While many fitness professionals never want to look back at the unrealistic or downright ridiculous workout trends circulating on TikTok these days, the viral 3-2-8 method has some merit. Experts ignore the exercise trend, which they say has real benefits, as long as you keep some guidelines in mind.
What is the 3-2-8 training method?
The instructions for the 3-2-8 method include:
3 days a week of strength training
2 days a week of low-impact exercises such as pilates or barre
8000 steps a day
Several sources point to Natalie Rose, a British trainer and barre and pilates instructor, as being responsible for the trend’s virality. Her fitness-focused TikTok has many posts dedicated to Rose’s weekly routine, claiming it can reduce inflammation and strengthen the core, among many other purported benefits, including using it as a way to sync your workouts with your menstrual cycle.
While the science of cycle synchronization, the idea of optimizing diet and activity for the phase of your menstrual cycle, is still pretty murky, this exercise trend has merit. It is mostly due to the benefits of individual activities (strength, pilates/barre and walking) and a balanced approach to fitness.
The benefits of the 3-2-8 method
While Rose and others on TikTok have anecdotally claimed that a weekly exercise routine has helped them lose weight and ease PCOS symptoms, the 3-2-8 has many other scientifically-backed benefits that have been validated.
Five days a week of grueling exercise (think: HIIT, weightlifting, or long runs) is a recipe for physical and mental fatigue and diminished results. Instead, the 3-2-8 method prioritizes recovery, variation and complementary movements.
It’s such a nice balance, says Kristie Larson, CSCS, a NASM-certified personal trainer, adding that the method helps prevent overtraining and burnout. You have strength training, which we all need, and we have Pilates or Barre, which will be [with] lighter and less neurologically taxing and really good for stability and mobility, he says.
Also, 8,000 daily steps is much more attainable for most people than the 10,000 usually recommended, Larson says. However, both numbers are seemingly arbitrary, he adds, citing a recent case JAMA Open Web Research showing 7,000 daily steps as a key measure of long-term health.
Every activity has benefits.
Strength training is incredibly important for longevity and slows the rapid decline as we age, says Larson. Progressive strength training leads to increased muscle mass and increased bone density, which is a big bonus for older women, as menopause is a major culprit in musculoskeletal health and injury risk.
Although barre and pilates are both low-impact, it’s not uncommon for barre classes to use light weights with very high reps, leaving you feeling more sore than recovered. For this reason, Larson says that if he were to prescribe the 3-2-8 method to his clients, he would rely more heavily on Pilates for its keen ability to work the smaller stabilizing muscles and core.
Pilates helps build overall strength, especially in the core, defines muscles, improves balance and posture, and can also be good for mental health, says Marisa Fuller, owner of Studio Pilates. Plus, the low-impact nature of Pilates makes it an exercise that’s suitable for most people of all ages, she says.
When it comes to the benefits of walking, the list is endless. Daily walks can prolong life, improve sleep and reduce joint pain. Also, if you increase the intervals and increase the speed, you will get even more benefits.
But they also complement each other.
While it’s clear that all three activities have benefits for the mind and body, the magic of cross-training makes them even better when combined. Another thing I like about this method is that it reinforces the idea that one workout isn’t everything, and that not every workout needs to be intense, says Larson.
Using Pilates as an active recovery method for strength training ensures that you repair the necessary muscle damage that has accumulated from previous workouts, Larson explains. It can help promote circulation to help you recover a little faster, he says. It can help relieve pain. The purpose of active recovery is to help your body repair the damage caused by exercise to get the improvement you’re looking for.
Pilates is the perfect active recovery exercise because it not only keeps the heart rate low, but also provides a deep stretch for even some rehabilitative movement patterns, says Fuller. Plus, because Pilates focuses so heavily on your core activation, it’s been shown to improve your overall athletic performance, says Fuller. Core work during Pilates activates much more than the rectus abdominis at the front of the body, but also the obliques, which help stabilize your entire center, and the glutes, which are large, powerful muscles responsible for many complex lifts during power. sessions.
Its very functional.
The right training not only improves fitness, but also pain-free movement in everyday life, and the roots of the 3-2-8 method are functional fitness.
When you add Pilates to your cardio and strength training, you’ll see injury prevention, better bending and lifting in everyday life, and better balance and stability, Fuller adds.
In addition, regular strength training offers less risk of fractures from falls, increased independence and better recovery in the event of a musculoskeletal injury, adds Larson.
How to practice the 3-2-8 training method
Here are a few important details to keep in mind to reap the full benefits of this routine.
Stay true to the definition of active recovery.
Many boutique Pilates-style studios offer very high-intensity classes, sometimes using medium to heavy dumbbells, which end up prolonging your recovery, not helping it. Choose a traditional mat or regenerative Pilates. If you want to try Barre during your active recovery days, choose a studio or class format that includes plenty of opportunities to stretch between all pulses and muscle contractions.
Keep your expectations realistic.
As balanced as this program looks, it still requires you to complete five workouts per week, which is more than many people can achieve, Larson says. If three days of strength and two days of low-impact work isn’t achievable in your lifestyle, try something like two days of strength training and one day of Pilates or barre on the weekend, she suggests. And don’t be a slave to step counting to walk every day and give yourself mercy if you pass the 8,000 mark.
Result? Be aware of fitness trends and really think about what works for you and be realistic about your life, says Larson. After all, that is the most valuable thing for anyone.
More training tips
This story was originally published on Fortune.com
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