Bodypump you do it why

Over the last week I’ve had  a small debate with some other PT’s and gym go-ers, over the use, benefits and reasons behind bodypump, on twitter.

Now, I’ve not done this class, and I don’t intend to! The following is my personal/professional opinion – feel free to question or put your comments forward!

Before I go into the reasons I don’t like it, I want to say that ANY exercise is better than no exercise, and as someone who runs successful bootcamps, I know the benefits of group training, both physically and mentally. Also if you mix your training up, and “cross-train” fine, but beware using one form of training as the only form, and from attending too often for the reasons below.

1) I have a phrase that is also used on our “Gym Free” workshop – “You can workout hard, or you can workout long” Unortauntely, BP falls in to the later. If you think you workout hard and not long, attend our workshops, and we’ll show you short and hard!

2) Ask any Personal Trainer worth their salt, and they will tell you to lift relatively heavy, and keep repeations fairly low (sub 16). BP Does not do this. I’ve heard of tracks lasting 5mins on one particular movement or exercise. This is not intense. This is working long, not hard.

3) “But I feel the Burn”?! Do anything for 5-6 mins and you’ll feel the burn! Lift the TV controller above your head for 5-6 mins and your shoulder will burn! This is due to the repetitive movement of a muscle, and the build up of lactic acid due to this “overload”  – “The Burn” is not a sign of hard, effective work!

4) Everyone tends to have muscles imbalances, due to daily activities and postural issues. They won’t always be apparent, but at some point, if you take part in a form of exercise long enough – they will appear as aches, pains, and often as injuries. Muscles have a job to do. When you have an imbalance, muscles will start to do more jobs than they are designed to do, placing the body in a weaker position, pulling you out of alignment, and in time, causing injury.

Working for 3-5 mins on one movement, will find these imbalances, overload them, and likely causing RSi injuries or worse.

5) Poor Form – Working out to a track for such a long time, is not likely to promote “good form” – by this I mean squatting to or below thighs parallel to the ground,. with a flat/neutral back when squatting as an example. You will see too many “half-arsed” squats, which will do very little for the butt – the exercise most people squat to improve. Unless the instructor is super organised, or you are aware of your movements, you’re not gonna get a great workout.

6) “But I sweat and get a great workout” – What’s great? Your endorphins are up due to elevated heart rate and working out, and you sweat because you are moving non stop for 3-5mins. I could get you doing that with a challenging set of weighted squats, performing just 5 reps for a total of 40secs! Again, sweating is not a sign of a great workout! Continuous workloads, where your heart rate is elevated, will actually produce adrenaline and cortisol – 2 stress hormones, which when prolonged can break down muscle tissue, and place stress on the body – surely something your trying to eliminate through working out?!

So…… hopefully this might make you consider why you’re doing something, and that should be a question you often ask yourself;

“Why am I doing this?”

You should always have an answer…….if not, do something else and ask the question again – don’t follow the crowd!

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This entry was posted on March 18, 2011 at 3:09 pm. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

