8 Incredibly Effective Workout Trends for 2024 That Will Give You Results
Give one of these popular fitness options a shot and see what the hype's about.
One of the go-to New Year's resolutions is to get in shape, starting the year off with refreshed goals to eat healthier and get more exercise. In fact, according to a Forbes Health/OnePoll survey for 2024, improving fitness was the most common resolution this year (48 percent), while losing weight (34 percent) and improving diet (32 percent) were the fourth and fifth most popular, respectively. However, it's hard to maintain these weight-loss goals for an entire year, especially if you're not seeing desired results or if life simply gets in the way. So, if you want to stick to your fitness goals—and get the most out of your new gym membership—consider taking advantage of a few workout trends for 2024.
Read on to find out what fitness experts recommend.
Virtual reality and gamified fitness
If you're into more modern approaches to wellness, including immersive experiences, you'll be excited by a new trend that involves virtual reality (VR).
"In 2024, fitness will rely on gamification and VR to appeal to a broader audience, especially younger people who are so used to having games and screens in their lives, including in school," Rachel MacPherson, certified strength and conditioning specialist (CSCS), certified personal trainer (CPT), and author at Garage Gym Reviews, tells Best Life.
According to MacPherson, gamified workouts integrate positive aspects of gaming "to boost motivation and keep track of your progress." This can involve a fitness tracking app that doubles as your workout planner and virtual trainer.
"VR is becoming increasingly popular, and it's a great way to gamify fitness, motivate individuals, and build a community with online groups, classes, and competitions," MacPherson says.
Illustrating this, according to an Aug. 2023 study published in the European Journal of Investigation in Health Psychology and Education, gamification can "enhance fitness" by making the process "more fun, rewarding, and social."
While the study authors concede that people need more than tech to motivate them to exercise, they also note, "Users can have a more enjoyable experience and become inspired to exercise more frequently by adding gaming aspects to fitness apps."
Walking on an incline has been all the rage since the 12-3-30 workout went viral on TikTok during the COVID pandemic.
Definitely give the OG 12-3-30 option a go if you haven't before. (Set your treadmill incline to 12 percent, your speed to 3, and strut your stuff for 30 minutes.) But if you want to switch it up with something new yet equally effective, try out a different option from strength and pilates online coach Maia Henry.
In a Jan. 1 TikTok video, Henry recommends a variation of 12-3-30. where you walk at a 15 percent incline, at 3 miles per hour (mph), for 30 minutes.
"If you want to get off on the right start for your fitness journey for 2024 and need a good cardio routine… do this 4-5x a week. Cardio + caloric deficit is [the] best duo for weight loss!" the video caption reads.
Need something shorter? Henry also says you can achieve that "transformation" by walking for 15 minutes at a 15 percent incline, upping the speed a bit to 3.5 mph.
According to the Cleveland Clinic, with a higher treadmill incline level, you'll "torch calories like a five-alarm fire," as walking uphill requires your body to work harder. Even better, when walking on a 12 percent incline, you'll burn almost double what you would on a flat surface.
Believe it or not, step aerobics are back—but it's not the '80s and '90s versions we know and love. It's another workout trend that's gone viral on TikTok, effectively combining fun and function.
According to the American Sports & Fitness Association (ASFA), step gets your heart rate up while simultaneously building strength and endurance. It's also one of the workouts on this list that's going to get you a high-calorie burn, meaning it's effective for weight loss, per ASFA.
If you enjoy dance workouts, consider integrating step into your weekly routine. Step aerobics typically incorporates elements of choreography with the step platform, allowing you to keep time with the beat of the music and forget you're even working out.
It might feel counterintuitive, but recovery is actually just as important as the "intense" workouts you engage in.
"There's been a shift towards less intense exercise and more recovery-based activities like restorative yoga and nature walking," MacPherson says. "This trend is expected to continue in 2024, with more focus on muscle repair and growth while relieving stress. People will incorporate more rest days and active recovery sessions."
