What is BODYPUMP: BODYPUMP 101 overview and first-timer tips

A BODYPUMP review!

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It’s one of the most popular group fitness classes in the world, and it’s my favorite way to work out. Let’s talk about everything you need to know about the Les Mills BODYPUMP workout, including what is BODYPUMP and what to expect in your first BODYPUMP class.

What is BODYPUMP: BODYPUMP 101 overview and first-timer tips

What is BODYPUMP_ BODYPUMP 101 overview and first-timer tips by A Lady Goes West


Those of you who have been reading A Lady Goes West for a while know that I have been teaching Les Mills BODYPUMP classes for many years.

You’ll see the name pop up many days on the blog. And maybe you have friends who take the class or maybe you have always wanted to try it yourself. No matter what, I wanted to share what a BODYPUMP class really entails. (For more information on my journey in the world of working out, head on over to the Fitness page.)

Here’s a rundown, or a BODYPUMP 101, if you will.

What type of workout is BODYPUMP?

BODYPUMP is a resistance-based or weight-training group fitness program, created by a company called Les Mills International out of New Zealand. According to Les Mills, BODYPUMP is:

“The original barbell workout that strengthens and tones your entire body.”

Standard BODYPUMP class

A standard BODYPUMP class has 10 tracks, or 10 songs, running about 55 minutes long. Each song, outside of the warm-up and cool-down, targets a main area of the body.

Because BODYPUMP is a pre-choreographed program, every single BODYPUMP class, no matter where you take it in the 100 countries around the world where it is offered, will run in this order.

  1. Warm-up
  2. Squats
  3. Chest
  4. Back
  5. Triceps
  6. Biceps
  7. Lunges
  8. Shoulders
  9. Abs/core
  10. Cool-down

There are also 30- and 45-minute express versions of BODYPUMP, which feature just a few major muscle groups, beginning with a warm-up.


The moves include a variety, aimed at targeting every muscle group. A typical class will feature deadlifts, deadrows, upright rows, squats, chest presses, clean and presses, tricep dips, overhead tricep extensions, tricep push-ups, bicep curls, plate curls, lunges, push-ups, overhead plate presses, rotator raises, crunches, hovers and of course, stretching at the end.

You don’t need to know what any of the moves are to be successful in BODYPUMP, because the instructor will describe what you need to do with your body for each during class. Once you start going to class regularly, you may start to remember the names of the moves and even start to learn which muscles each works.

Equipment for BODYPUMP

To do a BODYPUMP workout, you will need a barbell with weight plates, a bench-top with risers and a mat. During the chest and tricep tracks, participants lay back on the bench-top.

And I highly recommend the Les Mills SMARTBAR system. You can get a discount on it with my code ASHLEY10 here.

BODYPUMP 100 class overview and tips for first-timers by A Lady Goes West

What to know as a first-timer to BODYPUMP

Because there is a lot of equipment needed, it can be scary to enter your first BODYPUMP class. There’s no need to be intimidated, because even the loyal regulars and the instructor (like me), has been there as a first-timer before.

I recommend that you go in with an open mind and consider these tips:

  • Show up a little bit early and introduce yourself to the instructor, that way they can tell you what to expect and keep an eye on you.
  • Set up close enough to the front so you can see the instructor’s full body.
  • Don’t worry about the weight other people are using during class. Stay light with the weight on your first few visits, maybe starting with one small or medium plate on each side of your bar, with a couple of extra small plates.
  • Listen to the instructor’s cues for how to move your body. Don’t stare at yourself in the mirror and zone out, but follow the directions of the voice on the microphone. Instructors are there for a reason, and that’s to help you do it right and move safely and effectively.
  • Feel free to put the bar down at any time. Even if you do the entire first class with just a bar with no weights, or with no weights at all, you will still get a workout.
  • Please don’t worry about your neighbor or feel competitive. Nobody is looking at you. In fact, most people are so busy worrying about themselves they won’t even glance in your direction.

How hard is it?

The beauty of BODYPUMP is that you can make it as hard as you want, by increasing your weight as you get stronger. You can also take low-option moves, which will be demoed by the instructor if they are available during a particular track. And if you don’t feel right doing any particular move, you can skip it, or do your own slight modification.

During class, we do typically 70-100 reps per song, with a total of 800-1,000 reps per class. While there is a break between each song to stretch and regroup, you do spend most of the time working under tension.

As an instructor, I do the full workout along with the class, standing in the front of the room.

What’s the best thing about the class?

It’s been called one of the fastest ways to get in shape, as it challenges every major muscle group with high reps during each class. If you don’t lift weights, it’s a great way to get into resistance training with the help of the group vibe and an instructor on the mic. If you do lift weights, the class offers you a chance to challenge yourself with longer sets, in which you may move quickly from exercise to exercise and improve your overall fitness.

But most of all, BODYPUMP has great music and it goes by quickly, especially if you have a motivating teacher taking you through it.

Other posts you may like

Disclaimer: BODYPUMP may not be right for everyone, so make sure you check with your doctor before trying a class. And if you do go, have fun!

Questions of the day

Do you have any questions about BODYPUMP?

Have you ever been to a group fitness class before?

