There are a myriad of different training styles out there, and they all offer different benefits. While some workouts will burn maximum calories in a short space of time, others build strength and lean muscle which enables you to sustainably burn calories for longer periods. The fact is, not all calories are burned equally and different workouts have different effects on the hormonal and physiological changes that take place in people’s bodies, even if they burn the same number of calories. Find out about the benefits of your favorite workouts below.

During a BODYPUMP™ workout you’ll raise your heart rate and increase calorie burn, but more importantly you’ll strengthen, shape and tone your entire body. While people can burn up to 560 calories* during a 55-minute BODYPUMP workout, it’s the building of lean muscle mass that provides the long-term benefits. By building lean muscle mass you increase your body’s ability to effectively burn calories in the long term as the extra muscle will raise your metabolism. Learn more about the long-term calorie-burning effects of BODYPUMP here.

Ready to give a BODYPUMP workout at go? Find your nearest class here.

BODYCOMBAT™ is a great way to build cardio fitness and burn calories while you shape and tone your entire body. People can burn up to 740 calories* during a 55-minute BODYCOMBAT workout. It provides an amazing core workout and will also tone your legs, arms, back and shoulders.

Ready to give a BODYCOMBAT workout at go? Find your nearest class here.

BODYBALANCE™ will improve your flexibility and strength, and help reduce stress. During BODYBALANCE the focus is on improving functional core strength, enhancing joint mobility and creating a sense of wellbeing and calm, not calorie burn.

Ready to give a BODYBALANCE workout at go? Find your nearest class here.

When it comes to calorie burn, LES MILLS GRIT™ is where it’s at. This type of high-intensity interval training is designed to rapidly improve your fitness and maximize calorie burn. During a 30-minute LES MILLS GRIT workout people can burn around 400 calories*, and that is just the beginning. LES MILLS GRIT stimulates excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (otherwise known as the EPOC effect) and as a result, depending on how much effort you put into the workout, you will continue burning calories for up to nine hours after your workout ends.

Ready to give a LES MILLS GRIT workout at go? Find your nearest class here.

CXWORX™ is designed to increase core strength, tone your abs, butt and legs and improve your posture. There are also some long-term calorie burning benefits. CXWORX will help build lean muscle mass in your core and increase your body’s ability to burn calories during power, strength and high-intensity exercise.

Ready to give a CXWORX workout at go? Find your nearest class here.

If you’re after a safe, no impact way to improve aerobic fitness and lose body fat RPM™ is ideal. People can burn up to 675 calories* during a 45-minute workout, it will also trim your tummy and tone your legs.

Ready to give a RPM workout at go? Find your nearest class here.

LES MILLS SPRINT™ is a calorie killing workout that can rapidly improve your fitness. During 30 minutes of this high-intensity interval cycling people can burn up to 450 calories*, and that is just the beginning. LES MILLS SPRINT stimulates excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (otherwise known as the EPOC effect) and as a result, depending on how much effort you put into the workout, you will continue burning calories for up to nine hours after your workout ends.

Ready to give a LES MILLS SPRINT workout at go? Find your nearest class here.

If you’re counting calories during SH’BAM™ chances are you’re doing it wrong. The idea is to let loose and have fun as you party along to hit music and learn fun new dance moves. You’ll certainly get your heart rate up, but you’ll be having such a good time you’ll barely notice the sweat dripping from your brow.

Ready to give a SH’BAM workout at go? Find your nearest class here.

BODYATTACK™ is a great way to build cardio fitness and burn calories while you shape and tone your entire body. People can burn up to 675 calories* during a 55-minute BODYATTACK workout, while also building athleticism, stamina and agility. By improving overall athleticism you increase your body’s ability to effectively burn calories while you do any exercise.

Ready to give a BODYATTACK workout at go? Find your nearest class here.

The cardio peak training that you get with a BODYSTEP™ workout will push your fat burning systems into high gear. People can burn up to 620 calories* during a 55-minute BODYSTEP workout. In addition to raising heart rates and increasing cardio fitness BODYSTEP is great for building athletic agility while toning your butt and legs.

Ready to give a BODYSTEP workout at go? Find your nearest class here.

During BODYJAM™ you’ll be too busy dancing your butt off to think about calories. But rest assured, you’ll be getting a killer workout and burning calories while you’re at it.

Ready to give a BODYJAM workout at go? Find your nearest class here.

*Actual energy expenditure varies depending on your age, your weight, your gender and the intensity of your exercise efforts.

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5 classes that burn more calories than jogging

Good news if running’s not for you – here are 5 classes that torch even more calories than 30 minutes of jogging. We stacked up our most popular classes against 30 minutes of easy jogging, where a 70kg person burns roughly 223 calories and an 84kg person burns about 266 calories.

With short sets of dynamic exercises, awesome instructors and top music so you never get bored, you might just find your new favourite class. Let’s jump in!


Spinning, riding stationary bikes to energetic music in the studio, is a go-to workout for burning those calories. Varying the speed and resistance in time with the up-tempo soundtrack gets your heart pumping and all your leg muscles feeling the burn.

Plus the motivating instructors and fun group atmosphere pushes your fitness to the max.

Calories burned in 30 minutes: 391 calories (70kg person), 466 calories (84kg person) according to Harvard Medical School


Classes like Circuits bust boredom and burn calories with a mix of fast-paced exercises in every session.

There’s usually 12 ‘stations’ with 60 seconds of ‘old-school’ exercises before moving to the next site – think press-ups, squat thrusts and skipping.

It’s a fun way of blasting all your major muscle groups and shredding calories.

Calories burned in 30 minutes: 298 calories (70kg person), 355 calories (84kg person) according to Harvard Medical School


Crunched for time?

During the 30 minute long INTENCITY classes, you’ll push yourself and track your own results via a heart rate monitor fitted to your chest.

The blend of short intense intervals with slower recovery boosts your metabolism for 24 hours so you’re working off calories even after your workout.

The result? A super efficient workout that boosts your metabolism well into the next day.

Calories burned in 30 minutes: 405 calories according to Myzone statistics

GRIT Cardio

GRIT Cardio is an intense 30-minute session that packs a punch if you’re tight on time.

Using just your own body weight, these high-intensity sessions contain explosive exercises that take your fitness to the next level.

Obliterate calories and a full body workout? Check and check.

Calories burned in 30 minutes: 310-500 calories based on Les Mills statistics

Body Pump

Melt fat and firm up muscles with Body Pump’s ‘Rep Effect’, a proven formula that exhausts muscles using light weights, while performing high repetitions.

Expect these classes to sculpt your body all over with a whole menu of barbell moves: expect squats,curls and lunges.

Plus the encouraging instructors and pumping music keep you motivated all session.

Calories burned in 30 minutes: 350-540 calories based on Les Mills statistics

Now you know the top 5 calorie-crunching classes, which one will you try? Get a free pass today!

Already a member? Share your favourite class with us on Facebook or Twitter and why – we’d love to hear from you!

Hi @Llamaspyjamas! Please receive a warm welcome to the Fitbit Family! It’s great to see you participating in our Community!

So glad to see that you’re really into getting the next Fitness level with those workouts! The calorie burn estimate that Fitbit provides takes into account your BMR, the activity recorded by your tracker, and any activities you log manually.

Since your tracker takes all the steps and HR data recorded while doing your activities, I’d suggest making sure to wear your tracker a little bit higher than usual to get an accurate heart rate. You might restart you tracker too and take a look of the information you get while doing your activities, since calories burned as you said are determine depending on the intensity of the class.

If you prefer to manually log the activity you can do so, you will find this calculator from MFP really helpful. As we don’t have this specific exercise to be used as an option, you consider placing your vote and comment to add this option: Add Les Mills Classes. The more votes and comments an idea has the more visibility and momentum it gains.

Hope this helps!

Want to get more active? ᕙ(˘◡˘)ᕗ Visit Get Moving in the Health & Wellness Forums.

Comparte como ha mejorado tu sueño en nuestro foro de debate (◡‿◡) Duerme bien.

BodyPump Group Exercise: Does It Work or Not?

It’s often enticing when getting back into regular exercise to try the newest fad in fitness. One of the more popular movements of late is Les Mills Body Pump. A recent study conducted by researchers at Sao Paolo University in Brazil and published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research tested the actual effectiveness of the BodyPump program on the group most likely to try it, sedentary women.

If you are not familiar with the format, a BodyPump class is 60 minutes in length and involves moderate to high intensity resistance training with a barbell. In a class a participant will execute approximately 800 repetitions of various exercises, but with relatively low weights. The BodyPump website claims an individual can burn 560 to 1,000 calories in each class.

