Q and A: October

Q. You have stated in a previous article that bodypump is not ideal. If this is the case, then why do you still teach it?

A. Good Question!

First off, I feel most of the Bodypump format is excellent. It uses free weights and teaches basic essential exercises with reasonably good technique on many of the lifts. However, it does have its limitations: Top-half squats, chest presses, lunges, and partial range deadlifts are not optimal, and can compromise joints by weakening strength curves. Flexibility issues are key here, so in a class setting I can see why these movements are restricted – yet these can be overcome in the gym. Bodypump also teaches good control, lowering the weight properly – which you see many a 19yr old male in the gym doing quite the opposite. It does however sometime accentuate the tempo of some songs to fit the music, rather than the workout itself – which is sub-optimal.

Although the weights used are light to moderate, the weights are still heavy enough to elicit a decent effect. This is better than some circuits where you see people using 0.5kg and 1kg dumbells for exercises that require at least 5 times more intensity.

Saying this, the weights used are still too light in my opinion. The intensity is too low, and there is too much of an aerobic component to the class. There is too little scope for progression – and this is mainly due to the fact that the training protocol is made to fit the music – rather than the other way round (the way it should be!). This explains why participants have good results at first but then struggle to progress. It simply disobeys one of the main principles of training.

In the pipeline is a body conditioning class that uses slightly heavier weights and less volume, with more intensity. Contact myself for details and watch this space!

All in all, Bodypump is a lot better than most classes, as it gets women lifting moderate weights that many would not be doing otherwise. This is one fo the main reasons women see little results – so from this standpoint – it’s a good class!

Q. The other day, Me and my mate were doing shoulder presses, and this guy next to us said its better to do them standing up. We tried it and it was harder than sitting down. Is he right that it’s better to do it standing up?

A. First of all, let’s just ask ourselves what is ‘better,’ in terms of your goals. The shoulder press is an excellent exercise, and should be present in most programs. (It might not feature due to muscle imbalances, injury, pain, changing of exercises etc). When you do shoulder pressing seated, you should be able to lift either a little bit more weight or the same weight for an extra few reps due to less neural drive being ‘wasted.’ However, doing sholder presses standing, you will activate stabilising muscles, such as your abdominals and will most likely feel your legs too (if the weight is fairly heavy). Some standing movements use up a lot of energy just making sure you stay in the proper position with correct posture – or so that you don’t fall over! These isn’t necessarily ‘bad’ – just ‘different.’

So, the question “which is better” should be rephrased “which is more applicable to my goal.” One might argue that for body part split training, seated shoulder presses will be more appropriate, as you can lift with more intensity.

Also, what works for one person may not work as well for someone like yourself. This could be down to muscle fibre type, training history, strength differences in muscle groups – the list is huge. A person may be able to do standing shoulder presses just as well as the seated – or better!

While the debate of doing the same exercise differently is interesting, it will probably give somewhat minimal differences from a results-standpoint, compared to major variables such as the rep range, the intensity level, rest periods and of course diet. I recommend that these variables are focused on as they will have a greater impact on your results.

Q. Hi, I am literally going nowhere with my exercising. The weight is creeping up and I’m trying harder to keep it off but it isn’t working. What should I do?

A. When you see overweight people exercising – what are they doing? I would bet they are doing long cardio at a steady pace. This is far from ideal, and while it’s too much to answer this one question – it can actually make things worse.

Like alot of things in life – Don’t do what lots of unsuccessful people are doing… They are most likely following a flawed system! It’s like if you’re a masterchef and you’re making a bolognese with a god-awful recipe and low quality ingredients – it doesnt matter how good a chef you are. The system will still fail you. Ask yourself this, what do the successful people do? What exercises do they do? Do they eat certain foods more than others? Do they have a personal trainer? Do they get their advice from magazines? Do they walk the talk? The list goes on.

A simple model could be:

Step 1: Observe everyone.
Step 2: Copy the successful ones.
Step 3: Measure progress (how can you know if you’re improving if you can measure it?!!! This is a big problem with most trainers and their random-style workouts.)
Step 4: Were you successful?


Yes – keep doing what you’re doing til progress slows or stops.

No – theres something you’re not doing (this could anything, for example; Not eating the right foods, not using the correct weights, not trying hard enough etc)

If this way sounds like way too much effort – search and book in with a personal trainer in your area – www.nrpt.co.uk. Have a consultation with a handful of trainers (most do these for free), and see who you agree with, get on with, and trust.

Only through measuring and evaluating can you make changes to progress at the rate YOU want.

John Cammish (B.S.C) is a local East Yorkshire Fitness Bootcamp Instructor and real-world fat loss expert. He has helped countless individuals change their lives through postive habits with a focus on tried and tested methods. For more details about Personal Training, Fitness Bootcamps, Free Articles and more – check his website (www.yournextlevelfitness.co.uk) and his Bootcamp Blog (blog.yournextlevelfitness.co.uk).






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