There’s a saying long before CrossFit was invented’ that fools and money are soon parted. This fact spans a wide array of life, particularly in the health and fitness industry. You don’t need to look further than this past. year’s Liver King fiasco for proof. Newbies and experienced lifters oftentimes seek a shortcut or hack to improve their gains.
Marketers, supplement companies, and fitness influencers are there to fill this void to make your wallet a little lighter and the promise of gains within arm’s reach. Here’s another cliché I can’t resist typing: ’If something sounds too good to be true, it usually is.’ Remember this when the next insincere influencer comes along.
Anyhow, the fitness soapbox moment is over. Here seven coaches go into the fitness trends that reared their ugly heads up in 2022 and need to be buried in a gymnasium graveyard far, far away. You have been warned…
The Death of Workout Etiquette
Kevin Mullins Jr, CSCS, B.S. 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 gymgoers to public facilities as fears of the pandemic faded and a desire to train in more energetic and better-equipped environments returned. It was honestly great to see so many people back.
Yet, for everyone who remembered the rules and decencies of working out in public, many more completely disregarded others. Leaving weights on bars, dumbbells on floors, and dominating multiple pieces of equipment are the usual offenses that nearly every dedicated weightroom warrior accepts as “normal” in the same sense that we all know rush-hour traffic is obnoxious but unavoidable.
The greater offense has been the massive uptick in tripod usage for social media content. Sure, we are in a new age of fitness. We’re telling the world that your workout is more important than working out. Sure, the younger generation is more tech-savvy and wants to capture the magic of the greatest feelings in the gym.
But, thinking that filming your content matters more than me getting my regular workout in? Yeah, that’s not going to fly. Move your tripod and phone from my bench; I was using that. I don’t think I will switch deadlift platforms because I’m in the background of your shot. Oh, and don’t even think I’m going to tolerate you standing in front of the dumbbell rack flexing in the (agreeably bright lighting) while your friend films B-roll for your “villain-arc.”
I love that people want to celebrate themselves by being in the gym. I’d rather see Instagram reels of you lifting and working your tail off than another stupid dance or swallowing a tide-pod, but let’s be generous and understand that the gym is for everyone to share.
Shiny New Toy Syndrome
Andrew Heming, M.S., C.S.C.S., N.S.C.A.-C.P.T., a former university head strength coach, professor, and trainer
Stop with the “Look at me! I came up with a crazy, new, never-before-seen exercise!” While this is a fast way for fitness influencers to gain attention on social media, but an even faster way to halt your progress. Most, if not all, of these “new” exercises, are drastically inferior to basic exercises you already know. Instead of letting your social media feed dictate your training decisions, follow this plan for 2023:
- Pick appropriate variations of basic movements (squat, hinge, push, pull, carry) that work for you. Don’t worry if your best variation on an exercise differs from others.
- Train hard.
- Stay consistent.
- Emphasize proper sleep, rest, and nutrition.
- Keep a training journal. Look for ways to continue to progress with your best exercises.
- Let your progress in your training log and your body—not influencers’ “innovative” exercises get you excited about training.
- Only use innovation when it is needed to solve a specific problem (e.g., lack of equipment, joint pain, poor mind-muscle connection)
Stop Shivering for ‘Recovery’ Purposes
Allan Bacon, Ph.D., an online personal trainer specializing in training powerlifters and body composition clients
Chill out (pun intended) with the cryotherapy and ice baths. Unscrupulous health quacks pushed ice baths more than ever in 2022 for every benefit under the sun ranging from enhanced recovery to longevity to “insert outrageous claim here.” Unfortunately for these charlatans, these claims displayed a misunderstanding of the applicability to actual humans and a blatant disregard for the negatives associated with these practices.
You can’t just take nematode, murine, or molecular research and assume that means a practical health outcome in a human. It often doesn’t due to the magnitude of the effect or a compensatory mechanism in the human body. But that was conveniently left out of the discussions on this oft-vaunted podcast and social media segments.
