The Biggest Mistake You’re Making When You Exercise

And why your body isn't changing even though you're working out.

Kayla Itsines is a fitness guru – and has the six-pack to prove it. She’s been a personal trainer for eight years, and is also the co-founder of the Bikini Body Guides (or BBG, as it’s known in the community) and the Sweat with Kayla app. The Sweat community she has created is the largest online female fitness community in the world. So, really, she seemed like the perfect person to answer all our burning exercise questions. We grilled her on how to be the fittest person, ever.

One of the hardest things to do is restarting an exercise regime after you’ve lapsed. What are some of tricks you recommend to getting started again?

Remember why you started your health and fitness journey in the first place. This motivation is your secret weapon you can use to help you get back into your routine, and stay on track. It’s also important to start small and slowly build yourself back up. A lot of my clients want to dive back in to the same weights and intensity that they were previously doing, but you need to build your muscle strength and fitness back up to that stage first.

Sometimes, even after you start working out, your body doesn’t seem to be changing the way you want it to. What are some of the common things that might be causing that?

Sometimes, you may have a slowdown in your progress as your exercise routine has become easier for you to do. As your fitness and strength increase, if you don’t slowly make your workout harder, your body will stop trying to adapt and not show you the results you are looking for. Loading up your weight or resistance and adding more reps are some ways in which you can help to continue to challenge your body.

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What’s the biggest mistake you think people make when they’re training?

Not doing a cool-down post-workout to help with their recovery. Recovery is such an important part of training, as it helps your body and muscles rest and repair, allowing you to train just as hard at your next session without [injuring yourself].

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What are five tips for staying motivated?

  1. Set simple and clear milestones of where you want to be, and allow enough time to get there. Make sure that your goals are achievable, so you are not setting yourself up for failure.
  2. Write your goals down, or verbalise them to a loved one – it will help to make it real. Creating a moodboard for inspiration is another great way to visualise where you are heading.
  3. Where possible, reduce any distractions that prevent you from achieving your goals. This might mean cutting back some TV time each night or hitting the gym with your headphones on so you’re not distracted by people around you.
  4. Celebrate each achievement, no matter how small. A little reward, like a massage or a manicure, will give you something to look forward to and drive you to keep going.
  5. Check in with [a community]!

Speaking of communities, you mentioned your Sweat community is the largest online fitness community in the world! What do you think makes your app different from others?

The Sweat app has been designed with the user in mind, first and foremost. It provides an innovative experience that brings together all facets of health and wellness to women’s fingertips, to help women on their health and fitness journeys. It has everything in one place – workout programmes and guidance, warm-up and cool-down activities, nutritional information, and access to the Sweat community, the most supportive and largest online female fitness community in the world.

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What kind of testing processes do your workouts for the app go through?

When Tobi (Sweat CEO) and I work together on creating new workouts for my programmes, we ensure first and foremost that they are safe for users. We work closely with the Sports Scientists in our team to ensure the workouts are developed correctly and will drive results. This is followed by a thorough testing phase by Tobi and myself, and the Sweat team.

Technology has changed a lot, and that’s meant some cool developments for workouts. How do you use technology like your Apple Watch in terms of fitness?
My Apple Watch is an essential part of my workout routine. The Sweat app on my Apple Watch makes it so easy to see where I am up to in the workout, as it’s all just there on my wrist. I can easily swipe for the next move or find out information on any move modifications or alternatives. Plus, I can easily skip to the next track of my Apple Music playlist if I’m not feeling the song. I also use the stopwatch function when I train my clients; it makes it all so much easier as everything is in one place.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity. 

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