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BODYPUMP Overview and Tips For First-timers

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.

  1. Warm-up
  2. Squats
  3. Chest
  4. Back
  5. Triceps
  6. Biceps
  7. Lunges
  8. Shoulders
  9. Abs/core
  10. Cool-down

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.

BODYPUMP equipment setup

And here’s a look at a typical gym weight-rack for BODYPUMP.

BODYPUMP weights

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?

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Tabata 101

So the other week I had 2 new things happen: one really awesome, the other – I hope it never happens again! Lets just say it involved a 5th grader and his lunch and ended with a trip to the nurse and LOTS of sanitizer!

Since my husband has rejoined the gym I attend, I have switched days which I go and attend classes which means no more Tuesday & Thursday RPM class for me. At first I was bummed because I do love RPM but my main man really wanted to get his sweat on at RPM so I figured giving him my favorite class is the least I can do considering he supports me in doing any fitness adventure I throw his way.

As I was scouring the schedule to see what was offered on “my” gym day I noticed tabata on the schedule. If you are anything like me, you have heard of tabata, but the name is enough to scare me away. I do not know what it is about it but the name just seems so intimidating to me! Despite my fearfulness  I decided to give it a try- and boy I am glad that I did because it was an awesome experience!

So what is tabata anyway? Well has a TON of great information and I highly recommend checking this website out but if you do not feel like clicking that little link here a brief overview: tabata is a form of high intensity interval training and it is awesome. It is set up so you complete 20 seconds of “hard work” and 10 seconds of “rest” for 8 sets and then you have a 1 minute break. It is really great if you are in a time crunch and have no equipment. also offers more of an overview and even a sample workout!

So before you get started you need to do a few things:

  • Download some kind of tabata timer on your phone or ipad– You can check out a few free apps that I downloaded. My favorite of these is the “tabata free” app. You can customize your warm up, intervals, rest and how many cycles.


  • Decide which exercises you want to do – The class that I took featured 2 exercises that you switched between for each cycle for example: Burpees for 20 seconds, rest for 10, jumping jacks for 20 seconds, rest for 10 and then repeated that 3 more times for 1 full tabata cycle. We completed 8 cycles in the class that night. Depending on how long you want your work out to be will depend on how many exercises you need. If you are shooting for a 30 minute workout (not including warm up & cool down) you will need 12 exercises. If you are having a hard time coming up with different exercises, you can always repeat during a different cycle. Pinterest is a huge help when needing to find more body weight or no equipment exercises. Let it be your best friend and pin away so you always have lots of options! Here is another link to see some pre-made workouts:
  • Make an awesome play list! You can set your iPod to have music playing in the back ground to accompany your tabata timer. You will still hear the beeps as your music is playing so pick some upbeat, powerful songs and get moving! Here is a short & sweet little playlist to get you going!


The only thing left for you to do is get some water and get going! I hope that you challenge yourself and try to do a tabata workout at least once! If you are like me you will soon become addicted. I love that you can make these workouts as short or long as you want. The other really great thing is that they go by quick because of the different exercises that you do.

Below is a Tabata Workout that I designed! Give it a try and let me know what you think. Feel free to change as needed!

tabata workout

Just in case you still are confused here is what your work out would be like if you did the sample I made pictured above:

Set 1: 20 seconds of push-ups, 10 second rest, 20 seconds squat jumps, 10 seconds rest, 20 seconds push-ups, 10 seconds rest, 20 seconds squat jumps, 10 seconds rest, 20 seconds push-ups, 10 seconds rest, 20 seconds squat jumps, 10 seconds rest, 20 seconds push-ups, 10 seconds rest, 20 seconds squat jumps –and DONE.

1 minute rest

Continue on with the remaining sets with a minute break between each set.

The exercises I have above are very basic and you have probably done in the past but a few that you may not be sure about are probably a lunge jump and cross arm push-up.

lunge jump
This is a picture from Women’s Health Magazine that demonstrates a Lunge Jump. If you think this would be to hard on your knees you could always do alternating lunges because let’s get real — a regular lunge is hard enough but throw in a jump and things just got real! At least give this a try and see how you feel.
The cross arm push up is simply a push-up and then at the top take your right hand and reach over and touch your left shoulder. Go down and do another push up and this time take your left hand and reach for your right shoulder. It really steps your push-up to the next level and makes your engage your core even more! Even if you do your push-ups on your knees like me it is still a challenge!!

Have you ever tried Tabata before?

What are your favorite body-weight exercises?

Are you going to try my tabata workout? If so please let me know how it goes!

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20 Minute Strength Training Workout – with SheKnowsTV & SweatGuru

If you tried our 20 minute Barre workout and are looking for more, look no further. Here’s a fun 20 minute strength training workout brought to you by SheKnowsTV and SweatGuru that you can do anywhere – you don’t need any equipment, just a good attitude and a Wifi connection!

Check out this week’s workout on SheKnowsTV:



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