BodyPump is a weight-based group-fitness program, created and distributed globally by Les Mills International. Created in 1991 by Phillip Mills, it is now found in over 70 countries and 10,000 health-clubs and gyms worldwide.
The first BodyPump classes started in December 1991 in Auckland, New Zealand (According to the information published in the United Kingdom via a report by Alan Felstead). The concept according to Phillip Mills was to get men into the aerobics room.
BodyPump classes are 60 minutes long and contain eight separate muscle-group specific songs or "tracks" along with an opening warm up track and closing cool-down track. There is also a 45 minute class format, which omits two muscle groups /tracks (biceps and triceps) and is used in time slots where participants generally don't have a full hour to spare. Lately BodyPump Express classes, which last 30 minutes, have been introduced in Canada, the UK and Japan. which removes the biceps and triceps exercises, the cool down and either the shoulders or lunges track from the full format. Like all of the Les MillsGroup Fitness programs, BodyPump is pre-choreographed by Les Mills International, giving it global homogeneity.
The classes are performed to music using free weights-plates, barbells and an aerobic step. Participants choose their weights based on the exercise and their personal goals. Major muscle groups are worked via series of compound and isolation-based exercises including squats, presses, dead lifts. The focus is towards muscle endurance using several repetitions.
As is the case with the other Les Mills programs, class structure is identical between releases. For BodyPump, the full class consists of 10 tracks, each (except for tracks 1 and 10) targeting a specific muscle group. The full class (including time between tracks for weight changes) runs for 60 minutes.
For the 60-minute format, the class is arranged to the 8 tracks on a CD produced by the company, timed to allow for around 60 minutes of exercise and 2 minutes of weight changes between tracks.
Track 1: Provides a warm-up with the lowest weight of the class. During the warm-up, most muscle groups are trained in short succession, and stance and barbell grip is often changed when cycling through all different exercises.
Track 2: Squats. This track targets the legs, notably the quadriceps and glutes and participants are advised to use the highest weight of the entire class. A typical weight for squats ranges between three and four times the warm-up weight. The weight is placed on the traps of the participant.
Track 3: Chest. In this track, participants are invited to lie on their backs on a step, and perform chest presses with the barbell. Sometimes, depending on the choreography of the release, these are combines with chest push-ups. A typical weight will be around two times the warm-up weight.
Track 4: Back. In this track, participants stand up and train the muscles of their back. Exercises performed vary from release to release, but mostly contain dead lifts, dead rows and sometimes clean-and-presses. A typical weight selection will be the same as chest, or slightly more.
Track 5: Triceps. As the first of the smaller muscle groups, participants will select a lower weight, usually slightly above warm-up weight and perform triceps exercises. These change per release, but mostly consist of triceps extensions with a barbell, triceps pushups, kickbacks with a single free weight and dips on a step.
Track 6: Biceps. After the triceps, participants stand up again and use the barbell to do bicep curls and sometimes bicep dead rows. The weight will remain the same as for triceps, or slightly less.
Track 7: Lunges. Participants take on a heavier weight, usually the same as the chest track. In this track, squats can be included but most of the time will be spent doing lunges to train the legs and glutes. Lunges can be performed with the barbell on the traps or holding plates. Sometimes plyometric jumping will be included at the end of the track.
Track 8: Shoulders. The participants select a weight similar to the tricep track on the barbell, and two free weights. The track traditionally starts with pushups, after which the participants use free weights for shoulder raises, either to the side or to the front. At the end, the bar is used for upright rows and overhead presses. Sometimes the choreography adds another set of pushups at the end.
Track 9: Abdominals and core. Usually no weights are used, and participants perform abdominal crunches or planks to strengthen the core.
Track 10: Cool down and stretching.
A new BodyPump release, consisting of new music and choreography, is developed and released to health clubs and instructors every three months. Muscle groups are always worked in the same order as stated in the Les Mills Instructor Resources, allowing for consistency across releases. Instructors can choose to work with one release, or mix tracks from multiple releases, to target strength endurance gains for their particular class. Instructors and trainers are provided with guidance from Les Mills International regarding the mixing of tracks for classes. The pre-choreographed class meets the Les Mills methodology that students will find a more consistent experience when attending a BodyPump class in any location around the world.
Music is used to create a "musical journey" that guides and encourages participants through the work out. A normal class consists of 10 tracks each lasting between 4 and 6 minutes. These are usually cover versions or re-mixes of popular chart or classic rock releases. The tracks are mixed to allow for an aerobic block count of 32 beats and will vary in speed depending on the exercise being performed. The music is choreographed and (with the exception of the first and last track which are used for warm up and stretch/ cool down purposes respectively) each track targets a different muscle group. The tracks, in order, follow the format of: warm up, legs/squats, chest, back, triceps, biceps, lunges, shoulders, abdominals and finally a cooldown encompassing a variety of stretches. Between each track there is a short interval to allow for stretching the muscle just exercised, change weights for the next track and to allow the instructor to brief the next exercise.
Due to the nature of the program maximum heart rate (MHR) increases in different phases. In addition, the aerobic capacity changes are based on music selection beats per minute (BPM).
In October 2011 Les Mills International announced a partnership with Beachbody in the release of a direct to consumer version of BodyPump called Les Mills Pump.
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Lythe, J., Pfitzinger, P. and Ho, D. The Physical and Psychological Response to 13 weeks of Structured Group-fitness Exercise in Untrained Individuals. Auckland: UniSports Centre for Sport Performance, University of Auckland, New Zealand, 2000:33.