Does BODYPUMP Work? The Science Behind the Workout

Photo of a barbell class

After doing some undercover investigation into the Orangetheory Fitness gym chain, I received a flurry of email requests from listeners to look into other new gym fads like Pure Barre, Soul Cycle and BODYPUMP. So today, thanks to listeners Susan and Alyssa, I once again don my fake nose and mustache to get to the bottom of BODYPUMP.

The proprietor and author of BODYPUMP (and yes, it is supposed to be in all-caps) is Les Mills who provides organization fitness and crew schooling programs for gyms all around the international. Les Mills gives strength, plyo, aerobic, weights, martial arts, indoor biking, and 30-minute excessive-depth c programming language education ready to a custom playlist of tune. They additionally sell garb, exercising device, track, and snacks. The organization turned into founded in 1968 and is primarily based in Auckland, New Zealand.

Their principle in the back of the combination of mild weight and high reps is to ?Exhaust your muscular tissues so you don?T get cumbersome, you just get electricity and tone.? Which makes very little feel, in case you spoil it down.

In a nutshell, BODYPUMP is a 30-, 45-, or 55-minute resistance exercise that makes use of a barbell with very mild weights and very excessive reps. Their concept in the back of the combination of mild weight and excessive reps is to ?Exhaust your muscle groups so that you don?T get bulky, you simply get energy and tone.? Which makes little or no feel, if you wreck it down, bodybuilders exhaust their muscular tissues and so do marathon runners and also you couldn?T locate two greater numerous body sorts if you attempted. But I will get into that later.

During the exercising, you undergo five or six specific sports, in extraordinary combos and emerge as finishing about 800 to a thousand reps in a single fifty five-minute consultation. The BODYPUMP website says ?The mystery to BODYPUMP is The Rep Effect ? A breakthrough in resistance training that facilitates create lengthy, lean muscles and a toned, sturdy physique.? Again, I gets into the technology at the back of this so-referred to as Rep Effect later.

The sports you may count on at a BODYPUMP exercise are:

  • Chest Press
  • Squat
  • Deadrow
  • Clean and Press
  • Lunge
  • Reverse Curl

To entire the minimal of 800 reps, each workout will must be completed 133 times during the exercising. As they say in New Zealand: "it really is a variety of reps, mate!" Having watched quite much all of the movies at the BODYPUMP internet site, it appears to me like there are loads (and I do suggest a lot) of Clean and Press taking place.

Obviously, those who are new to BODYPUMP received?T begin at 800 reps, they will paintings as much as this, or as a minimum they should (too much, too soon, every body?)

Music is a massive a part of the BODYPUMP workout and each workout is performed to the rhythm of a particular tune. The application has particular music tracks for all degrees and the tempo will increase as the elegance maintains. For that cause, novices are endorsed to simplest do the first few songs while veteran pumpers will do them all.

An enterprising element about BODYPUMP is that it’s miles taught in most locations around the world as a group magnificence however you may additionally buy the tune tracks and SmartBar (their branded barbell) and do this system at home. Doing the exercising or 3 times every week, mixed in with one of the other Les Mills aerobic workouts, is what they advocate, whether or not you’re doing it as a class or at domestic.

The BODYPUMP website says “This full-body barbell workout will burn calories, shape, and tone your entire body, increase core strength and improve bone health.” I agree that many of the exercises involved in BODYPUMP are multi-joint and use many muscle groups. As you can read about in the article 10 Tips to Build Muscle Fast, this is one of the best ways to get fit. Single joint movements like biceps curls or triceps extensions do not build muscle quickly. Multi-joint exercises like cleans, deadlifts, and squats not only work more muscles in less time, but they also allow you to use much heavier weight than you can lift with single-joint exercises. But that isn’t important here since the whole idea is to use a light weight.

Their website additionally says ?This program is based on THE REP EFFECT, a established components that exhausts muscular tissues using mild weights, whilst performing excessive repetitions – this is the name of the game to growing lean, athletic muscle.? However, that exhausted and burning feeling you get from doing all those reps is in all likelihood just lactic acid building up faster than it can be flushed out of your muscular tissues. And although that is a marker of working difficult, it doesn?T always suggest that the muscle is getting lean or more athletic.

As far as their claim of not bulking up and only developing these “lean athletic muscles,” (I’d like to know which muscles they consider to be non-athletic) that doesn’t make much sense either. In a rather famous study from 2015, the last nail was put in the coffin as to whether high reps with low weight or low reps with high weight developed more muscle mass. And it was a draw!

In the examine, eighteen younger guys, who were skilled in Resistance Training, were matched in line with their baseline electricity and then randomly assigned to one of companies:

  1. Low-weight routine where 25-35 repetitions were performed per set per exercise.
  2. High-weight routine where 8-12 repetitions were performed per set per exercise.

If you need to create muscle, you could do it both way but in case you want to get sturdy, you want heavy weights.

Their findings indicated that both ways of training—”to failure,” which is when you can’t manage to lift the weight one more time—can elicit significant increases in muscle hypertrophy (muscle building). The only difference was that the high weight training turned out to be better for maximizing strength gains.

