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These 18 Fitness Trends Are Very Popular Right Now, But Are They Overrated Or Not?

 Written by 

Julien Raby

 Last updated on 

Jeff Nippard, a popular Youtuber, recently reviewed 18 fitness trends and whether they are overrated.

Let’s look at these trending topics that stir debate among gym-goers and professionals alike.

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From the risky business of cheat reps, the misunderstood cues of muscle soreness, to the contentious practices of filming in gyms, let’s determine if these trends are overrated or underrated.

Get ready to challenge what you thought you knew about fitness and embark on a journey of discovery that prioritizes safety, effectiveness, and informed choices in your pursuit of health and wellness.

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1- Cheat Reps (Ego Lifting): A Risky Shortcut?

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Popularized as a method to push beyond conventional limits, these reps are frequently associated with ego lifting, where the emphasis shifts from form to sheer weight.

Both Jeff Nippard and Dr. Mike Israetel weigh in, providing a nuanced perspective on this controversial practice.

The Consensus: Mostly Overrated

Jeff Nippard and Dr. Mike Israetel largely agree that cheat reps carry more risks than benefits. The primary concerns highlighted include:

  • Increased Injury Risk: Lifting beyond one’s capacity with improper form can lead to muscle strains or more serious injuries.
  • Diminished Muscle Stimulation: The very essence of training—to target and stimulate specific muscle groups—gets overshadowed by the focus on lifting heavier weights, often leading to suboptimal muscle engagement.
  • Challenges in Progress Tracking: When form is compromised for heavier lifts, it becomes difficult to accurately measure strength progress, as the variables are constantly changing.

A Silver Lining?

Despite the overarching skepticism, both experts acknowledge scenarios where cheat reps might have a place. Specifically, they point out that in controlled circumstances, such as performing bicep curls, a slight deviation from strict form can enable an athlete to eke out an additional rep.

This controlled cheating, especially when followed by a focused eccentric (lowering) phase, can potentially enhance the exercise’s effectiveness without significantly compromising safety.

2- Muscle Soreness: A Misunderstood Marker of Progress

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Muscle soreness, often worn as a badge of honor in fitness circles, has long been a topic of debate among enthusiasts and experts alike.

At the heart of this discussion lies the question: Does soreness truly indicate an effective workout and muscle growth?

Muscle Soreness: More Than Meets the Eye

Commonly experienced after a rigorous workout, muscle soreness is thought to signal muscle growth and effectiveness of a training session.

However, Nippard and Israetel argue that this belief is overrated. They point out that soreness is not a definitive indicator of workout quality or muscle development. Instead, it can result from a variety of factors closely linked to hypertrophy, such as volume, intensity, and muscle length training.

The Experts’ Take

Both experts agree that while soreness can indicate the engagement of a targeted muscle group, its absence does not necessarily mean a lack of progress. Israetel emphasizes the logical fallacies in equating soreness with workout success.

He explains that activities leading to soreness—like approaching failure, generating metabolites, and focusing on eccentric phases—are indeed correlated with muscle growth. Yet, the absence of soreness should not be a cause for alarm.

3- The Bro Split: Rethinking Weekly Training Schedules

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The “Bro Split”—the practice of training each muscle group once a week—stands as a topic of considerable debate. 

Traditionally favored for its simplicity and focus, the Bro Split allows athletes to dedicate entire workouts to individual muscle groups, ensuring a thorough, intense session for each. 

Expert Insights: A Closer Look

Despite its popularity, Nippard and Israetel argue that the Bro Split might not be the golden strategy it’s often made out to be.

They highlight missed opportunities for muscle recovery and growth, particularly for smaller muscle groups that recover faster and could benefit from more frequent stimulation.

Missed Opportunities for Growth

Israetel points out that smaller muscle groups, such as the biceps or rear deltoids, hardly need a full week to recover. Training them only once a week could result in significant periods of underutilization, slowing overall progress.

Instead, these muscles could thrive on a regimen that engages them more frequently, capitalizing on their quicker recovery times for accelerated growth.

Research Versus Reality

While acknowledging existing research that validates the Bro Split’s viability, Nippard and Israetel suggest that “viable” doesn’t necessarily mean “optimal”.

They argue that for most, especially those beyond the beginner stage, spreading training across the week to hit muscle groups multiple times offers superior results. This approach ensures muscles are worked just enough to stimulate growth without venturing into overtraining territory.

4- Training to Failure: Finding the Balance for Optimal Growth

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Training to failure—pushing a set until no more repetitions can be completed—has been a topic of fervent discussion. It’s a method often associated with maximum muscle growth and strength gains. 

