When you think about how to build muscle, your mind immediately goes to endless reps in front of a weight rack and mirror. While that is effective and a valuable part of your strength training journey, it doesn’t have to be the only part.

There are as many ways to get ripped as there are muscle groups and some of them even involve group training – believe it! 

Perhaps you’re looking to sculpt biceps that would rival even the largest Hemsworth’s or you maybe you’re trying to revive those classic nineties Janet Jackson washboard abs. We’ve done a ton of research and will show how you can tone up or go up a weight class in a group class!


The benefits of group training

There is a lot to be gained from switching up your workout with a gym class. The days of spandex bopping are far behind us and the group training now offers an intense, challenging workout. Besides the fact that you can get some reasonable bang for your buck (or shall we say bang for your 30-45 minutes) with fitness classes, there are a few other valuable gains to take into consideration when weighing up the group workout.

It’s a no brainer

As our friends over at active.com explain, a fitness class is a good way to get a valuable workout without having to worry about planning a program beforehand. You also know you’re doing enough of a warm- up to get your heart rate up and muscles loose and cool-down to lower your heart rate and stretch your muscles to minimise your risk of injury.

Get it right from the start

Even the know-how of the most seasoned fitness expert, doesn’t match the experience and skill of a professional trainer. They will help both expert and novice execute the exercises with the correct form and posture. They do this by not only providing the perfect example themselves, but also objective and individual guidance to each person in the class.

Get the great group amp

There is a great deal of motivation to be gained from group exercise. A study by world renowned sports psychologist Cindra Kamphoff explains that the shared experience of a group exercise setting helps to “normalise” the pain or discomfort experienced during your workout.

This works because you know everyone in the class is experiencing the same thing, which subconsciously lessens the instinctive feeling that any discomfort you feel is harmful to you and must be avoided or stopped. The result is that you’re far more likely to push yourself a little bit further than if you were doing the same workout on your own.

Stick to the schedule

Studies have also shown that your probability for arriving for your workout and sticking it out until the end is increased when exercising in a group. If you’re signing up for classes beforehand, you’re probably going to make more of an effort to show up as that space could have gone to someone else. Even if you’re tired, you’re more inclined to finish the class than pack it in half way through – helping you push yourself just that little bit further.

It’s a jol

It’s just plain fun. With the upbeat music and the group and instructor egging each other on, it’s a total vibe brah. Sort of like your clubbing days, but instead of getting drunk and working on a killer hangover, you’re getting fit and working on a killer bod.


How you can build muscle in a group class  

There are tons of options for muscle gain workouts in a group setting. Fitness classes are not just for cardio, they can be hugely beneficial in building lean muscle mass to help you get toned and lean or even bulk up so look out for classes like these.

Barbell Classes

Industry leaders, Les Mills offer an amazing barbell class called Bodypump, which is a great way to simultaneously build muscle and burn fat. As in Bodypump, you want your barbell classes to use light to moderate weights, with lots of repetition. This is perfect for developing lean, athletic muscle without the need for heavy lifting.

Muscle Conditioning Classes

Using a combination of dumbbells and kettlebells, these classes offer a wide range of movement to work the entire body. Special attention is, however, paid to the traps, deltoids and lats in the shoulders and triceps and biceps in the arms.  These types of exercises are becoming increasingly popular among Olympic-level weightlifters and if it’s good enough for them, it’s good enough for us mere mortals. Breakingmuscle.com site a recent study by the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, where olympic-level lifters were put on a 10-week kettlebell training programme, with their strength, power and endurance measured before and after. Results showed a marked increase in all three metrics, showing that the body conditioning in kettlebell exercises are hugely beneficial to weightlifters.

Core Strengthening Classes

Considering your core is not just your abs, but a large group of muscles that run the length of your torso, it makes sense that a strong core is vital to your ability to lift. Classes that focus on building core strength allow you to build a strong base that, when contracted, stabilises the spine, pelvis and shoulders.

As Alwyn Cosgrove, coauthor of The New Rules of Lifting for Abs explains to menshealth.com; your core is the first set of muscles that contract when you lift weights, from there all the energy you exert is transferred to your limbs. So it follows that a strong core allows you to apply more force to a barbell, whereas a weak core decreases the amount you can apply.

Consider classes like pilates, Viva’s Core Control or TRX, at the start of your workout.  Cosgrove advises that you will get the most core building out of your workout if you start it off by priming your core, so a 30 minute class before you hit the rack could make all the difference.

HIIT Classes

Most people think fat-burning when they hear High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), and they’re not wrong, but HIIT can also be a valuable tool when it comes to building muscle. HIIT classes are a great supplementary workout to your weightlifting as it uses a very similar structure: short intervals of high-intensity movement interspersed with short intervals of rest. Most seasoned weightlifters understand that some form of cardio is an important part of their fitness program, but with the rise in popularity if HIIT, the pros are fast replacing it with HIIT sessions.

Yoga or Stretch Classes

Yoga or stretch classes might seem like something more geared towards women or those looking to only stay supple, but workout plans for men to build muscle should also include these classes in the program.  Instead of lifting a barbell, in yoga you’re lifting your body weight. Certain poses such as the crow pose and warrior poses, create enough tension in the muscle fibres to break them down, allowing your body to build more muscle mass. Not only this, but you’re also breaking different fibres than you do when you weight lift, so the benefit is twofold.


With increased motivation, tangible results and professional guidance, group classes are helpful supplementary tool in your building muscle arsenal. There are also many useful classes out there, differing from gym to gym and studio to studio, so how do you know exactly which class is right for you? We all have different fitness goals, from completing Iron Man, to having Iron Man abs. Our fitness levels are also as varied, what if you haven’t worked out a day in your life, or what if you’re a seasoned pro and want to add something new, but valuable to your workout?  We’ve put together an amazing class picker tool to help your find the perfect class for you. Don’t miss out on all that fitness classes have to offer your muscle building journey and find the perfect class for you here.


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