With so many fitness trends popping up all the time, it’s hard to know which ones to try and which ones to skip right over. After all, wouldn’t you like to avoid standing on your head while doing scissor kicks at 5 a.m.?
And with energy and enthusiasm levels at their peaks this time of the year, it’s critical to have a trusted go-to source for fitness information so we can avoid the crazy and often dangerous trends that bombard us daily.
So when leaders in the health and fitness industry want to know what the predicted fitness trends are going to be, they look to The America College of Sports Medicine’s (ACSM) annual report.
In their 11th annual report ACSM surveyed 1,801 fitness professionals, including personal trainers, wellness coaches, exercise physiologists, and college professors, to help give consumers guidance as they choose their fitness products and programs for 2017.
The lineup this year is certainly encouraging as the top 20 trends chosen reflect many fitness staples and time-tested programs that experts turn to year after year. “We don’t consider items as trends for this list unless they’re sustained over many years,” says report author and ACSM president-elect Walter Thompson, PhD.
Wearable technology, body weight training, high-intensity-interval training (HIIT), educated/experienced/certified fitness professionals, and strength training earned the top five spots for 2017.
While group training, Exercise is Medicine, yoga, personal training, along with exercise and weight loss, rounded out the top 10.
1. Wearable Technology
It’s no surprise that activity trackers and smart watches have become all the rage lately as more people are taking their health seriously and looking for ways to incorporate small lifestyle changes into their day.
At the basic level, these fitness wearables all track your daily steps and sleep activity, but the more pricey devices also include: GPS, heart-rate monitors, alarms, waterproofing, and smartphone notifications. Deciding which tracker or watch to buy often comes down to cost, appearance, features, and accuracy.
According to Wareable magazine, some of the top tracker brands for 2017 include Garmin, Fitbit, Misfit, Jawbone, Samsung, Moov Now, Xiaomi, and TomTom.
Are they worth it? The answer seems to be yes, as long as you put it to use and are aware of the fact that they’re not perfect. Like most technology, there can be inaccuracies in the numbers displayed if not used correctly. But the pros definitely outweigh the cons if you’re looking to add a fitness tool that can help you move more.
2. Body Weight Training
Body weight training programs use minimal equipment with more traditional moves, which makes it a very inexpensive way to exercise efficiently. And since it’s not just limited to push-ups and pull-ups, this trend allows exercisers to get a full-body workout just about anywhere there is a space for them to move their body.
Here are a few sample plans to try at home, when traveling, or at the gym.
Beginner circuit: 30 second planks,10 push-ups,10 squats, 10 bridges, 20 bicycle crunches (repeat 2 times with 30 second rest after first round).
Intermediate to advanced circuit: 10 jump squats, 20 push-ups, 10 (each leg) single-leg squats, one-minute planks, 20 bridges, 10 superman’s, 15 plank jacks, 20 tricep dips (use a chair or low table), one-minute wall sits, pull-ups—as many as you can (requires a bar), 20 bicycle crunches (repeat 2-3 times with 30 second rest after each round).
3. High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)
It’s no secret that we spend the majority of our time, looking for more time. Our lives are busy, hectic, crazy, and consequently a bit unhealthy. And when life gets in the way, one of the first things to go is time for fitness. So it’s no wonder that HIIT, which involves short bursts of activity followed by a short period of rest or recovery (usually performed in less than 30 minutes), made the top five this year.
One of the reasons trainers and fitness enthusiasts love HIIT so much is the ability to burn more calories in a shorter amount of time. According to ACSM, the intense work periods (short bursts of activity) may range from five seconds to eight minutes long, and are performed at 80% to 95% of a person’s estimated maximal heart rate, the maximum number of times your heart will beat in a minute without overexerting yourself. The recovery periods may last equally as long as the work periods and are usually performed at 40% to 50% of a person’s estimated maximal heart rate. The workout continues with the alternating work and relief periods totaling 20 to 60 minutes.
HIIT workouts are more intense and physically taxing than other workouts, so it’s best to start with one HIIT workout a week, and then add a second when you feel stronger. And while HIIT is a great addition to most workouts, it is performed at a higher intensity, and should be approved by your physician if you have any medical or health concerns.
4. Educated and Experienced Fitness Professionals
Working with a trainer is a great way to learn about exercise, get custom designed programs, and stay motivated. But it’s also important to note that there are a large number of organizations offering health and fitness certifications, with little-to-no education and training required. Therefore, it’s important that consumers choose professionals certified through programs that are accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA), such as those offered by ACSM.
5. Strength Training
Strength training is a key component of overall health and fitness, and it provides an important balance to aerobic workouts. ACSM recommends that a strength training program should be performed a minimum of two non-consecutive days each week, with one set of eight to 12 repetitions for healthy adults or 10 to 15 repetitions for older and frail individuals. Eight to 10 exercises should be performed that target the major muscle groups.
ACSM also stresses the importance of progressing resistance training programs to meet specific resistance training goals. This can occur with specific trainable characteristics of muscular fitness, such as strength, power, hypertrophy, and local muscular endurance.
These four factors will improve with almost any properly designed resistance training program, but will be fully enhanced by properly modifying the load, volume, rest period between sets, and the frequency of each workout.
Photo: Cathe Friedrich, CC-BY
Sara Lindberg is a freelance writer specializing in health, fitness, and wellness.