According to Houston Methodist, recovery is also vital to prevent injury—and if you're not getting the rest you need, you could be overtraining and not fully benefitting from the workouts you put in
In addition to these "active recovery" days, where you can do that mindful yoga practice or take a light stroll, MacPherson says that other aspects of recovery are important and effective.
"Products like creatine, electrolytes, protein, and restorative nutrients will be popular, as will devices for muscle recovery, like massage guns," she says.
If you've been on social media in recent months, you may have stumbled on videos of group fitness classes where participants have their own mini-trampolines. That's right, trampolining isn't just for kids in the backyard anymore—it's an effective workout.
On TikTok, workout platform Jump&Jacked touts the effectiveness of mini-trampolines as a new fitness routine for 2024.
"They're low impact, they activate the lymphatic system, they strengthen your immune system, and they're so much FUN!" the video reads.
Trampolining has actually be evaluated for its effectiveness, including an Oct. 2016 study led by John Porcari, PhD, professor in the Department of Exercise and Sport Science at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse. The study recruited 24 college students to jump on mini-trampolines for 19-minute intervals. During the workout, men burned an average of 12.4 calories per minute, while women burned 9.4 calories per minute.
According to researchers, this was equivalent to the energy expenditure when running 6 mph on flat ground, biking at 14 mph, or playing a sport like football basketball, or ultimate Frisbee.
Moreover, study participants said that the trampoline workout required lower effort than running or biking, which Porcari told The New York Times was because they were having fun.
Also on MacPherson's list of effective workout trends this year is steady-state cardio, which she says is back and better than ever.
"Steady-state cardio and walking are gaining popularity as primary forms of heart-healthy exercise," she says. "More intense workouts like [high-intensity interval training (HIIT)] had overshadowed traditional cardio, but low-intensity training now makes up much more of my client's cardio work as I continue pushing for more balance and sustainable training, and I see clients are getting onboard more than ever."
According to the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM), steady-state cardio should be between low and moderate intensity. This can include hiking, dancing, cycling, swimming, or another exercise that you can sustain for an extended period (think 30 to 60 minutes).
MacPherson says that these gentler workouts "offer long-term and overall health benefits, including enhanced aerobic capacity, reduced risk of type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol, and improved mental health."
She emphasizes the importance of limiting your super strenuous workouts, noting, "In a stressful world, high-intensity work is best used sparingly when you are at optimal health and energy levels, which, let's face it, most of us aren't very often."
Pilates and yoga
MacPherson also points to workouts like pilates and yoga, which have gained popularity due to their ability to tone and shape with a lower risk of injury than their high-intensity counterparts.
"These practices blend strength and flexibility training, leading to better mind-body balance and longevity," she says. "Pilates and yoga can help you maintain strength, stability, and independence well into your golden years. They can also make you feel younger and more energetic, contributing to overall health and well-being."
While these options have been predominantly popular among women, men are now shifting toward these options, MacPherson says.
"I've been thrilled to see this since men are often more tight and tense, which affects all areas of fitness and daily movement," she explains.
So, if you've ever doubted pilates or yoga, opting for more cardio-heavy workouts, consider reframing your thinking this year. Not only will you see results in your physicality, but you might also be inclined to stick with them.
According to an April 2021 study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, these workouts "help recruit health-promoting behaviors in participants and engender positive beliefs about their subjective health status, thereby setting a positive reinforcement cycle in motion."
Similar to recovery work and steady-state cardio, longevity and function are also top-of-mind in 2024—able to help you prevent injury and focus on long-term wellness goals, MacPherson says.
"Fitness is now about setting healthy life goals and improving our everyday lives," she explains, specifically highlighting strength training. "I'm seeing a huge interest in fitness that prepares us for daily tasks, and more people are realizing the importance of strength training, even as they age, for preventing injuries and remaining independent."
Numerous studies have highlighted the positive effects of strength training, and in addition to being effective, it's vital as we get older. According to the National Institute on Aging, strength training helps maintain muscle mass, improves mobility, and increases your healthy years.
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Best Life offers the most up-to-date information from top experts, new research, and health agencies, but our content is not meant to be a substitute for professional guidance. When it comes to the medication you're taking or any other health questions you have, always consult your healthcare provider directly.