Browse the Internet and you’ll find some pretty mixed opinions about Body Pump. Some bloggers and fitness enthusiasts swear by it as a fun and effective strength workout, while others label it as more of a cardio workout that does little for building strength and muscle.
A few months ago, when I first set out to build muscle, I did some research and decided to adopt a free weights routine instead of attending Body Pump classes to achieve my goal. Within the online fitness community, the consensus was overwhelmingly in favor of heavy weights/low reps over lighter weights/high reps. So, I began following the New Rules of Lifting for Women program, bought a tub of protein powder, jacked up my caloric intake and got under an Olympic bar for the first time.
To be perfectly honest, once my initial enthusiasm for the program wore off, the extra food was the only part I continued to enjoy. Free weights are just not my thing. They’re boring, I hate having to wait around for equipment, I hate being surrounded by dozens of personal trainers and their clients. I just didn’t enjoy my free weights workouts as much as my Pump classes.
So, despite getting some decent results, after completing stage 2 of 7 of the program, I lost motivation to continue and decided to train for a half-marathon instead. Total 180, I know, but it was something I’d been thinking about doing for awhile. I put my muscle building plans on hold and focused on running. I continued to strength train twice a week but only did Body Pump classes and didn’t add any weight during that time. I still used a load that was challenging but didn’t make a concerted effort to add more every week.
And then something weird happened. I built muscle. Without trying to.
I’m not sure how it happened – all I know is that my arms didn’t look like this a few months ago.
So now that the half marathon is over, I’ve decided not to go back to the NROL4W program. If my results are just as good with Body Pump and I like Body Pump more, why bore myself to death with free weights? So I can feel like a “real” weight lifter (I do admit, I always felt pretty bad ass squatting 90 lbs)? Not worth it.
The moral of the story – when it comes to any workout, there will always be mixed opinions. Some people will swear by a certain workout with cult-like devotion, while others will eschew it as ineffective. At the end of the day, you have to find what works for you, both in terms of results and enjoyment. For me, Body Pump is fun and it works. For others, it’s monotonous, has too many reps and doesn’t get results. I can respect that view as well. I just won’t let it influence my workouts anymore.
What’s your favourite way to strength train?