The world of fitness continues to evolve, adapt, and change as more and more professionals share their thoughts and knowledge on particular topics. Studies continue to improve and be more specific, training ideologies are continuing to be sharpened and tested, and so much more pushes the industry forward.
Before the boom of social media and platforms that provide voices to incredibly knowledgeable professionals (and some not so much), we were a little limited with the information we had in hand. It’s great that so many professionals have platforms to voice their knowledge, but it can be equally problematic when messages and ideologies become warped, which then can misinform the less knowing masses.
In this article and video, Dr. Pat Davidson discusses five fitness trends that need to go away forever. He also talks about why they’re erroneous and better ways to conceptualize them.
1. Knees Should Never Go Over the Toes
The first fitness trend that Dr. Davidson discusses is on the topic of the avoidance for knees tracking over the toes when performing lower body exercises. He points out that the idea of the knees tracking forward as being a major indicator for potential knee pain is often exaggerated.
When the knees track forward, Dr. Davidson mentions that sheer stresses on the lumbar (lower back) can actually be mitigated and decreased, assuming proper form is being executed. So while there has been one piece of research that suggests there’s a slight increase on the stress of soft tissues around the ligaments of the knee when working through greater ranges of motion, lower back stress decreases which for many is of higher importance when squat movement patterns are dialed in and there are no previous injuries present. (1, 2)
2. Spinal Flexion Is Bad
Dr. Davidson points out that this is a difficult trend to navigate due to the complexity of the spine and what we perceive as back pain. He points out that there has been research highlighting the fact that certain injuries of the back are not always associated with pain, which makes this a complicated trend to address.
If we look at daily movements and sports, there’s a great deal of spinal flexion that takes place to move optimally and in a healthy manner. Dr. Davidson mentions it’s not realistic to move completely locked up and rigid all of the time, and that spinal flexion is a normal process of the back — assuming it’s not being abused from a poor mechanical point of view.
Back pain is multi-factorial and saying that one thing is “always” the cause for it can be misleading and create a bias in what’s actually going on within one’s body.
3. High Reps, Light Weights = Toned Muscles
The idea that lifting light weights for high reps while getting toned is continued to be perpetuated in various training circles, and while its origins are not exactly known, it’s a trend that needs to go away.
Dr. Davidson points out that any weight that registers over 30% of our 1-RM will create some level of hypertrophic response. (3) To achieve the “toned” muscle ideology, he points out that he views the topic from two prospective mindsets:
- First, low reps and high weight could actually be useful to achieve “toned” muscles since you’re not providing the body with enough volume to truly produce a hypertrophy adaptation.
- Second, high reps and low weight that take you nowhere near failure might help you get “toned”, but in doing so you don’t really accomplish anything.
At the end of the day, to achieve a desired level of leanness it’s much more complex than simply performing a certain weight for high reps.
4. If I Train Like Them, I’ll Look Like Them
The example Dr. Davidson uses in this video discusses how some individuals want to look like others, so they train exactly like them. It’s a harsh reality, but there will always be some differences despite how closely one replicates another’s training.
He points out that there’s much more to it than simply executing similar workouts, as genetics, anthropometrics, and much more will play a large role in growth and adaptations.
5. You Can Spot Reduce Belly Fat
The idea that we can perform any exercise to decrease belly fat for a particular body is misleading. Dr. Davidson points out that the biggest component to consider when trying to turn body fat is to simply work harder and maintain an elevated heart rate for longer periods of time, as this will produce a better effect on burning body fat.
He also points out that the idea that hormones play an incredibly high role on fat storage is also a bit misleading. Where we store fat is written in our genetic code and the best way to combat that is with acceptance of who we are and a curated and individual exercise and nutrition plan.
There are handfuls of fitness trends out there that let’s just say…aren’t exactly riddled with truth. As much as we want to believe sometimes something to be true that’s often rarely the case.
It’s important to remember the context and complexity of every situation when considering the above five fitness trends!
1. Fry AC, e. (2020). Effect of knee position on hip and knee torques during the barbell squat. – PubMed – NCBI.
2. Hartmann H, e. (2020). Analysis of the load on the knee joint and vertebral column with changes in squatting depth and weight load. – PubMed – NCBI.
3. Schoenfeld BJ, e. (2020). Strength and Hypertrophy Adaptations Between Low- vs. High-Load Resistance Training: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. – PubMed – NCBI.