I have received quite a few comments with questions recently about yoga and BodyPump. I thought it would be most beneficial if I answered them in a post in case others have similar questions.
I used to have definition from it [BodyPump] but since I’ve upped my weights it doesn’t seem to be giving me the results it used to in terms of aesthetic muscle definition. I’m not sure if lifting heavier is helping me, or whether it’s bulking up my legs in particular by going heavier with the weights.
I have been teaching BodyPump for three years and taking for around five. Over the course of five years, I have gradually increased my weights as my strength has improved. BodyPump focuses on high-repetition training. For example, in a squat track you might do 120 squats. In my opinion, when you’re doing that many reps the focus shouldn’t be on lifting the heaviest weight possible. I think it’s best to select a weight that feels challenging but doesn’t kill you. And your goal doesn’t always have to be going heavier. Just make sure you feel challenged and aren’t breezing through it.
Would it be okay to ask how much you lift/weight selections for each track? And do you think that over time your body adapts to Body Pump? Finally (promise!) do you think that the reason your muscles are so long and lean are down to the combination of yoga and Pump, because I’ll be honset, most of the Pump instructors I know, and myself, seem to end up with shorter, bulkier muscles from it.
Warm Up – 10 pounds on each side
Squats – 20-22.5 pounds on each side
Chest – 15 pounds on each side
Back/Hamstrings – 15-17.5 pounds on each side
Triceps – 12.5 pounds on each side
Biceps – 10 pounds on each side
Lunges – 15 pounds on each side
Shoulders – 10 pounds on each side and 5 pound hand weight for everything else
So while I do lift decent weight, I don’t go crazy with it. I find the weight above to be challenging and give me muscle burnout by the end of each track. And about the yoga point…I do credit yoga with lengthening my muscles. If I were just running and doing BodyPump, the shape/appearance may be different. I think it’s important to add in stretching with strength training. Most of my class leaves during cool down stretching.
How often would you recommend as the optimum number of times in a week to do Body Pump? I’ve ranged from 3 to 6 over the years but currently do 4 classes a week.
Honestly, I think 2-3 strength training sessions per week (especially when they’re full-body) is appropriate for most women.
If I wanted to start practicing ashtanga, what would you recommend? Should i just start working my way through the primary series? how long do I hold each pose?
Yes, just start at the beginning and work your way through. You hold each pose for 5 breaths and take a vinyasa between each (once you get to the seated poses after the standing series). I would recommend attending a led class (if possible) or watching a video when you first start out so you can get a feeling for the practice, the flow of it and how the poses should be performed. After that, it’s so easy to practice at home!
I’m wondering, before you had the series memorized, would you just have a cheat sheet with you? I’d like to start exploring ashtanga but find it just a little intimidating.
Ashtanga can be intimidating at first…especially if you go to a studio and it seems like everyone else knows what’s going on. I used a cheat sheet for months before I committed the series to memory! It takes time and patience to memorize the sequence but once you do it’s an amazing feeling to be able to lead yourself through practice. Just remember, ashtanga is a journey. I’ve been practicing it for a year and a half and I’m still working to perfect primary series.
Did you build that flexibility up from scratch in recent years or were you trained as a dancer/gymnast previously?
I competitively cheered for many years. That required flexibility and tumbling skills…all of which I completely lost after I quit cheering and started running. I came to yoga because my doctor told me my running injuries were a result of poor flexibility and muscle imbalances. Luckily, I’ve been able to regain most (but not all) of my flexibility but it has taken a ton of patience. I still cannot do splits due to my hamstrings!
You have a gorgeous practice. I was wondering, what was your starting point? I am asking because I can barely do wheel. Is there any hope?
See my answer to the question above. Yes, I used to tumble and do backbends and back handsprings but I had totally lost that when I started yoga. My wheels featured very bent elbows! Practice, practice, practice…it will come!
How did you get started with yoga? I am wanting to get started but I’m lost as to where to start…and not flexible at all!
This post includes the story of how I fell in love with yoga and my Y2 Yoga teacher bio also tells the story. You start by going to your first class. And knowing that every single person in the room (including the teacher) went through the “first class” at some point. You do not have to be flexible to practice yoga. You just have to have open your mind to new experiences and be excited about the journey.
I love your questions and comments! Keep ’em coming and I’ll do my best to answer them!