: this is totally optional but I just got a cheap one so I could roll it out to do stuff like push ups, commandos and ab crunches, either in my backyard or in my living room. It’s great because it keeps me from getting grass sans while working out in the backyard or, worse, getting carpet burn on my elbows in the living room, especially when I do those truly evil move Kayla calls a commando! Also, it’s great for collapsing on when you’re done with your workout!

A towel: You will get super sweaty. Trust me on this.

A pair of dumbbells: I bought a pair of cheap dumbbells (3kg each) and also used them as a substitute for the medicine ball by holding one in each hand, as Kayla recommended in her FAQ.

Pacer Smart Workout Timer Phone App: In most of my workouts, I used my phone timer which works just fine. But then I found out about this free app which is great not just for timing my circuits plus rest time in between but also my HIIT runs when I’m out of doors and I’ve been a fan ever since!

1-2 steady chairs: I used the chairs as substitutes for the flat benches while doing moves like the knee ups, step ups and weighted wide squats on benches. Before you start your workout, make sure your chair is perfectly stable and will hold your weight as you step up and off repeatedly. Always be careful while doing your moves and make sure it’s not some super expensive chair that you can’t afford to break – just in case! Another possible substitute: Kayla suggests using a park bench if you have any in close proximity of your home!

Doorstep: I used our doorstep for the reversed lunges in Weeks 2 & 4. You could probably use a doorstep for moves like the step ups and knee ups too, though depending on how high your doorstep is, it might not give that extra height and challenge a chair would provide. For reversed lungs, however, I found a chair was way too high to step off and on safely so I switched to the doorstep. But if you don’t have a doorstep, you can also use…

A stack of magazines/phone books/any heavy books: I used this one for the split squat move which comes in the later weeks of the program. Just make sure the magazines/phone books are stacked properly and won’t slip from under your feet as you jump on and off. You may have to do a quick stop to adjust the mags midway through your reps. And you can also use this if you don’t have a doorstep!

Sofas/ottomans: Rather than shell out the money for a couple of gym benches, I pushed the sofas in my living room around so I could use them for any of the moves in the program that involved a bench/two benches. The reason I included sofas as well as the chair substitutes above was because sometimes a move involved me jumping off the ground and then landing with a foot on each bench. I felt more comfortable doing this with heavy sofas that won’t slip under my weight, rather than with the chairs. Again, be careful while using furniture as substitutes and make sure you’re not ruining your mum’s or housemate’s sofa springs while doing these moves! (Also, the sofa was great for lying down moves like leg raises on a bench!)

What I omitted: the medicine ball (see above – I substituted with dumbbells), skipping rope (you can just go through the motions and pretend you’re holding a skipping rope in your hands!) and the bosu ball.

Modify your moves: I modified some of the moves to suit what equipment I did and didn’t have. For example, I omitted the moves that required a bosu ball and substituted that with regular burpees instead. Also, instead of doing a burpee bench jump, I’d do a burpee and follow with a step up instead because I didn’t trust the chair to take the weight of a full jump.

Get creative: A lot of the substitutions I use are everyday items you can find around the house so just have a look and see what you can use. Just make sure your substitute is steady and able to take your weight plus all the jumping and moving around you will be doing. One of my friends uses a heavy, super stable esky to do her step-ups on!

Note of caution: I’ve mentioned this a couple of times already but it’s worth mentioning again – if you’re going to use home furniture the way I did in my workouts, make sure you test the strength and steadiness of the furniture first. And when you’re doing the workouts, just keep in mind to be extra careful when doing these moves just in case something snaps as these things aren’t made specifically for all that jumping and stepping up and down the way ordinary gym equipment are. Safety is always the number one issue and you don’t want to get hurt! Also, make sure you’re using furniture that you can afford to lose or replace – just in case something does snap with all that weight!

But really… what’s the minimum equipment required??? Looking back, this might seem like a lot and a tad bit overwhelming, but really a lot of it is, as previously said, just ordinary furniture or items you have lying around the home. To be honest, I recommend just buying a mat and a pair of dumbbells to start with. You can even omit the mat if you feel that’s not necessary. In the first few weeks of the program, all I used was a mat, the dumbbells and an old garden chair. Then, as the weeks go by, you can decide what other equipment you feel comfortable with investing in for the workout!

Best of luck and work that body!! 🙂


  1. AMAZING POST! Even as a trainer, I was struggling with what weight to use… I think the 10kg medicine ball I chose is definitely too much and I really don’t want that bulky look that goes with it lol…. really love your perspectives here and thank you for helping me toward my goals this morning 😀

    xoxo BFB

    • MarilynChin

      Aww, thanks! Glad you found the post useful! 🙂

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  3. Shadiya.o

    Great post! Thanks for listing the equipment & the substitutes making it bit easier to start doing the program x

    • MarilynChin

      Glad you like it! 🙂 Good luck with the BBG!

  4. Lynn

    What did you do for the bosu ball exercises? I’d rather not shell out $100 for just a few weeks.

    • MarilynChin

      Hi Lynn! I just did the exercises without the bosu ball or I substituted with dumb bells instead.

  5. Shannon

    Thanks for this info, super helpful! Getting ready to start the program. 🙂

    • MarilynChin

      Glad to be of help! 🙂 Good luck with the program!

  6. Kim Gevera

    Thanks for sharing this. When you buy the workout plan, is there an option to get it printed out as a book and not an ebook?
    Have been on insanity workout but I didn’t have a proper nutrition plan so still not getting effective results.

