The 10th annual American College of Sports Medicine’s (ACSM) Worldwide Survey of Fitness Trends for 2016 serves fitness professionals who serve you. It’s a snapshot of what’s true of your consumer habits.
How well do you fit the trends? How much should you try?
The ACSM’s position statements have governed the fitness industry for decades. The annual survey potentially influences fitness professionals and businesses you come in contact with. What should you know about the trends to choose wisely, whether to follow the crowd or head down the unbeaten path? Here’s the scoop.
Did Santa bring you a Fitbit, Garmin or pedometer? Are you tracking those 10,000 steps? If you answered yes, you’re not alone. The wearable technology trend has taken the coveted first place on the top 20 list of trends.
We seem to be motivated by quantifying our steps, miles, laps and measuring heart rate. Should we be? It all depends on your goal. Increasing your steps per day is a fine goal if you need to improve daily movement.
You can’t outrun 16 hours of sedentary lifestyle with an hour at the gym. If wearing something that keeps score for you gets you up more frequently or causes you to walk from the parking lot to reach your quota, it could make a big difference in your overall health.
If your device reveals your need for quality sleep, you have another win. None of your goals will be realized without adequate hormone-balancing sleep.
On the other hand, you want to be certain you’re measuring what matters. Bone density isn’t improved by walking alone, for instance. What’s measured matters so the saying goes. Be sure that you know what will influence transformation you want before you start measuring. If you’re driven to reach goals and you have hormones in chaos, pushing to reach your quota could cause problems.
I say wearable technology is good as long as you know how the numbers are relative to your goals. That includes apps that monitor only calories and not quality of those calories.
Body weight training, of course, is not new. Yet, it’s only become recently popular, perhaps due to the economic downturn and the convenience of it. It’s not just limited to push-ups, pull-ups and sit-ups. It uses minimal props, most of which travel well or are inexpensive.
If your obstacle to exercise is time, body weight exercise is a potential solution. However, for women with a slowing metabolism who seek weight loss and/or with a desire to slow bone density loss, body weight is not enough.
Weight training needs to be of sufficient intensity in order to overload both muscles and joints to see a change in lean muscle tissue and for bones to respond.
The best protocol for both weight loss and bone density requires weights you can lift (following a safe progression) for 10 repetitions or fewer. If you are previously sedentary, you can (and should) make gains in bone density, first with lighter weights before moving on.
The myth of bulking up is just that. The truth is the three sets of 10 repetitions you may have grown up using is a bulking protocol. Is it any wonder you have a negative correlation with weight training?
Fewer repetitions and sets of heavier weight creates smaller, more dense muscles. Though they may weigh more, heavier weights may send you shopping for smaller sizes.
I say yes to body weight for maintenance when weight training isn’t an option due to travel or time. I say yes to it for pull-ups and push-ups. It’s empowering for a women to be able to lift her body weight. Shouldn’t we each be able to do that? If you can push-up and pull-up now, the risk you won’t be able to get up from a chair later is far reduced.
HIIT was #1 in 2015 and 2014. Previous to that, it was offered as a survey option but had not even made the top 20. The number three position shows it’s still a significant trend. No matter how you access your interval training, there’s a good chance you’re doing it.
Your boot camp leader may have you doing Tabata intervals of short 20 second duration with an even shorter recovery period. You may choose the interval or fat burn program on your elliptical machine. Your online program may call for hill repeats that consist of running or walking up with a recovery down only to do it again.
As an effective, if not over-inflated, fat burning exercise option, HIIT is not going away. The question is should it be a part of your trend in 2016?
The concern for many fitness professionals including this author is the risk of injury. It’s human nature to believe if a little is good more is better. You don’t have time to exercise. You want results yesterday.
So you do the conveniently short interval workouts every time you exercise. You join a boot camp that promises rapid weight loss. The daily repetitive high-intensity exercise increases your risk for injury.
If you’re a beginner, your concern should be the right ratio of work interval to recovery interval. The work should be shorter than the recovery period when you begin. Too much stress on your body without a period of adapting increases your risk of injury and you can become more weight loss resistant thanks to more cortisol. Rarely do you see this kind of individual attention given to participants in a large boot camp.
If your hormones are out of imbalance, the level of stress any exercise puts on your body should be of concern. A little stress is good; a lot of stress puts you further out of balance. Even healthy young elite athletes perform at most one or two high-intensity workouts a week.
The need for recovery after high-intensity exercise is greater. Yes, you’ll burn more fat during and after HIIT. As long as you strategically plan recovery exercise of lower intensity on other days of the week, HIIT is a definite asset for your 2016 fitness formula.
I say yes to HIIT done once or twice a week with two caveats. First, vary the kind of HIIT you do. While you might run safely at higher speeds one day a week, multiple days of that is a recipe for injury.
Intervals can be done anywhere including on a bike, in a pool or with weight training. Second, know your hormones. If cortisol is already holding you hostage, too much additional stress from your exercise program will send you further from the transformation you want.
Most important for Prime Women?
Get moving in 2016! Exercise is the single best thing you can do to slow down the aging process.