How To Do Kayla Itsines' Bikini Body Guide Without Injuring Yourself- Push Up Edition

With over 3 million followers on Instagram and many before and after transformations, it’s no wonder that Kayla Itsines' Bikini Body Guide has become one of the most popular workout programs of the summer. I first came across her Instagram feed last year and was pretty impressed by the results her clients were getting from doing her guide. I was in the middle of completing Bret Conteras’ Strong Curves program but decided to buy the guide anyways to check it out.  The guide is super simple to follow, fairly comprehensive and very pretty to look at. Her HIIT (high intensity interval training) style workout was obviously working for a lot of women out there. There were some exercises and training philosophies I didn't 100% agree on, like the amount of plyometric movements like squat jumps and lunges at the beginnng of the program or the amount of abdominal heavy exercises involved, but people seem to love it.


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Picutre of trainer Kayla Itsines from Bikini Body Guide

I love how so many women on Instagram are getting stronger, eating better and are more confident about their body, but we need to realize that the Bikini Body Guide might not work for everyone.


Over the summer, I had a few clients in the middle of the BBG guide when they came to me complaining of joint and muscle pain. When I asked to see their push ups, I wasn’t surprised. Going back to the first week of the program, you were asked to do 15 reps of push ups with 15 reps of lay down push ups within the same workout block. That’s a lot of strain on the back and shoulders if you’re not doing it properly.

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Example of a workout plan from the Bikini Body Guide taken from Pinterest

If you’re planning on doing the Bikini Body Guide, I would suggest for you make an appointment to see your movement specialist (physical therapist) prior to doing the guide. Physical therapists can help modify the program and/or supervise your form while you complete it. I know that not everyone will be able to see their therapist, so I made a simple list of common mistakes, starting with the push up, that I see while completing the Bikini Body Guide by Kayla Itsines with its corrections.


*The correction list isn’t a substitute for a complete assessment by a healthcare professional though!

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Cover of the Bikini Body Guide by Kayla Itsines

Push ups

Push ups are an integral part of the BBG program and can lead to disaster if they're not performed properly. I often find that by the end of the 7 minutes that form starts to deteriorate and modifications are needed. Kayla Itsines does include a push up off the knees as a variation to the full push up.


Common mistakes with the push ups

Mistake 1: saggy back (hyperlordosis)

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Try this:  practice how to rotate your pelvis backwards in standing first, then in a  high plank position and then incorporate it into the push up



Mistake 2: looking down at feet (flexed neck)

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Try this: Keep your neck  neutral  and look  6 inches in front of you to prevent unneccessary strain on your spine.

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Mistake 3: Fault: elbows flared out (the winged chicked)

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      Picture on the left is what I normally see when someone tells me their shoulders hurt


Try this: Have your elbows approximately 45 degrees from your torso. This will cause less strain to your shoulders and targe more of your chest and arms.


How do I know if I'm doing it properly? 

A friend posted a picture on Facebook a while back and it just made sense. Get someone to take a picture of you and flip 90 degrees. It should look like you're standing upright.  Gosh that was easy .

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If you still can't complete a push up with compensating, then you will need to either modify to a kneeling push up (good but doesn't allow for maximum glute activation) or use an assistive  band like the Sling shot  or push up from a table.

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Use a looped band to assist your push ups


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Perform the push up from an elevated surface and eventually progress to the ground


Stay tuned as I will be going over more movement suggestions and tips for the Bikini Body Guide!

Jessie Wong, Physiotherapist




*The exercises provided on this website are for educational purposes only, and are not to be interpreted as a recommendation for a specific treatment plan, or course of action. Exercise is not without its risks, and this or any other exercise program may result in injury. They include but are not limited to: risk of injury, aggravation of a pre-existing condition, or adverse effect of over-exertion such as muscle strain, abnormal blood pressure, fainting, disorders of heartbeat, and very rare instances of heart attack.
To reduce the risk of injury, before beginning this or any exercise program, please consult a healthcare provider for appropriate exercise prescription and safety precautions. The exercise instruction and advice presented are in no way intended as a substitute for medical consultation. We disclaim any liability from and in connection with this program. As with any exercise program, if at any point during your workout you begin to feel faint, dizzy, or have physical discomfort, you should stop immediately and consult a physician.