Meet my friend, Body Pump

I entered the world of Body Pump in the summer of 2009 though a teacher training offered at WSC…and immediately became enamored with the program.  I had been teaching Spinning for a while (and it will always be my first love), but Body Pump opened doors.  It taught me how to teach and inspire.  Gave me more confidence and showed me a whole new world of group exercise.  A world that I wanted to be a part of. 

And then I was…

And along the way I met some fabulous friends….

So what is the hype all about?  Let me tell you.  First of all, Body Pump as defined by Les Mills:

BODYPUMP™ is the original barbell class that strengthens your entire body. This 60-minute workout challenges all your major muscle groups by using the best weight-room exercises like squats, presses, lifts and curls. Great music, awesome instructors and your choice of weight inspire you to get the results you came for – and fast! Like all the LES MILLS™ programs, a new BODYPUMP™ class is released every three months with new music and choreography.

Body Pump as defined by me:  AMAZING!!!  Seriously, this is a total body workout that will give you muscle endurance as well has a huge cardio burn.  I typically burn between 500-600 calories a class and have never felt stronger. 

If you have never experienced a class, you should try it!  Get to class a few minutes early & introduce yourself to the instructor.  I love to know who is new to my classes…and check in with the instructor after class too.  We want feedback!     

Bring a towel (you’ll need something to wipe the sweat off your brow) and water.  Wear comfortable gym clothes & either running or cross-trainer shoes. 

Set up using a step bench.  Grab a bar with a variety of weights to use depending on the muscle groups we are working.  And a mat for the floor work.


You can expect to work all of the major muscle groups.  The class is always organized into “tracks” like this (each track gets its own song):

  1. Warm Up
  2. Legs/Squats: works the large muscles of the leg… quadriceps, hamstrings, gluteals.
  3. Chest:  works the pectoralis major & minor, deltoid, serratus anterior
  4. Back/Gluteals/Hamstrings:  works the erector spinae, gluteals, trapezius, latissimus dorsi, rhomboids, posterior deltoid
  5. Triceps:  isolates and trains the triceps
  6. Biceps:  isolates and trains the biceps
  7. Legs/Lunges:  a revisit of the major muscles of the legs
  8. Shoulders:  works all areas of the deltoid and upper trapezius
  9. Abdominals:  core work!  Target muscles are rectus abdominis, obliques, and transverses abdominis
  10. Cool Down

Typically everyone has questions about how much weight to use & my answer is:   it’s going to be different for everyone and different for each music release.   I will share with you the general guidelines as well as how much I normally lift (not counting the bar weight):

  1. Warm UpLight weight!  I usually start with 15 lbs (that’s a 5lb plate and a 2.5lb plate on each side of the bar)
  2. Legs/Squats:  2-3 x heavier than what you used for the warm up. This should be the heaviest weight you use the entire class.   I squat with 30 lbs (a 10lb & 5lb plate on each side)
  3. Chest:    1/3 to a ½ x lighter than what you used for the squats.  I like 20 lbs (10lb plate on each side)
  4. Back/Gluteals/Hamstrings:  Use your chest weight as a guide, and possibly add a little more depending on the choreography (the instructor will tell you.)  I usually use 25 lbs (10lb plate & 2.5lb plate on each side)
  5. Triceps:   This is very individual depending on your strength and fitness levels.  For presses & extensions I like 20 lbs (10lb plate on each side)…but for kickbacks I often use a 5lb plate. 
  6. Biceps:  Warm up weight or heavier.  I fluctuate between 15 lbs and 20 lbs on the bar.
  7. Legs/Lunges:  You have a lot of options with lunges depending on the exercises (i.e. dynamic lunges or static lunges)….body weight only, plates/weights in hands, or weighted bar on the meaty part of your upper back.  Lunges make my legs cry, but I try to push myself and use between 20-25 lbs when I use the bar.
  8. Shoulders:  Small or medium plates work well (2.5-5lb plates) or a bar with about your warm-up weight.  You’ll find me using 15 lbs on my bar. 
  9. Abdominals:  For added intensity (and where indicated) a 5 lb plate held like the bill of a baseball cap during crunches will heat things up!
  10. Cool Down:  take time to stretch and release all of your major muscle groups. 

Remember to maintain great posture throughout the class.  Draw your abs in & activate your core!  Don’t go too heavy with the weights too soon.  I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve seen (usually men) try to lift super heavy & have to drop the weight before the track is over.  Body Pump is about muscle endurance…we do lots and lots of sets so you cannot expect to lift the same amount of weight that you would out on the gym floor.   Keep your joints soft.  That means don’t lock your knees or elbows (ever.)  2-3  Body Pump classes a week is a good goal.  Just make sure you are resting a day in between. 

By the way, here’s my calorie burn from tonight’s class: 

551 calories.  Not bad!

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