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Pros and cons of Body Pump classes

by Elise on June 6, 2011

in Fitness

I’ve been following Body Pump classes since I began going to the gym (around 5 years ago). When I was a complete beginner at the gym, Body Pump classes were really beneficial to learn the right techniques of basic moves (squats, lunges, up right rows, chest presses).

I still occasionally follow a Body Pump class, but I’ve kind of lost my enthusiasm for it over the years.

But let’s start with the things I like about Body Pump:

#1 The class is entertaining & you’re done in an hour
If the instructor is doing a great job, time flies and you get a good complete workout in an hour. Each section of the class works a different muscle group and is accompanied by a music track that is designed to get you in the rhythm and inspire your efforts. Even if you don’t like the music at first, you may find yourself downloading some tracks after a while!

#2 Body Pump introduces beginners to weight training & stays challenging for experienced gym goers
If the instructor is doing a good job, he or she gives a lot of technical clues for beginners. The instructor can also make the class more challenging by asking people to put more weight, follow proper form, squat lower, lift slower, etc.

#3 Different kind of people follow the class
Body Pump classes draw a crowd of young and old alike. Unlike other group classes, there are men following the class too.

#4 You find the same lessons everywhere in every country 
Though I love trying new gyms and new classes, it’s also very pleasant to be able to do a Body Pump lesson with the same music and moves you already know from another gym. A Body Pump class outdoor facing the Mediterranean sea in an holiday resort in Turkey was just the nicest group class I’ve ever followed.

Disadvantages of Body Pump classes:

#1 Doing high repetitions does not necessarily mean getting toned
Body Pump will burn calories, maybe decrease bodyfat, but it will not build any real definition. I hate the word “tone” that trainers use when they advice people (mostly women) to do Body Pump or weight training with a high number of reps to “get toned”. It’s very difficult to get toned by doing Body Pump only -unless you’re naturally muscular, put on muscle easily and on top of that eat very clean.

Some people can achieve muscle hypertrophy or the results they’re looking for by doing Body Pump only, but if you have a lean build and want to look a bit more muscular/curvier, you probably won’t notice any increase in muscle mass, even when gradually increasing your weights. In my experience, Body Pump does not help adding muscle mass to my frame. I will usually get a temporary muscle pump during the class because of the increased blood flow to the muscles doing high reps, but this is only a temporary effect. If I want to make big progress on the shape of my butt, I usually need to do some heavy weight lifting with lower reps.

#2 There is no practical, functional ‘use’ for some muscle groups 
What’s the point of doing bicep curls with light weight for 4 minutes? I can’t imagine any concrete situation in life where I would need to do 100 biceps curls with light weights. I can think of plenty of situations where I would need to lift something heavy and put it back for a few repetitions.

#3 It’s difficult for instructors to give enough attention to everybody: sometimes I’m not even sure if it’s really possible to teach weight training in a group setting
I saw a woman the other day doing the whole Body Pump class with 1 kilo on each side of her bar. The instructor asked at the beginning of the class if they were beginners of people with injuries. Nobody replied. The instructor let this woman do the whole class with one kilo without asking her anything or how she was doing. Sometimes I feel like Body Pump instructors don’t care that much. I understand that it’s impossible for them to give individual attention and that they’re already telling us many technical cues during the class, but some instructors just let people get away with very light weights and/or bad form, even when they see these same people over and over again each week attending the class.

What is your take on Body Pump? Do you attend Body Pump classes?

{ 162 comments… read them below or add one }

alisonds June 7, 2011 at 09:28

I LOVE Body Pump but I also train in the gym. I do Pump once a week and weight sessions in the gym 2 – 3 times per week. I probably use about medium weight compared to others in my Pump class (about 7.5kg on each side for squats, 3.75kg each side for biceps / triceps). I find it does give me a good workout – but a different workout than I get in the gym. I use different muscle groups in different ways between the gym and the class. I agree, Pump on it’s own won’t get you there but it’s a good starting point and helps to perfect your technique. And it’s a good all rounder session if you’re tight on time and don’t have the time to fit in a couple of sessions in the gym!

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BabyWilt June 7, 2011 at 10:39

I love Body Pump but have only done a few moths and then went into beefy gym for weights BUT I wouldn’t have ventured into weights had it not been for BP. I still like to go to a Body Pump Class occasionally its a great sweat fest when I do :)

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Alison June 7, 2011 at 11:35

I’ve never done it, but then I don’t like classes of any kind. I think that it’s a great option if someone otherwise wouldn’t do any kind of weights workout at all; or, like you say, if they are looking for a way in that is less intimidating. But I agree that it’s no good for achieving the kind of results that you get through strength and hypertrophy workouts on the gym floor. Another negative for me would be the music, by the way. Argh!

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Anita June 12, 2011 at 03:02

I started going to the gym 3 years and Body Pump was my first experience with lifting weights. I did Pump about 2-3 times/week and gradually added weights to each track. Every year in January I’ve been on a holiday and when I’ve returned to pump I’ve had to drop my weights back a little. Quite frustrating. Once I thought I could push through it but ended up hurting my neck so I’ve learnt to listen to my body and drop back after a break then build the weights up again. Now I only do Pump once a week but also love Body Balance every Friday afternoon. I find it removes the week’s stress and relaxes me for the weekend. I also Love Body Combat and have been doing that twice a week. I get bored easily so I try and mix up my gym schedule. I’ve also just entered the city to surf so need to start training for the 14km run. You’re right about the benefits of Pump. It’s all over in an hour which is great and the instructor’s usually keep me moving.

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AO August 11, 2011 at 04:04

Sorry, I absolutely have to disagree. Body Pump is the only resistance training that I do and it keeps me very toned. If people are not getting results, then it is on them for not loading enough weight. They may plateau and get comfortable using the same weights, no longer seeing results. They may also not use proper form (i.e. not squatting deeply enough, not lunging in a 90-90 position, swinging the bar on biceps). If Body Pump is done correctly, it can produce amazing results! My only con would be that some of the music sounds very techno and repetitive, and the moves in general can feel monotonous.

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AP March 30, 2014 at 23:34

I have to agree with you AO! I am a regular body pumper and it really depends on the weights you decide! You can load up the weights and squat another human being if you wanted to, or you can recover and just go light. The classes are less intimidating and are intended to work your muscles and keep them functioning…not to pack on the muscle like a body builder or bikini competitor. I have played just about every sport there is to play and been through and through with practices and workouts. Body pump continues to be challenging because I CHOOSE to challenge myself, but that goes with anything you do. ALSO: with rigorous cardio workouts, you barely have energy to sustain large weights, because you need to share the energy; so body pump is great when paired with long distance running or intense cardio interval training.

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Elise August 21, 2011 at 12:39

AO, I guess it depends on people’s body type. People who grow muscle volume easily can get muscle hypertrophy just by doing body pump. People who aren’t naturally muscular will not get spectacular results with bodypump, even if they do their best during the lesson and put on heavy weights. They’ll need to weight-train in the weight room with heavy weights and low repetitions to put on muscle mass.

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david May 20, 2013 at 00:13

Elise- sorry but I have to disagree….from a man’s perspecive pump absolutely added muscle inches to my chest…arms legs and glutes. Regular jeans fit very tight on me thanks to the mass added from pimp. As AO stated….pump can or cannot provide results depending on amount of weight one loads and amount of dedication to the course. Saying the class will not provide results is ignorant and short sighted on your behalf and id like to know what makes you the authority on the subject.

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Elise May 20, 2013 at 14:33

Hi David, this is a fitness blog. Everybody is free to start his/her own blog and share his/her opinion on the Internet. Why not start your own blog to share the results you got thanks to Body Pump? This could be a great idea, since it seems that there isn’t much information out there about Body Pump. My blog post happened to get a good Search Engine ranking, that’s why so many people end up reading it after ‘googling’ a search query about Body Pump. So I guess that freedom of speech and a good ranking on Google have allowed me to get my opinion out there. I don’t have a PhD in Sports Science, but I’ve been going to different gyms in different European countries for about 6-7 years. The gym’s biggest guys (and by “big guys” I don’t mean “steroid big”, I just mean muscular) are always to be found in the weight room, not in Body Pump classes…

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Adam June 4, 2013 at 22:57

David – I agree with you I’ve been doing bodyPUMP for many years now and have gained muscle mass and tone at the same time, I do however also train with heavier weights on the gym floor, but with that said, the high reps relative low weights in BP I do believe increase the cardio and toning effect does make a difference. A important factor for men in gaining mass is the way we eat – I strong believe that 60 % of getting a bigger and fitter body has to do with what we eat as well and when we eat.
Elise – I understand your point too, but weight does also play a role, I’ve seen countless regular body pampers use the same weight over and again for years, many of them I’ve coached and said just add a 1 kg on your normal weight and you won’t notice the difference, next week you do the same and add an extra. Worst comes to worst you put the bar down and lower the weight.
I agree its about form, and I talk about weight but isn’t not really about weight it’s form and not becoming too relaxed in state.- once that happens, there’s no point going.
Again what we eat is what we sow, BP is almost a dance with weights, I believe everyone can push themselves a little further. With that said we are not all born equal, we all have a unique body form, some bigger than others and some smaller, however, everyone has a chance to see some great changes in their life, if only it’s their posture.

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Greg June 18, 2014 at 22:49

I am a 62 year old 6′-3″ male with six kids and have been doing BodyPump/Zumba/Yoga classes at night for the last four years. I sell cruises for a living and know nothing about exercise physiology. I do not really enjoy exercising, and like most people my age, I’d rather be home with the remote control or enjoying a drink when 7:30 rolls around. Especially if it means I will have to grunt out a heavy weight training session or thud my legs at a 10 minute mile pace on a treadmill However, the “exercise class” environment makes exercise do-able for me. I went from 220 lbs to 195 well-defined muscular pounds in those four years. No steroids, no testosterone pills, no vitamin supplements, ad nauseum. I would think that my muscular tone has had to come mostly from BodyPump. I have never understood why more men do not take these classes and so many others offered at fitness locations throughout the world. It must be the inculcated culture of the male-dominated weight room. I read a comment above that said the muscular guys are in the gym. This one is in the classroom; never bored, eating like a horse, and developing added strength, endurance, flexibility, muscle mass, while lowering my BMI while aging. The proof is in the pudding.

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John June 29, 2014 at 19:10

Greg I’m up there with you……….

I’m 58 yrs old and have been around 4 stone overweight for at least the last 12/13 years.

Christmas 2013 I was 16 stone 5 lbs, enough was enough, I was miserable. Something clicked in me. From 12th Jan I sensibly dieted down to 13 stone with great guidance from the NHS Live Well website. Having previously given up on the idea of ever being healthy and active again………I then joined my local gym, got inducted with a startup programme and did a Low Circuit session for 5 weeks then got bold and went to my 1st Body Pump class.

The healthy balanced diet continues, I’m now 12 stone 5lbs, my upper body ‘tone’ is as good as it was 25 years ago when I was still playing squash and football regularly. Off on holiday next week wearing 34″ waist shorts and Medium T Shirts instead of squeezing into XL shorts and XXL shirts. Healthy diet & Body Pump has done it for me. The diet slimmed me down and BP has shaped me. I love the music & the class setting. In the gym I do a bit of this and that, concentrating on nothing in particular. Body Pump gives you a directed workout on all the major muscle groups in 1 hour, period. It’s up to you to use your brain and go online and check out the details. You have to use weights that challenge but don’t potentially injure you…….and FORM is crucial. If your instructor is on the ball they will contstantly point this out, that’s what they are cetificated to do. Women tend to go too low on weights, men too high. Instructors are not there to wet nurse you unless you’re paying personal trainer fees, you have to do some thinking for yourself if you want results and 10,000 gyms worldwide (allegedly) can’t all be wrong.

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Michelle August 1, 2014 at 08:47

I loved this response!! Even though you guys are talking about men in the first part of your post, I do body pump for the same reason as you. Free weights in the gym gets me no where, a structured class gives me some great directive and I actually am sore the next day (good sore).
Cheers to living healthy and I hope you all enjoy your healthy life styles now.

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Thomas September 5, 2014 at 06:43

Yup, re-starting Les Mills Pump(no classes near me) after an injury. I also do a lot of R.I.P.P.E.D., a class that has a lil weights, cardio, mild plyo, etc… so it always changes and the only time I’m doing focused workouts is on days I feel like working “legs” or “chest”, or when I take a Spin class here/there. Dropped like 30lbs. Still 265, but not as fat as before, and I can do 1 mile jogs now.

