There was a saying long before CrossFit was invented that fools and money soon parted. This fact cuts across a wide spectrum of life, especially in the health and fitness industry. You don't have to look any further than the past. Annual Liver King fiasco as evidence. Newcomers and experienced lifters alike are often looking for a shortcut or trick to amplify their gains.
Marketers, supplements, and fitness influencers are there to fill that void, to lighten your wallet a little and put the promise of profits within reach. Here's another cliché I can't resist: "If something sounds too good to be true, it usually is." Keep that in mind when the next disingenuous influencer pops up.
Anyway, the fitness soapbox moment is over. Here, seven trainers address the fitness trends that will have their ugly heads reared and buried in a gym graveyard far, far away in 2022. You have been warned...
The death of training etiquette
Kevin Mullins Jr., CSCS, BS Kinesiology, University of Maryland, Director of Product Development - The St. James
2022 was an interesting year in fitness history. On the one hand, we saw the return of most gym-goers to public facilities as fear of the pandemic waned and a desire to train in a more energetic and better-equipped environment returned. To be honest, it was great to see so many people again.
Yet of all those who remembered the rules and propriety of public training, many others totally disregarded others. Leaving weights on bars, dumbbells on floors, and mastering multiple pieces of equipment are common offenses that almost every dedicated lifter accepts as "normal," in the sense that we all know rush hour traffic is uncomfortable but unavoidable .
The bigger annoyance has been the massive increase in tripod usage for social media content. Sure, we're in a new age of fitness. We tell the world that your training is more important than training. Sure, the younger generation is more tech-savvy and wants to capture the magic of the biggest feelings in the gym.
But do you think filming your content is more important than my regular training? Yes, that will not fly. Move your tripod and phone off my bench; i used this I don't think I'll switch deadlift platforms because I'm in the background of your shot. Oh, and don't even think I'll tolerate you standing in front of the weight rack and bending over in the (comfortably bright light) while your friend films B-roll for your "villain arc".
I love that people want to celebrate themselves by going to the gym. I'd rather see Instagram movies of you lifting your cock up and working it off than swallowing another stupid dance or tidal wave, but let's be generous and understand that the gym is open to all.
Shiny New Toy Syndrome
Andrew Heming, MS, CSCS, NSCA-CPT, a former University Chair in Strength Training, Professor and Coach
Stop saying "Look at me! I've come up with an insane, new, never-before-seen exercise!” While this is a quick way for fitness influencers to get attention on social media, it's an even quicker way to halt your progress. Most, if not all, of these "new" exercises are drastically inferior to the basic exercises already known. Instead of letting your social media feed dictate your workout decisions, follow this plan for 2023:
- Choose appropriate variations of basic movements (squat, hinge, press, pull, carry) that work for you. Don't worry if your best variation of an exercise differs from others.
- Train hard.
- Be consistent.
- Emphasize adequate sleep, rest, and nutrition.
- Keep a training diary. Look for ways to keep making progress with your best practices.
- Show your progress in your workout log and your physique - not the "innovative" exercises from influencers that get you excited about the workout.
- Only innovate when necessary to solve a specific problem (e.g. lack of equipment, joint pain, poor mind-muscle connection).
Stop shaking to recover
Allan Bacon, Ph.D., an online personal trainer specializing in training powerlifters and body composition clients
Relax (pun intended) with cryotherapy and ice baths. More than ever, unscrupulous health quacks are pushing ice baths in 2022 for every benefit under the sun, ranging from improved recovery to longevity, to "make outrageous claims here." Unfortunately for these charlatans, these claims showed a misunderstanding of applicability to actual people and a blatant disregard for the negative aspects associated with these practices.
You can't just take nematode, mouse, or molecular research and assume it means a practical health outcome for a human. This is often not due to the size of the effect or a compensatory mechanism in the human body. But that has been conveniently left out of discussions on this much-vaunted podcast and social media segments.
The reality is that the benefits of whole-body cryotherapy and cold water immersion are likely nonexistent, or modest at best, and vulnerable to placebo (Wilson 2018; Hohenauer 2015, 2019).
