Free weights vs BodyPump®

Consider the BodyPump® group class if you’re not familiar with using free weights on the gym floor, says Fitness First group instructor Cat Woods.

If building muscle, improving metabolism, strengthening bones and perfecting your posture are all on your to-do list, you’ll need to do weights. There are two main options for you: the free weights in the gym or something like a BodyPump® class, which is a one-hour session using barbells, plate weights and a step. Both have their benefits, so read on to decide which is best for you.


Build bigger muscles, faster

While BodyPump® is a great all-round toning and cardiovascular workout, the high reps and lower weights aren’t designed to build muscle. It’s neither safe nor appropriate to load up heavy weights in a BodyPump® class. To increase muscle size, your focus is on using weights that you can only push out for three to six reps before fatigue, then repeating for a series of three to six sets or until you can’t continue with safe form. Slower movements recruit more muscle fibres and will enhance muscle size in a shorter time. Verdict: Gym


Train to music with a group & get a full body workout

Without a doubt, the BodyPump® class is your choice for doing your weights training in a group with professional instruction, motivation and catchy dance music. For new people, it’s a welcoming environment where doing similar moves week in, week out can enable refinement of technique, gradual adaptation and facilitate a sense of being part of a community. It’s a great way for those new to the gym or the area to get to know other members. Verdict: BodyPump®

Fat loss…

Burn calories & get leaner

Both free weights and BodyPump® will achieve the goal of calorie-burning, muscle-building resistance work that, in combination with a balanced diet, will result in enhanced metabolic function and increased calorie burn during and after your training. Using very heavy weights and working to hypertrophy is likely to increase the size and appearance of muscles, so if the goal is to build lean muscle for a more defined and toned physique, then BodyPump® is a better choice. The cardio element of moving through high repetitions improves cardio fitness, and moving from upper body to lower body training in quick succession also boosts heart rate and calorie burn. Verdict: BodyPump®


Focus on your individual technique & one area in particular

The gym is your zone for really perfecting your technique. Rather than scanning a body building website and deciding to go it alone, book in with a personal trainer who is experienced in powerlifting, Olympic lifting or similar, and allow them to guide you safely through the correct technique and weight choice. Verdict: Gym