Posted in Fitness Training Workout by Mark 25 Comments

25 Responses to “BodyPump – You do it why?”

  • Andi says:March 18, 2011 at 3:39 pmReplyFAB!
    I’ve thought this for some time now, I also agree with it being better than no exercise
    especially the part about poor form, some classes have up to 40 people in!
    with one instructor!!!!!
  • Andi says:March 18, 2011 at 3:51 pmReplyI have a real problem with punching with weights in hand also
  • Andi says:March 18, 2011 at 4:02 pmReplyWhich is fine, but NOT for 147 jabs in time with electro techno hip hype speedy dance music!!!!
  • Debbie says:March 18, 2011 at 4:04 pmReplyInteresting read. I do body pump, usually twice a week. I enjoy group exercise. I do Body Pump along with Body Combat, spin class, yoga and running thrown into the mix.The main reasons I do Body Pump is because I enjoy it. It adds a strength training to my fitness routine. Visibly, I can see that I’ve toned up and even managed to drop a dress size quite quickly after introducing it into my routine. My strength is improving also.I take your point regarding technique. Our instructors do constantly remind us of correct technique & help individuals when necessary.I want to do strength training in my routine but much prefer to do Body Pump than a weights session in the gym on my own.
    • Mark says:March 18, 2011 at 4:14 pmReplyHey Debbie! Thanks for the post.
      Just go careful with the repetitive movements, there is no way you can go heavy (Which if I were being anal(!) is actual strength training) for that period of time….you’re actually doing endurance training, which doesn’t do too much for strength gains.Again if yuo introduce anything new into a regular routine you will notice benefits as it the variety that keeps the body working. Keep your good work going, and bear it in mind if you get niggling aches and pains tho….. :-)
      • annabel says:March 18, 2011 at 4:33 pmReplyInterested in the comment re continuous workload and the production of adrenaline and cortisol … if people are training for endurance events such as a marathon or triathlon for example is this placing extra stress on their body due to the length of the training sessions required?
        • Mark says:March 18, 2011 at 4:44 pmReplyExactly – anything that raises the heart rate and therefore adrenaline for prolonged period is placing their bodies in a stressed state – hence workout hard and short. This is why endurance people tend to be low in muscle tone (burnt away by cortisol) joints tend to get injured, poor posture and immune system affected – sure some are fine, but your avg person will be affected this way,
  • Cyra says:March 18, 2011 at 5:22 pmReplyHate to say it, but I have a nasty suspicion he’s right (as ever!)I’ve been a big fan of BP for ages (we’re talking on and off for about 18 years!), similar to some of the comments above, thinking it was all good stuff, but this all makes sense.The proof of the pudding was, after a couple of sessions with Mark sorting my back injury out, I only went and did BP and hurt it again instantly (too many reps, bad technique due to fatigue), whilst after his sessions the back/injury in fine!Just don’t get him started on spinning classes!And if you really want to tap into the knowledge I’d recommend going to one of the workshops he’s currently running – I did the 1st London one a couple of weeks ago – was great!
  • annabel says:March 18, 2011 at 7:56 pmReplythanks – yes that’s so interesting, the one time I got a really bad virus that lasted for weeks was when I was training for the Marathon, now training for the 3 peaks challenge and 2 long hard walking sessions this week have totally wiped me out and left me unable to do anything else. I’m relatively fit too … unfortunately committed now as part of a team but any suggestions on how to minimise the damage? Apart from lots and lots of sleep?!
  • Kirsten says:May 2, 2012 at 8:48 pmReplyI did Body Pump for 12 years and loved it. However, 2-3 years ago, I took up running and this year, I have had almost 10 months off training due to 2 back injuries (one after the other on the right then left side). The physio told me it was due to weak glute muscles which were not supporting my pelvis. I was really puzzled at first because I thought I did squats in Body Pump and managed to live a lot of weight. I have analysed this and have come to the conclusion that I did not go deep enough in the squat to activate my glutes. The physios tests are evidence that I have weak glutes. Just before the injury happened, I felt that my quads were really fatigued during the squat track. I now think that it was my quads and hamstrings doing the work. I am really gutted about my injuries in my lower back and I cannot believe that I have been so stupid as not to mix up my training. Doing the same thing like BP, spinning ect will only cause imbalances. I got into a rut of doing a lot of running, spinning, body pump and attack for years. The same thing over and over – now I am thinking swimming, pilates, yoga to get my body moving in different ways. Of course, I will not give up my love of cycling but I will not be going back to Body Pump!
    • Mark says:May 2, 2012 at 8:51 pmReplyGreat comment Kirsten, and unfortunately very true – lots of people do it, thinking it’s resistance training, which to a degree it is, but it’s not truly, and certainly in a large class environment it’s too hard to keep an eye and correct peoples form when using weights.
      Also, as you say high repetitions of ANYTHING eventually find out imbalances on the body – and results in injury over time – same with distance running.
      Hope you’ve got a good plan in place and will be back to full strength soon :-)
  • Sam says:May 2, 2012 at 10:57 pmReplyI agree – Body pump’s just not for me. I used to do it until I injured my back! No matter how good the instructor is it’s impossible for them to keep an eye on everyone. I did have an idea of what good form meant at the time though and remember not doing single bicep curls towards the end of a track due to exhaustion vs. good form. Instead I was working to two beats still in time with the music and I got a telling off! The instructor just didn’t understand. In my humble opinion resistance training shouldn’t be mixed with BPM.
