8 Amazing BODYPUMP Benefits & 5 Tips for Beginners

Benefits of body pump and beginner tips

How I Got Started With My First Body Pump Workout

A few months after I had baby number 8, a friend invited me to come to a Body Pump class at our local YMCA. What is BodyPump you ask? BodyPump is a group exercise (hold on group haters, don’t click away yet) class that incorporates light barbell weight with high repetition to build lean muscle mass.

Pretty much what that means is it’s PERFECT for those of us who want to build beautiful lean muscles, but aren’t looking to bulk up like the hulk!

After I went with my friend for the first time, I immediately fell in love. Soon afterward, I was going to the class 3 times per week, religiously. Not only did I LOVE the class, the environment, and the instructors, I LOVED knowing that the more muscle I had, the more calories I’d burn while sleeping! (This is a great article that shows what happens with BodyPump and long term calorie burn).

If you’ve been lackluster with your workouts, if you want fast action fun, if you want to workout with people that uplift and inspire you, then you need to check out a Body Pump workout class in your area and see if it’s right for you.

You’ll see in all my pictures that there are men and women of all ages, shapes, and sizes attending and benefiting from BodyPump. My intention is to show you what it’s all about so your interest is peaked enough to go try a class out! And no, I am not at all affiliated with BodyPump or Les Mills… I’m simply sharing something that I love and what has been working for me!

Body pump workout class photo

What is BodyPump

  • BodyPump actually started back in the ’90s in New Zealand and is put out by Les Mills.
  • You can find it in more than 19,000 gyms and clubs and YMCA’s in 100 countries around the world. There are more than 130,000 certified instructors! Wow!
  • It’s a cardio based weight training program that incorporates a barbell and weight plates into a fun 55-minute full body workout.
  • Rather than bulk your muscles up by doing heavy weight and low reps, Body Pump does the opposite! You’ll use low weights and high reps, they call it the REP EFFECT. The REP EFFECT works because muscles are exhausted while using light weight and performing high repetitions.
  • In a typical class, you’ll do between 800 and 1000 reps, and you’ll do it with an instructor coaching you and modeling the movement, in a group class setting – plus you’ll burn up to 560 calories during the class (source).
  • Every three months Les Mills releases a new workout with new music and new timing/choreography, but the foundation is the same. To prevent boredom and keep our bodies/muscles guessing, the instructor will switch to a different release every two weeks.

Outside of a gym

8 Body Pump Benefits I Love

I used to HATE group fitness classes. I tried them several times too… but I’d ALWAYS leave feeling ridiculous. Let’s be honest here… this girl (me) is seriously lacking in the coordination department. Keeping up with step and aerobics was incredibly discouraging to me and I simply didn’t like it.

So, why am I now proclaiming my love for BodyPump… especially since there IS a flippin’ step involved? Read on my friend… read on.

Body pump barbell

1. BodyPump is predictable.

This is PERFECT for those of us that are NOT coordinated. Once you get past the learning curve, you’ll realize the “routine” of BodyPump.

P.S. – The step is NOT used like it is for a traditional step class. We use it instead as a “bench” for working during the chest track, sometimes tricep track, and even the core track.

2. I love the choreography and timing.

The synergy that comes when the whole class is working at the same beat is very motivating! There is seriously a zipping energy that comes from doing the same movements at the same time as everyone else in the room with you!

If I’m in the gym lifting all by myself, it’s so much easier to cheat on the number of reps because I’m not accountable to anyone. Group synergy is a real thing, people!

Bodypump workout class

3. I love the music!

92% of the time I love the music. It’s energizing, modern and fun! Any BodyPumper can be driving in the car, or walking in the store and hear a BodyPump song and immediately know what part of the class that song is from and start doing the choreography!

You can find many of the songs on this big ol playlist on Spotify (note that I listen to it outside of class to energize myself… also note that all songs are edited, so if it’s an explicit song on the radio, it’s NOT in BodyPump class).

4. I love the weights!

If your gym has the official Les Mills bars and plates, it’s crazy easy to get your weight on the bar. The bars are only 7 pounds and comfortable to hold. Here’s how the plates work:

  • Small plate – 2.2 pounds
  • Medium plate – 5.5 pounds
  • Large plate – 11 pounds

You can put up to 6 plates on your bar, so it’s easy to add on weight and challenge yourself as you progress over the weeks and months. OR if you’re not having a fueled day, it’s easy to swap your weight out to make it manageable but still challenging.

Body pump workout weights

5. You can change your body and challenge yourself.

This is what I love the most… I love getting stronger, I love changing the composition of my body, and I love the challenge of BodyPump.

In the beginning, the challenge was just to finish the class. Now I love to challenge myself by going up in my weight. If my elbow pits aren’t sweating by the end of the squat track, then I know it’s time to add weight to my bar. 😅

6. Anyone can do this.

I see a lot of people aged 60+ doing Body Pump! It is incredibly customizable because YOU do the weight (or even just bodyweight) that works for you!

