Going heavy in BodyPump…it’s a progressive process

A personal best is an outstanding achievement. In the running world, they are known as “PRs.” When I started instructing BodyPump, some of my participants would look at me like I was from Mars when I used that acronym to discuss breakthroughs in certain tracks.

On Tuesday evening while instructing BodyPump 86, I’m happy to report I reached a big-time personal best while instructing the chest track, throwing a whopping 30 kilograms, or 66 pounds, on my barbell. That’s a far cry than the weight I was using when I first started teaching in 2010.

Of course, it helped that the first half of the track was all chest flies, and the track was designed for us to throw heavier than normal weight on the bar. We get some of those tracks in BodyPump sometimes, and this Track 3 was no exception.

However, such an achievement brings on this important question for participants, how can we increase our weights safely without risking major injury?

To put it simply, BodyPump is a progressive class. When you’re starting the program, you’re using a light resistance. As instructors, we advise our members to stick with that weight for their first couple of weeks of taking the class.

You don’t want to start increasing your weight until your comfortable with your technique, first and foremost. For example, if you’re throwing a big amount of weight on your bar for the squat track and you find yourself going only half-range, chances are you need to take a little bit off the bar. If you’re not going at full range, you’re not getting the full effect of the workout, thus cheating yourself toward reaching your goals.

Another example. You’ve been itching to throw an extra 1KG (2.2 pounds) on the ends of the bar in the bicep track. You’re killing it in class, and the instructor is teaching a track – for example, the bicep track in BodyPump 86 – where it’s OK to go a little heavier. If you chuck that extra weight on there and find yourself rocking your body and arching your shoulders, especially in the last half of the track, you’re likely not ready to go that heavy yet. But that’s OK. Keep working at it, and eventually you’ll have that breakthrough.

Don’t be discouraged if the person next to you is going up on their weight but you aren’t yet. Do what you can, and eventually you will start to earn those personal bests. If you go for them too early, you’re risking major injury. Admittedly, I was apprehensive about going for 30KG in the chest track in the back half of three classes in a row. But, I felt ready, so I just went for it, and it worked out great!

It’s your body. You’ll know when you’re ready to increase your weight. Bear in mind as well that no two BodyPump tracks are alike. Some tracks, we can go heavier than normal, and in others, that’s a bad idea. You can’t reach your goals overnight. It’s a process that can be long but when the finish line is reached, is extremely rewarding. Remember, listen to your body before you listen to your instructor. That’s something I always tell my participants, especially the ones who are new to the program.

If you’re ready to go heavier, go heavier. It is a challenge, but you’ll discover quickly that the rewards are well worth the risk.

A 30KG bar sits on the Union Street Athletics stage after it was used in the chest track in BodyPump 86 during a Tuesday evening class.

Ryan McLaughlin

About Ryan McLaughlin

Ryan McLaughlin is a top-notch BodyPump instructor, who teaches at Union Street Athletics in Bangor. A fitness freak and longtime competitive runner before he got into group fitness, Ryan enjoys helping his participants reach their fitness goals, and motivating them with every class.