The exercises included in a BodyPump class are

  • Squats
  • Chest Press
  • Deadrow
  • Clean and Press
  • Press Pullover Combo
  • Lunges
  • Reverse Curl

For the study, subjects participated in two BodyPump training sessions per week for a 12 week period. Nineteen untrained, but healthy women were selected. As described in the study, “Subjects reported no or little experience with weight training and no exercise training engagement in the six months preceding the study.”1

Researchers wanted to be able to quantify the neuromuscular, metabolic, and aerobic running fitness effects of BodyPump on the subjects. So, the following measurements were taken at the beginning and end of the study:

  • Maximal isotonic strength (4-repetition maximal squat)
  • Incremental test to exhaustion on a treadmill, to determine onset of blood lactate accumulation and maximal aerobic speed
  • 5-second maximal isometric voluntary contractions for knee extension and trunk extension (using a strain gauge to measure electromyographic data)
  • Blood sample
  • Heart rate measurement
  • Electromyographic (EMG) recording
  • Anthropometric assessment (height, body mass, skinfold thickness)

During the 12 week training period all subjects took the same BodyPump class taught by the same instructor. The weight initially used was 10% of their 1RM squat weight. This weight was increased by 5% every two weeks. The weights for upper body exercises were adjusted according to the instructor’s discretion.


  • No changes in body mass and body fat
  • No changes in onset of blood lactate accumulation and maximal aerobic speed
  • 33% improvement in 1RM squat strength
  • Increased isotonic strength
  • Lowered heart rate
  • Lowered blood lactate concentration
  • Improved neuromuscular efficiency

Putting these results together, researchers concluded BodyPump classes were effective at increasing muscular strength and endurance and developing efficiency in movements and muscle activation.

Although subjects did indicate metabolic and cardiovascular improvements, these improvements did not translate to actual aerobic fitness. Exercises involving the lower limbs were most responsible for increases in heart rate and researchers believe a program with more lower body involvement may increase the likelihood of it being beneficial for aerobic running fitness.

What does that all mean? For a deconditioned woman looking to get back into fitness, BodyPump could be a good choice. The program is available worldwide, involves group motivation, and simple exercises. The science shows that while she may want to include some additional aerobic activity, BodyPump will increase a participant’s strength and muscular endurance.

Everything you need to know to know about BODYPUMP


The effectiveness of BODYPUMP™ comes from The Rep Effect, a proven formula that exhausts muscles using light weights, while performing high repetitions – this is the secret to developing lean, athletic muscle.


While you can expect to burn around 560 calories* during a 55-minute BODYPUMP workout, it’s the building of lean muscle mass that provides the long-term benefits. By building lean muscle mass you increase your body’s ability to effectively burn calories in the long term as the extra muscle will raise your metabolism. Read more about this here.


BODYPUMP challenges all of your major muscle groups so we recommend you do no more than two to three classes a week, and make sure you have a day off in between. Add two or three cardio classes into the mix and you’ll shape and tone your body in no time.


A 55-minute BODYPUMP workout features ten tracks, each focusing on a different muscle group. While instructors will often mix and match the tracks, you can always expect to do a good dose of squats, deadlifts, clean and presses, lunges and bicep curls. And, more often than not you’ll find push ups, chest presses, overhead presses and crunches are part of the mix too.


BODYPUMP really is the ultimate calorie burning resistance training workout. A ground-breaking new study shows that BODYPUMP generates a long-term calorie burning response that is far greater than a calorie-matched cardio class. BODYPUMP can therefore be described as a more potent exercise stimulus. This is backed up by research highlighting that the fast tempo resistance training of BODYPUMP expends more energy than lifting heavier loads at a slower rate. Studies also show that the high-repetition, low-load training of BODYPUMP can aid bone density and reduce the risk of osteoporosis.


There’s no pressure to lift heavy in a BODYPUMP class. In fact, the whole workout is structured around high repetitions using light weights. However, continual progression is the key to getting the most out of any strength training, so you need to lift more weight as you get stronger. If a BODYPUMP workout is not getting you hot and sweaty, and you’re not hanging out for the end of each track then it’s likely that your resistance is too light. We suggest you pick a couple of tracks where you think you can lift a heavier weight and add an extra weight plate to your bar. Remember, if at any time you feel that the weight you are lifting is compromising your technique stop for a few reps and reset – or simply drop your weight slightly.


In a BODYPUMP workout there are options to suit every ability. If you’re new to the workout start with very light weights (or even just the bar). Perhaps just do the first four or five tracks a couple of times a week. You’ll find your fitness and strength improves over a number of sessions.


BODYPUMP uses a weight bar and weight plates and a step. You’ll need to wear comfortable workout clothes and supportive shoes, and bring your own drink bottle and a sweat towel.


Plenty of people do BODYPUMP during pregnancy. If you’re pregnant and keen to do BODYPUMP we suggest seeking the advice of your doctor or midwife, as they have the best understanding of your personal medical history. If you can, chat to your instructor beforehand and let them know you’re pregnant – they will be able to coach you through the pregnancy modifications during the class.


Yes absolutely! Please visit our Suggest a Song page. We look forward to seeing your suggestion!


The first step to becoming a BODYPUMP instructor is to connect with a club or your local Les Mills team. We’ll then provide you with plenty of training, you’ll get assessed and then you’ll be ready to lead your own classes. You can find out exactly what it takes to become a BODYPUMP instructor here.


You can find a BODYPUMP class near you here. Alternatively, check out LES MILLS On Demand and do BODYPUMP anytime, anywhere.

Find a workout work out on demand

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Is BODYPUMP a Good Workout?



It claims to be the world’s most popular barbell workout, yet most people conquer it without ever lifting more than 35 pounds.

While “group fitness class” can conjure visions of Zumba or Step Aerobics, BODYPUMP promises something different—strength training. With a barbell.

After tackling my first BODYPUMP class, I can confidently say it was unlike any workout I’d done previously, despite the fact I’ve consistently trained with free weights for the past 15 years.

But just because something’s different doesn’t necessarily mean it’s better. Here’s what you should know about BODYPUMP.


BODYPUMP is a group exercise class developed by Les Mills International (henceforth referred to as Les Mills). Over 20,000 gyms license fitness programs from the company, and BODYPUMP’s their most popular.

Les Mills’ website describes BODYPUMP as “the ideal workout for anyone looking to get lean, toned and fit—fast.”

In practice, BODYPUMP classes are 30, 45 or 55-minute workouts that center around barbell-based exercises performed with very light weight for very high reps.

The latter begets the former—the sheer number of reps squeezed into a BODYPUMP class makes light weight a necessity if you want to keep up.

In the 55-minute class I endured, which had upwards of 20 participants, few people ever loaded their barbell with greater than 30 pounds. While a standard barbell weighs 45 pounds, Les Mills’ “SMARTBAR” (retail price: $210) weighs just 5.72 pounds. Most gyms that offer BODYPUMP have SMARTBARs or similar equivalents.

In this video from a BODYPUMP class, the participants perform over 130 Squat reps in one continuous set. It takes less than six minutes. This type of pacing is common in BODYPUMP.

Les Mills regularly releases new workout “tracks” so instructors have options to customize their classes, but the general methodology remains largely unchanged.

Participants may quickly change from a Bench Press to a Push-Up and back, or perform a complex that jumps between moves like a Bent-Over Row, a Hang Clean and a Military Press, but the exercises are almost always done quickly and for very high reps.

In a full-length BODYPUMP class, participants can expect 800-1,000 total reps.

Compared to a traditional strength training workout, that’s absurdly high.

“If I have somebody do a full-body workout where they start off with a hinge or a squat, then they’re doing a row and a push, then maybe some isolation exercises if they specifically want to work on their glutes or their biceps or whatever, all told, 100 to 150 total repetitions would be a decent ballpark,” says Tony Gentilcore, CSCS and owner of CORE training studio in Brookline, Massachusetts. He notes that by performing roughly a ninth of the reps of a BODYPUMP class in the same amount of time, clients are able to use significantly heavier weights.

As another point of context, Mark Rippetoe’s popular Starting Strength program, which is marketed as a great entry into barbell training for beginners, features many workouts that call for three sets of five reps on Squats—or 15 total reps.

For a class that purports to “build strength”, the number of reps in a BODYPUMP class is very high and the loads lifted quite low. But can it still build strength?

Does BODYPUMP Make You Stronger?

While rep schemes far beyond the typical 3×10 configuration have been found to build muscle, they seem to have a limited impact on strength, particularly for trained individuals.

In this article, strength is defined as the max amount of weight a person can lift for one to five continuous repetitions.

A 2015 study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research randomized 18 young men with experience in resistance training into one of two groups. The first group performed 8-12 reps per set per exercise. The second group perform 25-35 reps per set per exercise. Both groups performed three sets of seven different exercises during each workout, and worked out three times a week for eight straight weeks. A key factor was that both groups used weights that caused them to train to “failure,” meaning the set only ended when they could not perform an additional rep. This is perhaps why the high-rep group had a wider range of possible reps per set, as it’s more difficult to estimate an exact point of failure the more reps you perform. Due to this “to failure” stipulation, the low-rep group used significantly heavier weight than the high-rep group.

