ACSM Exercise Trends and Cycling


Smiling male cyclist cycling with friends

Getty ImagesCaiaimage/Richard Johnson

Every year for the past 13 years, the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) surveys thousands of its members from around the world to bring us the latest and greatest fitness trends for the New Year.

And this year like, pretty much every year, we wonder what’s taken the world so long to catch up to what we’ve been doing forever.

Still, seeing that cycling is on the forefront does serve as an affirmation that the sport really is the best way to get fit on a whole lot of levels.

As evidence, here’s the fitness trend podium for 2019 and how cycling already checks—and stands on—all the boxes.

The best piece of tech for your wrist

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1. Wearable Technology

After falling to number 3 last year, wearable tech tops the charts for 2019, as more people try to sit less, move more, and track it all using smartwatches and fitness trackers.

Wearable technology didn’t even appear on ACSM’s trend lists until 2016. Cyclists have been eyeing their heart rate since the 1980s, and started watching watts about 10 years after that. Today, with the help of various straps and sensors, we can—and often do—totally geek out on all kinds of biometrics like heart rate, cadence, calories burned, and recovery time, as well as speed, distance, watts, elevation, and any other metrics our screens can show us.

If you love data and tracking your fitness and progress, get on a bike and ride.


Male cyclists cycling uphill on road

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2. Group Training

Turns out, exercise is often more fun, motivating, and effective when you do it with others. And even with all of our technology, social media, and virtual reality, we still like getting together with like-minded folks and doing stuff in real life.

Though group fitness classes have been around since there have been groups of people wanting to get fit, it wasn’t until 2017 that group exercise training made the top 20 on ACSM’s trend list.

We’ve been doing it way longer: Cycling is the original group exercise. We even have a special language for our groups and what they do, like peloton, paceline, and echelon. And we absolutely push harder and go further together than we do alone. In fact, Strava statistics show that the average group ride is a whopping 52 percent longer than the average solo spin.

A good group ride is the heart and soul of every cycling community. If you haven’t found one yet, ask your local bike shop, check for one online, or start your own. You’ll be glad you did.

[Want to fly up hills? Climb! gives you the workouts and mental strategies to conquer your nearest peak.]

Man on stationary bicycle

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3. High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)

Go really hard. Recover. Then go really hard again. Sound familiar? Yep, intervals—high intensity intervals, to be exact—are once again on ACSM’s top trend list, and have been in the top five every year since 2014.

Cyclists have been doing HIIT since two cyclists went on a ride together. And though the training technique really gained traction in the mainstream media after a series of high profile studies in 2010, we’ve been covering research on it since 1994, if not before.

Cycling is hands down one of the best ways to do HIIT because it’s non-impact, so you can go super hard without pounding your joints or beating yourself up. And there are lots of ways to do it, so you’ll never get bored.


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