New fitness trends evoke thoughts of crazy new machines or flashy workout programs. But true next-level training methods and concepts might involve something you'd never think of. A focus on small parts of your workout, or things you might overlook, may actually foretell the future of fitness.
STACK talked with three strength coaches at the forefront of the industry to get an idea of what workouts will look like in the future.
Sport- and Position-Specific Training
—Todd Durkin, owner of Fitness Quest 10
"I foresee an increased emphasis on sport-specific training and also position-specific training, but done right. The current trend is specializing at a younger age—even at 9 to 12 years old—which may be detrimental to your ultimate athletic development. There must be an emphasis on overall strength, speed and athletic development for younger athletes.
"The best coaches and programs offer a comprehensive system that first develops an athlete's foundation and continually works at improving athleticism. And if it's possible to integrate sport- and position-specific elements, that will really set them apart. People are always looking for an edge. We need to make sure not to skip the necessary steps in pursuit of the ultimate goal.
"Don't specialize at a young age at the expense of developing essential athletic skills, such as locomotor skills (like running, jumping, hopping and cutting) and manipulative skills (like throwing, catching, kicking and striking.) If you focus on specialized training at a young age and never develop a strong strength, speed and conditioning base, you may not reach your long-term potential."
Mobility, Recovery and Regeneration
"I also predict an increased need for mobility, recovery and regeneration work for athletes of all ages. Programs need more 'yin work' (like yoga, Pilates, meditation and breath work) to counterbalance the 'yang work.' 'Yang work' is more extreme than ever, and there are tremendous programs that offer extraordinary results. But the key to attaining these results in a way that allows for sustainability and longevity may very well be found in the amount of 'yin work' you integrate into your program. Check out the video above for an example of recovery work.
"Flexibility and mobility exercises—'yin work'—should be integrated as part of a workout, not as an afterthought. It's not happening outside the gym, because people are too busy or often ignore instructions. If you have a day off between workouts, write down the type of 'yin' workout you plan to do that day to keep yourself honest. Foam roll daily and regularly do a yoga or yoga-type stretching routine. Also, invest 10 minutes each evening to stretch. It feels good and will ultimately help you perform better."
—Mark Roozen, owner of Coach Rozy Performance and 911 Tactical
"In the next few years, we'll see more corrective exercises put into workout programs. We're getting away from just beating people up and the mindset of 'harder and heavier are always better.' This mindset will always be around, but as we see more folks with problems and injuries, they will look for ways to keep training without the pain. We see it with high-level athletes, tactical groups and even lower-level folks.
"Corrective work addresses weaknesses and faulty movement patterns, which inhibit performance and undermine health. Instead of beating up your body to achieve a specific performance improvement, take a step back and look at fundamental issues. Fixing an issue like weak adductors or a tight t-spine may correct a technique mistake on your Squat or Overhead Press, respectively, allowing you to safely lift more weight. And when you step on the field, you'll be stronger and more durable. Yes, heavy or intense lifts are great and necessary. But also spend time addressing weak areas. If you don't know where to start, take this assessment test. The little things can make a big difference."
Activation and Inhibition
—Tony Bonvechio, owner of Bonvec Strength and an intern at Cressey Sports Performance
"I think there will be a big decline in mobility and flexibility work in favor of activation and inhibition drills that use positional breathing to improve movement patterns. We're already seeing a shift with the popularity of Postural Restoration Institute methods, and it's only going to get bigger.
"I think we'll spend a lot less time doing mobility drills, because we'll have the information to get movement improvements much quicker. It's common now to see warm-ups take 30 to 40 minutes, which is excessive. I think we'll become more efficient and eliminate a lot of random mobility drills. You'll spend less time warming up and more time actually exercising, so you'll get stronger and fitter with less of a time investment."
Better Training Tech and Data
—Mike Robertson, president of Robertson Training Systems and co-owner of Indianapolis Fitness and Sports Training (IFAST)
"I think we'll continue to see the emergence of data and sports science. I'm not sure if the training itself will change that much, but I think we'll be more informed and able to make better decisions about how we train due to this influx of data.
"While some of the tech is only starting to emerge, or is currently available only in select locations, there are a handful of things you can do on your own to get a head start. If you want to improve power, options like PUSH Strength allow you to determine bar speed, velocity and whether you're training correctly. Heart rate variability trackers like BioForce HRV allow you to determine if you're recovered and ready to train, or if you need to back off and do a recovery session. Although big data and analytics are becoming more prevalent in the sports world, these user-friendly options can make a significant difference in how you train, recover and perform."
RELATED: How Fitness Tech is Changing Sports
—Jim Smith, owner of Diesel Strength & Conditioning
"For the industry, I think it's fantastic that programs are moving away from general 'cookie-cutter' models, to more specific and individualized regression/progression-based models. The pendulum has swung for trainers and strength coaches in the fitness industry to real-time monitoring of their clients and athletes and trying to better 'tune in' to their specific needs. This is in hopes of providing a better, more functional program toward their aesthetic of performance goals based on their current state of readiness.
"A greater focus has been placed on learning and applying better breathing mechanics, more comprehensive assessments and heart rate variability (HRV) monitoring in an athlete's workouts. The goal of teaching deeper breathing patterns is to create more fundamental stability and better postures in preparation for loaded strength training. Better assessments provide coaches with direction and a general roadmap for creating more individualized programs. And, finally, HRV provides real-time data on athletes' current state of readiness and recovery, and their ability to prepare intensely for an upcoming training session.
"From the very beginning, focus on your overall movement quality. This means dialing in and optimizing your exercise technique for each specific lift and trying to create strength through the intended full range of motion. Many times, athletes sacrifice range of motion and good technique for more weight on the bar. This is a recipe for disaster and long-term issues with the spine, hips and shoulders (burning their extremities). Also, you can never go wrong with balanced programs that focus on better mobility at the hips, ankles and upper back and more stability of the trunk."
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