At the end of the study, both groups had achieved similar improvements in muscle growth, but the low-rep, high-weight group saw far superior increases in max strength.

While few studies have used rep protocols as high as you’ll see in a typical BODYPUMP class, what’s out there leads me to believe the following:

  • A BODYPUMP class can burn a substantial amount of calories—likely much more than one would achieve by walking on a treadmill for an equivalent amount of time. BODYPUMP will also help you burn more calories after you stop working out.
  • BODYPUMP can help those who are new to resistance training make modest gains in strength, but over the long haul, those gains pale in comparison to those achievable through lower-rep, higher-weight methods.
  • BODYPUMP can increase muscle endurance, or the ability of a muscle to repeatedly exert force against relatively light resistance. However, so can activities like running, cycling, hiking or swimming. Increasing strength is also one of the best ways to enhance your muscular endurance, but the opposite isn’t true. As for functional applications of this muscle endurance, what task outside BODYPUMP requires you to lift 20-3o pounds 120 times in five minutes?
  • BODYPUMP can help build muscle, particularly for those new to strength training, and more muscle mass means increased calorie burning. However, one can likely produce similar or superior gains in muscle mass using significantly fewer total reps than what’s found in BODYPUMP, provided they also use heavier loads.

Before we unpack these points a little further, let’s hit on some reasons why BODYPUMP has become so popular.

Why Some People Love BODYPUMP

You may have stumbled upon this article after hearing a friend or family member rave about BODYPUMP. Why do people like it so much?

If you go from being sedentary or mostly sedentary to regularly attending BODYPUMP, you’ll probably see significant results. You’ll likely shed some fat, gain some muscle, see an increase in muscle endurance (and to a lesser extent, strength), and experience positive changes in cognition and mental wellbeing.

Exercising in a group can be addicting, potentially leading people to train more regularly and more intensely than they would on their own. BODYPUMP also adds energetic music to the equation. Working out with others and listening to upbeat music as you train have been repeatedly shown to reduce a person’s rating of perceived exertion, or how hard they feel like they’re working. Many people dread working out, so anything that makes it more fun is a gigantic positive.

BODYPUMP has put a barbell in the hands of many who’d never touched one previously, and any form of strength training generally beats no form of strength training. The workouts feature mostly multi-joint exercises, such as Squats, Cleans and Deadlifts, which we know are generally more effective than single-joint exercises.

BODYPUMP can also be a highly challenging workout. I know my muscles were screaming at several points throughout the class. Completing such grueling sessions usually builds confidence and self-esteem. This is a big reason so many people love CrossFit.

If your usual workout consists of trotting on the treadmill for 30 minutes before half-heartedly hitting a couple machines, switching to BODYPUMP classes will likely do you better.

BODYPUMP is absolutely capable of helping people look and feel better, and its popularity is proof that people enjoy it. However, the idea it’s the “ideal workout” for anyone trying to get fit, as Les Mills’ advertises, is worth challenging.

BODYPUMP and the “Rep Effect”

Les Mills contends the sky-high number of reps in BODYPUMP is crucial to its benefits.

“This program is based on The Rep Effect, a proven formula that exhausts muscles using light weights, while performing high repetitions—this is the secret to developing lean, athletic muscle,” the company writes on their website.

“(BODYPUMP will) tone and shape your entire body, without adding bulky muscles.”

This idea of getting “lean and toned” as opposed to bulky is key to BODYPUMP’s branding.

“They use very popular words that play into people’s emotions. When you’re hearing words like lean and tone and lengthen, those of course are words that will inspire certain people to work out,” says Gentilcore.

But when you add a pound of muscle, the body doesn’t decide whether it’s a pound of “lean” muscle or a pound of “bulky” muscle. It’s just muscle.

RELATED: How Lifting Weights Changes the Female Body

Gaining muscle is a very gradual process. It depends on factors like a consistent caloric surplus and training that’s conducive to muscle growth. It takes a lot of hard work, particularly for females, as they naturally boast lower levels of testosterone than men. Few people end up gaining too much muscle on accident.

The idea traditional strength training can turn your average person into a Ronnie Coleman clone overnight is pure absurdity, but a more likely scenario of getting “bulky” occurs when someone carrying a lot of excess body fat begins to add on muscle.

If that muscle is being packed on yet their body fat remains more or less stagnant, the result can be more “bulky” than “toned.” To get “toned”, they simply need to reduce body fat so their muscle becomes more visible. But again, they’re not bulky because they built the “wrong” kind of muscle.

“Muscle is what gives shape and contour to the body. Fat is bulkiness. People say they don’t want to get bulky, they don’t want to be fat,” says Gentilcore. “Your muscle has its origin and its insertion. You can’t really make a muscle longer without making a bone longer.”

BODYPUMP classes seem to consist mainly of women and middle-aged adults. For years, these populations were told to steer clear of heavy lifting, either because it’d make them “bulky” or because it was too unsafe. These myths have been busted.

Just look at trainer Ben Bruno and the workouts he uses with clients like Kate Upton, Jessica Biel and Chelsea Handler:

None of those woman could do anything approaching 100 consecutive reps with those weights for those exercises, and do they look bulky?

“I would like to go on the record and say that I am smaller than I have ever been while lifting the most weight I have ever lifted,” Handler commented on the above video.

There are endless examples of women who’ve found that getting seriously strong helped produce pleasing aesthetic results.

If you think you’re too old to lift any heavier than what’s found in BODYPUMP, think again. Building strength is one of the best weapons at your disposal to combat the physical and cognitive decline naturally associated with aging.

Due to a process called sarcopenia, men and women can naturally lose anywhere between 30-50% of their muscle strength between the ages of 30 and 80. We’re also wired to naturally lose muscle mass, as well, but the rate of decline in muscle strength is “2-5 times greater than declines in muscle size.” A loss of muscle strength makes almost any activity more difficult—whether it’s riding a bike or climbing a set of stairs.

Getting stronger helps us combat these processes and maintain a high quality of life. A 2013 study published in the journal Age found that even people over the age of 90 can see serious benefit from strength training, while a 2016 analysis from the Penn State College of Medicine found that adults over 65 who strength trained at least twice a week had “46 percent lower odds of death for any reason than those who did not.”

While BODYPUMP can get you stronger, particularly during that first month or two if you’re totally new to strength training, there are much more efficient ways to increase strength.

Is BODYPUMP Dangerous?

To become a licensed BODYPUMP instructor, a person must complete a two-day “Initial Training” course (standard fee: $299). Within the following 60 days, they must film themselves teaching a “safe and effective” class and submit the video for review. If the video’s deemed satisfactory, they receive certification.

For participants, newcomers are encouraged to take a short introduction class to familiarize themselves with the movements, though this is not mandatory. Les Mills recommends beginners start with “really light weights or even just a bar” and perform several short sessions before trying to do a full-length workout. They also advise against taking more than three BODYPUMP classes a week and recommend at least one day off between classes.

However, the inherent design of BODYPUMP raises a few potential red flags.

BODYPUMP participants need to be in near-constant movement to keep up with the instructor, as a full-length class demands roughly 16 reps a minute. That much volume that quickly is good for making folks sore and tired, but not so good for ensuring they’re executing reps with proper form.

Additionally, every rep is performed in concert to thumping music. No one wants to be the one “off beat,” so there’s tremendous pressure to keep up with the instructor and the rest of the class. Myself being 6-foot-6, it’s fair to assume a full Squat for me would normally take longer than that of your average gym-goer. But BODYPUMP incentivizes everyone to move the same, and to do so at a pace that’s often blistering.

Since the instructor is usually performing each rep so the class can “mirror” their tempo, they cannot go around the room correcting form.

Eve Fleck, lead author of a study on BODYPUMP commissioned by SHAPE, told the site that, “even after eight weeks (of BODYPUMP classes), all our subjects used poor wrist, back, elbow, shoulder and knee alignment.”

Doing lots of reps under fatigue with no one monitoring your form—and also being told how quickly to perform those reps—is a recipe for wear-and-tear on the body.

Gentilcore does much of his training in small groups of 2-4 people, where his clients can get the benefit of a group atmosphere but also receive plenty of individualized attention and coaching. I’d reckon such a setting is significantly safer than a BODYPUMP class, even though the loads being lifted are usually far heavier.

“Any good coach or personal trainer is going to take your ability level, your injury history, your anatomy—they’re going to take all that into account. Then they’ll design an exercise regimen that fits that. When you’re doing a group exercise class and there’s one instructor and 20, 30, 50 participants, there’s probably very little coaching being done aside from what you hear blaring over the speaker. They’re just saying, ‘Do this, at this pace,'” says Gentilcore.

“With my clients, I’m making a concerted effort to make sure they’re in the proper position where they’re not going to hurt the joints and that the muscles we want to be exercised are actually being exercised. I’m not interested in having them lift under fatigue.”

