ACSM released its annual list of worldwide fitness trends—here’s what they mean for your training.

  • Wearable fitness technology tops the top-10 list of hot fitness trends for 2020, according to this year’s ACSM survey.
  • Runners are well ahead of the trend curve as early adopters of wearable tech and other hot trends like high-intensity interval training and hiring fitness professionals.

It’s that time of year again, when the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) polls thousands of health and fitness professionals around the globe to peer into the crystal ball and identify the top fitness trends for the following year.

This is the 14th year for the ACSM survey, and many of the hot trends, such as HIIT and group training, for 2020 have been along for the ride since the beginning. Runners have been at the pointy end of fitness trends like HIIT training, wearable tech, and employing certified professionals since long before such surveys existed. But it’s worth noting that there are other consistent (and important) trends more runners would be wise to hop on.

So without further ado, here are the top 10 fitness trends for 2020 and what they mean for you.

[From training tips, to fueling strategies, to improving the mind-body connection, the Runner’s World 2020 Calendar will help you run your best all year long.]

10. Employing certified fitness professionals

Personal trainer with stopwatch

Hiring a fitness professional debuted on the trend list at #6 last year, and holds its position in the top 10 for 2020. For runners, this means hiring a coach—something we recommend all serious runners try at least once. Even if you’re a coach yourself, it can still be helpful to nail your goals.

Good coaches do more than just write training plans—you can download those online for a few bucks. They’re a confidante, someone you can share your goals and insecurities with who will help you cut through the clutter and be the best bike rider you can be. They eliminate the guesswork and make you accountable for getting your training done.

9. Health/wellness coaching

Two young men shaking hands in gym

And coming in at #9…more coaching! Health and wellness coaching is different from running coaching in that it’s not focused on exercise performance, but rather helping you live a healthier life overall.

Wellness coaches can help you deal with stress, improve your mindset, find balance, and make healthy lifestyle changes (say, like running more) stick.

Only you can say if you would benefit from a health and wellness coach (and it’s possible that a multi-faceted running coach could pull double duty here). But if you consistently struggle to make behavioral changes that would improve your emotional and physical well-being, it might be worth a try.

8. Fitness programs for older adults

Group of fit seniors with personal trainer in gym

No surprise here. People are living longer and remaining active for many more years than past generations. And the more fit you stay into your later years, the more years you’re likely to live. One study found that those with the highest levels of fitness at age 75 were more than twice as likely to live another 10 years or more compared to those with poorer fitness.

Science shows that as we age, metabolism changes, making it easier to gain weightand lose muscle, as we get older. Recovery takes longer, too. That means you need to keep up the intensity to maintain muscle and top-end fitness, and take proper care to bounce back from those efforts. So if you’re in your 50s, 60s, 70s, or beyond, make sure the trainers and/or coaches you work with understand the nuances of working with someone your age.

7. Bodyweight training

Full Length Of Young Woman Exercising In Gym

Bodyweight training, which, just as it sounds, means using your own body to perform resistance training has been among the top trends since it hit the charts at #3 in 2013. And with good reason: You don’t need a gym membership or special equipment to build strength, and you can get a good workout wherever you are.

Body weight training is particularly helpful for runners during prime marathon season, when you may be reluctant to use precious running time to go to the gym. Some push-ups, squats, and core moves can help keep you strong without worrying about hitting the weights.

6. Exercise Is Medicine

Physician patient talk

Exercise Is Medicine (EIM) is a global health initiative that encourages primary care doctors and other health-care providers to include physical activity assessment as part of their care and to include exercise recommendations and referrals to fitness professionals as part of standard care.

A doctor’s note for a run a day? Sounds like good medicine to us.

5. Personal training

personal trainer helping woman work out

It’s easy to be a little skeptical about personal training being the top trend (as it has been since the survey first published in 2006) on a list generated by fitness professionals. But personal training works, and it continues to evolve overtime to meet changing demands.

For runners, a few sessions with a personal trainer can help you feel comfortable and confident in your off-season strength training and in-season maintenance work. Today, mobile apps make personal training more effective and efficient than ever. You can meet with your trainer to do your assessments and cover the basics. Then, you can do the rest via fitness apps like True Coach that allow you to track progress, communicate with your trainer, and watch videos of exercises you can’t remember when you’re at the gym and your trainer isn’t around.

4. Training with free weights

Close up of dumbbells in health club

Training with free weights like barbells, kettlebells, dumbbells, and medicine balls is a hot and growing trend right now, largely thanks to the rising popularity of functional and CrossFit style workouts and gyms.

Elites like Allie Kieffer have put to rest any worries that weight training and running don’t mix. Free weights recruit all your major and minor muscles, improve your balance and proprioception, and help build bone—all things that will make you better on the run.

3. Group training

Energy is contagious

Technically defined as more than five participants, group training is just that: a group of people led through a fitness routine by an instructor. The idea is to motivate people to move by making exercise fun and social.

Runners are all about that, since there are tons of group runs in most cities and towns. If you tend to be a lone wolf, try a a group run for 2020. You’ll be glad you did.

2. High-intensity interval training (HIIT)

Friends doing pushups during workout in gym

HIIT, which is a workout that involves short bursts of high intensity exercise followed by a short period of rest, has been a chart-topper since 2014, when it was the #1 trend of the year. HIIT doesn’t just make you fit, but also boosts brain health, tames stress, improves body composition, and fends off a host of chronic diseases.

As a runner, you should absolutely be doing HIIT training. Even if you never sprint for a finish line in your life, HIIT training will help boost your endurance performance so every run feels easier and you can hum along longer and stronger without hitting the wall.

1. Wearable technology

Runner using smart watch

If you heard the news that Google is buying Fitbit for a cool $2.1 billion, it will come as no surprise that wearable technology is the #1 fitness trend for 2020. Wearable technology includes fitness trackers, smart watches, heart rate monitors, and GPS tracking devices. It’s a $95 billion industry and shows no signs of slowing.

Runners, of course, are not new to any of this. We’ve been routinely strapping on GPS watches for years.

If you’ve never tried wearable tech, and well, I’m not sure there’s one of you out there, it’s well worth investing in a watch that not only can help you track your training progress, but also can alert you to underlying health issues before they cause trouble.

A true love for sports

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