    • MarilynChin

      Hi Kim! No, she only sells in PDF form but you can print the book out and bind it yourself. I didn’t actually follow Kayla’s HELP nutrition guide while doing the BBG but I did still see a difference. And I’ve definitely seen a big difference in the girls who did both her HELP and BBG at the same time. Hope that helps!

      • Erin

        Hi! Great post, I am thinking of buying her guide but I wanted to know what equipment I’d need so I’d know what I was getting into first!

        Where did you get the guide printed and bound? I just looked at Officeworks colour printing and binding, and boy, is it expensive! Black and white is cheap but just doesn’t look as pretty. 😉

        • MarilynChin

          Thanks, Erin! Glad you like the post! 🙂 My friend got the guides printed and bound at her office so I’m afraid I got lucky there! With the 12-24 week guide, I just put it up on my laptop and kept my laptop next to me as I worked out so you could try doing that, or on an iPad if you have one. As for equipment, I’ve written a review of the equipment I used for the BBG right here – hope it helps! 🙂

          • Erin

            Thanks so much for replying! That is lucky, I think I will just view the guide on the iPad as well. Just thought I’d ask to see if you had found somewhere that printed cheaply!

            Your review of the equipment is great, I didn’t even know what a Bosu was! After seeing how much they are, I don’t think I’ll be buying one just yet!

  7. Ah I’m so pleased I’m not the only one cobbling together Kayla’s equipment! Thanks so much for all your posts they’re super interesting and useful xx

    • MarilynChin

      Thanks, Meryl! Glad they helped 🙂

  8. Shannon

    Hi, I’m wondering how you did the bench hops! Did you use your chair?

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  11. Sonya

    Hi Marilyn,
    I really like your review. I’m looking into if I should buy Kayla Itsines guides but there are soooo many mixed reviews. You make some good points and I just finished reading http://www.bikinibodyguidereview.com/kayla-itsines-workouts she makes some interesting points as well. Ahhh I really don’t know what to do 🙁

    In your honest opinion going on the COST of everything, is Kayla’s guide really worth the money?

    • MarilynChin

      H there! Yes, I did find it worth it. Probably the best thing for me was that Kayla’s workouts got me to really enjoy weights training. I would definitely recommend buying the training guides.

  12. Carolina

    Hi Marilyn! Thank you so much for your post! I am now on week 2 of Kayla’s BBG, and I randomly run across your blog while I was desperately looking for home items that could substitute the gym benches to be able to do the weighted wide squats on bench (among other exercises). Since my parents would kill me if I use sofas, I think I am going to find 2 stable chairs…hope it works! Kisses, Carolina

    • MarilynChin

      Haha, yes, go for the chairs – just make sure they are very stable and sturdy! 🙂

  13. sofia

    hi! really but really gooood blog!
    totally worth it to read it!
    you solve a lot of my problems haha

    but i still have one, haha when i need to do a split squats with a bench, i can do it without a bench right?


    • MarilynChin

      Hi Sofia! Yup, you can just do it without a bench or do like I do and use a stack of telephone books or thick books as your bench. You gotta be careful with that one, though, and make sure whatever you do is stable enough that it won’t slip from underneath you as you’re jumping on and off!:)

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  15. Amanda

    Thanks so much! I am moving to a new country where I dont speak the language so planning on doing BBG in my apartment until I am more comfortable going out and to save money on gym.

    Do you have any advice for doing the workouts in an apartment to minimize noise (so I dont anger the neighbours below?) Im thinking a thick rug and omit the skipping rope.

    This post was really helpful for me 🙂

    • MarilynChin

      Hey Amanda! I’m so glad you found this post helpful!Your question about working out in an apartment made me laugh and also made me happy that your neighbours have such an considerate person living above them too! I have to admit, I am pretty noisy when I’m doing Kayla’s workouts, especially when it comes to squat jumps and burpees! A thick rug might definitely help, or a thick yoga mat to help muffle the noise. Or you could try doing the workout at a time when hopefully your neighbours are out or they’re not sleeping! Maybe you could chat with them and explain that you’re just doing this workout in a very short of space of time, only 28 minutes a day, so it’s not an ongoing thing all day? I also suggest that you could try doing some of the workouts outdoors, say in a park or a yard, and doing the quieter exercises like the ab exercises in your apartment. Hope some of these suggestions help!

  16. Conchessa

    I loved your post and it was super helpful to know what equipment I’ll need to get started. Can you tell me is Kayla’s workouts completely mapped out?! As in, do I have to pick and choose what to do or will the app tell me exactly what work out to do and when?! Thanks!

    • MarilynChin

      Hi Conchessa! I’m not sure as I don’t have the app. I started the program way before the app so I just worked off the manuals.

  17. Charles

    How can you sub for bench hops? I also workout at home with very limited equipments haha

    • MarilynChin

      Haha oh the bench hops! I actually use a pile of magazines/phone books. It’s not ideal and I had to be very careful to make sure the books didn’t slip off from under my feet!

  18. Stephanie

    Love your blog. I just started the pretraining. My question is when doing step ups and knee ups…should I alternate legs until I reach my total or do say 12 reps on one leg and then switch to 12 reps on the other leg? Or does it even matter. Thank you!

    • MarilynChin

      Hey Stephanie! I usually do 12 reps on one leg and then switch to the next, but to be honest, I don’t think it matters! You’re still doing 12 reps on each leg either way! 🙂

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