Training to failure is embraced by many for its supposed unparalleled ability to stimulate muscle hypertrophy and endurance. This approach is grounded in the belief that pushing muscles to their absolute limit ensures maximal growth stimulus. 

Expert Analysis: A Balanced Viewpoint

Nippard and Israetel acknowledge the potential benefits of training to failure, especially highlighted by recent meta-analyses suggesting its positive effects on muscle growth

Yet, they also caution against its overuse. Nippard revisits his stance, indicating that while failure training has its place, it is not indispensable for every set or workout session.

He emphasizes the importance of understanding what failure feels like but suggests that constantly pushing to this extreme is not as crucial as many believe.

The Pitfalls of Overemphasis

Dr. Israetel expands on the topic by highlighting the psychological aspect. He points out that an overemphasis on training to failure often stems from an egotistical desire to test one’s limits, rather than from a strategic approach to training.

This mindset can lead to unnecessary fatigue, increased risk of injury, and potential setbacks in long-term progress. 

5- Mind-Muscle Connection: Enhancing Focus, Not Dictating Technique

The concept of the mind-muscle connection has surged to prominence, advocating for a heightened level of internal focus during exercise.

This principle suggests that by concentrating intently on the muscle being worked, one can enhance muscle activation and, by extension, muscle growth. 

At its core, the mind-muscle connection is about fostering a deliberate, conscious engagement with one’s muscles during each rep of an exercise.

Expert Perspectives: A Balanced View

Nippard and Israetel acknowledge the value of the mind-muscle connection, especially in its potential to increase muscular engagement and awareness during training.

However, they emphasize that this concept should not detract from the foundational aspects of exercise science. Technique, for instance, remains paramount; a lifter must first master the mechanics of each movement to ensure safety and effectiveness.

Contextual Importance

The experts highlight that the mind-muscle connection, while beneficial, ranks as a secondary or even tertiary consideration in the hierarchy of training principles. Its effectiveness and relevance might vary depending on the individual’s experience level and the specific exercise in question. 

For instance, in complex, compound movements where multiple muscle groups are engaged, the focus might better serve the overall technique rather than an intense concentration on a single muscle group.

6- The Role of Pumps in Training: Beyond the Surface-Level Satisfaction

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The sensation of achieving a “pump” during a workout has long been sought after by fitness enthusiasts and bodybuilders alike.

Characterized by a temporary increase in muscle size and vascularity, pumps are often hailed as a sign of a successful training session. 

A pump results from increased blood flow to the working muscle, causing it to swell and appear more pronounced. 

A Balanced Perspective

Nippard and Israetel both recognize the inherent enjoyment and motivational boost that comes with experiencing a pump.

They acknowledge its role in indicating targeted muscle engagement, suggesting that a pump can signal effective blood flow and nutrient delivery to the muscles being worked.

However, they caution against using pumps as the sole measure of workout quality.

Beyond the Aesthetic Appeal

Israetel points out that while pumps are positively correlated with hypertrophy, their absence does not necessarily imply a lack of progress or muscle stimulation.

He emphasizes the importance of understanding that pumps are one of many responses to training, not a definitive marker of muscle growth or training efficacy. 

7- Reevaluating Dirty Bulking: A Closer Look at Its Impact

This approach, characterized by consuming a calorie surplus often without discriminating between healthy and less nutritious food sources, aims to maximize muscle gain. 

Dirty bulking is driven by the simple principle of caloric surplus: consuming more calories than the body burns to foster muscle growth.

This method does not prioritize the quality of calories, often leading to the inclusion of junk food and other nutrient-poor options in one’s diet. 

Expert Insights Shed Light on Drawbacks

Nippard and Israetel converge on the opinion that dirty bulking is overrated, primarily due to its propensity to cause excessive fat gain alongside muscle.

Israetel, drawing from personal experience and scientific understanding, highlights the disproportionate ratio of fat to muscle gain that accompanies this approach.

He notes that while initial strength gains may be apparent, the long-term effects of accumulating unnecessary fat mass can complicate the journey to achieving a lean, muscular physique.

A Call for Balanced Nutrition

In advocating against dirty bulking, Nippard and Israetel emphasize the importance of a more measured approach to gaining muscle.

They suggest focusing on a slight caloric surplus, sourced from nutrient-dense foods, to support muscle growth without incurring excessive fat gain.

This strategy not only aids in building a more aesthetically pleasing physique but also promotes overall health and well-being.