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Anonymous August 27, 2011 at 04:02

I have to agree with AO, Bodypump will get you toned if doing properly coupled with good eating habits. I am naturally small and slender, but BP for the past 2 years have given me nice muscle definitions on my arms, back, legs. I carry 20kg each side for squats, 4 each side for biceps, 4.5kg each for triceps, 6kgs each side for back. For lunges i dont use bar, but carry 5kg each plate using my hand, similarly with shoulder, i am using 8 lbs dumbells. As a ‘senior’ bodypumpers, i always help the newbies in the class by giving them tips and encourage them. Everybody has to start somewhere (i started with 2.5kg with my squats) rather them giving them the ‘hey you wasting your time with that ridiculous weight’ look, give them a smile of encouragement. Btw, i am 42 yrs old, and weigh 47kg, body fat of 11.2%.

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Erin September 14, 2012 at 18:51

I agree BP does get you toned, I’ve been going for only a few months and my legs are looking very tone and defined! love it and it doesn’t take alot of time away from my schedule.

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Elise August 27, 2011 at 08:40

As I wrote “I don’t get why instructors let people doing Body Pump lessons over and over again with ridiculous weights.” I totally understand that beginners have to begin with light weight to prevent injury. What I don’t understand is seeing the same people (particulary women who fear of getting bulky) always using the same weights for months, over and over again, without trying to put more weight and challenge themselves.

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Tami October 1, 2013 at 21:33

I have been doing pump classes a few times a week for several months now. I am a 51 year old woman in pretty decent shape. Former career as a professional dancer. Subsequently, I’ve got some old injury issues – unstable knee ligaments on left, pain in the right rotator cuff, and some compressed lumbar and cervical discs. I know what I need to do to avoid further exacerbating these weaknesses. This means my fellow travelers see me in class with perpetually low weights. I look fit, so I’m sure they are wondering why I’m sandbagging. Well, this is one explanation. What I really don’t understand are those who load up with too much weight and continue with poor form – it truly is cringe-worthy!

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Natasha November 27, 2013 at 19:25

Hi Tami – I’ve been attending power pump classes regularly over the past couple of years and absolutely love it – but the other month I “threw” my back out (or so it seemed), and have been seeing a chiropractor who has been treating lower back pain for a disc that’s degenerating. It’s getting much better, but I want to be sure that when I get back into power pump, that I don’t exacerbate the problem. Are there any particular exercises (i.e. overhead presses), that you avoid in class? I’m going to book a few sessions with a trainer to change the kind of exercises that I’ve been doing, and I’ll also talk to my pp instructor, who’s awesome… but I’d love to get your feedback as someone who seems to suffer from a similar ailment and who still does power pump. I’d be incredibly disappointed if I had to give it up… many thanks!

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Ashlee August 29, 2011 at 09:22

I’ve been doing pump twice weekly for 2 years now and I don’t mean to brag, but I am quite “toned”. 2 of the gym instructers who I know only do pump for weight training are so toned that they are bordering on manly lol. If the correct technique is being used and the weights are heavy and challenging enough, body pump will DEFINITELY get anyone “toned”.

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Allie October 25, 2011 at 17:59

Hi, I am an ectomorph (5’8, 120) and I have seen great results with body pump. I used to be a swimmer in college and carried a lot more ‘bulk’ which I didn’t love the look of. I find body pump gives me a more toned look overall but without the bulk.

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Anonymous October 28, 2011 at 21:28

It is not up to you to judge how much weight other people have on their bar – they might have specific reasons for going light, e.g. just starting, injury etc. And since I started I have kept what you would clearly consider to be light weights but have seen a considerable difference in a very short time. I agree that you are not going to make huge progress by staying light forever, but one of the selling points of pump is that everybody can work at their own rate. Just focus on your OWN workout and don’t worry about anyone else. I’ve seen girls in my class lift very heavy weights and their bodies don’t seem to reflect the extra effort. Go figure!

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Ria October 30, 2011 at 12:04

I agree with most of your comments. I don’t agree that you can’t get lean and toned. I’m a small sized girl (1.64cm, 50kilos) and I’m very toned (quite often people – even men – ask me how they can get my abs, butt etc). I don’t do weights on my own; just pump. BUT I do heavy weights especially for the legs (squats = 33kilos, lunges = 27kilos). I love pump because it makes me look toned, but not muscular. I’m a girl, and a dancer, so it’s perfect for me. On top of that, I like embarrassing men. I haven’t seen a man who does heavier weights than me for lunges; and if I ever see one, I’ll increase my weight. :p

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Elise October 31, 2011 at 07:23

Thanks Ria for your comment! Anonymous, one of the selling point of body pump is also the fact that a group workout should inspire you to push yourself. If I want to concentrate on my own workout, I simply workout out alone. The whole point of classes like body pump are that you can feed off the instructor’s and group’s energy. If the instructor is not leading by example and if you see the same people other and other again not making any progress, it just doesn’t push you to do more, that’s all I’m saying.

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Anonymous October 31, 2011 at 23:53

I did my first pump class yesterday and let me tell you, I used 1kg weights on the bar and it nearly killed me. Do not judge people who are not at the same fitness level as you are, it’s unfair and frankly it’s stuck up! This is why I do not go to places like Les Mills.

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Anonymous November 1, 2011 at 12:05

I’ve done bp for ten years with great results! If people don’t get what they’ve come for it’s because they don’t work out with enough weights, don’t work out often enough or eat wrong. It’s as simple as that. 2 body pump classes a week, a couple of cardio classes per week + 30-45min in the gym with heavier weights for the upper body is all I need to stay fit and strong. Bodypump is still the best allround training around!

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Elise November 1, 2011 at 16:27

Yes, I totally agree with that. Body Pump is a great workout IF you pair it up with some cardio and heavy weights!

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Anonymous November 11, 2011 at 01:12

I enjoy Body pump classes but I wish they would not repeat the same music week after week. Soon it sticks to your head and it becomes quite annoying, whether or not the music is to your taste. It’s ok to keep the same routine for several weeks but I wish the music would change from one session to the other.

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Anonymous December 15, 2011 at 21:20

I used to do plates that move on and off the bar, however, arthritis took over my shoulder and foot, so I now use a stable bar…several and change them instead of changing the plates…depends on your own body…you have to do other things to get toned and to lose weight…it’s all good, moving and lifting…been doing it since men and women had to use separate facilities in the 50’s…I’m almost 76, egahhh, but agile and flexible and slim…..and happy

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Anonymous December 16, 2011 at 14:01

I take Body Pump 2-3 times a week in the off season (of my triathlon training). I notice results. It helps me build strength and stay toned. However exercise is only a small portion of staying fit. These people could take body pump 3 days and week and still be eating crap food. Also, only take BP once a week will not have as significant as results.

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Sunrunnersong December 17, 2011 at 21:58

I’ve only been doing bodypump for about 6 months but i am hooked on it. I used to do weight sessions in the gym 2-3 times per week but started to get completely bored. I find I am now fitter than ever. I do 3 BP sessions a week and a couple of CV sessions. I would recommend BP to anybody.

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Joyce December 26, 2011 at 04:20

It was nice to hear the different opinions on BP. I just started doing the class and so far I love it! Already I feel stronger, though it may just be in my head. I am looking forward to seeing so changes in my body shape. I will try not to fear more weight when the time comes. Actually I already have added more weight at some points. I also do Zumba and started turbo kick (though that is hurting my knees so may not be able to continue). Oh I am eating so well. It’s all going to come together. It already feels so good. I am going to be beautiful! Ha!

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nayyar subhani March 27, 2012 at 14:16

Weight training is not all there is to life. Although it does have a rejuvenating and sexing-up effect on the body beautiful but the chance for injury is high as well. A sprinter or a yogi can achieve the same effects if they go far enough in their field of choice. Maybe like nutrition where a balanced diet is of the essence, in fitness and exercise too it is the balance of physical activities that count. A little bit of this and a little bit of that. But please don’t do something just because you think it is good for you. Do it if it really fits your grooves and feels good deep down inside. I myself prefer dancing to music and believe me I go wild and crazy and can spin to the music for hours and hours even though I weigh a lot.

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Katy April 11, 2012 at 23:37

Hey all, just dropping by for some extra advice! Your comments about Body Pump are pretty interesting. I just started about 3 weeks ago so it’s early days but I’d like advice on mixing BP with some other classes to achieve maximum results. Classes I’m interested in that my local gym offers are BP, Body Attack, Spinning and Body Balance. I’m looking to go to about 5 classes per week and would like to lose about 8lbs and generally create a leaner shape (although I’m not overweight I’m quite short so feel I need to shape up a bit!) Any advice on classes I should focus on or avoid altogether? Kt

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Elise April 12, 2012 at 13:27

Hi Katy! I wrote this article about Body Pump after I had been doing it for a couple of years. When I was trying to put on muscles and then get really toned I noticed that I got more results with weight training in the weight room than with Body Pump. However, when you’re a beginner, Body Pump is one of the best classes you can do, especially during the first year of your new lifestyle. Body Attack, Spinning and Body balance are great classes as well. Just make sure you’re getting enough rest between classes. A schedule with 5 classes per week to lose 8lbs easily could be for example: Monday: Body Pump, Tuesday: Rest, Wednesday: Spinning, Thursday: Rest, Friday: Body Attack, Saturday: Body balance, Sunday: Spinning. When it comes to pure weight loss, spinning classes are the quickest way to shred body fat before bikini season.

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Gee Renee April 29, 2012 at 17:10

Thanks to everyone for all of your comments. I’ve been Body Pumping for about 3 months and have seen some amazing results! I’m down 35lbs and 3 dress sizes and very proud of it! My goal is to lose 100lbs in 2012 and I’m well on my way. However, for the past 2-3 weeks I’ve been experiencing some discomfort in my left knee. My squat & lunge weight is only at about 15lbs on each side and I don’t feel as if this is too much. I’m wondering if possibly my positioning is not correct?? Does any one have any suggestion as to what I can do for the slight pain I’m feeling in this one knee? Thanks

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Elise May 1, 2012 at 18:00

Hi Gee, congratulations on your weight loss! Be very careful with your knee: if I were you I would talk to the trainer about it before or after the class. Stop immediately any exercise when you feel pain. The only pain you should feel when doing bodypump is your muscles burning!

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Judi November 30, 2012 at 00:58

Check your on your front knee…it should be stacked directly over your ankle and your shoulders should be over your hips. Any forward motion can put too much stress on the knee structure. Think about moving north/south…

I have been a BodyPump instructor for 10 years and also teach other formats, including yoga. Cross training is the best way to achieve your fitness goals…do a little of different cardio and strength formats and add yoga for a different kind of strength training as well as flexibility and balance. And it will help you learn how to handle the daily life stressors as well….

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Danny May 14, 2012 at 22:43

Elise
You bashed the “getting toned” mtyh and rightly so but then you repeated the same myth when you said that you need heavy weight lifting to get toned

The point is: if you’re losing fat, you’re maintain the muscles you already have and definition is just a matter of less fat making the muscle that are already there. If you’re losing fat and losing muscles something is really wrong.

If you’re building muscles (by increasing the intensity and eating more calories than maintenance) then you’re also losing definition, the muscles are getting bigger (no more than 0.2 lbs a week) but the fat is increasing too and covering them.

As long as a weight is challenging enough it can build muscles (when on a caloric surplus) and definitely can maintain muscles (when on a caloric deficit) And there are many studies showing that low-weight with high-repetition build muscles as effectively as heavy-weight low-repetition as long as you reach the point of fatigue.
This is just one of the many studies on the subject: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120426110252.htm

That being saying it’s not clear how you’re getting “muscle definition” only when you lift heavy weights.
Because if you’re getting more definition you’re losing fat and hence not building muscles and hence there should be no difference between pumping or lifting. And if you’re gaining muscles (heavy-weight low-reps might work better for hypertrophy when paired with an hypercaloric diet) you can’t be gaining definition as well, because your body fat is increasing.

The majority of people have enough mucles, we naturally carry, under the fat and most workouts and diets are meant to decrease the fat while maintaining the muscles. Hence they’re getting more defined but muscle size is the same.
If someone is interested in increasing her/his natural muscle mass than a 6 months cycle with more calorie than burned and heavy weight (6-8 reps) might be a good idea but this would also increase body fat and decrease definition.
Then less calories and a workout to “maintain” not “build” muscles will be used to increase definition, strip the fat and this time reveals more muscles than before.

