The trendiest workouts of 2018 went far beyond the mat.
Instead of slow, body-flexing stretches and heart-pumping balances, the most popular exercises this year focused on fast and intense moves.
Here they are, ranked by how often they appeared in Google searches — along with what the science says about their effectiveness and their overall benefits on your body.
10. Oblique exercises are key to a strong core and six-pack abs
Washboard abs don’t come from hundreds of crunches or sit-ups. Instead, you need to work all of your core muscles — including your obliques, the muscles that run along the sides of your stomach.
Instead of crunches, the folks at Harvard Medical School recommend planks, the exercise that involves holding yourself on your hands and toes in a pre-push-up position.
9. The “17.2” is a daily CrossFit workout with dumbbells as its foundation
Like Murph (No. 1 on this list), 17.2 has its roots in CrossFit.
It’s a 12-minute routine released during the CrossFit Games, a global fitness competition started in 2007 that tests participants’ ability to move large loads quickly over long distances, and it involves lunges, pikes (hanging from a bar and raising your toes to reach the bar), dumbbell squat lifts, and bar muscle-ups (hanging on a bar and swinging to lift your body until your waist touches the bar).
All of these moves are challenging and can cause injury — so don’t do them without a trained professional or before speaking with your doctor.
8. Targeted inner-thigh workouts will help tone your whole body.
Daily activities like walking and sitting won’t work the muscles that run along the insides of your legs, but nearly all of the workouts on this list should.
You can also try “bridge,” a move that involves laying on your back with your feet on the floor and a rolled-up towel or block between your bent knees. Squeeze the towel or block as you raise your butt toward the ceiling. Hold for a few seconds and lower back down. Start with three sets of five to 10 repetitions.
7. PiYo combines some signature moves from Pilates and yoga.
PiYo is exactly what it sounds like — a low-intensity routine that combines the strengthening aspects of pilates with the stretching foundations of yoga. Because it’s low impact, PiYo (or plain old Pilates or yoga) is a great option for people with injuries — but depending on how challenging you choose to make it, it can be an excellent workout for anyone.
6. HIIT will get you sweating and moving in under 10 minutes.
High intensity interval training involves committing to short bursts of sit-ups, jumping jacks, or planks performed at your maximum capacity. After each 30- to 45-second interval, you’ll rest to catch your breath and then move on immediately to the next exercise. At the end of the workout (which could really be as short as seven minutes), your whole body should feel it.
“HIIT can provide similar or greater benefits in less time than traditional longer, moderate-intensity workouts,” Chris Jordan, the director of exercise physiology at the Johnson & Johnson Human Performance Institute, told Business Insider in April.
5. Burpees are a one-move workout that can be done anywhere
If you thought burpees were merely a component of a workout, we’ve got news for you: They’re also simple and challenging enough to be an entire fitness routine on their own.
To properly execute a burpee, you’ll need to recruit muscles from your core, chest, and legs — toning your limbs and raising your heart rate in the process. It’s easy to do a burpee wrong, however, so make sure you’re in proper form. Start out with three sets of five to 10 reps, working up to three to five sets of 10 to 20 reps.
4. TRX training uses your body weight to make you stronger and more flexible
Like many of the workouts on this list, TRX (which stands for total-body resistance exercise) was originally developed by a Navy SEAL. All of the exercises require nothing but your body weight and a set of suspension straps that can be mounted to anything heavy enough to support them.
TRX is “great for runners, cyclists, or anyone who is an endurance athlete and wants to have more strength training,” TRX’s founder and CEO, Randy Hetrick, a former Navy SEAL, told PopSugar in 2015.
3. A Tabata routine will get your heart pumping
Tabata training, named after the Japanese National Institute of Fitness and Sports researcher Izumi Tabata, is an HIIT workout made up of several four-minute exercises.
Tabata and his team were some of HIIT’s pioneers, having published a seminal 1996 study suggesting that short bursts of intense strength training could have better results than a traditional workout.
Since then, hundreds of workouts based on the model have sprung up around the globe. If you’re looking for one to start with, we recommend the free Johnson & Johnson Official 7 Minute Workout.
2. The bungee workout is like dancing and yoga, minus gravity
Bungee workouts come in many forms, but the most popular classes have participants do a combination of dancing, stretching, cardio, and strength training — all while attached to a bungee chord that is anchored to the ceiling. Moves like squats and push-ups will be easier, but the further from the anchor you go, the more challenging the moves get.
Because the workout essentially combines resistance training and cardio while eliminating stress on your joints, it’s a good bet for a low-intensity, fat-burning workout. If it’s your first time, let your instructor know to get the best workout and avoid getting injured.
1. The CrossFit “Murph” is simple but tough
The “Murph” is one of CrossFit’s most challenging workouts of the day, or WODs. Named after Lt. Michael P. Murphy, a Navy SEAL who was killed in Afghanistan in 2005, the routine involves 100 pull-ups, 200 push-ups, and 300 squats sandwiched between two 1-mile runs.
The brutal routine is what’s known as a “benchmark” workout. Assuming you’re doing regular CrossFit-style routines at least three times a week, this routine is a great way to gauge your progress, build muscle, and improve your heart and lung health.