One of the most popular topics I’ve written about on my healthy-living blog A Lady Goes West, is teaching Les Mills group fitness programs. I teach several Les Mills classes a week at gyms around San Francisco and one of those classes is BODYPUMP.
You’ve probably heard your friends or family talk about taking a class called “BODYPUMP” or maybe you’ve always wanted to try it yourself. No matter what, I’m here to tell you exactly what it is.
Here’s a rundown, or a BODYPUMP 101, if you will.
What type of workout is BODYPUMP?
BODYPUMP is a resistance-based or weight-training group fitness program, created by a company called Les Mills International out of New Zealand. According to Les Mills, BODYPUMP is:
“The original barbell workout that strengthens and tones your entire body.”
Standard BODYPUMP class
A standard BODYPUMP class has 10 tracks, or 10 songs, running about 55 minutes long. Each song, outside of the warm-up and cool-down, targets a main area of the body.
Because BODYPUMP is a pre-choreographed program, every single BODYPUMP class, no matter where you take it in the 80 countries around the world where it is offered, will run in this order.
There are also 30- and 45-minute express versions of BODYPUMP, which feature just a few major muscle groups, beginning with a warm-up.
The moves include a variety, aimed at targeting every muscle group. A typical class will feature deadlifts, deadrows, upright rows, squats, chest presses, clean and presses, tricep dips, overhead tricep extensions, tricep push-ups, bicep curls, plate curls, lunges, push-ups, overhead plate presses, rotator raises, crunches, hovers and of course, stretching at the end.
You don’t need to know what any of the moves are to be successful in BODYPUMP, because the instructor will describe what you need to do with your body for each during class. Once you start going to class regularly, you may start to remember the names of the moves and even start to learn which muscles each works.
Equipment for BODYPUMP
To do a BODYPUMP workout, you will need a barbell with weight plates, a bench-top with risers and a mat. During the chest and tricep tracks, participants lay back on the bench-top.
Here’s what a typical setup for each participant in BODYPUMP looks like, minus the mat and a towel.
And here’s a look at a typical gym weight-rack for BODYPUMP.
What to know as a first-timer to BODYPUMP
Because there is a lot of equipment needed, it can be scary to enter your first BODYPUMP class. There’s no need to be intimidated, because even the loyal regulars and the instructor (like me), has been there as a first-timer before.
I recommend that you go in with an open mind and consider these tips:
- Show up a little bit early and introduce yourself to the instructor, that way they can tell you what to expect and keep an eye on you.
- Set up close enough to the front so you can see the instructor’s full body.
- Don’t worry about the weight other people are using during class. Stay light with the weight on your first few visits, maybe starting with one small or medium plate on each side of your bar, with a couple of extra small plates.
- Listen to the instructor’s cues for how to move your body. Don’t stare at yourself in the mirror and zone out, but follow the directions of the voice on the microphone. Instructors are there for a reason, and that’s to help you do it right and move safely and effectively.
- Feel free to put the bar down at any time. Even if you do the entire first class with just a bar with no weights, or with no weights at all, you will still get a workout.
- Please don’t worry about your neighbor or feel competitive. Nobody is looking at you. In fact, most people are so busy worrying about themselves they won’t even glance in your direction.
How hard is it?
The beauty of BODYPUMP is that you can make it as hard as you want, by increasing your weight as you get stronger. You can also take low-option moves, which will be demoed by the instructor if they are available during a particular track. And if you don’t feel right doing any particular move, you can skip it, or do your own slight modification.
During class, we do typically 70-100 reps per song, with a total of 800 reps per class. While there is a break between each song to stretch and regroup, you do spend most of the time working under tension.
As an instructor, I do the full workout along with the class, standing in the front of the room.
What’s the best thing about BODYPUMP?
It’s been called one of the fastest ways to get in shape, as it challenges every major muscle group with high reps during each class. If you don’t lift weights, it’s a great way to get into resistance training with the help of the group vibe and an instructor on the mic. If you do lift weights, the class offers you a chance to challenge yourself with longer sets, in which you may move quickly from exercise to exercise and improve your overall fitness.
But most of all, BODYPUMP has great music and it goes by quickly, especially if you have a motivating teacher taking you through.
There you have it. A very basic BODYPUMP 101 overview.
There’s so much more information and Les Mills research to share, so I’ll cover additional topics in the near future.
Disclaimer: BODYPUMP may not be right for everyone, so make sure you check with your doctor before trying a class.
Questions of the day
Do you have any questions about BODYPUMP? Have you ever been to a group fitness class before? For those out there that love BODYPUMP, what’s your favorite track?