Bottom like: heavier weights (3 sets x 8 reps) workouts are a better idea when trying to build muscles while Body Pump looks the perfect way to lose fat and maintain muscles. Lifting heavy weights can do nothing for definition since only losing fat can increase definition. Lifting heavy weights can build more muscles under the fat but definition will decrease as fat increases.

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Elise May 15, 2012 at 13:23

Hi Danny, thanks for your input. I didn’t mean to bash body pump in my post, I believe that many people can get great results by doing only body pump. “Toned” is a word that can be ambiguous and I think I used “muscle definition” the wrong way. English is not my native language so please excuse me :) I agree: lifting weights does not define muscle since gaining muscles always comes with an increase in body fat. To me the word “toned” can have two different meanings: more definition (losing body fat) OR just more muscle mass. For example, if a skinny woman gains muscle mass and gets round shoulders and a round, lifted butt, (but with a slight decrease in muscle definition) I’d say she looks more ‘toned’ because her silhouette would look more balanced.

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Michelle May 30, 2012 at 16:27

Hi Elise,

I’ve just joined the gym and am looking to get fit, toned and lose maybe a stone. I really liked the bodypump class but only used 2kg on each side as this is what the instructor said I should do for the first few sessions. Also mid way through the workout I probably would have dropped out if I was lifting much more than that. How many times per week do you think BP would be beneficial to me and what other classes would you recommend? (I hate working out alone so would only really do fitness classes)

Thanks!

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Elise May 31, 2012 at 18:30

Hi Michelle, that’s perfectly fine to use 2kg on each side for the first few sessions. Your first few sessions should be about learning the moves, so don’t worry so much about the weights. If you can, try different body pump lessons with different instructors to see who is the most motivational and gives the best tips. About the number of body pump lessons per week: it all depends on how many days per week you can make it to the gym, but according to me, 2 classes of body pump per week + 2 cardio-oriented group lessons (like spinning or body attack) would do the trick. Just always make sure you’re getting at least a day of rest between 2 body pump classes.

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Jennifer June 5, 2012 at 18:27

I’ve been doing BP for 4 years and have been instructing for 1 1/2 of those years… Needless to say, I believe that BP can transform ones body, creating lean and toned muscles. Weight selection needs to be personally challenging and technique must be perfect. That being said, BP can’t do it alone. I also teach yoga and boot camp, and I run between 4-8 miles twice a week (just completed my first 1/2 marathon!!). To be truly physically fit, one must incorporate a variety of exercises that build strength (BP/weighlifting), endurance (cardio/running/spinning), AND flexibility (YOGA!!)… AND one must at least attempt to eat right!! No one is perfect, and pizza is delicious, but we must be aware of what we eat and try to limit junk food!!

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Lizzieflee June 6, 2012 at 17:18

Just tried my FIRST BP class last night. Great instructor, great cues, sore this a.m. I agree with Jennifer, that to keep your body at its fittest, you must vary your activity over time, and continually stress and challenge your muscles, mind, and bones. I plan to incorporate BP into a 4-6x weekly activity schedule, including BP 1x, sculpting with another instructor 1x, pilates 1x, and 2x weekly runs. That gives me 2 strength workouts a week, with 2 different instructors/philosophies. I teach the pilates class and it actually kicks my own butt, and running keeps me skinny and outside in the fresh air. I also sail, hike, and race in 5K-10Ks 6-7x a year. I’m a lifetime Weight Watchers member, so I’m aware of portion control, healthful eating, and indulgences for rewards.

I would not subscribe to a full – time BP class for my only activity. Last night’s class didn’t work ad- or abductors. Core work was minimal, and the warm up was a little strange. That said, it’s a great class to work into one’s weekly routine.

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NettyB June 6, 2012 at 22:22

Hi ..Really interesting post …I have been doing body attack and body combat now for a number of months …and as my husband plays squash i have started this too as well as cycling twice a week ,combined with a healthy diet i have lost just over 2 stone …I absolutely love high energy fitness always have done and i am totally addicted to the buzz but i desperately want to start pump.
What i would like to gain from pump would be overall tone in my arms shoulders and get rid of the baby flab around my middle would pump be able to do this ? I would say that my level of fitness is pretty good and i dont mind pushing myself as i find it challenging.
Oh i must add that my weakest point is my stomach muscles i really dont seem to have any LOL and no amount of excersize that i have done in the past has ever been able to flatten or strengthen my middle section .This is very frustrating as you can imagine .Pump maybe my way forward fingers crossed .
Any advice would be greatly appreciated .

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Elise June 6, 2012 at 23:40

Hi Netty, yes give body pump a try! Body attack and body combat are great but they’re mainly cardio most of the time. You need some kind of strength training too in your fitness routine to see the results you’re after.

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NettyB June 7, 2012 at 20:58

Hi Elise
Thank you …i will keep you posted my first pump class is saturday morning ..directly after my attack class ….Hardcore or what !!!! lol ..i love it

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Elise June 8, 2012 at 19:53

Hi Netty! Two classes in a row? :-O Yes hardcore! But please don’t do two classes in a row too often: I used to do that a few years ago when I was still a big “Les Mills enthusiast” and I pretty much became a skinny version of myself. One intensive hour where you give everything you got and then call it a day is enough :)

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NettyB June 9, 2012 at 23:01

Hi Elise
Well did my first pump class today straight after attack …wow …what can i say ..It was hard …
Started with very low weights to just get the feel of it and learn the moves etc …but after about 30 mins these weights in my mind could well of been 2 baby elephants on each side …I can totally understand starting with low weight and increasing over the weeks the more confident you get ..Moreover i think it may of been a better idea if i had of done just BP on its on rather than a follow on from attack, because although i would say i was probably one of the more experienced in Body attack when you have done this high impact for 45 mins your legs are definately not as strong for pump.When it came to the lunges in pump it was extremely hard work and this was pretty much at the beggining of the work out …Having said this i could not believe how quickly the class flew by ..it was immesely enjoyable ..i felt the burn in places i wouldnt of done with just a cardio work our ..ill stick at it for sure and im looking forward to seeing some results fairly quickly ..next class is comabt followed by attack and pump ….so nice breaks in between with a good mix up …will keep you posted ..thanks for your advice BTW will take it on board for sure

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Cathy June 11, 2012 at 17:32

Blah, blah, blah!

Strength training will always achieve results, if accompanied by the right diet! Stop making excuses that you’re not the right body type. The body will respond to how you treat it. If you exercise but eat crap, you’ll never look lean and toned. If you’re of a slightl build, then you’re not eating enough of the right stuff. There’s a PT from Canada who’s just done Fit2Fat2Fit in 6 months, which shows the major effect diet plays on the body.

If you enjoy doing Pump, then keep doing it but remember to keep adjusting your weight. Remember the first time you did Pump and how much you ached for days afterwards. If you’re no longer aching after class, then its time to increase your load. Also, like someone said, if you’ve missed your regular classes, listen to your body, you may need to drop your weights down a litte for your first few classes.

With regards the benefits of doing 4 minutes of bicep curls, I think my arms thank me when I’m carrying my shopping from the supermarket to home. Remember, society has got fatter as we have gained more automated machines, i.e. shopping trolleys, cars, etc!

Lastly, if you’re not seeing results anymore and are following a clean diet, then mix up your exercise. Maybe swap Body Pump for circuit classes or bootcamps for a few months. Cycle what classes you’re doing, so that you continually challenge your body!

And stop blaming your tools for not acheiving your goals. Bad workman and all that!

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Elise June 12, 2012 at 09:45

Hi Cathy! As a fitness enthusiast, I didn’t start my fitness blog to find excuses or blame other people or training programs :) I’m really satisfied with the results I get from my training regimen and diet. My point writing this article was just to share the following opinion: body pump classes alone (without any other kind of strength training) can’t be a “one class fits all”-solution.

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Chris June 14, 2012 at 02:43

Unless your technique is good/perfect I would steer away from these classes because with the compound movements used, MANY people execute poorly and develop bad motor patterns. You need a good personal trainer to gain the fundamentals when performing lifts such as deads, squats rows etc. alot people don’t know how to engauge certain muscle groups etc…

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PumpLuvr June 26, 2012 at 21:22

From my own experience…doing BP 2x a week with light weights will get you strong and make you stand tall and proud, you just get that feeling however i was working out 5x a week also doing Zumba, Spin, BodyStep, and cardio on various machines and I just would not lose any weight spending 3 hrs at the gym Mon-Fri…I talked to the instructor 1 to 1 and we decided to stop killing my self in vain, and now doing 1-2 hrs only 4x a week, Zumba, BP, Step and Spin, and to increase my weight for BP! I was also scared to bulk up but then I looked at my instructor she was tiny and toned and packed on the weight on her bar for her classes. That was my inspiration and once I finally added weights, worked out less, and ate more often instead of just 1 big meal late at night with snacks all day…the weight melted off my body, I lost 25 pounds in about 6 weeks. I was amazed that it worked…my only rules were have a snack within 1hr of waking up and NEVER go longer than 4 hrs without eating, last meal 2 hrs before bedtime, lots of water and That was how I did it! Got through my plateau.

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lk July 1, 2012 at 15:33

Your comment about the person who uses one kilo weights for the whole class is WAY off base. How is it that you think YOU know what is appropriate for somebody else? Are you inside their body, experiencing what their body experiences? Do you think the class is a competition, to see who can lift the most?

I am 72. I find that for most of the lifts for the arms, 6.6 lbs of weight is PLENTY, considering the number of reps. My muscles burn by the end of the set. I have taken on more weight for lifts for other parts of the body, but my upper body strength needs a lot of work. As i continue, I will raise the weight I lift, but so far, that is definitely sufficient.

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Elise July 1, 2012 at 15:40

What was bothering me is not that the person was using one kilo weights but that the instructor didn’t interact at all with her, didn’t pay her any special attention, didn’t ask her if she was new, had an injury or was recovering from something. That’s what bothered me.

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LS July 2, 2012 at 22:26

I agree with Chris’ comment above. I took my first Body Pump class over the weekend and was very dissapointed. I have taken several muscle/weight-fitness classes at the gym in the past & this type of program was far too intense. Thankfully, I had some prior knowledge of proper form & technique for weight training, but I watched other people in the class who were literally injuring themselves due to sloppy form. Instructor provided no guidance or advice. I prefer to focus on certain muscle groups at a time – not all of them at once, in one hour. Repetitions were too fast & close together with inadequate rest time in-between, not to mention the complete lack of proper stretching.

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Trish shewalter July 9, 2012 at 08:51

I have been doing Body Pump on & off for about 6 years. I also do a spin class 3 days a week & a fit class which uses weights & is cardio. The best definition or tone I ever had was when I had a trainer just twice a week for about an hour and a half. True that you really do not ger muscle definition doing body pump because you do not work any muscle group long enough. It is good for calorie burning & better than not doing weights at all. You have to increase the weights and try harder each time. I have never seen a Body Pump instructor keep track of all the people in the class, unlike a trainer that is all about that.

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Sammi July 10, 2012 at 19:35

Hello, I just recently have gotten serious about going to body pump. I have gone to classes before but ended up not continuing. I usually stopped coming after 2 classes. I just did
My third class 2 day so I’m glad that I am sticking to it. I have a couple Q’s to ask:
1) are your knees supposed to be level with the tip of your feet or behind? Also what do you do if your knees start feeling discomfort/pain during squats?
2) I read here everyone was saying how the diet is just as important as the exercise. What is a good diet? 1 that is high in fruits and veggies or one that has fruits and veggies but is higher in protien?

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Elise July 15, 2012 at 15:44

1) Your knees are supposed to behind the tip of your feet. Most instructors usually say things like “knees behind your toes”, “butt back”, “chest up”, “abs are engaged”, “push with your heels” during the squat track. If your start feeling discomfort/pain in your knees during squats, stop right away. Try performing the move without the bar to get the form right. Don’t hesitate to ask the instructor during the class, you’re the client here!
2) Trainers usually says that 80% of your body composition will be determined by your diet. Yes, exercise is also important to health and to speed up fat-burning, but most of your results will come from how you eat. A good diet is a balanced diet that includes lots of veggies and enough protein, carbs and fat. A good place to start is the book “The Eat Clean Diet” by Tosca Reno. Although there is the word “Diet” in the title, it is not a fad diet but just a simple book about sound nutrition.