    • Mark says:May 3, 2012 at 7:26 amReplyTotally agree Sam – the idea of resistance work is that it’s controlled and there to stimulate the muscles, so short bursts (unless requirement is there for longer sets) – it’s like a fusio of mixing cardio class with weights – not great if done regularly!
  • Omar says:May 6, 2012 at 7:51 amReplyHi, i read this a few day ago after a tweet of yours. Interesting stuff. I totally agree that Bodypump is a far from perfect workout. I have taught Bodypump so I do know the programme relatively well.One of the main points you make, is tracks can go on for up to 5 mins, which will lead to poor technique & injuries etc. This is certainly true to an extent, however a track that long would only be used for a big movement like a squat or a bench press. A squat track lasting 5 mins would normally have 2-3 short rest periods in it. Some of the tracks will often use 2- up to 4 exercises ie shoulders or even back. It is still true that there is a high volume of work, but there are rests, body position changes and exercise changes within each track.Technique is down to how good the instructor is able to communicate it to the class, visually and verbally. Some instructors are better than others. Unfortunately I think it’s a case of instructors teaching a class which maybe they are not passionate about the subject matter! How many of the instructors actually lift weights. How many bodycombat instructors partake in martial arts?? I would say this is the programmes biggest flaw. Authenticity.However it is a hugely popular class, globally!!! It has encouraged, inspired 10’s of thousands of people to take up exercise and maintain it. It encourages people to pick up a barbell that would otherwise never touch one! It gives people who enjoy group exercise the opportunity to train in that environment, with some load ( if somewhat cheesy) music without the complicated choreography of aerobics. It gives guys a chance to do studio classes without looking out of place. As we all know most people are more likely to stick with group exercise.Mainly I see it as an opportunity to teach people correct technique, and spark a desire to take their exercise further. To learn more about lifting weights and how to get better results.Ultimately everyone is different and enjoys different things. I’d prefer everyone to come to my kettlebell classes, but some gym goers are scared stiff by the site of them.If people are enjoying the class, getting results and keep coming back, who’s to knock it. Just check out the Bodypump page on Facebook this morning. It asks ‘has made me….’ and check out the hundreds of responses in a couple of hours.!/story.php?story_fbid=10150895575898767&id=218293323766&__user=624302264Fair enough
    • Mark says:May 6, 2012 at 10:19 amReplyGreat post Omar – and honest words looking at both sides of it.Really appreciate you reading and commenting.Good luck in the future mate!
  • Mark says:July 26, 2012 at 10:41 amReplyGreat post. I’m a (former) Bodypump instructor who’s been suffering from Piriformis Syndrome for the past few months after hammering pump and running….so this all makes perfect sense to me. As in Kirsten’s case my Physio has discovered I have weak glutes, which I too thought was strange given the amount of squats and lunges I’d been doing in Bodypump. However, when you think of the range of motion and sheer number of repetitions it really is not surprising that, when combined with lots of (flat) running, the glutes have wasted away. I also noticed my speed and power on the 5-a-side pitch drop a fair bit.Bodypump is not all bad though, great for conditioning but just DON’T OVER DO IT! I will still be using some exercises for upper body conditioning while my glutes etc recover and intend to go back to it fully but not regularly (2-3 times a month max.). My personal experience has proven doing this regularly is not a good idea.Once you find something you enjoy it’s all too easy to forget to keep your exercise plan’s varied with a good mix of Endurance, Strength and Conditioning. If you feel like you’re pushing yourself too hard all the time and getting loads of colds etc….. you probably need to slow down :-)
    • Mark says:July 26, 2012 at 10:58 amReplyGreat reply Mark – thanks for that!
      Yep defo don’t say “Don’t do it” as you say it’s a good full body workout, just don’t rely on it as your sole form of exercise – it’s all about the cross training!
  • Ann says:July 19, 2014 at 11:11 amReplyIm really great with cardo stuff and dancing, zumba… but bodypump damn, I just cant get through the whole class. Im a slender girl though, my BMI is 19.6 and dont have massive muscle mass or anything 😛 But I find this class really strenuous and makes my muscles feel shaky and weak.:/ When that starts I just stop and go sit at the side. Teacher is like: common dont give up.
    No thanks; im giving up because if I would keep on going my muscles would simply stop functioning (not kidding).
  • Marc T says:September 19, 2014 at 2:47 pmReplyThank you for the article Mark (I’m a bit late to the party)My wife has been doing BP for a couple of years. She loves the group fitness aspect and has definitely seen gains in terms of weight loss and muscle tone.I try to do it with her once per week. As a guy, I’m used to lower reps/higher weight and will be the first to admit that BP kicks my butt. It’s humbling to be benching 50 lbs. and gas halfway through the set!I do get a nice pump, and because we are both 50+, the light weights seem to be easier on our joints.With that being said, I strongly agree that there is risk to the repetitive motion and that BP can maybe be a small part of a larger overall fitness program that includes high intensity/burst training along with session of heavier weights.Great info in this article that my wife has taken to heart.Regards,Marc

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