5 Outdated Fitness Trends

Exercise trends come and go and sometimes for good reason. Here are five fitness trends that have fallen out of fashion:

1. All Aerobics All the Time: When fitness videos first became popular, aerobics was all the rage. All you had to do was pop in your videotape, do your hour of cardio exercise in your living room and voila—you thought all your fitness needs were met. Hardly anyone lifted weights or did any type of strength or resistance training. No cross training, no balance training—nothing but aerobics.

Now we know a complete fitness program is based on aerobics (or cardio fitness), strength, flexibility, and balance training. If you focus solely on one of these elements and ignore the others, you're at risk for injury and age-related muscle, strength, flexibility, and bone loss.

2. Heavy Weights: We used to think that strength training required super-heavy weights and a spotter and that turned off a lot of people. Women didn't want to bulk up and both men and women worried about getting hurt.

Now we know a healthy strength training program that builds muscle mass and increases metabolism can be achieved using much lighter weights, resistance bands, and body-weight exercises. The focus now is on proper technique more than lifting unreasonably heavy weights. This new strength training emphasis is much safer and far less intimidating.

3. Old-Fashioned Abdominal Exercises: We used to think that hundreds of sit-ups were the key to washboard abs. That was before we realized they were causing countless cases of neck and lower back injury. The next fad was abdominal crunches, but that didn't solve the problem of weak back muscles. Some people turned to weight machines to tighten their tummies, only to find their neck and lower back problems got worse.

Now we know the key to strong abdominals is all about the core, not the abs.Core muscles are the group of muscles that make up your back, sides (or obliques) and abdomen. It takes a variety of abdominal, back, shoulder, and leg exercises to create a network of strong muscles to protect your spine and internal organs (while helping you build a six-pack).

4. Big Jumps: You've seen overweight people on TV jumping on and off of raised platforms or boxes to blast calories and rev up strength training.  While it can provide an excellent total-body workout that strengthens a variety of muscles while simultaneously burning calories, it can also put unhealthy stress on joints, especially when the jumper is overweight.

Now we know it's safer for overweight or new fitness buffs to do lunges, squats, or step-ups (using a platform or box) instead of joint-jarring jumps. Save the big jumps for when you're in better shape and normal weight.

5. Pre-Workout Stretching: We used to think that stretching before exercise was a great way to get muscles ready to work out. It turns out that was a good way to injure "cold muscles" that weren't ready for stretching.

Now we know muscles respond and perform better if allowed to warm up before stretching. Some fitness experts recommend 10 to 15 minutes of gentle aerobic exercise like walking or jogging before stretching, while others recommend stretching after your workout.

How do you know if other parts of your exercise routine are out of style and even dangerous? Check with a fitness instructor or personal trainer and ask about ways to upgrade your fitness style.