Fitness trends come and go in the blink of an eye. Everyone heaps praise on a new exercise or style of training one year, then it suddenly disappears like Mark Sanchez's career after the "butt fumble."
That makes it difficult to tell the difference between a fad and something that's highly effective and here to stay.
When I asked three strength coaches about the hot trends, none pointed to a specific exercise or new and novel type of workout. Instead, their responses were almost invariably anti-fitness trend or fad. It's all about getting back to the roots of fitness.
Here's what they said:
We've Reached Peak Instagram Coach
There are plenty of amazing strength coaches and personal trainers who post quality content on Instagram. Here are 20 of our favorite coaches to follow on Instagram.
However, there's a lot of crap out there too. Attractive fitness buffs with limited background in the industry gain hundreds of thousands of followers simply because they look good or post cool exercises.
Unfortunately, their posts are often suspect at best. For example, the video below is probably one of the most dangerous and pointless things you can do, but it looks cool and is trending on social media.
But people crave this type of fitness content.
"There's only so many videos you can shoot doing Back Squats for five sets of five reps," says Dr. John Rusin, strength coach and physical therapist. "People tend to gravitate towards things they've never seen before. Whether it's effective or not, that's a whole different story."
The big problem occurs when people post crazy variations of exercises with terrible form or no explanation of how and why to use it. That leads many people who can hardly do basic moves to perform a crappy version of an advanced exercise.
"I'll put some crazy or unique exercises on my social media, but people need to learn the basics first," says Dr. Joel Seedman. "People need to realize that an exercise might be something cool and they'll try it in the future, but they need to master the basics first."
"Instagram stars don't need certifications," adds Ben Boudro, owner of Xceleration Sports. "I'm seeing more and more people looking past that and wanting to get to the real coaches," which leads us to . . .
The Re-Emergence of In-Person Training
For better or for worse, the emergence of Instagram has made fitness info accessible to more people than ever. People are empowered to try things on their own and develop their own workouts, but as Boudro said above, often there's no substitute for a good old-fashioned strength coach or personal trainer.
This couldn't be more evident than with the wearable technology trend. Every day it seems, some new technology or app promises to revolutionize how people train.
Although some great tech has been released, training as a whole hasn't changed much.
"For the last few years it's been all about technology. It's been about heart rate monitoring, it's been about HRV and online apps," says Rusin. "I truly think it's reached its apex and we are going to get back to the grassroots of coaching. It might not be this year, but it's definitely a trend we will see."
Tech can help us fine-tune how we work out. But that doesn't change the fact that in order to get stronger, we need to pick up heavy things.
The Days of Polarizing Views on Fitness are Behind Us
Strength coaches, athletes and fitness-minded people tend to take a one-sided approach to working out. They like a certain type of exercise or training and believe everything else is worthless.
For example, some people hate Back Squats while others live and die by them. The same can be said for Olympic lifts, the Bench Press and CrossFit, just to name a few.
Heck, several years ago I thought Bicep Curls were a total waste of time because they weren't "functional" and athletic. You can guess where that got me.
Now I regularly incorporate biceps exercises into my workouts. Are they the primary focus of my lifts? Absolutely not. But a solid dose of arm training a few times a week at the end of a workout never hurt anyone.
"The people who are going to have the best success are combining things," says Rusin. "The Holy Grail of training combines multiple things together."
Put simply, it's far better to be inclusionary than exclusionary. There are so many great exercises and types of training that it would be a shame not to have an open mind. The answer is not always yes or no. Usually it's somewhere smack dab in the middle.
Avoid Jumping to Immediate Conclusions With New Info
Coaches and researchers are always trying to push fitness forward, which is fantastic. Problem is, people hastily latch on to potential breakthroughs that haven't yet been thoroughly vetted.
We've all seen it. A study promises to increase the effectives of a workout with less effort, then suddenly everyone thinks it's the greatest thing in the history of the world.
But we need to be careful. Not all research is created equal.
"Relying on research is great. But unfortunately many research studies are flawed," says Seedman.
He's seen studies that are carried out with subjects who have poor form that's not corrected by a qualified strength coach, so it's impossible to tell if the tested method actually works. This isn't always the case, but it happens.
There are a couple of things you can do. First look at types of workouts like HIIT that have been researched over and over again and validated by thousands of coaches. Second, simply stick to what's worked best for you in the past.
"Any time you look at a new piece of information or training method, ask if it's been around for a long time and gotten results for years on end," he says. "If you just invented an exercise two months ago, you have no idea if it's effective. In our business, you need to count on results.