Now that I’ve taught the latest Les Mills BODYPUMP 90 group fitness class a few times, I’m ready to share my thoughts in an official review.
For some quick background, Les Mills is an international group fitness brand based out of New Zealand. Each quarter the company “releases” new music, choreography and exercises for each of its 12 programs. I teach three of those programs, including BODYPUMP, CXWORX and BODYATTACK.
Anywhere you go in the world to take a Les Mills class, you can expect it to be taught in the same format, with top-quality instruction and contemporary music. BODYPUMP is not only known for being one of the fastest ways to get in shape, but it’s also known for its music selection.
BODYPUMP 90 truly delivers in the music department, and I expect to have a smile for years to come when hearing all of the songs again on the radio, long after I’ve stopped teaching this release. But of course, I’ve always believed that music can make a huge difference in how you perform and enjoy your workout (for more on that, see my take on music’s official effect on exercise).
BODYPUMP 90 review
During the last few releases, there have been several key changes in BODYPUMP tracks that have continued in BODYPUMP 90, like adding more single and bottom-half combinations to every track. So overall, there is nothing out of the ordinary in this release (except for a little surprise in track eight). It’s not the most physically demanding release to date, but it’s strong, and the music is good.
- Warm-up. “You Make Me” by Avicii. Best warm-up song ever. It just makes me feel good. This warm-up comes at you in three easy-to-remember sets. We’ve never done single clean-and-presses (although with a very light weight) in the warm-up before, and I really like that addition. This warm-up leaves out the biceps, which I think is totally fine. You know what I’d love to see: Part of the warm-up in which we do not use the barbell and get moving a little more dynamically with no weight before the resistance training starts. Maybe one day. For this track, I like to hook into the lyrics when the song says “we are one,” reminding participants about the team effort in BODYPUMP.
- Squats. “What Now” by Rihanna. Just like the last few releases, this track is three sets, with each set nearly identical except for the position of the feet, and there are no official breaks to release the legs. I like moving from mid-stance, to wide-stance to wider-stance, because it really shows participants how the set-up of your feet changes the game in muscle recruitment. There are no big blocks of singles, but the four single/four bottom-half combos offer plenty of work. This is not the hardest squat track ever, but a good one. The key to the right weight selection here is that participants are nearing failure at the end of the last set, thus this should be their heaviest weight of the day.
- Chest. “Conquistador” by Thirty Seconds to Mars. Different song, but good. I enjoyed the plate chest flies of the last two releases, but this particular track has the class using the barbell the entire time, save for one break in the middle. There is a new combination of four top-halves followed by four bottom-halves, which is fine, but the real work comes in the half-way down hold stagger moves for an isometric challenge. That’s where you really feel it. As an instructor, you have to be precise and exaggerated in the staggers and halfway movements so your class sees the change in depth and range.
- Back. “Promises” by Nero. I love this song. This track has four sets, and only two short phases of clean-and-presses. While it’s good to change it up, I do like the power press moves of releases past. Once again in this release, there is the plate press and squat press with a plate in the final two sets. As an instructor, you should encourage your members to go big here and pick up more than the 10-pound plate. I’ve been able to add another 5-pound plate on top of the 10 for more resistance, which I’ve also suggested to my members. The 12 fast-paced squat presses offer a great chance to feel a little cardio fatigue and provide after-burn effect, in which you continue burning calories after class. Oh and the transitions are quick, so have the plates at the ready.
- Triceps. “Walk of Shame” by Pink. Once again, a super fun song. This triceps track has four sets with the bar and then a set of dips at the end. I’m glad the overhead tricep extension is used in this release, because I don’t like when it’s left out and we only do the tricep press phase. All four sets with the bar are nearly the same, so this one is very easy to learn, coach and teach. Compared to releases in the past, this tricep track is a breeze. I believe I need to pop a plate on my lap during dips at the end, but that isn’t offered as an option in the official choreography notes like it usually is. This would be a good one to go up in weight on the bar. And it’s short, coming in at just above four minutes.
