Top Fitness Trends for 2018: What’s Trending?

image of Cathe, Jenn and Brenda doing high intensity interval training in Fit Split Mixed Impact Cardio & Pull Day. HIIT training was one of the hottest fitness trends last year. What do you think will be the the top fitness trends for 2018?

Just as fashion trends change over time, so do exercise and fitness trends. If you take a trip back in time and look through fitness history, you’ll see a number of trends and fads, some of which are still with us in some form and others that petered out quickly. Who can forget vibrating ab belts, hula hooping, and spandex body suits? Yet, many exercise trends from the past still survive today, such as step workouts, kickboxing, and spinning. Sometimes exercise trends simply morph into another form, like cycling taking on a new persona as spinning. What do some fitness experts believe will be the top fitness trends for 2018?

With a new year approaching, you might wonder what fitness trends are on the horizon? Hopefully, there won’t be a resurrection of the leotard or the “shake weight” but it’s always interesting to see what’s trending in the world of fitness. Every year, the editors of ACSM Health and Fitness Journal distribute a survey to fitness professionals worldwide in hopes of identifying upcoming fitness trends. Here are some of the highlights from the 2018 survey.

Top Fitness Trends for 2018

Good news for HIIT lovers! High-intensity interval training still tops the list of fitness trends for 2018. No wonder! HIIT routines are challenging, never boring, and let you get a workout in record time. Who doesn’t love that? In fact, HIIT training has dominated the list since the 2014 survey. The difference is this year high-intensity interval training stole the top spot from wearable technology, now in the number three position. Shows you what staying power HIIT training has.

Other trends in the top five are familiar as well. Along with high-intensity interval training and wearable technology is group training, body weight training, and strength training. Of course, strength training is a staple and a form of training that belongs in everyone’s workout arsenal. It’s the only way to reduce the loss of muscle mass that happens as we age. Hopefully, the trend towards women using heavier weights will continue. Studies show that lifting heavier is optimal for strength gains and for preserving bone density. So, get ready to work hard!

Bodyweight exercises are a good way to get a workout in when you have no equipment and limited space but these exercises, particularly push-ups and planks, have fitness benefits in their own right. When you do circuit workouts and add bodyweight exercises to the mix, you challenge your muscles in a different way. When you’re short on time, you can even design a quick circuit workout using only bodyweight exercises. Bodyweight exercises are likely here to stay due to the fact that anyone can do them almost anywhere.

Also in the top ten fitness trends for 2018 are yoga, functional training, and fitness training for older adults. Not surprising, especially when you consider the many health benefits of yoga. We know that exercise increases flexibility and helps strengthen the core muscles but it’s also an excellent stress reliever. Plus, studies show that yoga training helps back pain sufferers and may lower blood pressure. So, yoga is good for your heart but in a different way than cardiovascular exercise. Yoga is also a good recovery form of exercise for those days when your body needs a rest.

Fitness training for older adults also made the top ten. People of all ages need exercise and the elderly are no exception. In fact, exercise is the best medicine for helping the 65+ set stay functional. Exercise improves strength and power, which makes it easier to rise up out of a chair, and enhances balance skills to lower the risk of falls. Studies also show that it’s never too late to get benefits from it. Research carried out on nursing home residents showed that even ninety-plus-year-old individuals can build muscle strength and size in response to strength training.

And then there’s functional fitness training, which came in at number ten on the list. Functional fitness has been in the top ten every year since 2007, when it was number four, to now, with the exception of falling to number 12 last year. That’s a testament to how important functional fitness is. The exercises we do should help us improve physical functioning in all aspects of our lives – from doing housework to moving furniture. That’s what functional training is all about, helping us improve how easily we do everyday activities.

Other Top Fitness Trends for 2018

In the top twenty, at number 12, was “exercise as medicine,” an initiative that hopes to get health care professionals excited about exercise. With exercise offering so many health benefits, the healthcare community needs to be recommending and prescribing exercise more. The hope is to get physicians and other professionals to refer patients to qualified fitness professionals and programs where they can exercise in a supervised setting.

Also in the top fitness trends for 2018 were flexibility training, outdoor activities, group personal training, circuit training, wellness coaching, core training, and sport-specific training.

The Top Fitness Trends for 2018 Biggest Losers

What trends fell off in 2018 compared to earlier years? Some that failed to make the top 20 that were there in previous years include Pilates, running clubs, water workouts, stability ball workouts, dance classes, boot camp, indoor cycling, balance training, exercise for obese kids, worksite health promotion, and smartphone exercise apps. Somewhat surprising was the drop in core training. It was in the top five from 2007 to 2010 but has been slowly dropping since, barely making the cut last year at number 20. Core training is still important but, possibly, it’s been absorbed into other forms of training, like functional fitness training. Also, surprising was the drop in exercise for obese children. It was in the top five in all surveys from 2007 to 2013 and remained in the top 20 through 2015. It fell to number 32 for 2018. Childhood obesity isn’t slowing and lack of physical activity is a contributing factor. So, we still need to focus on keeping kids of all ages active.

The Bottom Line

Some old favorites, like HIIT training and strength training, are going strong and show no signs of slowing. Others have lost some of their luster. However, any kind of physical activity has benefits. The key is to be consistent and motivated enough to do it. Here’s hoping you get in the best shape of your life in 2018!



Worldwide Survey of Fitness Trends for 2018: The CREP Edition.
Healio.com. “Yoga as medicine: What PCPs need to know”
SeniorFitness.net “Strength Training Elderly Nursing Home Patients”


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Top 2016 Fitness Trends

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