If you’ve never lifted weights in your life, you can still do this class! There is a LOT of science involved and the certified instructors are trained to teach the technique. The classes and choreography are based on science and will work for everyone’s physiology! It’s actually an excellent way to incorporate weights in your life!

Body pump class photo

7. I love the community.

The people that go to body pump are positive, encouraging, and great to be around! I love working out beside the women (and men) that consistently come to BodyPump. The group fitness structure holds you accountable.

It’s pretty awesome to see others lifting weights and I think it helps break that barrier when you see other people pushing themselves, it encourages you to push yourself too.

8. It improves my mental health.

When I push myself and break through my mental barriers by doing 1000 reps in an hour, I feel great not only physically but mentally as well. I’ve also got an excellent instructor pushing me, encouraging me, and inspiring me to do better and stick through it.

I ALWAYS feel so great when I finish a class knowing that I am a stronger person than I was when I when I walked in that room.

Body pump workout

55 Minute Body Pump Workout Routine

  • Warm up – Start out with the small plates and then build from there over time
  • Squat track – You’ll do about 80-100 reps in 5-ish minutes and this will be your heaviest weight on your bar and is typically 2-4 times your warm-up weight. If you’re new, just double your warm-up weight. After several weeks, start doing more weight… you’ll be surprised at what you can do! This is a great way to start your workout!
  • Chest Track – You’ll drop your weight by about 1/3 to 1/2 and use the bar and a step bench
  • Back Track – You’ll use a bar and sometimes a weight plate too. This one always gets my heart rate up!
  • Tricep Track – Sometimes you’ll use a bar or a plate, and/or you’ll do dips and/or tricep pushups… I love this one!
  • Bicep Track – Pretty straightforward here… you’ll use the bar and/or plates and do approx 5 minutes of bicep curls!
  • Lunge Track – This is the most challenging for me… start with just your bodyweight. In the beginning, my goal was to get thru a lunge track without stopping! Then once that’s mastered, I started adding weight.
  • Shoulder Track  – You’ll want to use light weight since you’re working such small muscles! I’m always thrilled when I can do 100% of this track!
  • Core Track – Sometimes you’ll use the bench and/or plates… working your core is so important!
  • Cooldown – Always a great feeling!

Body pump class back track

5 Tips for Your First Body Pump Workout

If you want your first workout to be as fun and effective as possible, follow my body pump tips for beginners!

1. Introduce yourself

Get to know the instructor a bit and let her/him know you’re new. OR find someone in the class that looks like they’ve been there before. They will happily help you get set up and give some advice! They are there teaching pump because they LOVE it too! So utilize them!

2. Go light on the weight

Even if you’ve been lifting in the gym, you’ll be doing a LOT more reps than what you’re used to. You won’t be able to squat 150 pounds for non-stop 5 minutes. Go light!!

Start learning good technique, increase flexibility and movement, and then you can start adding more weight. There is NOTHING wrong with starting just with body weight if you want to.

Body pump class photo

3. Don’t feel self-conscious

No one is watching what you’re doing (except a good instructor). Everyone is focusing on their own form… talking themselves through the class. If anything, they are proud of you for walking in the room and starting something new and really hope you come back again!

4. Do the “Smart Start”

For your first class, you can just do the first 4 tracks and then come again in two days and do the first 5 tracks. Then come again the next week and do 6 tracks and so on… build up to the full 55-minute class over a couple of weeks. Do this especially if you haven’t been physically active up until this point.

Body pump class

5. Be kind to yourself.

You’re learning something new. Everyone in that room has been in your shoes before. You’ll get off beat, you’ll have a hard time understanding the clean and press during the backtrack. It’s OK! Just do the best you can. You’re already a winner because you’re in that room! Don’t give up!

4 Body Pump Recovery Tips

1. STRETCH & Foam Roll

You WILL be sore. To this day I take an extra 15 minutes after the class and stretch and use the foam roller in the gym.

When I bump up my weight or push myself extra hard, I will foam roll at night at home too. I own this foam roller and love having it in my home. It’s a must-have for me!

Body pump class lunge

2. Drink Lots of Water

When you lift, you are tearing your muscles (so they can then rebuild even stronger). Hydrating will help flush your body out and help you get rid of those sore muscles faster. Plus it’s just good for you!

3. Take an Epsom Salt Bath

It is a great natural way to relax muscles. This is the detox bath recipe I use… except, when I’m needing support for my muscles, I use lavender or Deep Blue instead of OnGuard. Just make sure you drink a LOT of water when you take this muscle soak to stay hydrated!