One study found that 27 weeks of BODYPUMP did increase bone mineral density in sedentary adults, particularly among post-menopausal women and those with osteopenia. However, heavier loads will produce more robust improvements in bone health over time.

BODYPUMP Makes Me Really Sore—Isn’t That Good?

With its high volume approach, BODYPUMP is great at making folks sore.

A Twitter search on the topic reveals hundreds of BODYPUMP participants half-lamenting and half-celebrating their extreme soreness. Because if a workout makes you really sore, it’s gotta be good, right?

This mentality is common nowadays, but it’s a warped view of fitness.

“That conversation inevitably comes up with just about every client. They say, ‘Well, I wasn’t sore from our last workout.’ That’s fine. There are many workouts I do where I don’t get sore, either, but I’m getting stronger and I look good and I feel good and I’m recovering well and I’m able to keep training. It’s very easy to make people sore, but it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re getting better,” says Gentilcore.


That’s a question only you can answer.

BODYPUMP has helped many people get more fit. The group atmosphere, the music, the instructor demonstrating all the moves—it all makes it an attractive option for those curious about strength training but who are unsure where to start. The best workout is the one you’ll actually do, and if for you, that’s BODYPUMP, that’s perfectly OK.

However, the design of the class does raise some concerns over safety, and after someone advances beyond the “beginner” stage, it’s hard to estimate how much of an impact BODYPUMP will have on their overall fitness.

Progressive overload is the key to training adaptations. To get stronger, you must put increasing amounts of stress on your muscles to force them to adapt. But since the reps/sets/rest periods in BODYPUMP remain largely static, adding more weight is really the only way to achieve progressive overload. But that’s tough to do when an exercise might call for 80-120 reps or more.

Think about it—if you go from lifting 15 pounds for 100 reps to 20 pounds for 100 reps, you just added 500 pounds to your volume load. A 5-pound jump for a set of 10 reps would add just 50 pounds to your volume load, however. It’s a lot more difficult to estimate where your “failure” point will be when you’re doing 100 reps rather than 10 or 12, and since BODYPUMP participants want to make it through every rep, they might be less inclined to progress in weight. And who can blame them?

Mixing in more traditional strength training—and perhaps some high-intensity interval training featuring sprints of 5-15 seconds of all-out effort—with your BODYPUMP classes can make for a routine that’s both safer and more effective.

“I always tell my clients that the main course is what you do with me. If you’re doing that three days a week, we’re doing a traditional strength and conditioning program, then all the superfluous stuff you want to do—BODYPUMP, Barry’s Bootcamp, spin class—if you enjoy doing it, do it. But that’s a supplement to what we’re doing. And I think that’s a healthy compromise. I don’t want to discourage people from doing something they want to be doing,” Gentilcore says.

“And honestly, through traditional strength training, they learn how to squat well, they learn what a hip hinge feels like, they learn how to do a Push-Up correctly, so when they go to a BODYPUMP-type class, they’re probably going to do it better. They’ll have a better idea of what their body’s doing in space and they’ll try to stay in those good positions.”

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These 7 Things Will Happen When You Do BodyPump Group Exercise

They’re everywhere. You see them at the beach and around town when summer weather calls for muscle shirts and tank tops. They’re the bodybuilders, male and female, who have bulked up their muscles through resistance weight training. And if you belong to a gym, you see them in the “weight room,” lifting huge amounts of poundage. You also probably know that strong muscles provide many benefits to the body, but you really don’t want that “look” of a body builder. So, you stick with other methods of exercise – walking, jogging maybe, some aerobics, perhaps the treadmill, and of course a bit of Yoga. Still, it would be nice to get some better muscle strength and tone too.

It may be time to raise the bar – the barbell that is.

As research on fitness continues to provide new information, exercise programs are developed in response to those studies. Aerobics came to be in this way, as a response to research that showed the benefits of increasing the heart rate to overall cardiovascular health. Such is the case with the new BodyPump group exercise program. If you have never heard of this new craze, you should know first of all that it was developed for people like you, as well as sedentary people who get very little exercise at all. It is a resistance weight training program, designed to add muscle strength and tone, along with other great things, but without adding the bulk that so many people do not want.

A very basic explanation of the BodyPump program is this:

  • It is 60-minutes of resistance exercise using a barbell, but in a very different way. Rather than focusing on heavy weights, the focus here is on low-weight barbells that are used in more rapid exercise. The idea is to “exhaust” your muscles so that they do not add bulk, just strength and tone.
  • You will go through 5-6 specific exercises but do so many reps of each one, you end up having completed approximately 800 reps in one 60-minute session – that’s quite an accomplishment. And these are not horrible to do because the weights you are using are so minimal.
  • Music is a key factor in the BodyPump program. All exercises are done to music, for there must be a rhythm. As you become better, you will move up to music tracks that require more rapid movement. The original program, developed by Les Mills, has specific music tracks for all levels or progress.
  • While it is normally taught in a group class (good support), once the 6 exercises are perfected, a person can buy the music tracks and, if the self-discipline is there, can continue the program at home. Twice a week is the recommended amount of time.
  • There are 6 exercises – squat, chest press, deadrow, clean and press, lunge, and reverse curl. To get in 800 reps, each will require 123 reps. Obviously, newbies will work up to this.

There have been some research studies conducted on the benefits of the BodyPump program, specifically one at the University of Sao Paulo, Brazil, to test its effectiveness, with some pretty positive results. Participants completed the workout 2 times a week for 12 weeks, and changes in weight, body fat, muscle tone and strength, and endurance were all measured. Based upon these studies, here is what you can expect if you make the decision to “raise that bar.”


1. You’ll burn up to 590 calories in one workout

Depending upon how active you are, your daily caloric intake should range between 1600-2400 calories a day, according to federal nutritional guidelines. So, if you want to lose weight, and keep your caloric intake unchanged, you can burn off 1/4 – 1/3 of that intake with your 60-minute BodyPump workout.

The weight loss will be gradual, because the recommended workout is 2 times per week. If you want to speed it up, of course, you can reduce your caloric intake while you work the program

2. You’ll have increased muscle strength

You don’t have to bulk up to have increased muscle strength, and that’s one of the great things about the BodyPump program. But with the increased muscle strength, here’s what medical professionals say are the benefits:


  • Your overall metabolism is improved, giving you more energy and stamina
  • You tend to have better sleep and improved focus and concentration
  • You have better overall health. Studies are now showing that regular resistance training/workouts help to prevent some forms of cancer, high blood pressure, diabetes, bad cholesterol levels, and hormonal problems.
  • The benefits to cardiovascular health have long been known.
  • Less Injury: Stronger muscles help the body absorb impacts and traumas. Even if you do suffer an injury it will be less severe than if your muscles were weaker.

3. You’ll have increased core muscle strength

Your core muscles are all of those that are contained in your body’s torso. And as you can see from the photos above, those muscles will get quite a workout with the BodyPump program. Here is how that is beneficial to you:

  • Core muscles protect your internal organs. Thus, if there is trauma to your torso, you are less likely to have damaged organs than people who have little or no muscle mass in their torsos.
  • Because the core muscles also support the backbone, your spinal column is not only better protected, but it is strengthened. Back pain is far less frequent when core body muscles are supporting the center back and spine.
  • You have better posture overall when your core muscles are developed
  • You’ll look great at the beach, without being one of those “bulky” people whose looks you do not find attractive.

4. You’ll have great flexibility

According to the American College of Sports Medicine, muscle flexibility is an aspect of health that is often ignored. Flexible muscles are those that have been worked through resistance training. They are more relaxed than the tight muscles that result from lack of a workout. Tight muscles can create problems for your entire body:

  • Tight muscles cause back pain. When your hamstrings are tight, for example, they pull your pelvis downward. This puts real stress on the backbone and other parts of you back, causing pain.
  • As we age, we lose range of motion, or the ability of the body to move with ease and no pain. As that range of motion is lost, simple everyday activities become very hard – bending over to pick something up; reaching high into the cupboard to get something. Continuing to work those muscles keeps them longer and more relaxed.
  • Improved circulation. Long ago in biology class, you learned that nutrients and oxygen are carried to all other parts of the body by the circulatory system. When muscles are tight, circulation does not flow as well, and poor circulation can cause tiredness. When muscles are more flexible, they are relaxed, and circulation is then not hindered.
  • Tight muscles cause your entire body to be tight and tense. This is not a good feeling, and tension causes neck and shoulder pain.

