Les Mills Body Attack Review and Ramblings about first-time fitness experiences

I love trying out new types of workouts and fitness equipment – but I am much more enthusiastic at home and much more reluctant in public. I have to give myself a real push to try out things the first time, especially if I do not know exactly what to expect.

Even though I am a fitness enthusiastic, doing some kind of exercise almost every day and sometimes doing 2-3 hours per day, I still have a real fear of trying out a class for the first time and simply not being able to keep up, huffing and puffing like a lunatic and having to take a million breaks while everyone else is soldering on. This has never happened to me in a class before though at home some dvd workouts I’ve attempted I couldn’t get through them all on the first try – and I hated that feeling…in public it would be a lot worse!!

But you shouldn’t let things like that hold you back. I have tried out many new things in my fitness adventures and the majority of the time they are much less intimidating than I expected, and a lot of fun. A few times they have turned out to be worse than I imagined, but I say to myself, I will give it another go at least a few more times and sure enough I learn to adjust and appreciate all the new ways to work my body!

Back to Les Mills Body Attack. This class is a high energy, high intensity cardio interval program. It has things like jump lunges/split lunges, squat jacks, high knees, running around everywhere possible, and basically not stopping for even a second during the track. I have tried almost every other Les Mills Program available because I love mixing it up, but I had put off Body Attack for so long because of its reputation as being the hardest. Their website says its not for the faint of heart and I mean just look at this:

Anyway today I finally got around to doing it. At Fitness First it is currently the workout of the month allowing you to bring a friend along for free which I did, so I had no excuses!

And….?

I loved it, it was so much fun!!

I didn’t really have anything to be worried about, there were plenty of low-intensity options that I could have slowed down to and easily gotten through with even if my fitness level was much lower. But I kept it high intensity the entire way through and wow, I felt so energetic! What an endorphin rush! The music, the atmosphere and the moves kept my mind occupied enough that I didn’t even feel any pain.

Actually the intensity was nowhere near as high as I expected, I didn’t really get out of breath or feel my heart beating too hard, I know I was definitely doing something right because of the amazing energy surge and endorphin rush I felt. It could also be that I was familiar with many of these types of moves from doing Jillian Michaels cardio workouts at home – she loves things like squat jumps and lunges and high knees!

I think the hardest thing was really getting my co-ordination right with all the arm and leg movements. Some of the leg movements you had to be quite agile this kind of co-ordination and fast feet does not come naturally to me, but it’s always good to practice your weak points when it comes to fitness and the instructor did assure us that no one gets it right or picks it up straight away so not to worry!

Actually I found Les Mills Body Step to be more of a challenge, because you are constantly on the step with very little rest whereas there were 2 tracks in the Body Attack where you are on the floor doing muscle conditioning like arms and abs.

Never the less I could tell it was a tough workout though because afterwards my legs were wobbly and it was a lot of fun, definitely I will do it again and more people should give it a go!

Tomorrow I am going to finally try a spin class…I’ve been avoiding the bike for too long also…personally I find it the hardest to set up comfortably of all the cardio machines.

What’s your favourite Les Mills Class?

Concurrent Training – is it okay to combine strength and cardiovascular training in the same workout session?

So I’m in the middle of doing my Personal Trainer course. It was a very interesting session tonight on the science behind exercise programming. The information in our text books comes from a range of referenced sources, including the current scientific research. So I thought that I would put a bit of the information here for consideration.

Before I started my PT course I focused mainly on concurrent training which means training to achieve multiple training goals at the same time. So you might do a cardio workout followed by a strength workout (or visa versa) as part of an hour long workout. Or you might do interval training combining cardio exercises and strength exercises (which i find very effective for certain things) now days I also have strength only sessions, cardio only sessions and some where I do one before the other.

But of concern is the question will aerobic exercise impare the resistance training workout performance and hence influence muscular strength and size?

Some research shows strength improvements to be impaired while others show no impairment from this type of training. For the recreational exerciser wanting general fitness concurrent training is generally fine (and can be beneficial as it takes less time).

But if you have more specific goals:

Muscle Strength or Endurance

If your main goal is to develop strength or muscle endurance then this should be performed before aerobic exercise and the aerobic exercise is likely to produce fatigue and limit the ability to work to your capability during the strength training thus impairing strength development. This does however appear to be specific to the muscles used ie. if you ran than trained your legs your leg muscles will be compromised….if you used the bike and then trained your arms the affects may be not so bad.

“Forty minutes of preceding aerobic exercise can compromise strength performance for up to 8 hours.”

Muscle Gains/Size

For the client who wants muscle strength and/or size, evidence suggests that allowing 4-6 hours between cardio and strength training sessions avoids anabolic disruption…. Hence, a client could go for a run at 7am and then lift weights at the gym at 1pm or vice versa.” 

Cardio Endurance 

If cardio fitness is the key goal this should be done first in order to put the most effort and gain the most benefits.

The bottom line appears to be that concurrent training is fine for most fitness goals and can be adjusted to suit your needs, however if you are really looking for muscle gains it is best to keep cardio and weight training separate for the majority of your training sessions.

I will be adding a post on the different types of muscular training (strength, endurance and hypertrophy (increase in size) soon!