Additionally, cryotherapy and cold water immersion are potentially harmful in the long term. It appears to impair both muscular and vascular adaptation to exercise, lowers muscle protein synthesis, and studies show that it can even lead to muscle breakdown in some cases (Yamane 2015; Roberts 2015; Figueiredo 2016; Fyfe 2019, Fuchs 2019). In other words, say goodbye to those wins! Some short-term studies suggest positive benefits beyond placebo due to hormesis.
w I don't want to completely take the wind out of your sails, my cold-loving friends! A potential positive application for cryotherapy would be post-training during a multi-event competitive scenario (think CrossFit or Strongman) for a short period of time (~3 days) likely to achieve a perceived reduction in delayed onset muscle soreness and a potential reduction of inflammation.
What's the moral of the story? Rather leave the ice cubes in your drinks than as part of your standard workout.
Death from body part splits
Raphael Konforti, Senior Director of Fitness at YouFit Gyms
Monday is chest day, Tuesday is back and the week continues... The classic body split. You can train body parts more than once a week. Do you need seven days of rest before training your muscles?
From pro athletes to beginners to celebrities, splits are proven to be far more effective after a total body or upper/lower body workout. The more you train a muscle, the more you can stimulate it to grow and respond. The body has repeatedly adapted to performing large movements like presses, pulls, carries, squats, lunges, and deadlifts on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. Think of the progress you could make if you did an exercise twice a week instead of once.
For a full body split, I recommend combining upper body pulls (back and biceps) with lower body presses (quads dominant) one day and upper body presses (pecs, shoulders, and triceps) and lower body pulls (hamstrings and glutes dominant for the other day. Add a rest day in between for 2 -Add 4 sessions per week. Stick with it for 4-6 weeks before changing your split for the next 4-6 weeks.
The Burial of Diets
Detric Smitha trainer and owner of Results Performance Training
I'm ready to retire from fad diets forever! Trendy diets have an insidious habit of becoming more and more popular. It's time to ditch the fads and instead popularize the development of sound eating habits.
Trend diets tend to be restrictive and encourage deprivation, leading to burnout and yo-yo dieting. Some go as far as cutting out critical food groups (I'm looking at you keto)! Healthy eating shouldn't be all or nothing and one size fits all.
It is impossible to ensure that you are consuming the right balance of nutrients by blindly following a diet without a practical understanding of nutrition. Only a balanced approach based on education will ensure that your eating habits will work for you in the long term.
So I'd like to replace fad diets with a focus on factual knowledge, moderation, and realistic daily changes. These are the basics for creating long-term eating habits that will last a lifetime.
Stop basing your decisions on wearable technology
Chris Cooper, Strength and Nutrition Coach at Nerd Fitness
One trend that has crept into the fitness industry that could use a pared down approach is the reliance, or in this case over-reliance, on wearable technology and the data that comes with it.
We can track our sleep, readiness, calories burned, metabolic rates and steps, among other things. For many it can become an unhealthy obsession when we need to achieve a specific goal or hit a certain number.
What happens at the end is pacing around the house, getting our step count for the day, tracking our calories burned during a workout and using that data to determine whether it was good or not, or our diet choices based on how much we've burned. While tracking can have its benefits, there can come a point where we have all this data and are trying to figure out what to do with it.
Macro chaos and nutritional extremes
Mike T Nelson, Ph.D.a metabolic fitness professional, strength coach and educator who specializes in tailoring nutrition to each individual's needs.
Stop Me If You Heard:
Carbohydrates are bad because they cause your body to release insulin and make you fat.
Oh wait, carbs are good because they're the fuel your body uses to lift heavy stuff.
Fat is bad because it is high in calories.
Oh wait, fat is good since there's no insulin release.
Protein is good as you need it to build more muscle,
Oh wait, protein is because... autophagy.
Every popular diet book makes an enemy of a macronutrient. The truth is that all macros are helpful and not one is downright evil.
Your metabolism is dynamic, and for better body composition and achieving PRs in the gym you want to use both fats and carbohydrates for fuel, aka metabolic flexibility. Accept the complexity required and drop the simple story of macro extremism in 2023.