5. You’ll have a better overall body definition

Your body definition refers, basically, to your shape. Everyone wants a body with good proportions. While genetics does play some role in body definition, the correct workout routine can overcome many of the “definition” issues you face. Here are some of the definition benefits you will get from the BodyPump program:


  • Your shoulders will be better sculpted
  • Your waistline will be in proportion to the rest of your body.
  • You will have defined but not bulky biceps and triceps
  • Your legs will be stronger and leaner
  • You’ll have firm glutes and a tight core

6. You’ll have a healthier heart

You know your heart is a big muscle, and like any muscle it has to be exercised too. The way a heart is exercised is by increasing its “rate.” Thus aerobics instructors talk about getting the heart rate up and keeping it up for a sustained period of time; people buy treadmills or elliptical machines for their homes, for the express purpose of getting that heart rate up. Many fitness programs, people wear monitors to check their pulse at its resting speed, and then engage in exercise that increases that rate and keeps it there for a designated period of time. Doing this increases circulation, and medical professionals have long said that exercising the heart this way will keep you alive longer.

Regular weight training does not provide aerobic exercise to the heart. The BodyPump program, however, does. Think about 800 reps in 60 minutes – you are moving fast, and that movement increases your heart rate. And as you progress, you will find that the reps get faster, according to the music tracks that are used. Getting that heart rate up and keeping it there, gives your heart essential exercise.

7. You’ll have support in a social setting

If you join a BodyPump class, it is because you have some fitness goals. You want to improve your overall health; you want to remodel that body definition; you may be middle aged and looking to keep yourself really fit as you age. If you try to meet these goals all by yourself, in the isolation of your own home, it is so very easy to “put it off,” to postpone, to skip “just this one day.” This is one reason why people who workout join gyms. They get around other people with fitness goals and are motivated to keep working on their own. Here are three great benefits of joining a BodyPump class:


  • You will learn how to do all of the exercises correctly. There are knee positions, chin positions, and standing positions that are pretty important if you are going to get the full benefit of this training program.
  • The music is really great. You can actually listen to some of the tracks online to get an idea. It’s just a fun way to get all those reps in.
  • You will have a built-in mutual support system with your fellow classmates and be able to praise each other as you progress and plan some rewards when you make it to the next level.

On the other hand, if you are someone who is self-disciplined and who does not like the idea of being tied down to a set time schedule, BodyPump workouts are easily done at home and require very little equipment – a small mat, comfortable clothing, a barbel, and the purchase of the music tracks. Yes, you should use the music that has been developed for the program, because the rhythms are specific to each level.

If you are still not certain if a BodyPump program is right for you, you might think about finding a class in your area and asking to come in and observe. You’ll get a good feel for the training, the music, and the camaraderie.

Want to shed flab? Try BodyPump, a workout that burns fat and builds muscles

Three years later, he had shed the flab and was happy about the way the workout had changed him physically and mentally. In 2015, he participated in a Les Mills workshop in Hyderabad and became a freelance instructor for BodyPump.

Set to a pulsing rhythm of 10 tracks, BodyPump is a workout routine that uses High-Intensity Interval Training (Hiit). It is specifically designed to help build lean muscle and strength, and improve your fat-burning ability, Reddy says. It’s also the ideal workout for anyone who wants to strengthen their muscles without gaining that bulky bodybuilder look.

Several gyms across India today have been certified by Les Mills and are conducting BodyPump classes. Explaining how it works, Amandeep Kaur Ahuja, training coordinator, Les Mills Dubai, says: “It is total body-resistance training using light to moderate barbells and high repetitions, with quick transitions and less recovery between repetitions and sets.” The 60-minute routine, set to a soundtrack of 10 DJ favourites from around the world, is updated every quarter to ensure they are the trendiest. Each track focuses on a different muscle group. The first track is for warm-up, followed by music for squats, chest, back, triceps, biceps, shoulders and core exercises. The last track is for the cool-down, says Reddy.

Overall, each track consists of specific exercises, including squats, chest presses, dead rows, clean and press, press pullover combos, lunges and reverse curls, to name a few. On each track, participants do 70-100 repetitions of a particular exercise. “On the whole, you do approximately 800 repetitions of about 10 exercises with three-four variations each, all with the barbells in hand,” says Kamal Chhikara, master trainer, Reebok India, and owner, Reebok CrossFit Robust gym, Delhi.

In the process, you work out your legs, chest, back, gluteal region, hamstrings, triceps, biceps, shoulders, arms and abdominal muscles. The idea is to tire your muscles so that they do not add bulk, only strength and tone. The routine may sound painful, but remember, the weights you would be using are minimal.

“This high-intensity workout is designed to build pressure within each muscle group, create an after-burn that spikes the metabolism, and help you achieve a toned body quickly,” says Sandeep Dhar, consultant physiotherapist, Columbia Asia Hospital, Bengaluru. “It’s an ideal workout routine for those who are out of shape.”

Why it works

One of the biggest advantages of the BodyPump routine is that anyone can do it. Since the weights are light, and you’re working out in a group, pumping and stepping to music, it’s a great choice for someone who is exercising for the first time. The routine improves your aerobic fitness, helps you shed weight, gain muscle strength and endurance, and gives you a lean body, says Hardik Patel, physiotherapist, Hiranandani Hospital, Mumbai.

“Since it’s a group workout, it has the added benefit of being psychologically beneficial too,” he adds. For this group exercise sees the instructor on stage, demonstrating and explaining moves that people then copy. The fact that it’s set to music makes it more alluring.

For people like Reddy, who get bored sweating it out alone, the group dynamics work really well, motivating and inducing a sense of competition. “You make friends, indulge in some healthy competition and go back home with good vibes,” says Reddy. He says an instructor too needs to be more involved—for you’re not just directing, you’re also doing each and every exercise on stage with the group. “It’s exhausting but exhilarating,” he adds.

Then there’s the fact that while most workouts focus either on strength training or cardio, BodyPump does both, making it a great option for people who don’t have time to do these separately, says Mumbai-based fitness trainer Vinod Channa. “The workout combines barbells, dumbbells or your body weight and builds strength with cardio in a fast repetition and fast-set mode. It works on different body parts, keeping you breathless as well as improving your endurance and agility,” says Channa. Since it’s an Hiit workout, a BodyPump class two-three times a week is more than enough to get you results.

Exercise caution

Most facilities certified by Les Mills offer a range of levels for BodyPump workouts. Anyone who is healthy and injury-free—or, in the case of a pre-existing condition, has a go-ahead from his or her doctor—can do it, says Vesna Pericevic Jacob, founder, Vesna’s Alta Celo, a wellness clinic in Delhi. You should, however, avoid the workout if you have had cardiac or respiratory problems, says Patel, adding that it’s best to visit a cardiac rehab centre to get your cardiorespiratory fitness levels checked before you start the workout . “Individuals with musculoskeletal injuries or chronic pain and hypertensive patients should also avoid it,” he says.

Moreover, if you experience breathing problems, giddiness, headaches, tightness in the chest, or pain in the back or knees during a session, you should stop immediately. “Ask your instructor to review your workout regimen to avoid serious injury,” Patel says.

Jacob says there is a greater possibility of injury in a group class where you’re using weights with quick repetitions for over an hour. “It’s a high-risk environment and no matter how good the instructor is, he or she cannot keep an eye on every individual,” she explains. The moment you feel exhausted, she advises, put the bar down. Ahuja recommends choosing smaller weights, doing fewer repetitions and taking breaks, if you feel exhausted. Never add too much weight too early and push your fatigued body.

Pump prep

BodyPump techniques and forms are different from normal gym routines, so it’s important to learn the basic poses before you begin. If you feel your posture is incorrect, consider booking a few private sessions with the BodyPump trainer to correct posture and movement technique. For although it’s a group class, it’s important to establish one-on-one time with the instructor. “He or she can help you achieve your goal and guide you during the workout if you are a beginner,” says Ahuja.

The workout is designed to leave your muscles feeling sore, a feeling that intensifies over sessions as you increase the weights. This is normal, says Chhikara, adding, “Ensure you recover properly after each session by giving your body rest and nutrition.” Your diet should include complex carbs and high protein to rebuild muscles and deal with wear and tear. Dhar reiterates the importance of rest. “Since it is an Hiit, it can cause delayed onset of muscle soreness or cause injury if you’re not alert and lead to anything from a single muscle injury to a ligament tear,” he adds.

What the experts say

u Before signing up, check the class level—is it a beginner-level class or an advanced one? Also, is it affiliated to Les Mills? Choose a class where the group is the same age and has a similar fitness level.

u Find a spot in the class close enough to the front so that you can see the instructor’s full body movements. Pay close attention to how to move your body.

u Stay light with the weights. Remember, you are doing this for yourself, so don’t compete and go heavy. It’s okay if you do it without barbells too.

u Check your posture. Learn the positions and techniques for the moves before you begin. Ask how you should go about the progression and regression in moves, weights and repetitions. Ask the instructor to look at your movements, and give you appropriate guidance and cues during the workout.

u Don’t skip the warm-up and cool-down. Jumping right into a BodyPump workout without a warm-up can shock your body and lead to injury; your body also needs those few minutes to cool off and get back to its normal state.

u Bring a small notebook to class, and record your weight selection every week.