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Keianna Louise July 12, 2012 at 04:49

I am body pump instructor so your article caught my eye. I agree with all your pros to class, and your cons. It’s true the program is designed for the instructor and students to increase their weight. I also like what you said about the instructor not saying anything to the woman who used very little weight, it is the instructors responsibility. In training we are taught to be fitness role models we set the tone in our classes. At the two gyms i teach at I Think only 1 female instructor and 1 male instructor does equal to or more weight than I do and increases. Many instructors set poor example by using very little weight so member’s don’t have that model. I have been told in my class that they like my class because they are inspired by my physic and strength…where other instructors look like they don’t even teach body pump at all. Les Mills grades us in our assessments on how much of a Fitness Role model we are, I think many instructors have been certified for so long that they just let go.

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Elise July 15, 2012 at 15:28

Yes, it’s a big motivator when the instructor put a lot of weight on his/her bar, it definitely sets the tone of the class! But some instructors at my gym teach 5 or more body pump classes per week, so I understand that they can’t go heavy and be super motivating all the time… The key to a great body pump class is definitely a passionate instructor that practice what he/she preaches! I’m sure your classes must rock!

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EliseD March 21, 2014 at 17:09

If you teach 5 or more BP classes a week you shouldn’t use so much weight al the time, you are the instructor and it is not your workout , your job is to let all participant do the exercise correctly and therefore safely. If you force your members to use more weight the chance of wrong technique is there and they could injure themselves. I think if you can just finish the track in the right planes and with the right technique you will see results and you can always do it, if you get hurt you possibly don’t come back anytime soon to the class. Of course you need to be a role model but not by ruining your own body by overdoing it. I am very lean and well developed because of my training the past 22 years but that doesn’t say I have used big weights. It is more important to have the correct technique than the amount of weight lifted.

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re July 13, 2012 at 14:30

Hello all. I had little muscle strength 3 years ago and was flabby in most areas. when i first tried pump i had 2.5kg on the bar. Now 3 years later I use
47kg for squats
chest and back 29kg
tris and bis 19kg
lunges 19kg
shoulders i use 19kg on the bar and use 10 pound hand weights and all pushups on my toes.
Abs i use a 10kg plate and can hold a plank easily.

I can tell you by my experience that body pump works!!! I am now fit and strong and by combining cxwork with pump I am very close to a 6 pack. I do eat fairly healthy but still drink beer with the boys and do pizza days with my son.

I am 35 years old, 6ft 180lbs and have a very toned swimmers body look because of the lean muscle I have put on because of Body pump.

This works if you keep at it and keep challenging yourself!

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Evildog July 17, 2012 at 22:28

When I first started body pump I had no idea what we were going todo and I used 1lb weights on my barbell. So I can relate to the first timer. And you can tell who goes to every class and who doesnt because the majority of women who were older than me all had crazy defined muscle also its not how much weight you use its about if your doing the move correctly or not.

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Rodney July 18, 2012 at 14:54

I use 5-5 kgs plate that is 10 kg for triceps,then 30 kgs for legs,shoulder,back,biceps etc…. I have done 4 classes :) ( I am a beginner)… i have received some definitions in my body though but still not too much surprising gains :D

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Shelly July 18, 2012 at 16:21

I’ve been doing BP for about 6 months, 2-3x per week with Pilates mat 2x per week. I think BP is a great workout, but I don’t think it will cause Hypertrophy, which is what it sound like Elise wants – to BUILD muscle. I also don’t think it will cause you to lose much fat without some cardio mixed in. I know from experience that it will bring definition. I am naturally toned looking, but I have several friends in class who are NOT and they have also seen results. They are proud of the muscle they can now see. I don’t want my muscles to look big, and this is working out for me. However, I have recently added more cardio because I noticed I was gaining weight – probably due to gaining muscle in BP and the end of my circuit training classes a few months ago. I replaced one Pilates class with an interval spinning class and one BP with the BP/Cardio combo class along with changing my diet a bit. I am waiting for the results of these changes. It’s hard to tell so far since I just got back from vacation for 2 weeks :o

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Kyle August 1, 2012 at 15:15

Hi Elise,

I would just like to say good on you for your article. I have been a BodyPump [BP] fan/participant for the last 3 years, however, the only comment of yours I have to disagree with is that instructors repeat the same music for 2 or 3 months after a new release. This is true, however most gyms tell their instructors to play the new release in its entirety for 2-3 weeks. Then the instructor needs to mix it up.

I have learned and read that BP is primarily a cardiovascular exercise that increases cardiovascular capacity. I’m no scientist and but from my own results/workouts, I view BP as purely that an aerobic exercise that increases my muscular endurance. I understand that if I want to get a more muscular/toned look, I will need to step into the weights room, however this has failed on many occasions as I find it boring as hell and very intimidating, so BP is perfect for me :)

Once again…Great Article

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Elise August 3, 2012 at 17:20

Hi Kyle! Thanks for your comment! Yes, at my gym too, some instructors do mix the music after a couple of weeks, but some don’t -I don’t know how they keep their sanity teaching with the same music over and over again :) Maybe because they already forgot the choreography of previous body pump releases! :)

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Robin August 3, 2012 at 15:18

Hi Elise,

how are you? Very nice article, i read it before (a few months ago) but there weren’t 50+ comments then haha, you sure know how to get people talking ;-)
I’m probably a little late with it, but I really feel the need to share my opinion on this subject. I’m not going to reply to them because they aren’t that recent (like i said, i’m late…), but i saw a few (pretty stupid!) comments from people who just don’t seem to know training as much as they think to do… And it almost looks like these people are trying to put down Elise, telling her that she’s wrong?

First off: I am a Personal Trainer who worked at different commercial gyms over a 10 year period. Right now i’m the owner of my own Personal Training studio. I have a very good understanding of what works for a majority of people, and i think my opinions and experiences are worth something. With that said: BodyPump is highly overrated when it comes to fat loss, which is pretty much the same thing as ‘toning up’ in real life. And please correct me if i’m wrong, i think that whole ‘toning up’ thing caused a lot of (heated?) discussion in the comments. So let’s talk about toning up / fat loss…

If you want muscle definition, you need to burn the fat covering those muscles. You won’t get toned or defined without losing fat, end of story. And something that has been said before: when it comes to fat loss, nutrition comes first, training second. And again, BodyPump isn’t the best option from a fat burning standpoint.

Looking at the calories that you would burn during a Pump class, there’s nothing special (600 in one hour). I wouldn’t say that’s a big issue, because regular strength training doesn’t score that much as well. The reason why strength training is all the hype nowadays when it comes to burning fat, is the EPOC or ‘Afterburn Effect’. Meaning that after strength training, your body will continue to burn extra calories to recover from the intense exercise. According to research, this Afterburn Effect can last over 24 hours, which means burning additionial calories sitting on the couch while you haven’t been to the gym in two days!

That doesn’t mean that any type of strength training, such as a BodyPump class, will create that effect. I know, Les Mills says otherwise, but that’s their way of marketing Pump. Afterburn is created with INTENSE strength training. Intense means 8 heavy Bench Presses, or swinging a heavy Kettlebell for 12 reps, not doing 4 minutes of shoulder front and side raises with a few kilo’s. Sure, your shoulders will start to burn after 2 minutes, but if you can do any exercise for such a prolonged period of time, you’re not training with real intensity.

And this is to all the people who want to make comments such as ‘who are you to tell people which weights they should use': with all due respect, but you don’t train heavy enough to get the best results. If you like BodyPump, then please by all means keep doing it. But if your goal is the best physique, then you are wasting your time with a Pump class. And please, don’t come with the ‘i have an injury so i can’t train heavy’. If you have an injury, go and find a good physical therapist or Personal Trainer who knows about corrective exercise. You shouldn’t even think about joining BodyPump classes and doing exercises in a large, almost anonymous group.

Again: i don’t want to offend anybody, but it’s my experience that a lot of people won’t start thinking unless you’re brutally honest with them. And sure, it’s possible that BodyPump works for you. It tones your muscles, you look great, you have 12 % bodyfat at age 40. That’s great! But you are the exception, not the rule. As i said, i worked and trained at a lot of different gyms, and actually joined in on a few BP classes myself. But for every lean, athletic ‘BodyPumper’ are 5 others that have been doing the class for years, and still look the same. Even if they use heavier weights and join the class multiple times per week.

So Elise: you wrote a great blog about the pros and cons of BP. And having met you personally, i can tell you not to feel offended by or become defensive because of some comments here. You know what you’re talking about! And for everyone esle: enjoy your training!

Regards, Robin

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Elise August 3, 2012 at 17:08

Hello Robin! Yes, I wasn’t expecting so much feedback at all writing this article! Maybe the article got a high google/SEO ranking or something, I don’t know!! Nobody usually reads my blog and my ridiculous/weird recipes! :)) Well, I welcome all comments and opinions here, and I kind of understand the die hard body pump fanatics… But I was nodding my head reading your sentence “For every lean, athletic ‘BodyPumper’ are 5 others that have been doing the class for years, and still look the same.”… :)
Thank you for taking the time to write this elaborate comment sharing your experience!

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John August 6, 2012 at 13:31

Body pump is a great intro to weights and classes – I used to feel sick at the thought of being a gym member and the first time I did BP I couldnt sit down on the loo for a week without moaning in pain!
many years later its still keeps me interested.
Its great if you get a good instructor – ie one who keeps an eye on the class and motivates everybody – but having chatted to the trainers and watched other people in the class its obvious some people dont listen to advice on posture/technique even when its repeated week after week.
Our instructor rarely plays the same track twice

Cheers

John

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Elise August 7, 2012 at 16:08

Yes I totally agree that Body Pump is a great intro to weights and that a good instructor is essential. I too notice that some people just don’t listen to the trainer’s advice or cheat their way out of the moves no matter how clearly and precisely he or she describes the right form :) I think being a Body Pump instructor is kind of a though job!

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Jenel August 9, 2012 at 13:05

I go to regular body pump classes, and I am very toned because of it.
If you work out correctly, challenge yourself and go at least 3 times a week, you WILL see results.

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Elise August 11, 2012 at 14:57

Jenel, I know that any kind of decent/good workout done consistenly WILL produce results. If you do the work, you’ll get results: that’s what I love about fitness; it’s pretty much cut dry simple! My point writing this article wasn’t saying that body pump classes are ineffective, I still love doing a body pump class from time to time. My point here is that body pump doesn’t give me the best bang for my buck/time/effort. To see the results I’m after, I like doing several kinds of workouts: weight training with heavy weights, bootcamp / plyometrics and some kind of cardio. And of course the critical part: the right diet that accounts to 80% of the results!

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jay August 17, 2012 at 06:13

First of all I’m a guy. Second I’ve been a gym rat for decades. Hardcore and lesser. Third I do BP and other les mills programs. BP is not a new technique nor should it be a standalone all encompassing routine. High reps low weight has been practiced by bodybuilders for decade. It should be incorporated a n overall cycle of higher weights pyramiding exhaustin etc. It should be used to cycle thru for 3 months or so and move on.cheers

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Elise August 22, 2012 at 13:49

Hi Jay, yes I totally agree that Body Pump is not a standalone all encompassing routine. That’s exactly the point I wanted to address in my article! I also agree that incorporating Body Pump in a weight-training program can be a very good way to shock the muscles and mix things up, that’s why I still enjoy doing Body Pump from time to time, but not anymore as my main “go-to” weight training routine.

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Sienna August 17, 2012 at 13:03

I started at the gym 5 weeks ago and thought I was improving until I did a body balance class today. I found this class extremely hard unlike previous times. I did do a body pump class yesterday and I thought that maybe my muscles were still recovering. Can anyone shed light on this. My routine is now Monday -ride, Tuesday CSworks, Thursday – Body Pump and Friday -Body Balance. Is this a resonable progam. I am 53 and havent exercised properly for years.

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Elise August 22, 2012 at 14:00

Hi Sienna, Yes, the Body balance day right after the Body Pump day might be too much. You could replace the Body balance class with some light cardio or a pilates/yoga class when you feel like you still need to recover from the Body Pump class. Taking into the fact that you’re 53 and that you just started going back to the gym, I’d say that you could take 2 days of rest after your Body Pump day to recover properly.

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Stephanie August 23, 2012 at 03:52

I do not agree that you cannot tone with body pump. Toning comes with time under tension and time under tension is what you will get doing pump. If you put pressure on your muscles they are going to grow and tone your body. Yes, you should watch what you eat, you should always look after your diet, whatever exercise you do or don’t do.
If you put on heavier weights you will be building the pressure in your musles.
I have never seen something done 3 x a week for 6 weesk, change the shape of your your body and burn calories at the same time, so quickly
Body Pump Rocks!!!

