Is BodyPump for Men?

Ladies often dominate BodyPump classes - and that's the first thing most men notice when they first walk in the room. Sure, there's a few guys here and there, but they're clearly outnumbered. Then there's the plastic weights, the hollow bar, and the little step then they use for a bench. Is this stuff for real? How's a guy supposed to get a real workout in a place like this?

Most men stick around though, maybe because their girlfriend or wife put them up to it, or maybe because they've heard it's a lot of fun - so why not give it a chance. The little warm-up thing isn't too challenging, and the squat thing was interesting. So now it's time for chest presses, so let's get down to business...

And that's usually the beginning of the end. Guys look around the room, figure they should move at least as much as the ladies, so they slide some extra weight on the bar. Because after all, these are plastic weights. But by the time the sixth track (biceps) ends it isn't fun anymore - everything hurts, the music seems to go on and on, and what's the deal with all the reps anyway? Although most guys stick it out to the end of their first class, most never come back.

I've observed this same scenario play out in class after class. If I'm lucky, I'll manage to catch a new guy before class, or right afterwards (if they stay that long!). And if they'll listen, I try to impress upon them one key fact - it's not about the weight. If I can get them to ignore what the gal in front of them is moving and keep their own weights on the light side, they'll probably have a good time, and maybe even come back again.

But that's easier said than done. I know, because I went through it - had my wife Tami not been a BodyPump instructor I'd probably never have even tried the class, let alone stick with it. In fact, after six months of struggling with bar weights that I couldn't properly handle - and seeing absolutely no evidence that I was getting any results - I was ready to chuck the whole thing.

But just as I was about to call it quits on this latest "fitness failure", I watched one of the BodyPump instructor videos that Tami used for her practice work. The form that these guys demonstrated was absolutely exquisite - and it was clear that they had somehow gotten results at this sort of thing. So I decided to give it one last shot - this time, though, I drastically reduced my weights, and finally started focusing on my form. In less than two months I started seeing results - and by the following year I had earned my BodyPump instructor certification. At 40 years old I'm in the best shape of my life - far better than in my 20's and 30's.

BodyPump Success Plan For Men

I'm here to tell you that BodyPump - the most successful group fitness program in history - works. The head choreographer is Mike McSweeney, who has been involved with program development for nearly 15 years. Here's how to make it work for you:
  • Focus on form - It's not about the weight. Weight doesn't get you results, form does. Nail the form. Remember: if it's worth doing, it's worth doing right.

  • Be there - Anything you do consistently for a month will become a habit. Pick a class time, put it on your schedule, and stick with it.

  • Get rest - Do the class three times a week, and never two days in a row. Rest is every bit as important as the workout, so make sure you get to bed at a decent hour.
Here's my suggestions for weights to get you started. Jot these down on paper, then bring it - along with a pen - to class so that you can make notes. Naturally, you should make appropriate adjustments if you have any past or current injuries that might be aggravated by the routines.

Although the music may differ, every BodyPump class follows the same 10 routines in this order:
  • Warm-up - One medium plate on each side of the bar. You can increase this to a large plate later - but no matter how experienced you are, you should never warm up with more than a large plate on each side of the bar.

  • Squats - One large and one medium plate on each side of the bar. If you have any sort of prior knee injury, then go to a small and a medium - or work without the bar.

  • Chest - One large plate on each side of the bar.

  • Back and Hamstrings - One large plate on each side of the bar.

  • Triceps - One medium and one small plate on each side of the bar. There may be some work with a single plate - if so, pick a medium or small plate to work with.

  • Biceps - One medium and one small plate on each side of the bar.

  • Lunges - I highly recommend working without the bar. To this day I rarely, if ever, work with weights while doing lunges. Proper lunge form is difficult enough to attain without weights. Nail the form before graduating to the bar.

  • Shoulders - One medium and one small plate on each side of the bar. There will likely be work with plates as well, so I recommend using mediums or smalls for those.

  • Abs - No weight needed. Effective ab work requires focus, so keep your mind on the job during this routine!

  • Cool-Down - No weight needed. Stick around for this, though - neglect the cool-down and you most certainly will pay the price. Maybe not right away, but in time. Trust me on this.
I hope that these suggestions are helpful. But don't stop here - I encourage you to continue your research and - most of all - stick with the program!
27 Comment(s):
On 03 May, 2005, Blogger pipera said...

