There are plenty of workout trends and challenges circulating at the moment, many of which are being widely shared on social media site TikTok. You may have even come across some of these viral challenges yourself. However, recent research found that 1 in 4 TikTok fitness influencers are giving the wrong advice.
As there seems to be plenty of misinformation and misguided advice out there, we partnered with life insurance provider Cavendish Online to find out whether we should be encouraged to take part in these challenges, avoid them altogether, or simply be careful. To get expert advice into a few of the popular exercise trends currently on people’s radar we asked Joe Mitton, personal trainer and owner of MittFit, to discuss the issue in more detail.
Joe explained that “health fads come and go and are constantly changing but, in my professional opinion, it’s about time we got rid of them once and for all. They are usually lacking in science and more often than not actually prove quite hard for people to stick to by providing false promises of accelerated fat loss.”
Below he gives the lowdown on a few current health fads making the rounds on the popular social media site TikTok.
According to Joe, achieving a body transformation requires:
A healthy balance of protein, fats, and carbohydrates
Eating nutrient dense foods packed full of essential vitamins and minerals
Getting sufficient sleep and recovery
Staying adequately hydrated
Managing your training and eating around your lifestyle so you can stay as consistent as possible
1. 75 Hard challenge – #75hardchallenge has 127.9M views on TikTok
The 75 Hard challenge is, honestly, one of the craziest things I have ever seen. I have followed Andy Frisella for a long time, but I am highly sceptical as to the validity of the challenge. Why? Mainly because none of it is backed by science but also there is intense scrutiny on certain aspects of life that could potentially lead to eating disorders or body dysmorphia. When looking at health and fitness challenges we need to look at the target audience. There is no ‘one size fits all’ when it comes to fitness. For someone who hasn’t done any real training in years, if ever, jumping into 2×45 minute workouts per day is going to be incredibly taxing on the central nervous system (CNS) as well as the muscles and will drastically increase their risk of injury.
He says that you should follow a diet and avoid cheat meals, but if you base your meals around your body, goals and lifestyle then there wouldn’t be any need for a ‘cheat meal’ as you would just factor that into your week making adjustments where necessary. I do agree with his 5 minute cold shower and drinking more water, although I would be careful about how much water you drink. He advises 4L per day but I would multiple your body weight in KG by 0.033 to find out how much you should be drinking per day. Then add at least 500ml per every 30-minute workout you do”.
2. Weighted hula hoop challenge – #weightedhulahoop has 69.6M views on TikTok
The weighted hula-hoop challenge promises a flatter stomach and a slimmer waist, though using it won’t directly make your waist slimmer. It’s super simple to do and you can do it anywhere so if this one tickles your fancy as a way of increasing your daily activity, go ahead! However, it won’t be the sole reason for your body making changes.
3. 12-3-30 treadmill challenge – #12330challenge has 1.5M views on TikTok
Walking on a treadmill is great for getting your steps up and increasing the incline will also increase intensity – two important factors when looking to achieve fat loss. Treadmills are a great tool if you are someone looking for a lower impact alternative to running but in my ‘fat loss toolbox’ it isn’t placed very high in terms of importance. A lot of the people I see doing this challenge are talking about how much they are sweating. Sweat is a natural part of your body’s thermogenesis (the process of regulating body temperature) and is not a measure of workout intensity. Sweat doesn’t equal hard work. Some people sweat when they are nervous.
4. The ’600 Calories in 60 Minutes’ Challenge – #600caloriesin60minutes has 540.9K views on TikTok
The 600 calories in 60 minutes workout by Jeanette Jenkins is over 2 years old but is still doing the rounds on social media which is awesome. However, I do worry about the precedent it sets. The quality of a workout is not governed by the number of calories burned or the time taken to complete it. Instead, I like to look at the intensity of the working combined with training volume. All of this is, of course, in relation to your body and your goals. By tracking the intensity and volume of a workout we can accurately predict the progress overload we will need to keep getting results improving strength, fitness, and endurance over time. Another big factor dictating workout quality is sleep/recovery and how much/quality of food you’ve ingested that day.
For example, if you haven’t slept well for a few days and you’ve not eaten as well as you could’ve, then worrying about hitting 600 calories in 60 minutes is the least of your worries. Yes, it’s pretty cool having all of these trackers to tell us how many steps we are doing, how well we sleep or how many calories we are burning but quite frankly, they aren’t as accurate as we are led to believe with most of them overestimating how many calories we have burned during the day or a specific workout.
5. Drinking proffee (protein powder + coffee) post-workout – #proffee has 146.8K views on TikTok
I don’t understand why you would have coffee as a post-workout drink. I highly recommend getting protein in all of your meals, especially post-workout, yet there are numerous studies demonstrating that coffee is a potent ergogenic. It can increase fat burning during training, heighten motivation, and improve work capacity. However, if you drink it post-workout, you will delay recovery and elevate the stress hormone cortisol just when you need to clear it.
Exercising naturally elevates cortisol. If you are training hard enough to trigger an adaptive response, then you are exposing the body to an acute bout of stress. After exercise, you want to do everything you can to help the body metabolise that cortisol so that you get rid of all the metabolic by-products of training. If cortisol remains high, waste won’t be removed, tissue won’t be rebuilt as quickly, recovery will be delayed, and you’ll feel fatigued for longer. Caffeine has been shown to elevate cortisol, and at the least, its presence in the body will slow the metabolism of cortisol.
For more information on the legitimacy of other popular health trends on TikTok, visit: https://www.cavendishonline.co.uk/news/popular-health-trends-2021-worth-the-hype-or-a-fad-to-avoid