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Di September 4, 2012 at 03:40

Very interesting sets of opinions on Body Pump. I really love the class, but in particular I’m much more lmotivated to get out of bed at 6 am in the morning for a class than just to do my own thing at the gym, and that’s pretty much the best time for me to go.. But I have a question about doing different weights. Really, I’m just looking to lose weight and ultimately get a flat stomach ( I don’t neccesarily want to see any abs or anything like that..) I’ve always done exercises that are lower weights and 10-15 reps… do I need to do higher weights and lower reps? I don’t care much for my muslces actually getting bigger at the moment, I’d just like to ‘tighten up’ a little. I’ve always been told that doing lower reps with heavy weights makes your muscles grow.. I’m also aware about the importance of nutrition and have really made an effort to start eating healthier :)
Thanks!

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Elise September 11, 2012 at 15:18

Hi Di, yes, lower reps (6 to 12 reps) are traditionally advised for gains in muscular size. However if you’ve reached a plateau in the 10 to 15 rep range, you could switch to fewer reps to switch things up. If all you care about is losing body fat, a 10 rep range sounds good to me if you keep your rest periods very short and/or superset different exercises / body parts together, focusing on compound exercises that work the biggest muscle groups (back, chest, butt, legs).

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Ellie September 6, 2012 at 04:25

I am about to try Body pump. I do yoga, pilates body bal most days, and am about 50kg and 48year old. I need some strength as my arms look thin and getting old ladyish!! Trouble is I dont have a lot of energy and strenght. Swimming seems to help me add some upper body “mass” so to speak, but I also dont like getting in and getting cold till summer. So I’ll see how body pump goes!

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Elise September 11, 2012 at 15:22

Hi Ellie, I think Body Pump is a great way for you to start some kind of weight training, so yes, go for it! Don’t be discouraged by the first few lessons and try different instructors to find out which trainer’s style you prefer. The same class with the same music can be totally different with a different instructor.

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mnowell September 8, 2012 at 02:14

I am taking the training tomorrow and have been checking out the dvd. I have to agree with the comment about not helping with sculpting the muscle. For that many repetitions, the weights have to be too light. I practiced an hour just doing the tricep workout …I thought that I would be sore in the triceps the next day. Nope. However, getting people into class who would otherwise be bored with any type of workout, and Body Pump scores high. I can see the appeal. But, I won’t give up my own workout.

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Sally September 24, 2012 at 12:49

All these comment have been so helpful.I have been doing body pump ,3 times a week and box 2 times a week and bike 2 times a week at the gym for about 6 months. Its improved my motivation but done nothing for my body tone. After reading this im going to cut down on the classes and try my own programme for a while with more resistance work.I watched my diet but still have a tummy but at 57 it might just have to stay that way as it hasent got the same spring back anymore. Any suggestions glad to here.

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Elise October 1, 2012 at 12:36

Hello Sally, if you eat a very clean diet and still have belly fat you may want to go see your doctor for a checkup. Hypothyroidism for example is a very common cause of unexplained weight gain that mostly occurs in women over 50.

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wa October 5, 2012 at 22:05

I am a Body Combat instructor who also enjoys doing other Les Mills classes including Body Pump. The reality is doing these classes (a good mix of 2 pumps and 3 cardios (combat, attack or rpm) per week, plus a healthy and clean nutrition plan will change your body significantly over time on the outside and more importantly on the inside. Everybody’s body is different, so results will vary. The most important thing to take from all this back and forth discussion about physical appearance is are you healthy on the inside. If you are than the outside will take care of itself. How many times have we seen muscle bound indivduals who cant last 10 minutes in a class that gets your heart rate up. Please everybody focus on a healthy inside (strong heart and lungs), because in most cases if those are health, your outer body is also healthy.

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Dimi October 7, 2012 at 12:03

Body Pump is awesome, the best way to get guns!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I love it, but I hate it!!! Love the burn.

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Lee October 11, 2012 at 14:27

I love BP because once you have chosen your weights you are committed. I will push myself much harder in a BP class that I do in the gym because in the gym you can always drop the weight a little between sets or take a break to let the muscle group recover. Dropping the weight or missing a rep in BP is possible but I will do my utmost best to avoid it if I can!

The gym can be really boring as well. I’d much rather train with a group…

I do a lot of training during the week – running, circuits, spinning, boxercise, Aikido, JuJitsu – but my single weekly BP class is the session need to mentally prepare for the most due to sheer amount of effort it takes to get through the hour, both from a Strength and a cardio perspective… Thank god its only an hour ;)
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Weights excluding bar :
Squats – 60 Kg
Chest – 32 Kg
Back – 32 Kg
Triceps – 25 Kg and 10Kg plate for behind the head extensions
Biceps – 20 Kg – I’ve been trying to get to 22Kg for about two months now but with no success – its amazing that 2 Kg can make or break you! – ;)
Lunges – 35 Kg
Shoulders – Dumbells 9Kg each – Bar 30Kg

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EliseD March 21, 2014 at 16:56

I cannot believe that you do the Biceps Track with 20 kg’s you cannot ever have a good technique till the end of the track! You must be Arnold Swarzenegger. by doing this you will create a physical problem sooner or later.

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Jo Court October 11, 2012 at 18:34

i have been doing pump ever since it first came out and apart from holidays have very rarely missed a class. i absolutely love it and at 49 am not bothered that I am the oldest in my class. it is on a Friday evening and the perfect end to the week to spend and hour-hour and a half with lovely people.

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Magpie October 14, 2012 at 01:56

Interesting article!

I started Bodypump classes about 5 months ago but have only recently become more serious about my fitness routine. I absolutely love Bodypump classes; the instructors are all great and so is the music. I’m keeping track of my weights and have set myself targets for the end of the year which I am on course to achieve and hopefully better!

I’m a girl and naturally slim – approx 51kg. I’ve wanted to build up a little muscle for a long time as I’ve always felt weedy and weak in my arms. I’m definitely seeing results now that I’m attending 3 Bodypump classes a week. My arms in particular are looking more sculpted and I’m really pleased!
If you’ve only just started or are thinking of starting please don’t be put off by people telling you Bodypump won’t get you anywhere. Take your time to learn the moves correctly, increase your weights when you start to find it too easy and you will start to benefit from your hard work.

I’ll reiterate what a lot of other people have said: you have to keep increasing your weights to see results. If you’re walking away from a class not aching and feeling shagged, you’re not putting enough weight on your bar. You must push yourself and work your muscles in order to see changes. Stretching is also very important and your instructor should insist on this between tracks and at the end of a class.

Mixed with a good diet (don’t eat just before bed, limit snacking, watch the calories!) and some cardio (I play an hour or so of Squash one day a week) I think I will achieve the toned physique I’m after very soon!

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Liz December 17, 2012 at 18:19

Iam 53 years old and been taking body pump for the last few years. I have always been petite and want to increase strength and muscle especially in my legs. The complete,opposite happened. I have lost muscle in my legs! I do cardio during the week as well. I am feeling a little defeated. Personal trainer is just not a financial option for me. I do travel quite a bit for work.

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Elise December 18, 2012 at 10:12

Hi Liz, are you sure you didn’t overdo cardio? You may have to cut back on your cardio, especially if you’re petite and if your main goal is to increase your muscle strength. I truly believe you don’t need a personal trainer to achieve the results that you want. You do need however to spend a little bit of time researching and educating yourself about fitness. The best strategy according to me is to choose an inspiring person who’s facing the same issues (same gender, same age, similar body type) and check out what they’re doing. Tosca Reno for example is a 53-year-old fitness guru that may have some good tips for you: http://www.toscareno.com

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Andrew January 5, 2013 at 15:16

Many individuals mentioned in the comments that body pump works very well for them. I’m sure it does. What I’ve seen as a fitness professional, however, is that the individuals who tend to stick with any fitness classes, body pump included, tend to be individuals who are naturally more fit. Group settings are extremely intense, even if you just use “1 kilo” as in body pump. The result seems to be that individuals to whom fitness is not natural tend to either A. get injured B. quite b/c of the difficulty level or C. quite b/c they do not see results. This leaves only individuals who find body pump to work left to speak its praises. In a sense, it’s like natural selection. Not to say there are no exceptions to his rule, but in general, this is what I’ve seen.

Beyond a person’s general fitness ability, every person is made up differently. Some more for endurance, some more for strength, some more for power. It all depends on our muscle fiber type. Individuals who find success with body pump are definitely more predetermined to be endurance based individuals. If an individual’s build up is more geared towards strength or power, they MUST lift heavier to see results.

That being said, everyone must explore different areas of fitness and find what works best for their body type. We’re all different, so body pump may work well for some, but not for others.

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terri January 16, 2013 at 20:43

so what is the difference between body pump and Group Power weight lifting classes.? I take Group Power and I love it………..!

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Elise January 17, 2013 at 12:50

There is not really any difference, looking at the site of Group Power. It just means that your gym pays that company licensing costs (to use the program, the music etc.) Maybe the license there is cheaper than by LesMills (the company who designs the ‘official’ Body Pump classes and trains the trainers).

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terri January 29, 2013 at 03:16

thanks for the information. The one think I found is different between body pump and group power is the fact at group power we are incouraged to lift heavier weights when we have out grown what we are lifting.

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Laura February 7, 2013 at 15:31

My gym advises not taking BodyPump after taking CXWork. Please advise. I absolutely love both classes and attend both regularly but not back to back based on the recommendation.

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troy March 6, 2013 at 20:03

The recommendation is not to do any heavy weightlifting after CXWORX because if you have done CX correctly, you have fatigued your core and lifting heavy weights immediately after might be unsafe. Cardio immediately after cxworx is fine. This is the recommendation from Les Mills, not just local gym policy.

I teach pump and cxworx back to back regularly, but in that order: Body pump, then cxworx. Challenging, and can be fun. Tee regulars in my friday BP class pretty much asked for more core work, so when my gym got cxworx, they tacked it on the end of Friday night pump and now it’s a 1.5 hour weekly challenge for those members.

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Hussain March 7, 2013 at 05:05

Hey guys … It has been only two days since I have started body pump and I have planned on doing it three times a weeks (sat, mon, and wed) I have lifted weigts before but it has been a year since then right now I am doing all my exercises with 2.5 kg on each side of the bar… Can anyone tell me how I can change the weight and when… As I am not sure when I can change my weights I weigh 67 and I am 5 ft 4 inches…

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Elise March 8, 2013 at 12:47

Hi Hussain, you can find a weight selection from a trainer in the following article: http://www.enjoyyourhealthylife.com/2011/08/05/bodypump-weight-selection. But my opinion is that you should ask this question directly to the trainer before each track. Don’t forget you’re allowed to speak and ask questions during the lesson; you’re the client paying for the class!

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Paige April 9, 2013 at 04:21

Hi There :) I have been body pump for a year. I do 4 classes a week (combined with other les mills programs, body step and i do pilates both 4 times a week). I love pump. I have never had any weight issues, and im still a size 8, my plan was to just become really tight and toned – and body has done this. I feel really strong now! The music is great and the instructors I have are fanastic! Love it – dont know where i was before i found body pump!

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Lina April 16, 2013 at 15:27

Been doing BP for over 10 years and its by far the best weight training I’ve done. Machines at the gym for girls – nah! Unless you want to look like a body builder or go that for a living I think BP and free weights are the way for toned, athletic figure. Also the best to get in shape fast!

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Timmo April 21, 2013 at 14:08

Hey, I think BP is an amazing class that can be used to customise your fitness plan-whatever that may be. I’m a 32 year old (male). 18 months ago I weighed 60kgs and made the decision to bulk up. By doing BP once a week and 2 heavy weight sessions with eating properly and healthily I now weigh 72kgs and look so much healthier! The whole point of my story is that BP can be used to help you gain your fitness goal, weight loss or gain- as long as you are eating accordingly, bit of trial and error!

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Nat April 30, 2013 at 10:13

I go to body pump once a week and a few other high energy classes. I have noticed a huge difference in my muscle definition since I first started. If I go through a track and feel ok at the end I increase the weight the following week until it feels good again. I challenge myself every week and it has paid of big time. All of the instructors at the gym I go to care about their clients. They make sure everyone challenges to get results, no slacking off. They also make sure everyone has the correct technique, so choose your gym carefully and you’ll get results without injury.

