By Jason Schneider
For questions on how one can build muscle or how a person can lose weight, there’s not one simple answer. However, we, as fitness professionals, can provide some guidance with a bit more information. My first response would be, “What kind of muscle are you looking to put on? Lean, cut muscle or big, thick, dense, shirt-busting muscles? Is your goal aesthetic or performance?” Once we have a better idea of the destination, then we can make more informed decisions about the route we’re going to take.
Most people associate group fitness with weight loss and lean, long muscle tone. Ask most guys, and many assume that group fitness classes are for women and entail pushing around small weights for high repetitions. I’m here to help break that stereotype with some suggestions for classes that are guaranteed to challenge your strength, force muscle hypertrophy (muscle density growth), and just plain kick your ass.
First rule of thumb in Group Fitness is that the instructor does not dictate your weights, you do. Therefore, if you cannot find heavy enough weights for you to lift in the Group Fitness studio, there are always weights on the strength floor or HIITZone that you can borrow. The key is to find a weight that challenges you but doesn’t destroy proper form. If you can’t lift it right, don’t lift it.
Secondly, have a good idea of the format and timing structure. One of the best approaches to muscle hypertrophy is heavier weight for fewer repetitions – aka classes with shorter and repeat intervals are ideal.
Finally, let’s chat through the Overload Principle. You’ve been working out on the strength floor for months, and you’re just not seeing the expected results. It’s time to mix it up. The Overload Principle says “To affect change, you must get out of your comfort zone. Push BEYOND your known limits to force change.” Perhaps one to two targeted group fitness classes each week will get you over the plateau.
Finally, get acquainted with your club’s HIITZone classes. There’s a wide variety of options, but some target heavy lifting and maximum burnout!
So, what classes should you be taking for muscle development? Take a look at my strongest suggestions:
- Top 10×10: Think AMRAP (As Many Reps As Possible) in 2:00 minute blocks with heavy dumbbells, plyometric cardio, light (or just lighter) dumbbells, fabric bands, and core. Set up your workout square, and go to town for the ultimate burnout.
- B30: Stack your barbell with plenty of plates, and get ready to feel your muscles burn and fatigue to failure in this intense full-body workout that will rev your metabolism and transform your body.
- Muscle Maker: It’s right there in the name – this HIITZone class utilizes precise movements with focus on form and technique. It’s like a big group trainer session!
- SupersetHIIT: For those who have ever employed the superset protocol on a strength-floor workout by yourself, use this class to ramp up the energy further with five stations of superset work done in groups. There are three rounds at each station, doing 40 seconds and two times for each round. Healthy motivation and competition push you to get that one last rep or consider slightly heavier weights than normal.
- Chisel: Use lighter weights for this format, and find those long, lean, cut muscles. Go grab some bigger dumbbells from the HIITZone or strength floor, and get ready to make some ugly faces as you push through simple and compound strength exercises to muscle exhaustion.
- BONUS! Heavy Metal HIIT: If you don’t see it on your club schedule, you should request it! This predominantly turf class takes you on a concert tour of strength: six tour stops (stations) and two rounds of work (a 20 second Roadie Round and a 40 second Rockstar Round). Yes, there are some cardio drills and core efforts, but the focus is on pushing around some heavy iron.
More strength formats are coming in 2024, so get ready for drop sets, studio bench lifting, kettlebells, and more.
Group Fitness has come a long way since aerobics with small dumbbells and high-tempo music. Don’t get me wrong, it still exists. But today’s members want more options that fit their goals, and now you can find them!
Jason Schneider is a group fitness instructor at Crunch Fitness.
Crunch’s group fitness classes promote a culture of fun with no judgments. It’s an environment for all types of individuals with various goals. Find a Crunch gym near you to try our free trial membership, or join Crunch now. Your goals are made to be crushed. With Crunch, you’ll have the tools, resources, and support to make it happen.