Cathy at body pump

4. Go Back to BodyPump (Even if You’re Sore)

First of all, who wouldn’t want to go back and hang with the great people at pump. But honestly, I’ve found that the act of moving my body again, even though I’m still sore, helps me get over the pain and stiffness faster!

Don’t wait. Go back. Your body will acclimate faster. If you’re in a lot of pain, just ease back on the weights. But it’s so important to keep going! Plus it’s just such a great environment to be a part of. Go back!

Cathy and her Body Pump workout class

Body Pump is Good For You

For a while, I pretty much stopped going to BodyPump because of how busy things were here on the blog. Not only did I miss out on the physical benefits of BodyPump, I really missed out on what it did for me mentally.

Even if I leave my house feeling tired and not 100% wanting to go, I go. By the time I arrive, I’m feeling more mentally ready. And by the time I walk out of that class, I am ALWAYS happier, more energized, and empowered. I ALWAYS feel stronger… not just physically, but mentally.

I’m now back to BodyPump and committed to doing it 3 times per week… no matter what! I’m a better wife, mom, and CEO when I have Body Pump in my life. It’s non-negotiable for me now. I am worth it. And so are you. Go find yourself a BodyPump class here.

Are you a BodyPump lover? Share why you love it in the comments below!

Body pump benefits and tips for beginners


  • I LOVE BodyPump!! I started going over 2.5 years ago (because of you, Cathy!) and am so grateful. It has been one of the best “self care” pieces that has gotten me through the past 3 extremely difficult school years while my husband has been in a very intense Master’s Program. It truly has helped me mentally as well– to KNOW that I can do hard things. Really hard things, like to keep pushing through the squat track, even though my legs are burning!!! I often talk myself through those last few reps with “I am strong. I am powerful. I am capable. I can do hard things!” When I finish class, I feel such a sense of accomplishment. This has changed my mindset and helped me know that I could get through hard things in life, too.

  • I”m a BodyPump instructor (and BodyFlow and CXWorx) and I love this article! I’m sharing it to promote my own classes! Thank you for writing such an informative article!

  • I like you fel in love with bodypump from my first glass. I’m 57 and have been doing it now 4 times a week for 18 months. My 29 year old son introduced me to bodypump as he thought I would like it. (he was right)
    I had been struggling to get motivation in doing solo gym work and was looking for something more social as I worked mainly on my own all day. I too listen to bodypump releases on Spotify and have a habit of counting during the music(sometimes out loud much to my family’s disgust) the whole family is going on a cruise this year(3 children) and I have recorded some of the body pump classes and we are all going to do bodypump in the ships gym with wireless headphones, bit like a silent disco but bodypump 😂
    This article is spot on and talkes about all the things I love about bodypump. Well done excellent work 💪🏋️‍♂️

    • Ps. Just started doing body attack, it’s good and next week I’m adding grit to the mix. It’s easy to get hooked on les Mills work outs, they have got it just right.

      • Oh YES… attack is a great challenge. I haven’t been able to fit it back into my schedule, but so great! And GRIT is awesome! I’ve only done it once when I was out of town and visited a different gym. I *think* my YMCA is going to be getting it soon!!

    • Thank you David! That is SO awesome that you’ve been so consistent and sticking with it! Way to go! Ironically, a few months after I originally wrote this post I decided to train to become an instructor… I’ve been teaching for about 9 months now and LOVE it!! Thank you for your comment. #addictedtobodypump 🙂

  • I love this class. I just took a BodyPump class today and I never felt not just sore, but motivated to just try to do it. This was the very first BodyPump class that I was ever apart of and I’m enjoying it so far.

    It’s been a struggle for me to lose the weight ever since I had Gastric Sleeve Surgery back in 2013. Now, 6 years post-op, I am starting to find my way again. It’s still a struggle for me, but I feel now this class will help me become strong.

    This article was a big help for me. Thanks so much

    • Tanisha! That is so awesome!! It’s such an empowering class… I’m glad you found it! Keep going… even when you’re sore on Wednesday… it will be good to move your body (even though you’ll be hurting!). Just keep the weight light until you start getting a hang of the moves. 🙂 YAY! Congrats!

  • Pump Aerobics was invented by John Boom in Boomas Gym in Manly Australia in 1990.

  • I’ve been doing BodyPump for almost 20 years. Nothing else comes close for maintaining a healthy weight and muscle tone. The classes are motivational and have always kept me coming back.

  • Absolutely love body pump. Have been going for 6 years and like many is a must for me. Body confidence, my mental health and energy all improve thanks to my classes. Absolutely hooked !

  • I started doing Body Pump a couple months ago. I usually do 2-3 classes of Body Pump and also do a Tabata class one day a week. I am going to be 56 tomorrow! and I am considering getting my Les Mills Body Pump Certification . I need to take classes for about 6 more months and then I should be ready. In the meantime, I am considering getting my CPT thru ISSA or ACE.

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