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Amber May 7, 2013 at 14:31

Well, seems I am one of only a few who agree completely with what Elise said in her original article. I’ve been doing BP for 5-6 years. I like to mix it up with running, Body Combat, spinning and lifting heavy weights in the gym. The number of times I do BP each week varies and factors such as time pressures and motivation play a part (it is sometimes much easier to motivate myself to go to a BP class than to take myself around the gym to lift heavy weights!). Sometimes I do more BP than heavy lifting, sometimes it’s the opposite. Hands down, without a doubt, I notice my biggest strength gains when I am doing more heavy lifting than I am BP. And I’m not talking a great deal of heavy lifting, usually 2 sessions on the gym floor and one BP class (plus cardio) per week. This increase in strength (and muscle tone!) is significant and grows at quite a rapid pace. Much faster than any strength gains I may notice from BP. I think it is really important to mix up your training program. 2-3 classes of BP and nothing else each week will only get you so far. In addition to this, I’m not convinced that the highly repetitive motions in BP are good for joints. In fact, a PT told me as much. I’ve recently returned from a 5 week vacation and will definitely spend more time on the gym floor than in BP in order to rebuild strength and muscle tone as quickly as possible. I’m sure many posters above would be surprised at how much MORE muscle definition they build on the gym floor. But they won’t know if they don’t give it a shot.

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Jay May 15, 2013 at 15:58

To Amber: You’re right. Treat BP as a repetive motion exercise similar to swimming. Don’t treat it like a regular muscle building gym routine. Here’s a good article dealing with those issues that arise: http://www.backfixer1.com/blog/repetitive-motion-workouts-tips-for-avoiding-costly-athletic-injury/
If you treat BP in this way, then a lot of the discussion about warmups, weights, frequency, etc. disappear into the background. I don’t think repetive motion is inherently bad. I do think that it does some good if responsibly performed, such as range of motion, joint lubrication, lymphatic aid ie. flushing the muscles (I’m no pro in this area, so sorry if I’m inarticulate). It will help your endurance & shock your muscles to work through the lactic acid buildup, especially the smaller ones because we all know the effect when running. I don’t buy into the statement that doing 100 reps at a low weight is useless in real world, cause one lift maxes reflect real life. Try hanging your bodyweight from a tree limb & count to 20. I do think that BP tends to overemphasize compound overhead lifting movements that can injure very easily, especially if there is any instability. The rotator cuff is a fragile thing. As for the PT’s well…you can see the good, bad and ugly there…lol. Its a money making industry. I’ve found the class instructors to be generally better qualified than the PT’s as most have day jobs, many as school phys ed teachers. I think the general rule is: if its pain then stop. if its sore or something “just doesn’t feel right” than continue very cautiously, modify, and re-assess. Cheers!

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CL June 2, 2013 at 18:07

Although it does not build strength very much, it does train your endurance level. Usually, if one doesn’t feel sore towards the end of each exercise (e.g. glutes and quads not feeling sore after squats or biceps feeling nothing after curls), he or she will probably need to increase the weight or check the form. I find that a lot of people don’t have proper form when it comes to compound exercises like squats and deadlifts; they tend not to squat deep enough or engage their glutes and hamstrings sufficiently. Understanding correct form and standing beside the mirror actually does help a lot. Although bodypump is enjoyable and great, I still think it’s important to incorporate heavy weights workouts into your exercise routine, and on other days, you could do different HIIT exercises, do pilates or yoga etc.. Doing different things actually helps your body become more functional.

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Andrea June 29, 2013 at 21:44

Ive been doing this for 4months and have to say of all the classes I’ve ever done over the years this is by far the most enjoyable, the benefits I’ve experienced so far is more strength and I’ve slowly started to tone….result:-))

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Michael G July 1, 2013 at 20:07

BodyPump is being sometimes undersold as “just a toning” class, or that you can’t build strength. In November 2011 I had going to the gym a couple of times a week for a year, but was still a typically pudgy late 40s guy who looked like the 15 years since I’d last been pretty fit. I started BP 3x a week, and I work my a** off every workout. In 3 months I’d lost 15 lbs, by July 2012 over 30 lbs. I’ve continued at that pace, about tripled the weights I started with (now @ 50+ kg squat tracks, 40 kg bench, 40 kg back), and now I’m fitter, stronger, and have more balanced fitness than I’ve ever had. I’ve done it without one significant injury; in fact, I’ve rehabbed a bad left shoulder and mostly put to bed a bulgy disk in my back. I also do CxWorx for core training, a cross-training class, some yoga, and started running again a few months ago for the first time in years. I knew BodyPump had made me strong–and fit–but I could barely believe it when I ran a mile in 7 minutes the first time I stepped on a treadmill in a decade.

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Jason July 9, 2013 at 05:47

I’ve been going to body pump for 4 months now, 3 times a week. I have noticed that I am getting so much stronger, and very quick. When I began I was outta shape 30 something who hasn’t seen a gym in 7 years. I could barely dumbbell press the 45lb dumb bells. Now I can workout with the 80’s.
This class is so incredible for everyone. Girls can gain strength, guys can get big. It’s all about the weight you put on. If a girl wants a fine ass then this is the class for her! Any woman in there that has been attending class for long enough to be in shape has definitely benefited from the lower body portions of this class. My instructors are awesome and they will focus on (single people out) who need to change. I’ve seen an instructor add weight to someone and seen one tell someone to remove weight. Not to mention they 100% focus on everyone having proper form so they don’t hurt themselves. I have lost 25lbs and 9″ off my waist since I began. Nothing in the gym can you do on your own to get that much effectiveness in a 55 minute class.

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Elise July 9, 2013 at 10:57

Hi Jason, that instructor sounds terrific! Wish I had an instructor like this at my gym. I have been to many different Body Pump classes over the years, but unfortunately here in my country (in the Netherlands), 80 to 90% of Body Pump instructors aren’t that motivating. They don’t lift that much weight and don’t give a little bit of attention to everyone. I totally understand that they can’t do their best if they’re already giving 10 classes per week, but still, I think that’s a problem with Body Pump in my country: ‘superstar trainers’ are too rare…

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Ro July 18, 2013 at 00:29

There seems to be some confusion betwen “toning” and putting on muscle mass. I am a true ectomorph and am toned by just breathing, however putting on muscle mass is different. There are many components to that but primarily: good diet, plenty of recovery time, working low rep heavy (by heavy i mean as heavy as you can go)and only doing compound movements is the key for an ecto. This is not just me but the entire science of hyperteophy speaking. By low reps i mean keeping all movements to 4 -8 depending on body part. Ectos should pay particular attention to squats and deadlifts.

Progress is slow but progress is progress. I will never be huge but i am ripped and larger than i could ever hope to be by doing a large number of reps. What elise is saying is right on target!

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Elise July 18, 2013 at 09:22

Hi Ro, yes, I think I started this confusion is my article, so I can’t really complain about the negative feedback :) Besides the weights and reps, it’s also about the nature of the moves: when it comes to my butt for example, squatting below parallel (which is not allowed in Body Pump classes) makes me feel a big difference in muscle activation. Body Pump classes also don’t feature any classic deadlifts but only stiff leg deadlifts. I know it’s because these moves would probably be too dangerous to teach in a group sitting, but still, these two moves (deadlifts and squats below parallel) are muscle building staples…

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arao July 25, 2013 at 02:46

I am looking at loosing belly fat – courtesy of 2 kids. I usually go to gym 2 to 3 times a week for treadmill about 40-45 mins followed by some crunches, but this hasn’t helped with lower belly fat. I am considering enrolling in the body pump or Pilate/Piyo, which is better.

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Elise July 25, 2013 at 09:54

Hi Arao, yes, Body Pump is a very good idea in your case. Yoga and pilates are good for you but if your goal is fat loss, they should be “extra’s” when you’ve done your strength/metabolic work (=Body Pump).

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Da August 22, 2013 at 12:54

Can you please tell me why some people throw their weights down after every track. It becomes very irritating, and on top of that our gym is in a need to replace the flooring as the weights droppers ruined the floor for other classes, like the ‘dancing’ type ones. I always thought we should increase the weights as we get stronger, but we also need to be able to do all the reps.correctly and still be able to lower the weights/bar with control. Our instructors don’t seem to emphasize this enough, and then we get these ‘show offs’ with so much weight loaded that they are actually struggling through the tracks and stop to readjust or to have a break, then at the end throw the weights down.

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Rusti Jo September 1, 2013 at 05:36

I am a 63 year woman, eating very clean and doing Body Pump 3x per week for the last 4 months in order to get back into in my size 8 wardrobe that I love rather than the baggy clothes I’d been wearing for the last year. 4 years ago I worked in landscaping and regularly lifted, placed and adjusted 75 lb cement blocks when installing retaining walls. My Body Pump instructor is awesome. She has recognized my upper body strength and my poor lower body form and weakness and has me doing squats and lunges with body weight only, keeps an eye on my form and is very encouraging as I work to complete a full routine in proper form for lunges and squats using simply body weight. At the same time she has encouraged me to ramp up the weights when doing upper body routines as I have progressed. Am happy to report that I’ve gone from a 12/14 to a 6/8 and plan to continue with my new nutrition plan and exercise program as I feel it is wonderful to combine a new group of friends with cardio workout and weight bearing exercises which will contribute to bone strength and maintenance as I age. My individual opinion is group exercise contributes to encouragement, helps with commitment to an exercise program and Body Pump is challenging and works.

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Will Smith September 14, 2013 at 17:50

Let’s clear up a few things using science shall we?

Firstly: Sure you can stimulate hypertrophy through very high volume with lower weights. However it is vastly less efficient than higher weights with less volume. See someone like Jason Blaha at Icecreamfitness for a proper breakdown from someone who is deeply into the literature.

Secondly: To stimulate significant hypertrophy through low weights and very high volume requires you to be working to or near failure, and your ‘gain’ reps will only happen in the very last 2-3 efforts as your muscle fibres are recruited. Unless you are operating in this range every time you hit class, the chances are your getting no significant hypertrophy.

Thirdly: There is no such thing as ‘toning,’ it simply doesn’t exist. What you may mean is losing fat whilst retaining muscle. However you build nothing.

Fourth: A class like this with very high volume and low weights is principally aimed at fat burning, cardio and muscle endurance. Look at long distance runners, they perform exactly such workouts: bodyweight/incredibly high repetitions, and yet they don’t develop beefy legs: indeed they would be disadvantaged if they did! However they do become: leaner, fitter and their muscle endurance is legendary.

Fifth: Noob gains are bound to play a part in the success of any fresh participants, and of course you will see some strength and size gains. HOWEVER the ceiling for this will be hit very quickly as your body adapts to the training. If strength and size gains were a signficant element of the benefits of such classes, you should see continual gains in both for 4-5 years, plateaus allowing.

In summary, Elise, I would say you’re right on the money, and folks claiming otherwise are simply trying to defend something you aren’t actually attacking!

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Elise September 14, 2013 at 23:05

Thanks Will for your elaborated comment! Yes, exactly, I wasn’t even actually attacking Body Pump :) I’ve learned my lesson: don’t mess with Body Pump fans! :) Totally agree with “If strength and size gains were a significant element of the benefits of such classes, you should see continual gains in both for 4-5 years, plateaus allowing.”

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LoveTraining September 20, 2013 at 21:34

Well said!

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Sarah September 17, 2013 at 18:17

I have been doing body pump for over 5 years, and I absolutely love it!
The istructors vary greatly from class to class. Some seem to come in just to have a work-out of their own rather than to help the gym members. Whereas others hardly do any exercise and walk around helping people out. If you’re experienced at Body Pump you don’t need to watch an instructor doing a chest press.
Although I have only come across very few instructors who encourage people to take heavier weights. Which is a shame as people are much more capable at lifting heavier weights than they think they are!