8- Unpacking Natural Testosterone Boosters: Myth vs. Reality

Natural testosterone boosters have emerged as a popular supplement among those looking to enhance muscle growth and overall athletic performance. 

Natural testosterone boosters claim to increase the body’s levels of testosterone, the key hormone associated with muscle mass, strength, and sex drive.

Marketed with the promise of boosting testosterone naturally without the side effects of anabolic steroids, these supplements have found a foothold in the fitness community.

Ingredients often include herbs like Tribulus terrestris, fenugreek, and D-aspartic acid, purported to support the body’s endogenous hormone production.

Skepticism from the Experts

Nippard and Israetel express skepticism regarding the efficacy of these natural supplements. 

They point out the lack of solid evidence supporting the claims that these products can significantly impact muscle mass or performance. Israetel goes as far as to say,

“There’s no such thing,” when referring to the effectiveness of over-the-counter testosterone boosters, emphasizing the misconception surrounding their supposed benefits.

The Science Behind the Claims

Both experts delve into the scientific perspective, highlighting that even if a supplement were to temporarily boost testosterone levels, the body’s natural regulatory mechanisms would likely counteract these effects by reducing endogenous production.

This biological feedback loop maintains hormonal balance, questioning the long-term effectiveness of such supplements.

9- Evaluating the One Gram of Protein Per Pound Guideline

The recommendation to consume one gram of protein per pound of body weight stands out for its simplicity and widespread acceptance.

This protein intake guideline is designed to ensure that individuals engaging in regular strength training or bodybuilding have sufficient protein to support muscle repair, recovery, and growth. 

Given protein’s role in synthesizing new muscle tissue and repairing damaged fibers post-exercise, the importance of adequate protein intake cannot be overstated for those looking to enhance their physique and performance.

Expert Perspectives on Protein Needs

Nippard and Israetel acknowledge the utility of this dietary benchmark, appreciating its simplicity for meal planning and ensuring adequate protein intake.

However, they also note that it provides slightly more protein than what is strictly necessary for most individuals.

This surplus serves as a nutritional buffer, ensuring that muscle synthesis needs are met without necessitating meticulous attention to the exact protein quality or amino acid profile of every meal.

A Closer Look at Protein Requirements

The experts highlight that while the one gram per pound guideline is a useful starting point, actual protein needs can vary based on several factors, including training intensity, total caloric intake, and individual metabolic differences.

Israetel points out that during cutting phases, where maintaining muscle mass becomes even more critical amidst calorie restriction, adhering to this guideline can be particularly beneficial. 

10- Body Recomposition: A Strategic Approach to Fitness

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The concept of body recomposition (recomping) has gained traction for its promise of allowing individuals to simultaneously lose fat and build muscle.

This approach challenges the traditional cycles of bulking and cutting, offering a more nuanced path to physical transformation. 

Defining Body Recomposition

Body recomposition refers to the process of changing one’s physique by reducing body fat and increasing muscle mass at the same time.

Unlike traditional methods that focus on one objective—either gaining muscle or losing fat—recomping aims to achieve both concurrently.

This approach requires a carefully balanced diet and training regimen, emphasizing protein intake, strength training, and often, a slight caloric deficit or maintenance caloric level.

Expert Analysis on Recomping

Nippard and Israetel acknowledge the appeal of body recomposition, especially for beginners and those at an intermediate level of fitness.

They highlight its practicality for the general population, who can see significant changes in their body composition without the need to undergo the more rigorous and often challenging phases of bulking and cutting.

Why Recomping Is Underrated

Despite its benefits, recomping is often underrated in the fitness world.

Nippard and Israetel point out that the misconception of its ineffectiveness stems from a misunderstanding of its application.

Recomping is particularly effective for those new to strength training or returning after a break, as they are more likely to experience significant physiological changes that allow for muscle growth and fat loss simultaneously.

11- The Surprising Benefits of Diet Soda in Fitness Regimens

Diet soda often finds itself at the center of debate.

While some advocate for its complete avoidance, fitness experts Jeff Nippard and Dr. Mike Israetel present a compelling argument for its inclusion, particularly within the context of fitness and dieting.

Their insights suggest that diet soda, contrary to popular belief, may actually hold underrated benefits for those looking to manage their weight and satisfy their cravings without compromising their fitness goals.

Addressing Health Concerns

One of the primary critiques of diet soda revolves around the health implications of artificial sweeteners.

However, Nippard and Israetel reference the extensive body of research indicating that moderate consumption of diet soda does not pose significant health risks.

They emphasize that the fear surrounding artificial sweeteners often stems from misinterpreted studies and anecdotal evidence rather than solid scientific consensus.

