Fitness trends – like fashion trends – change over time, and whether it’s fashion or fitness there is no escape from this evolution. Here are four fitness trends for the New Year from fitness coach Hesham Saeed…

A trend is defined as “a general direction in which something is developing or changing” and there is no better advocate for what is hot and what is not in the world of fitness than the ACSM (American College of Sports Medicine). Every year in their November/December issue, ACSM publishes a ‘Worldwide Survey of Fitness Trends’ based on surveys from experts in the field of health and fitness from around the world.

Considering past surveys, it is clear that the general trend in training has slowly shifted over the years from low-intensity cardio workouts to programs that demand more physical effort and implement high-intensity training. These trends are bolstered by many scientific studies that claim the premise of training for a short duration under high intensity is more effective for both weight loss and strength gain than training for a long duration under low intensity.

In particular, three trends seem to be promising as some of the hottest fitness trends of 2016. Bodyweight training, strength training, and HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training) have not only climbed up the ladder of the list for hottest fitness trends but are also increasing in popularity among those wanting to participate in a fitness program.

Bodyweight Training

Training with your own body weight is not something new and has been around for centuries, but it’s definitely a trend to keep an eye on. Bodyweight training was first introduced to the ACSM’s fitness trends survey in the year 2013, and from its first appearance on the list, it placed as high as third; if you think it’s a fad, think again.

The trend of Bodyweight training kept climbing up the list as it placed second in 2014, first in 2015 and shows no signs of dropping. ACSM’s worldwide survey of fitness trends for 2015 stated that: “bodyweight training did not appear as an option before 2013 because it only became popular (as a defined trend) in gyms around the world during the last couple of years.”

Bodyweight training is becoming popular because exercises like push-ups, lunges and crunches can be performed at the gym, outdoors in the park, at home or even while you travel. Best of all is that they are suitable for anybody at any fitness level.

HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training)

HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training)

Just as the name implies, HIIT is to perform an exercise at a high intensity interval followed by a recovery interval. This order is to be performed consecutively to complete one round. One of the most famous HIIT protocols is Tabata. Founded by the Japanese physician Dr. Izumi Tabata back in 1996, Tabata is a four-minute workout that consists of eight rounds of 20 seconds at maximum effort followed by a 10-second rest after each.

HIIT has secured its place as one of the top three fitness trends for the past two years and is increasing in popularity. HIIT has been shown to enhance body composition by reducing body fat while maintaining muscle mass, increase both aerobic and anaerobic capacity, and even improve blood pressure and cholesterol profiles. For the benefits that this training scheme promises, plus the advantage of being able to complete your cardio in a relatively short space of time, it’s no wonder HIIT is continuing to increase in popularity amongst even the most hardcore of athletes.

Strength Training

Strength Training

Strength training has been around since the 1800s, when it was practiced by so-called strongmen who used to perform entertainment shows demonstrating their power. Bodybuilding, powerlifting and weightlifting are all forms of strength training. In essence, strength training is to use resistance to induce muscular contraction, which will build up the strength and size of the skeletal muscle.

Strength training has been a strong trend throughout the years. Even though ACSM’s yearly survey contains more than 20 items as potentials for fitness trends, strength training has always placed as one of the top five except for 2007 – the first year the survey was conducted – when it placed 6th. It is of no surprise that strength training has always been a trend and always will be. Let’s face it, who doesn’t like to have a muscular physique or pack big guns?

And then there’s CrossFit

And then there's CrossFit

There is no doubt that CrossFit is the MVP (Most Valuable Player) when it comes to the game of fitness. CrossFit has grown tremendously in popularity over the past five years, with little sign of fading out anytime soon. The number of CrossFit worldwide affiliates has grown from about 2,500 in 2010 to over 10,500 today. The number of affiliates in the state of Kuwait has increased from two in 2010 to over 10 and the demand is still on the rise. Besides, CrossFit combines the hottest trends all together, as it consists of both strength training and bodyweight training performed at high intensity intervals. If there is one thing that is certain about CrossFit, it’s that it is spreading like wild fire.

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