For those out there who love BODYPUMP, what’s your favorite track?

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  1. I made my way to your blog from Annette’s, but I realized when I got here I’d read your AIM2 recap some other instructor friends had shared on fb awhile back. 🙂

    This is a great 101! I love bringing people to Pump – though in several years I still haven’t managed to convince my parents to try it. 😉

    My favorite is usually Back, but I’m totally music driven so my favorite track in any given class or release is subject to change. 🙂

    1. Hi Breanne,
      Thanks for stopping by. I know, I do the same thing with trying to bring others to my class. I’ve brought my Mom, brother, husband and tons of friends, but never my Dad. Back is always a good one, but I think I’m probably partial to lunges and shoulders. Come back again to keep track of my Les Mills ramblings. 🙂

        1. Hi Kim!

          How do you know Annette? Annette and I have connected through the healthy living blogger community of course.

          Thanks for stopping by the blog. Hope you’re doing well:)

  2. Seems how I somewhat lack with my range of motion, core stability and balance, would one of those large balls that are usually found at a gym be a good starting point? One of my BP teachers Jackie and I worked and talked for about 5-10 minutes last Monday after class on the lunges and was recommended not to use weights for the next couple of weeks. It’s all because of how I stand, walk and my gait. Any opions? I would love to hear them.

  3. I really want to get in shape and am interested in bodypump at my local gym. However, I am scared to go as I feel intimidated with the people that might be there and it would be the early class and I feel that is the time that the hardcore people go. Any advice?

    1. Hi Caris! First of all, don’t be scared. Everyone has been a first-timer before. Follow my tips above, talk to the instructor and get there early. Even if everyone is hard-core, you can use whatever weights you are comfortable with. And rest assured, no one will be judging you! Have fun with it! You’ll learn to LOVE BODYPUMP and be so glad you went. But of course, feel free to stay for only have the class during your first time. That’s totally okay. 🙂

  4. I don’t have any dumbells laying around at all. I walked across the street from where I work to leave something for a teacher that I had and I walked in the door of my former gym. This person just starred at me. No hi how are you or what happened to you. Anyways, when I asked if I could leave something for my former teacher Kelly she was asking me who was your teacher, what class does she teach and why. I wanted to just tell her off. I wanted to say ” who had a disaster here? You or me?”

    1. Hi Terra, I’m really sorry that you’ve had to go through some uncomfortable situations at your gym. I hope this type of thing doesn’t happen to you again!

    1. Hi Terra, I responded to this question earlier today on another comment. 🙂 Did you get it? Check out my Fitness & Workout page for some dumbbell workouts to do at home. And be careful of course! 🙂

  5. To be honest, I wasn’t the most sure footed person in the class. I would be looking at myself in the mirror on the lunge track and I’d get the ” Terra not a good idea.” My squats were kinda suffering one time and my gyms good old fitness manager Doug showed up right next to me and I got the ” get lower,” I tried so hard not to laugh.

  6. I will really try hard to get back into exercise. I just need a giant kick in the rear end and just pray to the Lord that he’ll just give me the strength and the desire to get back to it. I’m a little surprised that Doug didn’t say anything about personal training sessions to get be back on track.

  7. I checked out your page and I did find some dumbell exercises, however, my desire for exercise has completely dissapered. My teachers Jackie and Kelly along with the fitness manager Doug did a good job trying to keep me moving at the gym when I didn’t feel like it. I don’t dare tell my brother and sister-in law because they will pester me to death.

  8. I think my other problem was with my Wed night BP classmates. My gym got this fitness manager by the name of Doug in October and it didn’t take him long to start showing up in my Wed night class. No big deal to me or my teacher Kelly. She knew me pretty dang well not to say anything to me about it. Anyways, after about two weeks of him showing up, I started getting comments from my classmates and just did my best to ignore it. The more I think about it, I should’ve approached Kelly outside the classroom and should’ve told her what was being said. However, I never did do you think I was stupid not to do that? If my other teacher Jackie ever had known, she would’ve probably thrown a fit. I did my best to approach two of my classmates but I just gave up.

  9. Thanks for this post! I’m trying BodyPump for the first time tomorrow and it is great to have some idea what I am in for!

  10. I am writing this upon stumbling on your blog and taking my first Body Pump class this morning. IT. WAS ROUGH. Towards the end I was shaking and thinking to myself, “I don’t think I’ll ever come back”. It was definitely a thorough work out and I’m sure will feel good when I can get up the stairs haha but I’m a little taken aback. I have a feeling that part of the issue is that I am out of shape and need to work my way up. I only used the 2.2 and 5 lb weights, but I feel even that may have been too much. I am going to try again next week and take your advice and voice those concerns to the instructor so that I can focus on form and build myself up. Do you have any more tips for beginners to keep going?

    1. Hi Olivia! So glad you made it through a whole class! You can totally stay for half the class next time, then build up each time by staying for one more track. That way you don’t get TOO tired. You can also put the bar down at any time any just use your own bodyweight. Also, make sure you have good posture, brace your core during all the moves, and try to complete good range of motion — just as the instructor tells you to. 🙂 Let me know if you have any other questions!!

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