Some will get you ripped. The others will get you nowhere.
The field of fitness is constantly changing and evolving. And that’s a good thing—over the past few decades, experts have made some serious strides in figuring out what will give you the greatest gains. That’s why we’ve been able to give you the advice that gets you there, like 5 diet changes you need to build muscle, or on the flip side, 5 workout mistakes that are sabotaging your muscle gains.
But as the field continues to grow, awesome ideas, tips, and innovations aren’t the only new things that pop up: We’ve seen some pretty serious stinkers, too.
Follow those fitness trends, and your gains can stall, fast. And if you’re putting in the work, you want to reap the results, right?
Problem is, it can be hard not to get sucked in by those fads, draining your gains along the way.
So we’ve done the work for you. Here are the 5 best fitness trends we’ve seen in 2017—and the 5 worst ones you should skip. Use this list to plan your first 2018 workout program accordingly.
1 Best fitness trend: Oscillation training
Back in March, a new study published in Endocrinology came out suggesting that vibrating platforms can help you build muscle and lose weight. That’s due to the oscillation effect, causing your muscles to contract and relax at a much higher rate than usual.
Sounds out-there, right? But you don’t actually need a vibrating platform to get that same effect. That’s where oscillation training comes in, as we reported. Simply attach band-anchored weights to a barbell and perform moves like squats, presses, curls, and farmer walks. The unstable load fires up your stabilizing joints and muscles, and requires you to lift with a slower, more controlled tempo—making it easier on your joints and quicker to recover from. Check out the video below to learn how to do the oscillating overhead
Oscillating Bandbell Overhead Press:
2 Best fitness trend: Vibration-based recovery tools
Over the last few years, we’ve learned the importance of muscle recovery tools— just look at all the foam rollers in the corner of your gym. But 2017 has kicked it up a notch, with the growth of vibration- based recovery tools, like vibrating foam rollers and other devices. Take the TheraGun, a gun-shaped tool used by NFL players that vibrates and pulses to boost blood flow and break up muscle knots. Check out what happened when our fitness editor tried it to reduce his soreness.
Jason Wersland Theragun Legs:
3 Best fitness trend: DNA-based workouts
This new trend merges science and fitness to the extreme: analyzing your DNA to see what kinds of workouts your body will respond best to. For instance, depending on your code, your body may like endurance exercise like long-distance running more than power-based exercises like sprinting—meaning, your performance ceiling may be higher on those. When we tested DNAFit, we learned a few interesting ways to structure our diet and our fitness plans to max out our gains.
4 Best fitness trend: Using the hollow body hold
Want to forge a rock-hard six-pack? Crunches aren’t going to be your best bet. Instead, more and more people are recognizing the benefits of the hollow-body hold, a foundational gymnastics exercise that will make you better at everything from maintaining proper posture to repping out some perfect pullups. That’s because it requires you to engage and stabilize your entire core, which you need for pretty much any
movement at the gym—or simply moving in everyday life. Learn how to do it so you can start incorporating it into your training, too.
5 Best fitness trend: Wearables
Activity trackers are everywhere—and they do a lot more than measure your steps now. There are loads of fitness trackers out there that measure everything from run distance to climbing elevation. And many contain heart rate monitors so you can gauge how hard you’re working during an interval workout, as well as get an estimate for how many calories you’ve burned, too. So it’s no wonder that one of our editors credits her fitness tracker for pushing her to work out harder than ever before.
6 Worst fitness trend: Naked workout classes
Back in January, we learned about a “nude-ercise” exercise class in England, where participants from 33 to 70 stripped down to their birthdays suits for an hour-long bootcamp style class. It’s all about normalizing the human form, says one of participants. Still, we’re skeptical—and we can’t help but think choosing any of these top workout gear for men would make for a more comfortable class experience.
7 Worst fitness trend: Electric muscle stimulation
Electric muscle stimulation is being hailed as the future of fitness. The theory behind it is simple: quick zaps of electricity to individual muscles, which stimulates them to a greater extent than you can do on your own. Pairing them with a workout, proponents say, can help you build muscle. Sounds great, but it falls short with one important fact: You can’t train with progressive overload—the key to building muscle. So while it’s fun tool, it doesn’t come close to tried-and-true training methods for getting results.
8 Worst fitness trend: Tinder for the gym
Yes, meeting women is hard. So is crushing a workout. You know what you shouldn’t do? Try to meld the two together. Back in May, we learned about an app called Gymder, which the creator claims to be a “social fitness” tool to match you up with a gym buddy. However, as Gizmodo points out, the app’s rep compares it to Tinder in a press email, triggering the speculation that was for people looking for a little more than a spot on the bench press. Our take: If you want to make awesome gains this year, focus on your workout at the gym—and that’s it.
9 Worst fitness trend: Ball-balance moves
LeBron James is an NBA superstar in tremendous shape. So if he’s doing something a little outside the ordinary fitness-wise, that can only help regular guys, too, right? Well, not exactly. In November, we came across photos of James warming up on Waff Mini Elites, clear “bubbles” that athletes balance on, with the hopes of strengthening their muscles and improving posture, coordination, and stamina. Lebron’s been using it to rehab an injured ankle, but the experts say that there’s really no benefit of the cool-looking devices. Plus, it’s not really necessary for the average guy looking to get stronger, either, says Samuel.
10 Worst fitness trends: “Friendweight” exercises
A workout buddy is a good way to motivate you to get to the gym and push yourself to work harder. A workout buddy you use in place of weights? Not so much. In April, we came across the Instagram of two personal trainers from Sweden who spend their time creating “friendweight” exercises— moves that use the other person’s body for resistance instead of actual free weights. While they make for a cool-looking video, we think we’ll stick to having our workout buddy spot us instead. Plus, if you want to give the weighs a break, these 30 awesome bodyweight exercises are going to be your better bet.