Pump Fiction

No doubt about it: BodyPUMP is the hottest thing to hit health clubs since Spinning. Imported from New Zealand just three years ago, these weight-training classes are now offered at more than 800 fitness clubs nationwide. But some experts question whether the program, which involves doing dozens of repetitions with light weights, lives up to its claims.

The program’s Web site makes a bold statement: “BodyPUMP will improve your fat-burning ability and help build lean muscle and strength. Quite simply, it’s the fastest way in the universe to get in shape.” Is it? To find out, Shape commissioned researchers at California State University, Northridge, to track men and women in a BodyPUMP class. Although the study had its shortcomings, such as a small sample size, results weren’t impressive. After eight weeks, subjects didn’t show significant strength gain or body fat loss. The only measurable benefit was a gain in muscle endurance.

BodyPUMP promoters and scientists believe the study was too short to adequately assess the program. “If had followed the subjects longer they’d have seen more-dramatic changes,” says Terry Browning, vice president of The STEP Company, U.S. distributor of BodyPUMP. The researchers maintain that eight weeks was enough to test the claim that it’s “the fastest way in the universe to get in shape.”

Outside experts who’ve reviewed the study say that eight weeks is considered a minimum acceptable length for studies of this type. “It would’ve been ideal if the study had gone on longer,” says exercise physiologist Daniel Kosich, Ph.D., fitness consultant to the Aurora Cardiology Practice in Denver. “But there are eight-week studies that have shown much greater changes in strength.” (See “Weighty Findings.”)

Maximum effort, modest returns

CSUN research subjects took an hour-long BodyPUMP class twice a week and avoided other weight training. “We asked participants to continue with their usual aerobic exercise and dietary routines,” says Eve Fleck, M.S., the study’s lead author, who did the study for her master’s thesis. Before the program began and after the eighth week, the researchers measured subjects’ strength on the bench press using a one-rep max test (the most weight the subjects could lift once) and muscular endurance (how many times they could bench press the amount of weight prescribed by the YMCA endurance test: 35 pounds for women, 80 pounds for men).

While 27 subjects began the program, only 16, a mix of novice and experienced lifters, finished it. (Several dropped out due to time conflicts, one because the program aggravated her arthritis.) After eight weeks, the only measurable change was an increase in the number of bench-press repetitions subjects could do. “The average increase was significant, about 48 percent,” says Fleck. Also, three of the four novices gained strength, an average of 13 percent.

Fleck attributes the endurance and strength increases partly to improved neural coordination typically experienced by novice lifters. She says she wasn’t surprised that the group on average didn’t gain strength, since it’s harder for experienced lifters to do so. To gain strength, the American College of Sports Medicine recommends lifting 70-80 percent of your one-repetition maximum. But in a typical BodyPUMP class, subjects lifted an average of just 19 percent of their max.

BodyPUMP promoters defend the use of light weights. “The reason for the light weight is that the program is designed to improve muscular endurance,” Browning says. (Muscular endurance, experts agree, is important for activities lasting several hours, such as biking, hiking and skiing.) Browning says the Web site’s increased-strength claim applies only to beginning exercisers, but this disclaimer doesn’t appear on the site. Fleck says she’d need more novice subjects to determine if beginning lifters really gain strength with BodyPUMP. A significant limitation of the study, experts agree, is that the subjects’ weight-training experience was too diverse. “With such a small sample size split into different fitness levels, it’s hard to get statistical power,” Kosich says.

A risk of injury?

BodyPUMP promoters maintain that muscular endurance is best achieved by doing dozens of repetitions of each exercise. However, research shows that doing the traditional eight to 12 repetitions develops plenty of muscular endurance, while also building strength, bone and enough muscle mass to boost metabolism. “When you gain strength you automatically gain endurance, but apparently the opposite isn’t true,” says Wayne Westcott, Ph.D., fitness research director at Boston’s South Shore YMCA.

Doing dozens of repetitions is not only unnecessary, Westcott says, but may increase risk of overuse injury. None of the CSUN study subjects reported new injuries. “But injuries may take longer than eight weeks to develop,” says William C. Whiting, Ph.D., director of the biomechanics laboratory at CSUN and one of Fleck’s advisers.

The researchers were also concerned that so many repetitions (up to 100 for some exercises) might foster sloppy technique. Fleck said she routinely saw poor form, especially among newcomers. They tended to load the bar with too much weight, and by the 40th repetition could barely lift it. She noted that the instructors involved in her study rarely corrected participants who were lifting incorrectly. “Even after eight weeks, all of our subjects used poor wrist, back, elbow, shoulder and knee alignment,” says Fleck. Browning points out that BodyPUMP instructors offer 15-minute technique workshops before class and that newcomers are urged to attend at least one before taking a class.

Clearly, BodyPUMP classes are a lot of fun. Participants report that they love lifting weights to music and find the program motivating. But are the classes worth taking? “For a novice, it’s a way to be initiated into weight training,” Fleck says, noting that several subjects had been too intimidated to lift weights until they tried BodyPUMP. But she suggests that if you do BodyPUMP, have instructors demonstrate technique for each exercise outside of class and reduce the number of repetitions you do in order to reduce injury risk.

If you’re looking to build muscle, increase your metabolism and strengthen your bones, Fleck says, stick with a traditional weight-training program. Meanwhile, BodyPUMP may help you maintain muscle strength, and, she adds, “It’s something fun to throw into your routine once in awhile.”

5 Things I learnt from BodyPump classes

Have you ever seen BodyPump classes on your local gym or leisure centre’s timetable, and wondered what the heck it is? It can sound a bit intense… but after regularly attending BodyPump for the past 4 months, I’m here to bring you the lowdown on what it’s all about. And what it’s taught me about fitness.

Before I was persuaded to hit up my first class by a colleague, I thought it was a class aimed at those who wanted to endure pain, heavy weights and… pump their bodies. Yep, I had no idea really what I was getting myself into. But with a MoveGB membership, I didn’t have to phaff around too much with getting myself booked it. I searched on the app for the nearest class to my office, found it, booked it. Bosh.

But before I delve into what I learnt from BodyPump classes, let me first tell you what the heck it is and who thought this classic class up.

What is BodyPump?

BodyPump was thought up and developed by Les Mills in the 90’s. It’s designed to shape and tone your entire body, increase core strength and improve bone health using light weights. Instructors take you through sequences that target different parts of the body using weights or bodyweight throughout a song track.

These routines remain the same for 6 – 8 weeks of classes, which allows you to amp up your weights as your body gets used to the movements… and gets stronger. Classes range from 30 mins to 55 mins and you can burn up to 540 calories per session.

Say whaaaat?!

It sounds like an intense workout, but I liked the sound of ‘light weights’ being used. Ultimately, sometimes you just gotta throw caution to the wind and dive straight into a new fitness activity without overthinking too much. YOLO.

I tentatively walked into the studio at my local YMCA in my usual gym gear, bottle of water and small towel – ready for the inevitable SWEAT. I followed what my work mate was doing: laid out a step, a mat, a bar and clips to keep the weights on the bar. I collected a variety of different coloured weights – I was told to stay light for my first class, so I stuck to the yellow (1.25kg) and green (2.5kg) weights. They felt light, so I felt confident that I’d be ok. Just take things easy for my first session… right?

But then the instructor walked in with his headset on, and the tunes started pumping….

1. If you’re new to BodyPump, stay LIGHT

Those light weights might feel super light in your hands at the start, but while you’re trying to keep up with strange new sequences and moves, you don’t want to combine that with heavy weights. Spend your first couple of sessions on the lighter end of the weight scale according to your strength – learn the moves and focus on getting the correct form. Even though they may feel light, after 1,000,000 chest presses, they’re not going to feel so feather-like.

You don’t want to push yourself to injury just to keep up with the ‘regular Pumpers’. You’ll get there. And this applies to other classes and gym sessions. Don’t push yourself to injury – listen to your body and adjust weights accord to your energy, strength and limitations.

2. Lifting weights will NOT make you bulky!

I had a pretty naive preconception that lifting weights for 45 minutes straight would make my muscles explode into huge bulbous Popeye biceps with throbbing veins. What a fool I was.

Sure, you do have weights in your hands or over your shoulders for the majority of the class, but the weight lifting focuses on the ‘Rep Effect’ – a formula that exhausts muscles using light weights, while performing high repetitions which develops lean, athletic muscle.

If you wanted to bulk up and have large defined muscles, it would take far more training than a BodyPump class, and your diet would have to be honed to support your goals.

BodyPump is resistance training with weights at its finest – it’s a great way to burn calories and build muscle. Improving your muscles ultimately increases your metabolism, and can help you continue burning calories long after the class has finished.

3. Lifting weights will make you STRONG

Ok this isn’t exactly a newsflash – we all know that the more you lift and workout, the stronger you’ll get. But for someone who never really knew what they were doing in the weights section at the gym, this transformed my mindset and approach to weights.