Diet Soda as a Dieting Aid

Beyond dispelling health concerns, the experts highlight the strategic role diet soda can play in dieting and weight management.

Israetel, in particular, points out the beverage’s usefulness in enhancing satiety and reducing cravings. For individuals in a caloric deficit, diet soda can offer a satisfying alternative to high-calorie drinks, helping to adhere to their diet without feeling deprived. This psychological and practical benefit is a crucial aspect of sustainable dieting, often overlooked in the debate over diet soda.

12- The Strategic Advantage of Diet Breaks in Long-term Fitness Goals

Dieting emerges as a cornerstone for achieving weight loss and muscle definition goals. Yet, the concept of diet breaks—intentional, planned periods of relaxed dietary restrictions—offers a refreshing perspective on sustainable dieting practices. 

Unpacking Diet Breaks

Diet breaks are structured interruptions in a calorie-restricted diet, typically lasting from a few days to a couple of weeks, during which an individual increases their calorie intake to maintenance levels.

This approach is designed to provide a mental and physical respite from the demands of continuous calorie restriction, with the aim of enhancing overall diet adherence and effectiveness.

A Dual Benefit: Psychological and Physiological Recovery

Nippard and Israetel highlight the dual benefits of diet breaks. Psychologically, these breaks offer a much-needed reprieve from the mental rigors of constant diet monitoring, reducing feelings of deprivation and diet fatigue.

This psychological relief can reinvigorate an individual’s motivation and commitment to their long-term fitness goals.

Physiologically, diet breaks help mitigate some of the adverse effects of prolonged calorie restriction, such as metabolic slowdown, hormonal imbalances, and the loss of lean muscle mass.

By temporarily returning to maintenance calorie levels, individuals can help stabilize their metabolism and hormonal levels, potentially enhancing the body’s response to the diet when it resumes.

Why Diet Breaks Are Underrated

Despite their benefits, diet breaks are often underrated in the fitness community. Nippard and Israetel argue that the misconception of diet breaks as setbacks or indulgences hinders their acceptance.

However, when strategically implemented, diet breaks can actually propel individuals closer to their fitness objectives by improving long-term adherence and mitigating the negative impacts of 

13- Navigating the Nuances of Clean Eating

“Clean eating” stands as a concept that has captivated and, at times, confused many.

This dietary philosophy, which emphasizes consuming whole, unprocessed foods and minimizing intake of refined sugars, artificial ingredients, and preservatives, has been both praised for its health benefits and critiqued for its vague definitions and potential for fostering restrictive habits. 

One of the primary challenges with clean eating lies in its lack of a clear, universally accepted definition.

What constitutes “clean” can vary significantly from one individual to another, leading to confusion and inconsistency in application. 

Potential for Restrictive Eating Patterns

A significant concern raised by both experts is the tendency for clean eating to morph into overly restrictive eating habits.

The pursuit of an exclusively “clean” diet can inadvertently lead to the exclusion of foods that are not only safe but beneficial to health and performance.

Israetel points out that this rigid approach can diminish the enjoyment of eating, contribute to social isolation, and, in extreme cases, trigger disordered eating behaviors.

The psychological and social ramifications of such a restrictive mindset underscore the need for a more flexible approach to dieting.

Advocating for a Balanced, Inclusive Diet

In contrast to the strict tenets of clean eating, Nippard and Israetel champion a more balanced dietary philosophy. They advocate for an inclusive approach that prioritizes nutritional value, portion control, and the inclusion of a wide variety of foods. 

14- The Controversy Surrounding “Natty or Not” Videos

“Natty or Not” content typically involves the creator examining the physical characteristics, performance metrics, and progress timelines of individuals to infer whether their achievements are natural or aided by steroids.

This trend capitalizes on the audience’s curiosity about the limits of natural bodybuilding and the widespread skepticism about drug-free claims in the fitness industry.

Critique from Fitness Authorities

Nippard and Israetel express concerns over the overrated nature of these videos, highlighting several critical issues.

Firstly, they point out that the speculative nature of these assessments often lacks solid proof, leading to potentially unjust accusations that can tarnish the reputations of fitness professionals and enthusiasts alike.

The speculation is based on appearances and anecdotal evidence rather than concrete, verified information, making it unreliable and ethically questionable.

The Limited Value to Viewers

Beyond the potential harm to individuals’ reputations, Nippard and Israetel question the actual value these videos provide to their viewers.

They argue that whether a person is natural or not does not materially affect the viewers’ training outcomes or fitness journeys.

