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7 Popular Exercise Trends in 2020

Which Ones Could Help Runners

Just like many unsustainable and complicated fad diets circulate our world, there are equally as many obscene exercise fads. Because we are bombarded with ample, usually unsolicited health and wellness advice so often, it is difficult to know what trends are worthwhile and not a brief fad. As a runner, trying to decide on viable cross training or supplemental exercise options can begin to feel like your 12th grade calculus exam.

However, there is definitely some benefit to understanding popular exercise trends, because while some are obnoxious, some are, in fact, worthwhile, especially for runners. This compilation of 7 exercise trends around the world in 2020 briefly examines what each exercise method entails and suggests the ones that may suit and benefit runners, specifically. You will finish the article with some new cross training options or add ons for easy run days and also know which trends, that are more like fads, are better left for the wannabe and legitimate Kardashians of the world.

It is important to remember these are just suggestions from a qualified Dietitian and Personal Trainer, but it is smart to talk with your coach and/or physician before implementing any of the following strategies.

7 Exercise Trends in 2020

HIIT– Not much of a surprise here! HIIT stands for high intensity interval training. Normally, it involves short bursts of very rigorous activity, like sprinting, followed by a period of rest. Unfortunately, many people do not execute HIIT correctly, either, performing the routine for too long or engaging in a way that is actually circuit training in reality. These short sessions should not be more than 25 min in total length, including a 5 min warm up and cool down. One example includes sprinting at 90% capacity for 15 seconds with 45 second rest 15 times. For runners, HIIT may help you enhance your Type II muscle fibers, those fast twitch ones, that help you kick to the finish line at the end of your race. Thus, one to two sessions per week may be prudent for runners, especially if you want to enhance your potential speed.

Functional Fitness– Sounds somewhat ambiguous, right? It shouldn’t, but so many arenas of exercise and training have hijacked the word, exacerbating understandable confusion. Some types of training like CrossFit regularly tout their sessions and plans as “functional fitness,” while others refer to exercise and functional fitness, interchangeably, and neither possess much merit. In actuality, this popular 2020 exercise trend involves training and developing the bodies’ muscles in a very targeted way for everyday activities like moving from sitting to standing, carrying groceries, or lifting a box over your head. Its origins blossomed in rehabilitation and is based on approaches of physical and occupational therapists. For runners, this type of movement may be especially helpful when rehabilitating or monitoring a nagging injury. Additionally, it may help improve your form and running gait, which could subsequently lead to better performance.

Obstacle Races– Many obstacle teams and organizations such as Spartan, Tough Mudder, and Warrior Dash flaunt the fun of these unique races, and for good reason. They are FUN! Although research boasts this an exercise trend of 2020, obstacle races have been on the rise within the past decade. Their comradery, atmosphere, and uniqueness easily attract the masses. It may seem plausible for runners to sample these obstacle races but proceed with caution. Depending on the tier of race you choose, or which race is provided in that certain city, the obstacles can be quite rigorous, meaning a greater chance for injury. Common injuries include twisted ankles, broken arms and wrists, concussions, shin injuries, and random sprains and strains. However, for the burnt out, fed up, or bored runner, this exercise trend may just be the perfect “break” from road or trail racing, and since it involves running, it can help you progress.

Bikram (aka Hot) Yoga– While there are various forms of what most people recognize as hot yoga, Bikram yoga is the true pioneer of this exercise trend. Like the confusion with functional fitness, many enthusiasts of hot yoga believe it burns more calories due to the immense loss of sweat. There is little merit to this belief, as sweat loss is water weight loss rather than fat weight loss, meaning it is, at most, temporary. Nonetheless, it bears some benefits. According to The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research and The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, Bikram Yoga may slightly improve strength and substantially increase flexibility, but it doesn’t affect many parameters of health like blood pressure or cholesterol levels and doesn’t produce meaningful cardiovascular benefits. Because hyper-flexibility, dehydration, and lots of time (usually sessions are 90 minutes in length) spent on non-sport specific physical activity can actually impede running performance, runners may want to leave this type of training to the celebrities and woo woo gurus of the world. However, one to two sessions of traditional yoga, in a normally regulated room has shown positive results on running performance.

