Les Mills Body Combat is the most popular martial arts based workout in the world. 

But what makes it so successful?

The benefits of Body Combat

OK let’s start from the beginning.

Les Mills is the largest group fitness brand in the world, who deliver new workouts every three months. Among others, their programs include Body Pump, Body Step, Body Attack and Body Combat.

These are pre-choreographed routines (meaning that they are choreographed by somebody and then the instructor has to follow the choreography and use the same music). One of the most popular programs is Body Combat, which Les Mills describes as:

Body Combat ™ is a high-energy martial arts-inspired workout that is totally non-contact.

Punch and kick your way to fitness and burn up to 740 calories in a class.

No experience needed. Learn moves from Karate, Taekwondo, Boxing, Muay Thai, Capoeira and Kung Fu. Release stress, have a blast and feel like a champ. Bring your best fighter attitude and leave inhibitions at the door.’

But what are the actual benefits of taking part in this class?

The claim that BC burns up to 740 calories in a class is backed up with some research, however this should still be taken as a rough guide as ways to measure calorie expenditure are massively flawed.

This, even as a guide, however, is an impressive number, so needless to say that doing a Body Combat class will help you burn calories, if this is what you are looking to achieve from your workout.

This will help you burn fat and feel much fitter.

There is also some specific strength and conditioning tracks to help you strengthen your arms, chest, shoulders and abs, so you’ll get stronger too!

body combat benefits_2Interval training

Recently (over the past 2 years), BC has shifted into being a high intensity interval (similar to HITT, but not identical) workout.

This means that there are points in the class where you will be working to your absolute max, followed by rest periods.

This comes with it all of the benefits of HITT training, which are fully detailed in another article.

Motor skills

This is where BC really stands out from the crowd.

Because it is based around martial arts, with knees, kicks, elbows and punches in every class, it is a great opportunity to fine tune lower body motor skills.

Most people use their arms quite a lot on everyday life, so the neural connections between the arms and brain are quite good.

But most people do not move their legs in the same way, so the connections between the legs and the brain aren’t quite as good, but because of the variety of lower body strikes in BC, it helps people generate more control through their lower body, which helps in a variety of real life situations.

The feeling of being ‘unleashed’!

We live in a society of understatement, which means that places where it is safe to really vent our frustrations are becoming few and far between.

BC is a program in which you have the ability to let out a lot of aggression in a safe environment.

BC is a non-contact class, meaning that you never actually hit anything, and the instructors are trained up to a very high standard so the quality of their teaching – and therefore the quality of a participant’s movement, should make it a safe workout to really let out any aggression that you may be holding in (most of time people don’t even realise they have any aggression until they come!)

body combat benefits_3Smart-Start and options for new/injured people

In all of the Les Mills programs, there is a thing called smart start, which means that you can leave a workout whenever you want do, without the instructor or class minding, if you feel like it is becoming too much.

This means that you can feel successful in the part of the class that you have done, and then build up and do more as the weeks go by.

There are also plenty of options to get anybody who is new and/or injured through the workout.

BC is supervised by consultants including physiotherapists who advise which moves may be too hard for some groups of people and provide options so that they can feel successful by modifying the moves slightly.

The bottom line

There is no harm in giving this class a try – you may be surprised to find out that you like it! But if you don’t, then there are lots of alternatives you can try instead in group fitness.

But if you don’t try it you’ll never know, so dip your toe in, see if you like it and you might end up a fighting ninja warrior for an hour!

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