I have been with Bodypump since 1999. I can say for one thing that back then I was the only man in the class for such a long time, then another came in.

The classes today are more evenly packed.

I guess back then Group Fitness was marketed for women with the images etc.. Today it is note evenly spread.

I also have noticed that men still prefer combat above Bodypump.

On 07 June, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I couldn’t agree more with you Craig! I attended my first bodypump class about six months ago, and like most men decided I could lift much more weight that the majority of the class who were tiny, slim girls, half my size. I bet you can guess the result… I couldn’t walk or move my arms properly for a week and was in sheer agony.

Last night I went back and used the lightest weights in the class. I swallowed my ego and male pride and got stuck in, and guess what… I loved it!

I managed the whole class, forgot about all the other people there and what they were lifting, and concentrated on my form. I can walk and move properly today and feel truly energised. I think the instructor was so encouraging because he could see that I was new from the (weedy) weights I was using, which suit me just fine. I needed his support!

My advice is that you can always add more weight as time progresses, which is much better solution to being so depressed by over exertion and failure in one class, that it takes you six month to get to another. Thanks for the inspiration Craig… looking forward to my next class...tomorrow!

On 07 June, 2005, Blogger Craig Warman said...

Thank you very much for sharing that, it's encouraging to know that this was helpful to you!

On 12 November, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Even as a woman, I had some fears in continuing Bodypump, watching woman half the size of me lifting 3 times the weight. I procrastinated and didn't regularly attend classes feeling a little embarassed on my form. I tried to match the other woman in the class after not doing Bodypump for quite a while, which left me unable to walk for a coupe of days. I'm now consistently participating in 2 to 3 classes each week and feeling stronger and seeing results.

Come and join the classes guys, we all feel a bit overwhelmed after the first class! It takes everyone time to get into the programme and for your body to adapt, just like RPM classes.

On 20 July, 2006, Anonymous Paul Short UK said...

I started Bodypump about 4 years ago as part of a Xmas challenge. I must say I am a great fan of pump and attend classes at least twicw a week and mix this with my cardio and resistance training. At 45 I also am in the best shape of my life and look very toned, and if this is your goal then pump fits the bill. I like to play the pump music on the way to the class which helps with motivation and I have also found that since participating in the class I have made friendships with other pump members who regularily attend. Its a great sense of achievement at the end of each class when you've pulled it off again.
It is difficult at first to gauge the weight as being Alpha male we do want to load the bar but form ios important and I have found that by attending pump my form in the weightroom has improved. Over time I have increased my weight in pump but it would be worth clarifying what large and medium weight is we range from 10kg, 5kg, 2.5kg to 1.5kg and although it is a challenge I do like to carry the weight on the lunge track which hepls develope the core. One final piece of advice is to work with a smile and sing if the mode takes you that way, awesome.

On 22 August, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am 35, had never exrecised before in my life and was unfit tot he extereme. After three months of bodypump (very light weights) I am amazed at the way my body has changed shape. I tried the heavy weights but coulnd not do it.

On 28 September, 2006, Anonymous liddic1 said...

I've been doing Pump for about 6 years now. Every one of the instructors I've met is motivating and is genuinely concerned that your fitness goals are achieved. I agree though that these classes are still largely attended by women - too bad, because the Pump weightlifting techniques can be used effectively in the weightroom by us men. I have one observation about Pump equipment, specifically about the bars. They should have bars designed better for men. The standard bar is not thick enough for a larger hand to hold easily and if you can push a lot of weight on the squat track, you can't get enough weight on either end before you run out of bar. One Pump instructor I know had 2 custom bars made for the stronger men at our club. One bar is slightly thicker and has the weightstops located farther into the bar's centre so that more weight can be loaded on either end. It's also solid steel, weighing about 14 lbs, compared to the standard bar's 2 lbs. The second custom bar, also solid steel and also a larger diameter, is for triceps and biceps. It's about half the length of the standard bar, so it promotes a handgrip that's closer to the torso and discourages splaying of the elbows, especially during tricep extensions, so you're form is better and there's less chance of injury to the shoulders. Just inside of the weighstops where the bar is held, the metal is scored so you can grip better. This shorter bar weighs about 7 lbs. Thanks to Terri for having this equipment made and introducing me to BodyPump!