I never put in that much time and effort with weights, but having a dedicated 45 mins of BodyPump per week, I saw noticeable definition begin and an increase in strength. Especially when it came to going to my usual bootcamp or other fitness classes – I was able to push myself a little bit further now I had BodyPump in my week.

Keeping up to a song track with a significant amount of reps keeps me focused, and before I know it, my legs are trembling from the squats but the song is over. And we’re moving onto a new body part. The class pushes you, but you know you only have to get through one song. You’ll see how far you can come over the 6 weeks of the routine – you may have even quadrupled the weights you used when you first began the routine!

4. Your form is so important

When performing deadlifts, chest presses, squats, press ups, crunches – the form is oh so important. This is another reason to start your BodyPump classes with relatively light weights so you can focus on getting the right form and keeping up with the instructor. Ease your way into the way of BodyPump life.

If you don’t engage your core by pulling in your belly button and tucking in your tailbone, you could be putting strain on your lower back which could lead to injury. I’ve overdone it once or twice before, and felt twinges in my lower back which I haven’t been a fan of. Be really conscious of your form throughout the class – even though they’re fast-paced, be sure to keep it strong. This will also tighten your core and help tone your tummy!

If there’s a move which you find uncomfortable, feel free to modify it. When we do the abs section of the class, I get neck strain if I don’t support my neck with my hands. So I ditch the weights for that one and just focus on crunching as hard as I can and keeping up with the beat.

5. Using weights can also be cardio

I never thought that pumping iron could also be a cardio workout, but during a BodyPump class you really get the heart pumping and get out of breath!

I’m not a fan of cardio – I suck at it. I look like Phoebe from Friends when running in the great outdoors and my stamina on a treadmill is similar to a snail. Cardio fills me with dread. The secret to getting me doing cardio is to fool me. So imagine my surprise to find out that BodyPump is classed as a cardio strength class!

During one song (usually edited to last about 5 minutes), you’re doing dozens of reps. These classes have powerful squat sections, intense upper arm workouts, and killer ab sequences which get you puffed out, your heart racing and your muscles burning. I can feel such a difference to my fitness from integrating this weights class into my week – I feel stronger all round.

So there are a few surprising things I learnt from going to BodyPump classes – ultimately, it’s transformed my view on using weights to keep fit, made me more conscious of good form and also made me realise how group fitness is actually pretty damn motivating. There’s now a group of us at work who never miss our lunchtime BodyPump session. We rally each other to getting our butts into class and it’s always helpful to have a mate next to you so you can grimace at when things get pretty sweaty!

And one last thing I’ve learnt from BodyPump: when you’re getting toned, you look at the the scales less. Muscle is denser than fat. So if I’m heavier, I don’t care. As long as I’m feeling strong and toned, eating well and hitting my workouts with everything I’ve got, then the scales can go stuff themselves.

In case you haven’t noticed, the theme this month is LOVE! Not necessarily spot on with relationships, just some things I love and some entertaining posts dealing with love.

So, you already know I LOOOVVVEEE Les Mills BODYPUMP program. I have written about it a number of times! Today’s post is addressing an issue I’ve noticed along with my head trainer.

BODYPUMP is by far the flagship program in the Les Mills Company. It’s THE most popular Les Mills class in the world and for good reason.

It is the original barbell weight class that strengthens and tones the body! BOOM, that’s a mouthful. In addition, you get a bit of cardio in when you take a BODYPUMP class.

BODYPUMP is offered so many different time slots in the week, that we’ve noticed people are trying to take BODYPUMP a few times a week and call it a wrap.

Excuse me, that just won’t do. The trainer and I noticed when members who were die hard BODYPUMPers attempted other workouts, often times they were NO GOOD. That’s not reflective of the awesome BODYPUMP experience.

Les Mills is a diverse company and if one desires to only do group fitness, they have several programs to make your weekly routine a nice healthy balanced workout. We as members AND INSTRUCTORS just have to take advantage of them.


Well it depends on your schedule, when it’s offered, and what other workouts you are doing.

I normally recommend 2 – 3 times a week.

At our gym, we have some different lengths of classes so you can do the express 30-minute format one day, the 45-minute format one day, or stick with the full hour.

The absolute best would be 3 times a week, but everyone does not have that much time to devote to strength workouts & still include their other cardio.

CARDIO – You need to work in 3 – 4 cardio sessions in your routine.

FLEXIBILITY– Ideally you would have 2 of these, but 1 is at least diversifying your workouts and giving your body what it needs.

I have just committed to my weekly flexibility class. For some reason, people’s toes in the class tickle me!

If you have Les Mills classes at your gym, here’s a glance at what all could be offered.

You can for more detailed information on each class.

Everyone has different levels of physical fitness and thusly require different types of workouts.

There are low impact cardio classes, then most others have enough options previewed throughout the class, that you can make it moderate or high impact.

I have some great news for you coming up soon!!! WHOOP! As a result of that news, this is what my ideal Group Fitness Weekly Routine will look like.

Monday – BODYPUMP (1 hour) & BODYFLOW (1 hour)

Tuesday – BODYCOMAT (55 min) & BODYPUMP (30 min)

Wednesday – BODYATTACK (55 min)

Thursday – RPM (45 min) & BODYFLOW (1 hour) *probably not both but 1 or the other BODYFLOW classes*

Friday – BODYCOMBAT (45 min) and BODYPUMP (45 min)

Sat/Sun – OFF! You already know I don’t workout after I get my hair done.

SN – Today is the day to get this bad boy totally redone, which means I’ll be at the salon from 8:30 until…… So, I’ll be catching up with all my commenting!

Hope this helps those trying to figure out a schedule. This is truly one of THE MOST asked questions I get from beginners. What all should I be doing? Feel free to email me if you have more questions.

Yours in Healthy, Active, & Prosperous Lifestyles,

Rx Fitness Lady wants to know…

  • What do you do for flexibility?
  • Do you take care of your feet in the wintertime 🙂 ?
  • How many times a week do you do weights, how about cardio?
  • How long do you spend at the hair salon?

BODYCOMBAT: The Benefits, Effects & Exercises

BODYCOMBAT is an exercise class that lets you punch and kick your way towards your fitness goals. Not only is it a great whole-body workout for cardio fitness, but it’s also superb for burning fat, releasing stress and improving your co-ordination.

Neither do you need any martial arts experience to feel all the benefits of BODYCOMBAT. All the instructors show versions of each move to ensure everyone can get involved, regardless of age, ability or experience level.


BODYCOMBAT is based around the science of cardio peak training, which keeps your heart rate at about 60-80% of your maximum, with periods of high-intensity exercise – i.e. with your heart rate at between 85 and 90% of its maximum – mixed in. This combination of steady state and high-intensity exercise has been proven to build cardio endurance and helps drive the same fat burning effects as high-intensity interval training (HIIT), making it great for losing weight.

What are the benefits of BODYCOMBAT fitness classes?

BODYCOMBAT fitness classes come with all manner of benefits. Not only is BODYCOMBAT great for burning calories and fat, but it’ll also help build your cardio endurance, help relieve stress and is great for co-ordination, muscle toning and agility as well. Read on to discover more about this fantastic, flexible workout.

BODYCOMBAT will help you lose weight and burn calories

On average, you’ll burn around 740 calories for every 55 minute BODYCOMBAT session you attend. While this may change a little depending on your specific weight and height, the fact remains that this remains a more productive way to burn calories – and therefore fat – than many other cardio-based workouts. This makes it ideal for those of you who want to drop those extra pounds fast.

BODYCOMBAT is great for cardio, stamina and conditioning

BODYCOMBAT is comparable with running when it comes to improving your stamina, while the explosive elements, combined with the non-contact nature of the class means you’re unlikely to pick up any injuries, meaning you can work out harder, for longer without any lengthy lay-offs. Also, the workouts are split into timed intervals, helping you to maximise your heart and lung capacity.

It’ll improve your muscle tone

The kicking, jabbing and blocking – i.e. the martial arts elements – of BODYCOMBAT, when combined together and repeated extensively at a regulated pace and intensity will help you use muscle groups you never even realised you had. Unlike running or cycling, BODYCOMBAT is a whole-body workout, meaning you use both your upper and lower limbs for the workout, giving a more balanced effect and helping you achieve defined muscles and a well-toned body.

It helps relieve stress

We all need an avenue for relieving any pent-up stress and anger that we may be carrying with us and BODYCOMBAT is the perfect way to help you relive that stress. It’s not the violent element that helps unleash that fury, but merely the power and the explosive nature of the exercise that helps relieve you of all the stresses of everyday life. Combine this with the natural endorphins that are released during exercise and the many-times-proven positive effects of exercise on general mental health and you’re sure to feel better in every way after a BODYCOMBAT session.

