Func­tional train­ing, high-in­ten­sity in­ter­val train­ing top fit­ness trends for 2016


For a se­cond year in a row, Cana­dian fit­ness ex­perts are tout­ing func­tional fit­ness and high-in­ten­sity in­ter­val train­ing as top work­out trends.

Func­tional fit­ness, which was se­cond in Can­fit­pro’s an­nual trends sur­vey last year and No. 1 this year, in­volves ex­er­cises that work mul­ti­ple mus­cle groups and mimic ac­tiv­i­ties like shov­el­ling snow or car­ry­ing gro­ceries.

“Typ­i­cally, a good func­tional train­ing drill would show ev­i­dence of strength, train­ing and bal­ance all in the one ex­er­cise, and cre­at­ing mus­cle ten­sion or tone through­out the whole body,” said Twist Con­di­tion­ing founder Peter Twist, a for­mer strength and con­di­tion­ing coach for the Van­cou­ver Canucks.

High-in­ten­sity in­ter­val train­ing (HIIT), which was last year’s top trend pick, is char­ac­ter­ized by in­tense bursts of ex­er­cise fol­lowed by short rest pe­ri­ods. Some ex­perts be­lieve HIIT is a more ef­fi­cient form of ex­er­cise that can min­i­mize time spent at the gym.

“De­pend­ing on what for­mat you take, it can take you about four min­utes af­ter you’ve warmed up to be able to get a very good re­sponse from your car­dio-res­pi­ra­tory sys­tem and get many — if not all — of the same ben­e­fits as you would from do­ing a longer lower-in­ten­sity work­out,” said Rod Macdon­ald, vice-pres­i­dent of Can­fit­pro, whose or­ga­ni­za­tion rep­re­sents fit­ness pro­fes­sion­als, health club oper­a­tors and in­dus­try sup­pli­ers.

Adding in com­pound ex­er­cises — those that in­volve more than one mus­cle group — can also be of ben­e­fit, said Macdon­ald.

“You’re ac­tu­ally go­ing to be in­cor­po­rat­ing a lot in one sin­gle move­ment. And com­pound­ing those ex­er­cises can be re­ally pow­er­ful in mak­ing the most of your time,” he said.

For those look­ing to lose weight in the new year, ex­er­cise alone is not enough, Macdon­ald said.

“If you’re eat­ing too much, it’s very hard to do enough ex­er­cise to work it off,” he said.

“The av­er­age choco­late bar has about 300 to 350 calo­ries in it. The av­er­age per­son will maybe burn that many calo­ries if they did 45 min­utes on a tread­mill.

“Even if they can get through that 350 calo­ries of that choco­late bar, they haven’t done any­thing to lose that ad­di­tional weight — and it’s not just a choco­late bar they’re eat­ing that day. Healthy eat­ing pro­grams are crit­i­cal to ... com­ple­ment the ex­er­cise to en­sure that they’re get­ting the best re­sult.”

South of the bor­der, the Amer­i­can Col­lege of Sports Medicine ranked wear­able tech­nol­ogy as its No. 1 trend, in­clud­ing use of gad­gets like fit­ness track­ers, smart watches, heartrate mon­i­tors and GPS track­ing devices.

Body weight train­ing — in­volv­ing ex­er­cises such as pushups and pullups — ranked se­cond, and HIIT rounded out the top three.

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