By Katie Rosenbrock
The Active Times

At the start of every year new wonder workouts and fitness fads hit the market with promises of burning away all of your fat in just four weeks' time and helping you to achieve that "body you’ve always been dreaming of” for just six small payments of $99.99. Do me a favor this year: Don’t buy any of those things.

There are no quick fixes when it comes to true health and fitness, and unless your goal is as simple as something like buying a gym membership, it's probably going to take longer than four weeks to accomplish. Plus, buying that membership (or tying up your shoelaces, or booking a spot in your first spin class) is only the first step. Don’t get me wrong, the first step is a great one, but I know you’ve got your sights set much higher.

At the end of last month, The American College of Sports Medicine's Worldwide Survey of Fitness Trends 2014 revealed the top 20 fitness trend predictions for the year to come. Each year, ACSM recruits thousands of professionals working in the health and fitness industry to complete the survey. The long-term purpose is to continually compile data that will help determine which fitness methods are short-lived and which are more likely to continue topping the list with strong staying power. In other words, ACSM aims to identifying which workouts are not only the most popular, but also the most effective.

Some items on the list like "personal training" or "fitness programs for older adults" aren't necessarily types of exercises but more so industry specific services. Such are not included here. What you will find though, are 2014’s ten best types of training as according to the survey's final results. Some have tended the top 20 since the initiation of the survey in 2007 and some are brand new, but seem like pretty promising prospects.

No matter what your goals are, good health has to include exercise. There's no way around it. Luckily, there are about a million and one ways to move. Whether you're an athlete looking for new ways to build strength and speed or a fitness first-timer who's not quite sure where to start, these are the top types of training to try as we exercise into the New Year.

Fitness Forecast: Best Ways To Work Out In 2014 Slideshow


7. Core Training

Let's face it, deep down, everyone one of us wants sexy six-pack abs. (Even if it’s just a little, tiny bit.) Unfortunately, not everyone is willing enough to commit to the strict regimen it takes to achieve a really ripped core. That’s OK, though, because life is probably better without that anyway. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t keep your midsection strong, though. Time and time again the benefits of a tough tummy will continue to be touted. Everyone from elite athletes to the average exerciser will find a payoff in core training, which is why since the beginning of this survey its continued to rank within in the top 20. Best For: Athletes, Anyone who wants to improve overall health, Older-adults


6. Yoga

Yoga is on its way back up. In 2009 it fell off of ACSM’s list entirely, but it’s slowly climbed its way back through the ranks since, coming back strong this year in the top 10 trends. As it continues to become increasingly mainstream, more and more gym-goers are letting go of preconceived notions about the ancient form of exercise and accepting it as an effective form of contemporary fitness. And it certainly is effective; the list of ways that yoga can benefit your body is seemingly endless. In fact, not only does it have the power to transform your body, but it has stress-reducing effects to relax your mind too, which makes it one of the most ideal modes for achieving all-encompassing wellness. Best For: Athletes, People with weight-loss goals, Anyone who wants to improve overall health


5. Group Training

Group personal training (sometimes referred to as small group training) is great for a few reasons, but the biggest benefit for many (aside from the actual exercise) is its affordability. Group sessions typically include two to four trainees, so splitting the session fee between a few friends minimizes the hefty price of employing a personal trainer. Plus, working out with friends is more fun than walking on the treadmill like a zombie for 40 minutes and it adds some competition to the mix, too. Best For: Exercisers on a budget, Gym newbies


4. Functional Fitness

Functional Fitness is all about enhancing everyday life. Exercise programs with a focus on functional fitness use strength training to improve coordination and balance and incorporate exercises meant to mimic routine movements like sitting down and standing up (squat) and reaching for overhead items (shoulder press). The goal is to make daily activities easier. This type of training is especially popular among baby boomers— older adults interested in improving and maintaining their fitness levels and overall health. “Our generation (boomer) is aging differently from our parents'. In 2014 & beyond, we want to stay active, engaged, busy & as independent from the medical system as possible. In other words, we don't want to change; we just want to modify as our bodies age,” explains Alexandra Williams, MA, a fitness blogger and veteran of the health and exercise industry for over 30 years. Best For: Older adults, Anyone who wants to improve overall health, Athletes


3. Strength Training

Come on, it doesn’t get much more classic than strength training. In fact you could even consider HIIT to fall under this category and body weight training is most definitely a simplified form of this industry stalwart, too. ACSM specifically classifies this category (which landed in the number two spot the past two years) as exercises performed using weights. The best thing about it is, no matter what your goals are, including some kind of strength training in your routine can probably help you reach them. This exercise mode touts a long list of benefits including the ability to decrease body fat percentage, increase muscle mass, improve metabolic function, and enhance athletic performance. Best For: Athletes, People with weight-loss goals, Anyone who wants to improve overall health


2. Body Weight Training

Body weight training goes beyond conventional exercises like pushups and pull-ups. Think squats, planks, lunges, triceps dips, and TRX exercises; basically any exercise you can do that requires little to no equipment and uses the weight of your own body as the resistance. The two biggest advantages are a do-it-yourself nature and the ability to build a pretty significant amount of strength when minimal resources and equipment are available. Bodyweight training made its first appearance on ACSM’s list last year at number three. The fact that it’s taken another top spot for a second year in a row indicates it could have the potential to prove its staying power as a fitness trend, rather than a fad that will eventually fade. Best For: Athletes, People with weight-loss goals


1. High Intensity Interval Training

No shocker here. If you're even the slightest bit in tune with what’s been going on in the workout world, then you know that high intensity interval training is all the rage right now. Just as described by its name, a HIIT routine consists of quick bouts of extremely intense exercise followed by a short rest, or active recovery period. An entire HIIT workout usually lasts about 25-30 minutes. Its biggest benefit is efficiency. High intensity exercises push exercisers to train within their maximum heart rate zones and ultimately burn more calories in a shorter amount of time. The drawback though, is an increased risk for injury. Many survey commenters noted the high injury rates related to HIIT. One responder added, "We need more highly trained professionals working this area." Best For: Athletes, Experienced gym-goers.

previous next

For the complete list of the 10 Best Ways To Work Out In 2014, go to

More Stories from The Active Times:
-- The 50 Fittest Colleges in America 2013
-- 12 Worthless Fitness Tips You Probably Follow
-- The 50 Best Bike Shops in America 2013
-- 12 Free Running Apps for your iPhone