Kayla Itsines’ Top Exercises for Legs, Arms, and Abs
Kayla Itsines demonstrated her top three exercises for toning legs, arms, and abs and put Jacqueline to the test. Watch the video for the demo, modifications for beginners, and a challenging bonus move.
Before becoming one of the most beloved fitness stars on Instagram, Kayla Itsines started out as a fitness trainer in Australia—and boy, she’s a good one. On a recent visit to Health, the Bikini Body Guide and Sweat With Kayla app creator led a training session for editor Jacqueline Andriakos, revealing what a fabulous trainer she is.
Kayla demonstrated her top three exercises for toning legs, arms, and abs and put Jacqueline to the test. Watch the video for the demo, modifications for beginners, and a challenging bonus move.
Don’t have time to watch? Read the full transcript:
Jacqueline: Show me three of your favorite moves. I'll let you demo first and then you can help me out.
Kayla: Split squats, commandos, and ab bikes.
Split squats: Plant both feet together on the floor. This is your starting position. Bend your knees slightly and propel your body upwards into the air. Reposition your legs so that your feet land in sumo (wide) squat position. Continue bending your knees until your upper legs are parallel with the floor, ensuring that your back remains between 45 and 90 degrees of your hips. Propel your body upwards into the air again. Reposition your legs to bring your feet together and land in a neutral standing position, ensuring that you maintain “soft” knees to prevent injury. Repeat for the specified number of repetitions.
If you're a beginner, you can just do some squats on the spot. One of the common mistakes with this is girls who bring their knees inwards, but you want to keep your knees over your toes.
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Commandos: Start by placing your forearms (wrist to elbow) on the floor and extending both of your legs behind you, resting on the balls of your feet. This is called a plank position. Release your right forearm and place your right hand firmly on the floor directly below your right shoulder. Push up onto your right hand, followed immediately by your left in the same pattern. Ensure that you brace through your abdominals to prevent your hips from swaying. Return to plank position by releasing your right hand and lowering onto your forearm, before doing the same with your left hand. Repeat this exercise, starting with your left hand. Continue alternating between right and left.
Ab bikes: Start by lying flat on your back on a yoga mat with your feet extended out in front of you. Bend your elbows to place your hands behind your earlobes. Gently raise both feet, your head and your shoulder blades off of the floor. This is your starting position. At the same time, extend your LEFT leg so that is approximately 45 degrees from the floor and bring your RIGHT knee into your chest. Extend your RIGHT leg completely so that is 45 degrees from the floor and bring your LEFT knee into your chest. This creates a ‘pedalling/bike-like’ motion. Once you have grasped this movement, incorporate a twist with your upper body. This can be achieved by meeting the knee with the opposite elbow. For example, as you bring the RIGHT knee into the chest, twist your upper body over to the right so that it can meet your LEFT elbow. Continue alternating between left and right for the specified number of repetitions.
All right, so one of the common mistakes here is moving your elbows, but not your torso. So, if you go, move your elbows but not your torso. So what you want to do is move your torso and touch your elbow to your knee. As a beginners exercise, what you can do is you can place your hands underneath in a triangle, so like this. And you can just move your legs in and out.
J: Okay, Kayla if you have time for one move, what is the challenge that you would go to every single time?
K: Probably a burpee tuck jump. So place your hands on the ground near your feet. So right near your feet, jump backwards into that push up position, keeping your hands back straight, core on. Jump back into your hands but this time you're going to jump up and do a tuck jump.