The focus on natural versus enhanced status detracts from more productive discussions about training methods, nutrition, and recovery strategies that can genuinely help viewers achieve their fitness goals.

15- Demystifying Training Differences: Natural vs. Enhanced Athletes

A hotly debated topic is the difference in training strategies for natural athletes versus those who are enhanced, meaning they use performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs). 

At the heart of the discussion is the assumption that enhanced athletes can, and should, train fundamentally differently from their natural counterparts due to their chemically augmented ability to recover and grow muscle.

Enhanced Recovery and Its Limits

While it’s acknowledged that PEDs can indeed improve an athlete’s recovery time, allowing for more frequent and intense training sessions, Israetel points out an often-overlooked nuance: as enhanced athletes grow larger and stronger, the recovery advantage from PEDs diminishes proportionately.

The increased muscle mass and strength come with a higher demand for recovery, essentially leveling the playing field between natural and enhanced athletes in terms of their training capacity and recovery needs.

Consistent Training Principles

A key takeaway from Nippard and Israetel’s analysis is that the foundational principles of effective training—progressive overload, specificity, individualization, and recovery—remain consistent regardless of an athlete’s natural or enhanced status.

Both groups must adhere to these principles to achieve optimal results. The difference lies not in the principles themselves but in the individualized application of these principles, taking into account each athlete’s unique recovery capabilities, goals, and limitations.

16- The Chilling Truth About Cold Showers and Muscle Recovery

Cold showers have often been touted for their supposed benefits, ranging from improved muscle recovery to enhanced mental resilience.

The practice of taking cold showers as a recovery method post-exercise is based on the premise that the cold temperature can reduce inflammation, decrease muscle soreness, and speed up the recovery process.

This notion has led many athletes and fitness enthusiasts to incorporate cold showers into their post-workout routines, hoping to gain an edge in their recovery and performance.

Skeptical Insights from Fitness Experts

Despite the widespread belief in the benefits of cold showers, Nippard and Israetel express skepticism about their efficacy for muscle recovery and growth.

They point out the limited scientific evidence supporting the claims that cold showers can significantly impact muscle recovery in a way that would benefit athletic performance or muscle hypertrophy.

In fact, Israetel mentions that cold exposure post-exercise may actually hinder the muscle-building process by reducing the inflammation necessary for muscle repair and growth.

The Potential Downsides of Reduced Hypertrophy

One of the more intriguing points raised by the experts is the potential for cold showers to negatively affect muscle hypertrophy.

The process of building muscle is intricately tied to the body’s response to exercise-induced stress, including the inflammation that occurs as a result of muscle fibers being broken down during intense workouts.

By excessively reducing this inflammation through cold exposure, there’s a possibility that cold showers could inadvertently impair the muscle rebuilding process, leading to diminished gains in muscle mass and strength over time.

17- Debunking Myths: The Reality of Locking Out the Knees

Locking out the knees involves fully extending the legs at the peak of certain exercises, a movement that some believe puts undue stress on the knee joint, potentially leading to injury.

This belief has perpetuated a fear that discourages athletes from engaging in full extension, thereby impacting the effectiveness of their workouts.

Expert Insights on Knee Safety

Contrary to common fears, Nippard and Israetel highlight that locking out the knees is safe when performed correctly.

They emphasize that the human body is designed to handle full range joint movements, including full extension.

The knee joint, supported by a complex system of ligaments and tendons, is capable of withstanding the forces exerted during exercises that involve locking out.

Addressing the Fear of Injury

The experts point out that the fear of injury from knee locking stems from a misunderstanding of knee biomechanics and a misinterpretation of the pain that might occur from other underlying issues, such as weak quadriceps or improper form during exercise.

They assert that there is no scientific evidence to support the idea that locking out the knees is inherently dangerous for healthy individuals with proper form.

18- The Debate on Filming in Gyms: A Tool for Learning and Progress

Filming in gyms is often undertaken for a variety of reasons, from personal progress tracking and form analysis to content creation for social media platforms.

Nippard and Israetel acknowledge the utility of this practice, emphasizing its role in educational content creation and the dissemination of fitness knowledge.

Through video analysis, individuals can critique and improve their technique, share informative content, and foster a community of learning and motivation.

Navigating Privacy and Respect

Despite the benefits, the experts highlight the importance of conducting oneself with respect and consideration for others’ privacy.

Filming should never infringe upon another gym-goer’s comfort or violate the gym’s rules regarding camera use.

Nippard and Israetel advocate for clear communication with gym staff and fellow members, ensuring that filming is discreet, non-disruptive, and consensual when others are in the frame.

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