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andy September 17, 2013 at 20:19

I find the weak link as others have expressed is instructor input the class is movement and timing critical . some go to the class and seem to do their own thing and not only put others off is stupid should be booted out by the instructor , been doing pump for 5-6 years along with bootcamp x-fit- boxing spinning.so a varied diet really in that respect I appear to be a bit of a freek in what I can lift currently doin I think 86 I can squat 50kgs, with so my instructor says is good form for the full track bizarrely cos of dud knees I don’t lunge I ad lib- . I lift more than all others and am VERY self conscious that people think im showin off — not the case Im 52 yrs old, a boy with dud knees im not body beautiful, bit of a belly not too bad though 36ins waist 44ins chest 210lbs 5ft 10ins I CAN GIVE FIT GUYS HALF MY AGE A RUN FOR THEIR MONEY

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andy September 17, 2013 at 20:33

that sounds a bit EGO sorry I struggle with my fitness I get no family support (couchpotatoes) so im on my own. pump is good for me, built my core strength am naturally a fat git but now I look like a brick outhouse with some padding, wife says Im over developed but is quite happy to laugh and take the mick at my small butt compared to my shoulders so what- nobody gives me grief anymore. I don’t do big weights ie not a stereotypical bodybuilder –bit boring – like class vibe and in the right group challenging I train as hard as I can bp 133/67 resting bpm 51

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LoveTraining September 20, 2013 at 21:31

When I first became aware of Body Pump in about 1999, I was completely not impressed & wanted nothing to do with it because it seemed dangerous to me & didn’t follow any of the basic guidelines I’d learned from working out & studying Kinesiology. After about 10 of experience as a Personal Trainer, Gr Ex Instructor & Fitness Manager I changed my mind & promoted Body Pump because what I came to learn is how critical MOTIVATION is! It’s far & away the biggest factor in getting someone to reach his/her health & fitness goals; what specifically the work out entails is secondary because if someone won’t continue to do it, it will never be effective. Since many folks, particularly certain groups of women, are motivated with upbeat music in a class format, I implemented this program with the hopes of drawing in consistent participants. And while we succeeded in doing so, the long term results were not so positive from my perspective. While there are some positives including a number of members that consistently seem happy with the program after about 4 yrs, there are many drawbacks as mentioned by this blog’s writer. There is no study anywhere that supports the idea that doing weighted bicep curls for 4 mins (as this author mentioned) continuously or any other muscle group for that matter, increases functional strength in a muscle. Strength training is defined as 15 reps or less & since the body adapts to the specific demand placed on it, I can find no value in doing such a high number of reps. There are many benefits to strength training (increased bone density, etc…) but these studies are based on the norm of 8- 15 reps so there’s no telling if any of those benefits are realized in Body Pump. Additionally, I found (along with many of the other instructors that began 4 years ago) the workouts to be boring after awhile, there was simply not enough variation in the choregraphy from one release to the next. (I guess we did well in succeeding to keep this to ourselves because most of the members continued participating.) But my biggest criticism is in regards to safety & education. I do NOT think a class environment is a good place to attempt to teach people advanced moves such as a deadlift, standing overhead press, lunges w/weight, … I cued nearly non-stop throughout songs with vital form tips & gave as much info as possible w/ visual demonstrations in the 40 secs I had between songs, but come on, we know its not possible for the average population to learn that quickly. I did notice that folks that came to my class consistently for months typically did improve in their form & that was encouraging but what if the person injures him/herself on the first or second day? And what about that stubborn person (there’s always a few) that would or could not improve their form? You can only be at one place at a time & you can’t spot or correct one person physically while visually demonstrating the form yourself, counting out the music/beats to a 60min choreographed session, cueing the next move, verbalized form cues AND breathe while you also workout (and they want you to be giving a good example so they want you WORKING & sweating!) And I would take 30 sec, when I could, to focus on one person between songs or before or after class when possible to try to help them but that’s not often enough. Even with all of that I do have to say that no one ever got injured in my class… well, except for ME! To do all that & listen to cues from your own body is simply not realistic. ME! And I’m a stickler for safety & form (I also teach iyengar yoga & gymnastics, etc!) So needless to say I stopped teaching a year ago & I’ve never felt better! I’ve increased my strength training in the traditional sense in the gym, my personal yoga, gymnastics & martial arts workouts & I’m seeing much better results! And if I were the only instructor to have this result, I might accept it was just me but I’ve seen several good instructors suffer the same fate. Regardless, I did enjoy teaching mostly for those few years, but to say I recommend it? No. I would instead recommend people take a more traditional group ex class that incorporated lifting in a safer & more effective way using lower reps & higher weights & didn’t that waste so much time on the biceps!

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Josh Hasenohrl November 20, 2013 at 19:53

I love your objective response!

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Suzan October 3, 2013 at 05:31

Hi. I have to completely disagree. I started weight training over ten years ago before I knew about BP. I use to lift heavy because I worked out with men. Then in 2006 I had my daughter and I was unable to work out for a few years. When I went back to the gym I felt lost until I found Les Mills Body Pump. I fell in love with working out all over again! I have now been doing body pump for over 2 years now and I also do other Les Mills classes such as Bodyattack and bodycombat. I have never been so fit in my entire life! Because of BP I can run fast and for long distances, ployometric lunges and jumps are a piece of cake, and I can do more push-ups then some men half my age. I’m just a hell of a lot stronger! People at the gym are always asking me if I’m a trainer and asking me for weight training advice. I was afraid that doing all those squats and lunges with heavy weights would make my already big legs bigger, but instead they became lean and my butt looks like two coconuts as my husband would put it. Btw, I’m not on any special diet. BP, when done right takes up a lot of calories, but I don’t sit around eating junk either.

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kelli October 24, 2013 at 13:20

I love body pump. Body pump 3 times a week + weightlifting twice a week = a fit body♡♥♡♥

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Terra Simpson November 13, 2013 at 04:02

I LOVE BP!!!!!!! I’ve been taking BP for awhile and my teachers are awesome. They care about there students and always keeping watch on everyone including me. I have a teacher Kelly who uses sarcasm as motivation along with being sarcastic and funny with her students. I’ve been the target for it for awhile. I don’t mind.

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Michele November 16, 2013 at 02:37

Body Pump was the key to my fat loss. I have lost 20 pounds in the last 9 months. I was way out of shape 45 yr old. I started with Zumba once a week, that’s ALL I did for 4 months-then decided to go 2x a week. I joined a Gym 3 months ago, started Inner Strenth 1-2 a week. 2 months ago added Body Pump 1-2 times a week. Then I started shrinking fast! I still do either Zumba or Body Combat 1xweek. All together I work out an average of 12-16 times a month. I started seeing faster results when I added Body Pump and Inner Strength…As far as diet, I eat what I want, but not a lot of junk. I drink water, hot teas, unsweet tea,carrot juice, and sometimes Vi shakes. It’s awesome, I feel better, stronger. I love the Body Pump. It really works.

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Josh Hasenohrl November 20, 2013 at 19:49

Hi All!
I’ve been teaching PUMP since 2008 and became a NASM-CPT this year. I love seeing all the feedback and specifically the results many of you get from BODYPUMP or any consistent routine you are following! Here are my quick thoughts from a trainers view: If something works for you; continue doing it and reassess results often. No results mean you have to change something. I have to keep this short since I could write a book on this topic…so, I’ve been to many group fitness classes where the instructor beats you (kind of Jillian style) with no method behind the madness. Pump is a program with proven-researched results and if it works; continue it. If you haven’t tried it, try it. If you don’t like it for whatever reason or it hurts you; stay away from it, but don’t “hate”.

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Sue A November 29, 2013 at 22:24

Have just returned from a new BP class (have been doing BP for over 15 years). No teaching points, just eyebrows to direct the class.! Instructor ‘with over ten years’ BP experience and therefore right.(!). No introduction (was new to class). He had a good time. It’s not BP I would challenge – but Les Mills. This copy what I do is ridiculous – we are supposed to be teachers, not the Pied Piper.

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Elise November 30, 2013 at 19:08

Agree with you Sue! Some instructors are doing an excellent job cueing, some others just aren’t doing that well, no matter their past experience. Instructors basically have to be cueing non-stop if they really want to keep every participant safe and in sync.

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AJ December 19, 2013 at 11:18

Hi there,

I’ve been a BP instructor since 1997 (I learned on release 23 – back when it was called ‘Pump’ and only Australia and NZ had it – I’m Australian). I even have the special mix tapes created for the US launch. I’ve taught thousands of participants over that time in gyms all over Australia, and I’ve seen the program decline in the past few years – especially when Mike McSweeney left as the program director, and Les Mills shifted from an awesome Kiwi company to a corporate entity. I’m sure many of you will have no idea what I’m talking about as you’re all US based and missed out on the fabulous early years here in Aus and NZ… but I digress… I do not like the direction or culture that has developed in the company nowadays. It’s about more more more money…

PUMP WORKS but not if you use pussy weights or skip going heavy on your lunges. Most of the ‘knee’ issues that many people in my classes purported as the reason for not doing lunges were remedied by making sure they could see themselves in side profile when doing lunges and being ruthless with teaching excellent form. I plan my classes, with each track having a specific technique focus and repeated that same drill in each Pump class I taught that week. I start nearly every lunge track from the feet the up BEFORE the music starts. Getting people’s technique perfect and having an extensive vocab of ways to communicate to visual/aural/kinesthetic learners are the keys to excellent instruction. Not everyone learns in the same way and as an instructor, it’s your job to reach out and connect with everyone in the class- from the front row regulars to the shy granny down in the back corner – and make sure they ‘get’ what you’re teaching them.

My own lunge weights reached 30kg – I’m 46 and 156cm SHORT and female. I did not ‘bulk up’ when I reached this weight – rather I shed more weight than I’ve ever shed in my life. Go heavy if you’re a woman in Pump. It freakin works better than anything else you’ll ever do.

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Jo May 22, 2014 at 17:39

I’m one of the people who do squats instead of lunges because of bad knees. I strained them doing power lunges and since then any type of lunge hurts. I’m currently on 20kg for squats but struggle with no weight for lunges. I really try and concentrate on proper form (e.g front knee in line with ankle and a big stride) but so far whatever I do causes pain – can you offer any advice?

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Elise May 26, 2014 at 11:04

Hi Jo, try to make sure your shoulders and hips are aligned and even. This illustration might help. You can also look up “Lunge tutorial” or “lunge technique” on Youtube and watch a couple of videos.

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Veronica January 10, 2014 at 20:24

I’ve been doing Body Pump for over 12 years – since I retired in fact. I went to classes at the local gym for 6 years but then moved to a very rural area with no gym facilities. So dont know if I should admit it but managed to get some BP dvds from ‘that’ auction site. As I’d had a lot of experience in classes feel quite happy about doing it on my own at home and of course its the professional instructors giving direction; I do it at least weekly often more and as you can guess I am now a (female) senior citizen. I find if I dont do it, because of my age I lose muscle strength quickly if I dont exercise so I have incentive to lift regularly. I do now have a knee problem but do squats instead of lunges and find strengthening my thigh muscles helps tremendously in supporting my knee! I do have quite weak shoulders but they have greatly improved since doing BP. My criticism would be that the abs routines on some of the later versions are beyond me – I can manage plank but side plank and ‘walking plank’ (if thats what its called) is out I’m afraid

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PJ February 13, 2014 at 15:29

In my 30’s I did body pump. Was a great introduction to weight training. It was brand new at the gym I attended and they were great about having 1 instructor up front, and 3 roaming to be sure we had proper form and weight. In my 40’s the gym I attended did not have body pump. learning the proper form with body pump helped me in other toning classes, and doing weights on my own. Now, I am 50+. The gym I attend has group power (similar to body pump). I do that once a week and another toning class once a week. Water aerobics and spinning for cardio. I am so thankful that body pump as a brand new program was my first experience with weights.

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stevo March 12, 2014 at 17:19

Not a fan of b/p would like the rec center to go back to Rep Reebok program. Did b/p for over a year and had issue with the class: 1) lack of supervision, instructor does not have time to check form, 2) too many reps = RMT, Repeptitive Motion Trauma, wrist and sometimes back really hurt during program, Occupational Therapist said ” stop taking that class.”, 3) beside pain in wrist and low back I don’t see results, 4) all the posters and pics show folks in the 20’s and 30’s, well, I’m pass that as well, I am pass b/p; I am moving on to some thing else or even considering a different gym.

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EliseD March 21, 2014 at 16:34

Hi I always was a fan of Body Pump. When I did the course 8 years ago they explained how and why they made the format like this and it made sense. I also am a fitness professional for 22 years and a choreographer. Now, you find big moves in slow music, which feels wrong. They let you jump up and down the step as if it is an aerobic class, I gave options to do squats instead. This meant that you do a squat Track of 5+minutes and another leg track where they had to do more squats. We have only 55minute classes, so, why not do less legs and be in time to also give corrections and explanations? Also, I am not allowed to give alternative exercises to those who can’t do the exercises because of a condition they have, this I find strange and worrying. Our gym is an all inclusive gym, we encourage people with a disability to join our classes. And why don’t we stretch all worked muscle groups in CD. Chest and triceps seems to be not so important to stretch in BP89 anymore while you do work them throughout the class. LessMills says they have spend 15million to their research but they don’t care or thought about the average participant. They forget that even them when doing the video need at least 59 minutes to teach this to us instructors, who do not need much explanations or corrections. It is even more frustrating that you cannot go anywhere with this issue. I have send an email to LessMillsUK and they probably don’t find it important enough to reply to my question to be able to give alternative exercises where needed. Everyone who does any ETM or fitness course learns that this is very important to have in place. I hope someone will inform LessMills choreographers to be so professional so you can cater for all abilities. Fitpro who sells their workouts is always too late with sending out the new releases even though you order them way in time. It is too expensive for a lot of instructors and it is not even sung by original artist if you use the original version you have to pay not only your PPL licence but on top of that another 1 pound 25??!! It is not easy to make a bit of money teaching classes nowadays.