BODYCOMBAT improves your agility, reflexes and co-ordination

One final, oft-forgotten, benefit of BODYCOMBAT is the effect it has on your balance, co-ordination and agility. Many of the exercises require you to balance on one leg while kicking or punching with another limb. This requires good balance, co-ordination and agility, all of which will improve, the more BODYCOMBAT classes you attend.

Which exercises does BODYCOMBAT include?

The BODYCOMBAT workout combines moves from Karate, Taekwondo, Boxing, Muay Thai and Kung Fu; but don’t worry, you won’t need any martial arts experience to enjoy all the benefits of BODYCOMBAT. The expert instructor will take you though each and every move beforehand, which will include hooks, jabs, upper cuts, kicks and high knees as well. The Programme will also include functional training moves like squats, push ups and lunges as well.

Does BODYCOMBAT get results?

As well as being great for using up calories, burning fat, building stamina, improving muscle tone and all manner of other benefits, BODYCOMBAT is also a fabulous core exercise. Research has shown that the kicks and fast, alternating jabs of a BODYCOMBAT session can be the equivalent of doing 1700 standard crunches.

How fit do you need to be to take part in BODYCOMBAT?

BODYCOMBAT is open and accessible to all, regardless of your age, ability, or fitness level. The expert instructor demonstrates each move at a variety of levels, meaning everyone can enjoy the session and feel the full benefit without pushing themselves too far. If you’re just starting out, it may be an idea just to stay for the first couple of tracks in your first few sessions, just to get your body used to the workout.

How often should you do BODYCOMBAT?

Ideally, you should aim to attend between two and three BODYCOMBAT sessions a week to achieve optimal results. Add in some core and flexibility workouts, alongside some weights-based workouts and you’ll notice the difference in no time.

Do you need any special equipment for BODYCOMBAT?

Put simply, no. Just make sure you’re wearing comfortable workout clothes that won’t restrict your movement in anyway and a sturdy pair of trainers. It’s also a good idea to bring a sweat towel and a water bottle along.

Where can I find my local Everyone Active BODYCOMBAT class?

With hundreds of centres all over the country, you’re sure to find an Everyone Active leisure centre offering BODYCOMBAT classes near you. Use our centre finder to find your nearest class.

Want to learn more about other Les Mills group fitness classes we offer?

  • Find out all about our BODYPUMP Classes here.

Beginners Guide To Body Pump

There have been a lot of threads from members wishing to take there 1st steps into group fitness, or even take their 1st steps into the gym. For a wide range of reasons: Weight, shyness, working around males on the gym floor etc. Taking that 1st step can be over powering for many people so I have decided to use my 4 odd years of Body Pump experience to share with you some of the tips and tricks to Body Pump and for a beginner, give you enough information to be able to participate in your 1st class without feeling totally lost.
I am not Pump trained, so these are my observations only. Though I am trained on two other Les Mills Programs. BodyAttack and RPM.
What is BodyPump?
BodyPump (Pump) was introduced into Auckland by the Les Mills Chain of gyms as a way to get males into group fitness studios. Its a 55min choreographed weight to music program using a a combination of free weights, a bar and an aerobic step.
Weights are varied depending on the persons individual strength and will vary by track.
Pump’s main focus is muscle endurance, not muscle growth as this is demonstrated by the sheer amount of repetitions you do in each track. Pump’s will build lean muscle tough as every class will have a certain amount of muscle hypertrophy
In 1995 Bill Robertson licensed BodyPump for use in gyms in Australia. Today, more aerobic steps are used in Gym worldwide for Pump than for traditional Step classes.
Common weights, and what weight should I use for Pump?
How long is a piece of string?
Depending on your gym your will most likely find 3 different weights for Pump. 1.25kg, 2.5kg and 5kg. Some gyms will also have 10kg plates but this is rare due to the lower weights you typically use in Pump as opposed to the gym floor. The weight of the bar is either 1.5kg(black bar) or 6kgs(grey bar) as well. Again this is Dependant on each gym but would be similar in most gyms across Australia/NZ.
Beginners should use light weights 1.25kg or 2.5kg each end for the entire 1st class as the main goal initially is to learn technique and proper form. Also you will minimize DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness) by using those later weights to begin.
Experienced Pumper’s ie. those that have done more than 3 classes. You should have your weights at the point where you are struggling to complete the last 3rd of each track with perfect form. By perfect form I mean no cheating to get thru a repetition. As an example, the most common “cheat” in the chest track is that people will power thru the upward part of a chest rep so they can have a tiny break before the next rep. For the Biceps, people use their bodies to complete a Bicep curl, etc.
If you can get thru a track with perfect form. Then look to increase your weights by the smallest increment on your next class.
Equipment Setup
In Pump you should aim to have a bar, a selection of weights (beginners can just get away with using just one set of weights) and an aerobic step with about 2 risers on each side. As a general rule, if there is a mass of people rushing into a class, get the bar, light weights 1st. Everything else you can do without if equipment is taken. If worse comes to worse. Ask the instructor for his/her weights (at least leave them the bar). After all its your workout. Not theres
Beginners may want to avoid a step altogether. Its actually easier to demonstrate proper chest technique without a step as the floor will prevent your arms from going too deep. Experienced pumpers will need to be raised as it works the chest muscles more effectively being in raised position.
Its generally frowned upon to take 2 bars during a class
General Tips By Track Type
We have all done this, if your running late into a class, forget about getting your step setup. Grab a bar and go straight into the warmup. Most injuries occur in Pump when your not fully warmed up. The warmup weight should be about the weight you use in the biceps track.
As a general rule, this is the heaviest weight you use for Pump and you decrease your weights over the next 5 tracks to the bicep track. Most common mistake people make here is having the legs to far apart in the squats and/or the knees moving sideways in the squat rather than forwards. Also look to instructor for proper technique
As a guide, the weight you use should be about 3 times the weight you use in the warm up.
Most people cheat in this track as the duration for your upwards press is faster than your downwards press. By pushing the bar up quickly your effectively ahead of the beat of the music giving you some precious time to rest. Done properly the upwards and downwards motion in the chest track will always be of even duration
As a guide, the weight for chest should be about 1/3rd to 1/2 that of the back leg track.
Most common mistake people make in this track is to have TOO LIGHT a weight. You can see this as people are throwing the bar away from their bodies in the clean part of the routine.
Hard to explain, but again, look to your instructor for perfect form.
Weight should be either the same or a little heavier than that of the chest track
Biceps/Triceps are roughly equal in strength so you should have the same weight for both. Most beginners will find there triceps incredibly weak. So don’t despair if you feel like your have no strength. However you should aim to have your triceps muscles back to equal status at some point.
Weight should be equal or a little heavier than the biceps. With the warmup weight as your weight for the biceps track.
Elbows should always be against the side of your body. If they move your “cheating” and using your body to help complete a rep.
Weight should be the same as the Back Track
Weight should be the same or a touch lower than the biceps
No comment
Do not pack up the equipment in this track!! it’s dangerous!!
General Tips
i) Allow at least a full days recovery before your next Pump class. Ideally, you should be doing no more than 3 Pump’s a week. Remembers its not quantity but quality!
ii) If you do goto Pump 6-7 times a week. And hey if your reading this, there’s nothing in here I can say thats going to stop you. Then alternate the weights you do each day. i.e Monday have heavy legs, light chest, biceps and triceps. Swap over on the Tuesday etc.
iii) Males: Be prepared to be humbled. Just because you can curl 20kgs on the gym floor, doesn’t mean you can take the same weight into Pump. Drop the weights by at least 3/4’s to start with
iv) Pump will never replace free weights. Period

According to leading muscle-building research, there are three key muscle building pillars you need to target to get strong and big: mechanical tension, muscular damage and metabolic stress. This session hits them all. Allow the architect of your new favourite workout, strength and conditioning pro Jack Coxall of Soho Fitness Lab, to explain.

Mechanical Tension “Basically, the weight needs to be heavy enough to elicit the right stimulus – we want to recruit as many muscle fibres as possible, that’s why using big compound exercises like a dumbbell bench press and a dumbbell row in the first superset work so well. Dumbbells allow for better mechanical positions on your shoulder than a traditional barbell. 3 strong sets of 6 reps at the right weight ticks this box.”

Muscular Damage “Accessory exercises like the cable chest fly and a seated row in the second pair hit this element. Use a tempo of 3010 where the eccentric (the ‘down’ part of the move) is 3 seconds. The goal of your workouts shouldn’t be so that you can’t move the next day – excess damage can stop you working out later in the week. Focus on full range of motion and control.”

Metabolic Stress (i.e the PUMP) “The last two movement gets you the classic pump in a huge way. The slightly higher rep range and easier exercises in terms of technical difficulty allow you to fire out the reps – filling the muscles with blood and triggering the metabolic stress element to round out your session.”

Protocol: Perform each superset back-to-back with as little rest as possible. Rest 90 seconds after each set.

Before and after pump

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