Everyone remembers their first BODYPUMP class, right? Probably because for 2-3 days post class, stairs became the devil and blow-drying your hair was no longer a priority. After my first class back in 2013, I vividly remember getting stuck in a revolving door because my arms were just too sore to push.
Results can happen pretty past in the first few months of taking BODYPUMP because your body is figuring out what’s going on. But how do we make sure we still achieve results going forward?
Here are a few tips to ensure you’re still getting the most out of your workout:
- Load up the bar – when you know you’re about to squat for 5-6 minutes straight, approximately 100 repetitions, it’s easy to want to hold back on weight. Don’t. The idea behind BODYPUMP is to reach fatigue by the end of each Track. In order to accomplish that, we should pick a weight selection challenging enough so by the end of a Track, we genuinely don’t think we could have continued for another 10-20 seconds.
The first few Tracks in class – Squats, Chest, & Back – are where the barbell should be heaviest. These are our big compound Tracks that get the biggest muscle groups firing right away and set the tone for the rest of the workout.
If you’re unsure how much weight to use, listen to the weight selections provided by the instructor in the Track Introduction. Try it out and go from there.
- Know when NOT to load up the bar – I know, this seems like a counter argument to the point above. There is a happy medium where we want to find heavy enough load to create fatigue without sacrificing form and range. There are many Tracks, in particular Biceps, where participants often use too much weight and lose a lot of the benefits due to missed reps and/or lost range of motion.
BODYPUMP is continuous tension training – training the muscles under load with limited recovery and at different tempos to fire different muscle fibers. If you’re unable to keep up with the pace or achieve full range of motion (e.g. tapping the thighs at the bottom of every rep in Biceps), it’s likely because the barbell is too heavy.
Tracks such as Triceps & Biceps target smaller muscle groups and should be the lightest weight of the class.
- Move quickly – Track transitions are purposefully short and sweet to limit the recovery time. This allows the heart rate to stay elevated and the intensity high, which in turn gives us the best results. If the instructor can introduce a Track AND change his/her weight and be ready to go with the music, so can you.
This might mean waiting until the end of class to put weights away (exceptions of course if you have somewhere to be right after class!) Putting weight away in between Tracks risks missing the start of a Track.
- Use the mirrors – It’s really easy to think we’re achieving full range of motion or our foot positioning is correct without have a visual. We are spoiled here at Waverley not just with the mirrors at the front of the room but the side as well. Use that to your advantage! Then you’ll know if you’re actually dropping the hips to knee level in a Squat or the front thigh is parallel in a Lunge.
- Find explosive power in a Clean & Press – possibly the most technical move we do in BODYPUMP, and it’s typically the one performed incorrectly. A Clean & Press starts with an Upright Row. With the elbows wide and the bar at the lower part of the chest, flip the elbows underneath fast and drop the hips back and down into a Squat. This means 1) the bar never leaves the body and 2) the legs will have to work to push the bar to the ceiling. After the Press, bring the bar back to the collarbone and flip the elbows back in the same motion to allow the bar to travel back down the body.
If the bar floats away from the body in a reverse curl or if the hips don’t need to drop back, it’s likely too light. Clean & Presses are a rare movement in that adding weight actually helps to correct the execution. As it’s a power move, it’s less about the shoulder press and more about the drive from the legs to push the bar to the ceiling.
Make sure the knees are behind the toes when catching the bar to keep the back straight. Pushing the knees forward takes the spine out of alignment and causes the back to arch, which can create injury. This is another move where watching form in the side mirrors is super beneficial!
- Use the barbells – many participants grab the body bars instead of the barbells, which limits the weight selection used throughout class. If you grab one body bar, that means you’re using the same weight for Squats and Biceps. As Squats involve larger muscle groups than Biceps, it’s illogical to use the same weight.
Utilizing the Don Oliver barbells located at the front of the room allows you to change weight in between Tracks and be really specific with your selections for optimal results.
Hope this was helpful! If you ever have questions about form or set up, don’t hesitate to ask your Instructor – I PROMISE he or she will be psyched that you did because our goal is to provide you with a safe and effective workout, and we’re happy to do anything we need to make that possible.
See you at the gym!
Shannon is a LES MILLS BODYPUMP Assessor and is in the process of onboarding as a National Trainer & Presenter for the format.