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EliseD March 21, 2014 at 17:23

Why do the instructors on the dvd never pick up/ put down the bar properly?Do they need to throw them on the floor? How come in the biceps they tell you to bring your bar to the shoulders?? If your elbows need to stay stationary below the shoulders you cannot make the shoulders unless you are a monkey. The instructors on the dvd often have bad technique themselves. Swinging in Bicep curls, lifting of back in chest press etc. I wish I could teach them myself, I mean, the so called Master Instructors who think they know it all because they work for LM.

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Fee April 4, 2014 at 23:30

Wow after reading your blog post I had to respond. If you have been doing body pump for “years” and you have not seen any results, you are definitely doing something wrong. I’ve been doing bodypump now for 2 months & I look like a bronze Goddess. Seriously, my body looks amazing. The trick is, to increase the weight after a time. You can’t keep using the same weights for months & expect anything to change. You can’t keep doing the same thing expecting a different result. Once your body adjusts to the weights it kind of defeates the purpose.

I warm up with 7.5, bi-cepts 17.5, lunges 7.5, squats 20, peck dects 5. I’m going to increase my weights after next week to match the instuctors exactly.

At any rate, I know they say that everything is not for everybody. It just bothers me that your blog can be discouraging to those that never tried bodypump. Basically, because it isn’t necessarily true. I enjoy pushing myself. Four minutes of biceps? I would be cool if they doubled it.

One of the problems that I see often is that people coming in for the first time go way to heavy. As as result, they injure themselves or never come back. Another problem is that people who have been going regularly are afraid to increase their weights. Look, if you have a ton of injuries then this is definitely not the class for you. Would you encourage someone with injuries to do an Insanity class? I think not. However, if you are interested in building muscle, pushing yourself, not afraid to sweat, & looking for a good group class, I recommend bodypump.

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Ashley May 17, 2014 at 01:11

I just have to say most of the negative complaints on here I believe are from either an experience with a bad instructor or just not challenging yourself. Lifting weights allows you to shed almost pure fat by replacing it with muscle. I have been doing body pump for about six months now. At first, I was doing almost all cardio and got almost no results. The instructor for my class is so great. It is always packed, yet she finds time to help every one out. She goes all over the floor. She shows some people that need modifications how to modify the exercise. If you’ve been there for awhile, she might come throw more weight by you (not much, just enough to challenge yourself). If you’re messing up on form, she will come right next to you and show you how to do it. I have had her come up and hold my arms closer together while doing triceps or push me forward just a little when doing push-ups. Don’t let a bad instructor sour you. I just started doing it twice a week, and holy crap, I should have been doing it months ago, but honestly, without the instructor on Tuesday nights, I don’t think I would have been able to move up like I did. I am now starting with 10 kg on warmup, 22 kg for squats, 20 kg for back, 10 kg for chest, and 7 kg for biceps and lunges. I so want to go up on biceps and lunges, but by the time we get there, my muscles are a little shaky. I have honestly seen better results from adding in one more weight class than I ever have doing pure cardio. I still throw in a Zumba and spin, but just one more class, I have been dropping the weight, and losing inches and inches. It all depends upon how hard you want to push yourself.

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Melody July 22, 2014 at 08:13

Well said!

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Terra Simpson May 29, 2014 at 22:09

Any ideas on how I can start training my knees to go out instead of in on my lunges and squats. I walk on the side of my feet and pigeon toed. So, that just makes it even more difficult.

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Elise June 1, 2014 at 09:05

Always keep your feet hip-with apart, even when you’re lunging. The purpose of a lunge is not to have your feet aligned on the same line. Both feet should be on two different parallel lines, with enough width between these lines.

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Terra Simpson June 1, 2014 at 06:02

That’s very well said. My teachers are wonderful. I have a BP teacher by the name of Jackie and I feel like she’s the one that just kept a really close eye on me and still does. I had a teacher by the name of Dora and between the two of them I learned alot. When you have teachers that care enough about you and your classmates, witch in this case my teacher Jackie looks at me and my classmates as her other family.

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Elly June 1, 2014 at 17:22

I love body pump – I’ve been wondering if it’s dying a death recently or still in fashion and have been looking for classes near me for a while to get back into it. I have to agree it’s only effective if you push yourself, but it’s great to see an accessible introduction to weights and I’m sure it helped people move onto more intense training.

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Don June 3, 2014 at 19:38

I have been integrating body pump into my routine for last 6 months and really like it. I am 51 and am very fit.

My perfect 3 day cycle: body pump, hard yoga, hard 5000 meter swim. Killer.

Mix with a weekly weight cycle and other cardio.

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Terra Simpson June 14, 2014 at 06:58

After talking and working with my teacher Jackie last week, she recommended not using weights for the lunge track for a couple of weeks or so, does anybody have an opinion on that? My range of motion, core stability and balance is slacking. So, that’s the only thing that I can think of. I would love to hear opionons on what I said.

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Elise June 15, 2014 at 09:58

Hi Terra, yes, that’s a good idea. You could also try to work on your balance and core stability by doing planks, easy one-leg exercises or tring a yoga class.

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Terra Simpson June 17, 2014 at 17:11

Thank you very much.

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Cb00 June 27, 2014 at 04:15

I did weight lifting for 12 years and most recently boot camp for 3. I’m 53 and can’t do either without being sore for days and my joints killing me. I have ventured into Bodypump for 2 months and I really enjoy it. I’ve noticed that anyone with prior weight training usually has the form and agree that if there was more personal instruction on form it would be optimum, however most of these classes are packed. I also agree that if you want more mass this is not something that you should do in search for that but I now have triceps AND biceps for the first time ever. I do wish they concentrated a bit more on abs, but that is just my personal choice after having a trainer that insisted on hundreds of core exercises each session.

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Rose June 29, 2014 at 10:33

Hi, I am 33 years old. I have been doing body pump 3 times a week for more than 4 years and I really enjoy it. Unfortunately, thin capillaries wall in my leg and thigh have been torn. I think it’s related to the family history of Waris. Doctor told me not to stand or sit for long hours. However, I was wondering whether lifting heavy weight in squat increase the capillaries tearing or not?

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Elise June 29, 2014 at 16:28

Hi Rose, I think this is a question you should ask your doctor.

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david jones June 30, 2014 at 13:07

I do body pump because it works. Strength for everyday life. What a gift.

There are three things I hate about bp. These things are not up for debate – just observed truths for me.

1). 90% of the music is absolutely hideous, nothing can be done about that. Cults do what they do. Suck it up. No control over that.

2) everything is frightfully loud – both music and the miked instructors. There seems to be an unfounded belief that this is the only to put energy into the class. This is pure crap. I wear ear plugs (which also helps with #1, by the way). This volume CAN be changed – the fact that it rarely is may have something to do with #3.

3) 70% of the instructors seem to be former 8th grade phy ed teachers or have had a stint in the military or both. I prefer adult relationships – no haranguing necessary – I am a very motivated adult by just being in class.

These truths of mine are bolstered by having been in body pump classes that are moderate volume and led by mature (any age), confident instructors – what a blessing they are! They SUGGEST ways to get through the challenge (no SHOUTED “Come on, you can do it!”) These instructors really make me look forward to another class with them.

My whole body is much more at peace and whole and thriving when the music and microphone are at moderate levels and the instructor adopts an adult to adult relationship. I believe this approach builds bodies that are more ready to take on the one life given to them.

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Israel July 3, 2014 at 21:54

I can agree with most guys here! :D Les Mills defnitely help me get in shape especially my legs and chest I can see an increases chest size too. What I don’t understand like most guys said it why only a few men attend these classes. They are awesome and I’m always inviting friend to come and they love it afterwards they keep coming back. Is it just me or do any of you guys also get a little competitive with your Les Mills Pump/Combat instructor :D it’s good to challenge he yourself that way. It helps me to do more than what I think and the feeling afterwards is great! The instructor and I don’t seem to have a problem afterwards with a bit of competition. Quite the contrary it’s Inspiring!

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Melody July 22, 2014 at 08:08

I have to chime in here as I am a BodyPump instructor as well as several other Les Mills programs and BTS programs, freestyle and so on.
To categorize “instructors” in one lump sum as many of you have done on this blog is VERY insulting and VERY wrong!!!! Yes we are all teaching the same chorey as that is what Les Mills is about, that no matter who is teaching the class you are guaranteed a good, safe workout.
It is not up to the instructor how much weight a person puts on their bar, we are not their personal trainers. We make recommendations as to what the weight factor should be for beginners, regulars and so on. If someone chooses to use a 1kg on either side of their bar, we can suggest a weight but by no means can we tell them to change it! All we can do is recommend, give advise, inspire and deliver a top notch program..what you do as participants is all about you! I can not tell you how many times I have corrected people in form, suggested this or that only to have them continue doing what they have always done…I cringe when I look out into my classes and see people doing things wrong, and though I try to help and suggest…ultimately it is thier choice..and as instructors..most of us do care what each and every person in our class is doing and a good instructor will check out everyone from time to time, even the ones that think they know what they are doing and have been doing classes for years.

Now that is not to say there are some instructors that teach just for the glory of being on stage, they are rock start wannabe’s..but those instructors are usually few and far between and also don’t last in this industry as participants see through the charade and stop attending their classes.

Music and mic volume are usually an instructor choice, but sometimes that is out of our hands..sometimes the music is up loud do to the fact that we have to listen for specific cues in the music and we can’t hear it if the music is not loud enough, and mic volume is the same. If that is such an issue it can be addressed.

I googled BP in the process of getting feedback from various sights for an article I am writing as I am Group fitness Manager at 2 gyms..Glad to read the positive feedback from many people on here, sad to see the negativity towards the program as well as instructors..who was never a phys ed teacher, or in the military, who is an adult that teaches because she has a passion to help people and who checks out each and every person in my class…who believes loud music is amazing to work out too as long as it is not eardrum bursting and who likes 95% of the music that Les Mills choreographers pick after research leads them to hit songs from all over the world!!!!

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Terra Simpson August 12, 2014 at 05:46

I love BP I do agree that teachers have to watch out for there students. One of my teachers recommended to me not to use weights on the lunge track. She encourages us to push ourselves but preaches safety at the same time.

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Shawn September 3, 2014 at 02:49

I am 44 years old and have been doing BP off and on for a number of years spanning several states. I absolutely see a difference in my muscle mass. I try to do BP about 2x-3x a week but because of my work travel schedule many times I am doing just 1 BP session a week.

I would have to say that the biggest thing about BP is that you have to push yourself with the weights. My philosophy is that you should be stopping at least once or twice throughout all of the tracks. If your muscles aren’t on “fire” and you are not stopping at all throughout the track, you MUST add on weights or you will never gain any muscle.

I’ve trained with weights, have done karate, and spinning. Of all the different sports I’ve done in the past, BP has been the most complete workout for me squeezed into 1 hour. And I’m one of those people that just can not train by myself. I find that the group setting is the best format for me to get the most out of the hour. So if you aren’t gaining any muscle, try to increase the weight to where you are forced to stop at least a couple times throughout the exercise. Finding a great motivating instructor is also a key as I’ve experienced many different instructors and know which ones are extremely energetic and will actually motivate me throughout the class. Try different instructors at different gyms if this is an option for you.

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R October 26, 2014 at 18:57

I have been doing body pump for over 4 years now. I am a male 38 years old. When I started I was flabby and out of shape. Now I am in great shape and look way better. I have good shoulder muscles, Leg muscles, biceps and triceps. I started with 2.5kg on each side of the bar for squats and could not walk for a few days after. Now I lift over 50KG during squats.

Body pump will increase your muscles mass however it is more lean muscle like a swimmers body then like a Body builder. If you want bulk, you need to to low reps. If you want lean muscle like a swimmer or tennis player you need high reps lower weight.

If you add some good, hard cardio you will drop weight off even faster. If you eat a clean diet with BP and Cardio you will be in the 6 pack range in a shorter time.

Here is what I do. Body pump monday, wed, fri. Spin tuesday saturday. Ice hockey for 2 hours thursdays (skip the beers and wings after) and sunday I rest. My Diet is decent enough to show good results, great results will be in winter when I get more serious about what fuel I put in my body.

Do the work, stick to it and you will get there!!!

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