So, if you want to create muscle, you may do it either way however in case you want to get robust, you need heavy weights and low reps. Huh. So the BODYPUMP definition of the rep effect is a bit questionable however at least we know you’ll put on some muscle doing this exercising, assuming you don?T pick this type of light weight that you don?T get to failure even by the quit of the 800 reps.

The makers and promoters of BODYPUMP insist that muscular staying power is built with the aid of doing many repetitions of every exercising. But research shows that honestly doing 8 to twelve reps also develops muscular patience, strength, bone, and muscular tissues. So, no longer only is acting loads of repetitions unnecessary, it can be a quick manner to a repetitive pressure or overuse damage. Not to say the lack of practical movement worried in a repetitive exercise like this. How often during a everyday day do you raise something very light over your head 133 times in a row? On the opposite hand, how often do you need to lift some thing heavy out of a high cupboard after which put it again later?

The researchers in a study that was done specifically on BODYPUMP participants (which I will cover next) were also worried that doing that many repetitions could result in some improper technique (especially near the end of the class). One of the researchers said that she often saw poor form, especially among newcomers, and that the instructors rarely took the time to correct the individuals who were losing focus. I did notice at my local BODYPUMP gym that the instructors offer a 15-minute workshop that newcomers are strongly encouraged to attend at least once.

As a fitness writer, I rarely have the opportunity to present a study that fits exactly what I am writing about, but this is one of those rare occasions where someone went out and did my work for me. The study is called Improvements in Metabolic and Neuromuscular Fitness After 12-Week Bodypump® Training

In this take a look at, 19 untrained but healthful ladies participated in two BODYPUMP training periods in step with week for 12 weeks. The topics had little to no enjoy with weight education and no schooling software in any respect for the six months main up to the examine.

Researchers took these measurements at the beginning and quit of the study:

  • Maximal isotonic strength (4-repetition maximal squat).
  • Incremental test to exhaustion on a treadmill (for blood lactate threshold and maximal aerobic speed).
  • 5-second maximal isometric voluntary contractions for knee extension and trunk extension.
  • Blood sample.
  • Heart rate measurement.
  • Electromyographic recording (which measures the electrical activity produced by skeletal muscles).
  • Anthropometric assessment (height, body mass, body fat measured by skinfold).

All 19 girls took the identical BODYPUMP class taught by means of the same instructor. The weight of the SmartBar given to the ladies at the beginning of the have a look at became 10% of their 1RM squat weight. After two weeks, the load at the bar was multiplied by 5%. It became accelerated once more by 5% each two weeks.

After the 12 weeks, the consequences gave the look of this:

  • No changes in body weight or body fat.
  • No changes in blood lactate threshold.
  • No changes in maximal aerobic speed.
  • 33% improvement in squat strength.
  • Increased isotonic strength.
  • Lowered heart rate.

So, what I cast off from this is that the women were given 33% higher at doing squats (which turned into attributed to neural diversifications, no longer modifications in muscle groups), they noticed some development in fitness markers (that you might see in any sedentary contributors that absorb an exercise routine), and no longer an awful lot else. Not precisely beautiful effects.

Group training is amusing and sweating to tune can come up with a boost beyond the schooling itself.

Group training is amusing and sweating to tune can come up with a boost beyond the schooling itself.

It?S a very good manner to get delivered to resistance schooling, especially if you take the 15-minute introductory approach class.

Because you choose your personal weight, this class can be for all of us irrespective of age, gender, or enjoy. Although, positive injuries or situations should prevent you from collaborating in components of the workout.

Much like Orangetheory Fitness (which I reviewed in the article Is the Theory Behind Orangetheory Fitness Flawed?) the same workout is done around the world. If you like consistency and you happen to travel a lot, or you have a training partner on the other side of the globe, this could come in handy.

Like I said earlier, whether you are doing low reps with heavy weights or high reps with light weights, in order to put on muscle and get that “toned” look, you must lift to failure. I don’t know about you but I would find it hard to estimate how heavy my SmartBar needs to be to lift to failure in a class that is 800 reps long.

Unless you have the point of interest and attention span of a ninja, doing 133 repetitions of whatever goes to lead to sloppy shape, and sloppy form leads to harm.

Unless you’ve got the point of interest and attention span of a ninja, doing 133 reps of some thing goes to cause sloppy shape and that results in damage.

Although the actions and physical games are specifically multi-joint they may be no longer very realistic, functional, or useful in real lifestyles. Unless you are making plans to choose up the equal can of beans 133 times in a row.

I right now get my again up whilst the word bulky is thrown around as being something to be avoided. First of all, bulking-up isn’t always some thing that happens via twist of fate because you selected the wrong class at the fitness center. Second, turning into ?Toned? Is without a doubt only a aggregate of including a few mass (or bulk) for your muscle mass and dropping some frame fats to growth the definition of these muscle tissues. I recognise it’s miles just semantics however it bothers my inner instruct.

I am all in desire of whatever that receives human beings transferring extra and BODYPUMP seems like a a laugh manner to try this. Mixed in with other instructions, sports, and a normally energetic lifestyle, I haven’t any hassle with a person attending the peculiar BODYPUMP class. But if I had a rating scale for the hazard of harm from ?An excessive amount of, too quickly? With a sprint of ?Too repetitious?? Well, BODYPUMP may simply bump CrossFit out of the pinnacle function. 800 reps is just too many reps.

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