- Biceps. “Miss Jackson” by Panic! At the Disco featuring Lolo. Plate work. I LOVE when we do plate work. Many people (including me) have imbalances in strength in their arms and when you only work with a barbell, you feed those imbalances. The small bicep muscles are the perfect target for single-arm work, and that’s what we do throughout this entire track using the plate curl. I’ve found it’s hard to grip the 10-pound plates for this, but I’ve had success holding both a 5-pound and 2.5-pound plate in one hand safely. It really adds to the burn. This song is fun, and the mid-range pulses are a great training move to get some fluid building up and building strength in your guns. Short track, at just about four minutes.
- Lunges. “Stay the Night” by Zedd featuring Haley Williams. Not a huge fan of this lunge track. I really like it when we have jumping lunges or squats in the lunge track for a little cardio kicker, but this track features straight bar work. We start in squats, then do lunges on each leg. It’s not particularly hard, not particularly exciting. I don’t like the two top-half pulse combination because it doesn’t feel like much. Using chest weight, most of my members seem to feel the fatigue in this one, but I think it could be longer or harder. I’ve gone up in weight on this track with no problem.
- Shoulders. “Thumbs Up” by Kill the Noise. Push-ups, bar work, plate work and more push-ups. This shoulders track has nearly everything we can do to target every part of the shoulders. The song is a little funky, but fun. The weighted work comes at you in two long sets, but somehow this track flies by in no time. In the last set, we do something never done before in BODYPUMP: Encourage members to go as fast as they can in their push-ups without worrying about the beat. It’s a crazy free-for-all, and I like it.
- Core. “Something I Need” by OneRepublic. Straight, honest crunch track. Even though planks, hovers and mountain climbers provide more functional fitness than crunches, I really feel the burn in my core from this track with the crunch pulses at the top. It’s short, easy-to-learn, easy-to-teach, and easy for members to catch onto the moves, which makes it a great core track. But I’d like to bring back the hip bridges with a plate for a little extra posterior chain work to finish up the class.
- Cooldown. “How You Remind Me” by Nickelback. Pretty standard. It seems like the hurdler stretch is here to stay after first making an appearance a few releases ago. If you don’t get your back leg back far enough, you don’t feel anything, so a lot of times I see my members sitting there without much of a stretch with the hurdler, until I can correct them. I wish the Les Mills folks would change-up the cooldown sometime. Maybe we could include some more yoga-like stretching to make it more interesting? What do you think, Glenn? (That’s the creator of BODYPUMP, of course).
There are two alternate tracks available for triceps and biceps, but I haven’t taught those.
This one is a breeze to learn because so many of the sets are repetitive. The key to teaching is to not talk too much. Give the name of the move, the tempo, the range, then wait a little bit to follow up. The music and moves are so good that you don’t need to keep a constant chatter. Tell your participants at the beginning of class to take themselves to fatigue with every song and every muscle group, that’s the key to weight selection as well.
You come to BODYPUMP because you expect quality, awesome music and a great resistance-training workout that targets the full body. You WILL get that with BODYPUMP 90. Try and increase your weight a little bit here and there, and make sure you really listen to the instructor to get your form spot on. Have fun with it!
That’s a wrap, folks. BODYPUMP 90 is officially released, launched and now reviewed.
More Les Mills information
If you enjoyed this review, please check out my previous Les Mills posts:
- CXWORX Initial Training
- BODYATTACK Initial Training
- BODYPUMP Advanced Instructor Module 1
- BODYPUMP Advanced Instructor Module 2
- Les Mills Groundworks
- BODYATTACK Certification
- How to learn Les Mills choreography
- BODYPUMP 101 overview and tips for first-timers
- BODYATTACK 101 overview and tips for first-timers
- BODYPUMP 89 review and launch
- BODYATTACK 84 review
- CXWORX 101 overview and tips for first-timers
- BODYATTACK Advanced Instructor Module 1
- BODYATTACK 85 review
Questions of the day
Have you tried the latest BODYPUMP release? What’s your favorite part of the body to strength train?