On 30 January, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It took me a long time to get to my first Pump class - not due to a pride thing, I'd much prefer to work out with housewives than beefy tossers (and I'm a guy! hehehe). I had some silly pre-conceived ideas about group exercise that were quite unfounded. I'm really glad I finally found the guts to give it a try.

My Gym actually runs a "Pump Tech" class once a week which is a half-hour crash course in Pump form and technique. It was the best thing I could have done, as I had the opportunity to build up a rapport with the instructor who was running the ensuing class, and I was also there learning the moves with other acknowledged novices.

If your gym runs something similar, do it! If your gym doesn't, ask them why! It's so much more encouraging and less intimidating.

Next up, BodyAttack Tech!

On 19 February, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

anonymous I am a 65 year old female and have attended body pump classes for about 4 years I absolutely love it and our instuctor is fantastic really encouraging you to join in. I dont lift the large weights but can manage the medium and small ones The other day a friend commented on what a nice bum I had never been told that even in my twentys. All thanks to body pump Hope to keep pumping for a lot longer

On 01 July, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Does anyone know where/how I can order body pump equipment in the US?

On 01 July, 2007, Blogger Tami W. said...

On 09 July, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love being one of the few guys in the class. Working out with women is fun!

Jason from Carrboro, NC

On 05 October, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What would you suggest for someone who likes strength training and body pump. I like the endurance and the strength work out, body pump alone doesn't feel like enough for me. I have a hard time finding a balance between the 2. Thanks!!

On 16 November, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Man I loved this article on weight x form.
It fitted like a glove!

On 18 August, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm planning on taking my first Body Pump class this week. Could you make weight recommendations per exercise for a beginner woman?


On 09 February, 2009, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am a 29 yo male and I am taking my first body pump class this very week!

In between those 3 bodypump sessions throughout the week, is it ok if I stick a couple of weight lifting sessions, or some cardio?
Or should I do weight lifting on the same day as my bodypump class (provided I survive this one, I know LOL)?

Thanx for your contributions! ;-)

On 09 April, 2009, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm 38 years old. I've been lifting "heavy" since I was in high school; bodybuilding and power-lifting routines. High weight, low reps.

After my last lifting cycle, I sat down and took a hard look at what I've accomplished. I have multiple injuries; tendinosis in my left elbow, bad shoulders, bad knees and a plague of back spasms.

Is this what I want for myself? While having great strength and a great degree of muscular density, I'm still overweight. I did very little cardio and rarely strayed from my "lift heavy or go home" dogma.

Realizing that I'm not a professional athlete nor bodybuilder and don't have the aspirations nor genetics to become one, I had to ask myself what I'm really trying to accomplish. What good is benching 365lbs if simple tasks such as carrying groceries cause me pain and discomfort in my joints?

I learned about BodyPump from one of my co-workers. She told me all about it and I was immediately intrigued. I had never heard of it before and the thought of doing "aerobics with weights" (my own conclusion) sounded...interesting.

I researched BodyPump before I attended my first class and I realized that I was going to have to shelve my ego if I was going to make the best of it.

Sure enough, I found my bulky self standing amidst a throng of aerobic beauty queens. I felt foolish as I stood with my tiny bar loaded up with what amounted to about 15lbs of weight.

Meanwhile, the gazelle-like beauty next to me had her bar loaded up with nearly 60lbs. I was embarrassed, but I kept telling myself that this was something I had to do to get the results that I wanted.

I barely finished my first squat track. My quads burned an unholy, fiery flame and, at one point, actually reached muscular failure. Needless to say, I was not used to this kind of tempo and volume.

My typical squat sets of the past involved five sets of five reps and, sometimes, even fewer sets with the most amount of weight that I could handle. The sets were short and the rest in between each set was long.

Here I am in BodyPump class doing a tiny fraction of my regular lifts, but I'm doing over 100 reps in a period of just a few minutes. I'm building capillaries and vascular support that didn't exist before because it just wasn't needed in my textbook, anaerobic workouts.