Wearable Technology– The Apple watch still stands as king of all wearable technology, but so many devices and applications exist these days. Fitbit Versa, Amazfit Bip, Garmin Vivosport, Oura rings, and tech clothing adorn exercise aficionados… and trendy fashion leaders who only obtain 300 steps a day. Kidding, but maybe not. These devices and gadgets possess similar functions and insights, with the higher priced ones usually offering additional features like heart rate assessment. It can become a headache trying to determine which adornment would benefit you best. Because running workouts (and sometimes even races) based on heart rate zones is a popular training method, if you’re going to jump on this exercise trend in 2020, a device with heart rate monitoring is a prudent purchase for runners. This can provide valuable insight towards your training, and as such, the run coaches at Top Nutrition and Performance frequently recommend our athletes to purchase one that includes a GPS and heart rate monitor. Get ready to geek out on data!

Training with free weights– Not quite sure why this is an exercise trend of 2020, as it is decades old thanks to Schwarzenegger in the 70’s, but no complaints, because free weight/resistance/strength training benefits everyone able to engage. Building lean muscle tissue helps increase metabolism, protect bones, and increase strength. Moreover, free weights can incorporate a variety of different equipment and apparatuses like dumbells, kettlebells, barbells, bosu balls, medicine balls, and so much more. Anything that possesses literal weight or provides antagonizing resistance can be considered free weight or resistance training. Runners especially benefit from some certain free weight or resistance exercises to build enduring muscles and aid running form. There are hundreds of helpful free weight exercises, but a popular one for each major muscle/muscle group among runners include the deadlift, Bulgarian split squats, military press, bench or dumbbell press, tricep pull down using a rope, bicep curl, reverse grip row, and latissimus pull down. As a runner, it is more important to focus on correct form and muscle connection rather than trying to PR with increased or large amounts of weight, as this can impede run training and involves a higher risk for injury. You won’t care that you can deadlift 200 lbs if you can’t run your A race because you pulled your back. This actually leads to the last exercise trend of 2020 discussed in this article.

Personal training– Too bad researchers and the media didn’t mention ONLINE personal training and/or run coaching, because Top Nutrition and Performance certainly and eagerly offers that to clients. Yet, this is still exciting, because personal trainers can help create and implement reputable training exercises and methods tailored to individual needs and goals. Personalized training removes many of the trials and tribulations you might encounter trying to learn and execute on your own, especially, if you’re a newbie. As for runners, personal training sessions can be helpful and may render better running performance, but if you must choose between personal training and run coaching, you will benefit more from the training method focused on your exercise competition, meaning, run coaching. In fact, this is true for all athletics. Nonetheless, if you can find a personal trainer who is also a run coach, you could receive the best of both worlds… oh wait, I’m one of those individuals!

Recapping Exercise Trends for Runners in 2020

Undoubtedly training harder/smarter in your runs will obviously lead to the most major improvements in performance. However, it is widely observed that various forms of complementary exercise can also aid in running performance. Out of these 7 exercise trends in 2020, according to Michelle, a dietitian, personal trainer and run coach, the three best supplemental methods for runners to consider include free weight training, personal training, and wearable technology because of the low risk of injury and potential for improvement of running performance, specifically. After all, beating your previous personal record is usually an agreeable goal! Conversely, for running purposes, hot yoga is probably least likely to positively supplement your training or performance. Let Kim and Chole and Kylie (Kardashian sisters) sweat pools in warrior pose, while you focus efforts on guided strength training and monitoring that heart rate. You’ll not only embody popular exercise trends in 2020, your performance will benefit too.

Michelle is a personal trainer and registered dietitian and run coach based with Top Nutrition and Performance in the St. Louis, Missouri area. Visit National Nutrition Servicesfor nutrition inquiries andhttps://www.topnnp.com/necfor endurance/strength coaching. For nutrition counseling, she specializes in sports nutrition, GI issues, and eating disorders/disordered eating. As a run coach, her favorite distances to help train include anything longer than a 5k, although, her track coach often made her run the two mile, mile, and 800 meter run in high school, so she still remembers a tip or two.

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