The reality is that whole-body cryotherapy and cold water immersion benefits are likely non-existent or modest at best and are prone to placebo (Wilson 2018; Hohenauer 2015, 2019).
Not only that, cryotherapy and cold water immersion are potentially detrimental long-term. It appears to impair both muscular and vascular adaptations to training, lowers muscle protein synthesis, and studies show it may even lead to muscle loss in some cases (Yamane 2015; Roberts 2015; Figueiredo 2016; Fyfe 2019, Fuchs 2019). In other words, say goodbye to those gains! A few short-term studies suggest positive benefits beyond placebo due to hormesis.
Now I don’t want to completely take the wind out of your sails, my cold-loving friends! One potential positive application for cryotherapy would be following training during a multi-event competition scenario (think CrossFit or strongman), over a short (~3-day) span, for what is likely a perceived reduction of delayed onset muscle soreness and potential lowering of inflammation.
What is the moral of the story? Better to leave the ice cubes in your drinks than as a part of your standard training.
Death of Body Part Splits
Raphael Konforti, senior director of fitness at YouFit Gyms
Monday is chest day, Tuesday is back, and the week goes on… The classic body split. You can train body parts more than once a week. Do you need seven days of rest before working your muscles?
From pro athletes to novices to celebrities, following a total body or upper/lower body training splits prove far more effective. The more often you train a muscle, the more you can stimulate it to grow and respond. The body has repeatedly adapted to performing major movements like presses, pulls, carries, squats, lunges, and deadlifts daily, week, and month. Think about the progress you could make if you trained in an exercise twice a week instead of once.
For a total body split, I recommend combining upper body pulling (Back and biceps) with lower body pushing (Quad dominant) for one day and upper body pressing (Chest, shoulders, and triceps) and lower body pulling (Hamstring and glute dominant for the other day. Add a day of rest in between for 2-4 sessions per week. Stick with it for 4-6 weeks before switching your split for the next 4-6 weeks.
The Burial of Fad Diets
Detric Smith, a trainer and owner of Results Performance Training
I’m ready to retire from fad diets forever! Trendy diets have an insidious habit of creeping into popularity. It’s time to drop the fads and popularize developing solid nutritional habits instead.
Fad diets are typically restrictive and encourage deprivation, leading to burnout and yo-yo dieting. Some go so far as to cut out critical food groups (I’m looking at you, keto)! Eating healthy shouldn’t be all-or-nothing and one-size-fits-all.
It’s impossible to ensure you’re eating the right balance of nutrients by blindly following a diet without a practical understanding of nutrition. A balanced approach grounded in education is the only way to ensure your eating habits will work for you in the long term.
So, I’d love to replace fad diets with a focus on factual knowledge, moderation, and realistic daily changes. These are the foundations 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 crept into the fitness industry that could use a dialed-down approach is the reliance, or in this case, the overreliance 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 where we must reach a specific target or hit a certain number.
What ends up happening is pacing around the house, aiming to hit our step count for the day, tracking our calories burned in a workout, and using that data to determine whether it was good or not, or basing our nutrition choices on how much we burned. While tracking can have its benefits, it can come to a point where we have all this data and are trying to figure out what to do with it.
Macro Mayhem and Nutrition Extremes
Mike T. Nelson, Ph.D., a metabolism fitness professional, strength coach, and educator specializing in tailoring nutrition to each individual’s needs.
Stop me if you have heard these:
Carbs are bad because they cause your body to secrete insulin and make you fat.
Oh, wait, carbs are good because they are the fuel your body uses to lift heavy stuff.
Fat is bad since it is calorically dense.
Oh, wait, fat is good since there is no insulin release.
Protein is good since you need it to build more muscle,
Oh, wait, protein is because…autophagy.
Every popular diet book makes an enemy out of one macronutrient. The truth is that all macros are helpful, and no single one is plain evil.
Your metabolism is dynamic, and for better body comp and hitting PRs in the gym, you want to use both fats and carbs for fuel, aka—metabolic flexibility. Embrace the complexity required and drop the simple story of macro extremism in 2023.