The other tracks were equally humbling. Why am I benching 15lbs when the 130lb "stick-girl" next to me is benching three-times as much? It's a tough pill to swallow when you're the big, new guy.

The soreness that followed my initial workout was epic. I waddled like a duck for three days.

But, it became better. Oh yes, my brothers and sisters, it most definitely became better.

The bulky muscles that I had built in my prior years were "coming out"; they were becoming "longer", more flexible and extremely defined.

My overall appearance improved significantly and, naturally, my health improved as well. My injuries became a thing of the past as my joints were now being used in a manner to which they could repair themselves. The tendinosis in my left elbow hasn't bothered me in a very long time.

I am very happy with BodyPump. I'm happier, healthier and, gosh darnit, I'm looking pretty damn snazzy, too.

The moment I decided to drop my ego and compete only against myself was the day I made real, positive progress.

BodyPump may not be for everyone, but it certainly has allowed me to redefine my goals and, ultimately, my life. I'm grateful for it every single day.

On 09 April, 2009, Blogger Tami and Craig Warman said...

Thank you so much for your comment! It is wonderful
when people like you write in and let us know how Body Pump changed your life. It makes all the work we put into teaching class all worth it. Keep up the amazing work!!

Tami and Craig

PS: Do you have any before and after shots??Thank you so much for your comment! It is wonderful
when people like you write in and let us know how Body Pump changed your life. It makes all the work we put into teaching class all worth it. Keep up the amazing work!!

Tami and Craig

PS: Do you have any before and after shots??

On 03 June, 2009, Anonymous Flies4fun said...

After being diagnosed with insulin resistant pre-diabetes, I took my first BP class April 6 2009 and had to sit down after biceps. At 42 and 280lbs it was the first exercise I had in years. The club manager offered me challenge, complete with before and after pictures and measurements if I would commit to 6 weeks, 3 days a week. I did it, got my $25 reward and still at it. I can't imagine not going now. I've lost 10 lbs, several inches, my clothes fit better, feel better than I have in years and now at week 9, can finish the entire class having increased weights on most tracks. I haven't had muscles like this since high school. I can't wait for another six week evaluation and look forward to every class.

On 03 August, 2009, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ive been doing body pump since 2000 and it has changed the way I work out. I used to workout with my husband who was a body builder so I would workout like a man. Bi's and Tri's, chest and shoulders etc. It seemed to take so long and I got bored with it. I like working my whole body 3 times a week so i have time for my cardio as well. I can get all of it in and remain thin and less bulky.

I am looking for the equimpment as well, did someone find where you can buy it in th US????

On 12 September, 2010, Blogger Jānis said...

What weight exactly do you refer to as a "small", "middle", "large" plate? In our club we have 1kg, 2.5kg and 5kg plates, and recently 10kg have appeared too.

On 20 September, 2010, Blogger Robert said...

I'm sure he's referring to one's you mentioned (minus the 10kg) I don't think Tami and Craig keep this blog active anymore.

On 21 July, 2012, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I took my first body pump class today on a whim. I am 54 years olds and a overweight male, about 238lbs. I was helped by two ladies in their 40's. They had me start out with one plate on a barbell. Both ladies used a large plate. I was a little embarrased on how weak I was compared to the lady next to me. She was very encouraging and told me to give it time. After the workout, she did some ball exercises. Situps and even pushups. I think I need to workout more. Intimadated male.

On 24 October, 2012, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Do NOT go to the gym the day before!! This really kills you if you are still recovering from the gym training.

On 17 December, 2012, Blogger Gaseraki said...

Body pump was my first introduction to weight lifting as I was a human Guinea pig for my instructor mother when I was 17
After 10 years I can defiantly thank bodypump for my form and strength.
I was curious as men are completely outnumbered during the class.
I saw a completely new guy load the same weight as me, struggle heavily during the class (doing half reps) then never come back.
I have for now decided to take a break from Bodypump as I am trying a new routine of push and pull workouts at the gym. But for the best muscle building thing to do if you only have an hour or two a week I would 100% recommend it.

On 11 September, 2015, Blogger Abhijit Sarkar said...

It was really an interesting article on Chest workouts for men, I really appreciate the information shared here.

On 17 January, 2018, Anonymous Bella said...

Really nice article, thanks


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