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Fitness Videos are a Rage on TikTok in Pandemic. But are They Even Effective?

AzmanL / Getty Images (AFP).

AzmanL / Getty Images (AFP).

Curfews and the closure of gyms and sports facilities can't get in the way of the positive resolutions we made at the start of this year. Instead of moping on our couch, we chose to turn to the many videos available on social networks, including TikTok, to help us accomplish our daily workouts.

Faced with the closure of gyms, many of us have been turning to social networks to find advice and videos for our home fitness sessions. But is that always a good idea? Not necessarily, according to a new study, which reveals that more than a quarter of the workouts on TikTok feature influencers with incorrect form.

Curfews and the closure of gyms and sports facilities can't get in the way of the positive resolutions we made at the start of this year. Instead of moping on our couch, we chose to turn to the many videos available on social networks, including TikTok, to help us accomplish our daily workouts. Videos containing the "workout" hashtag have generated no fewer than 27.6 billion views over the past year, according to a study conducted by the website Money.co.uk.

Abs of steel

And when it comes to reshaping our figure, or maintaining it, we often turn our attention first to the abs. In any case, the report reveals a definite appetite for workout videos concerning this part of the body on TikTok, with no less than 1.5 billion views in total for the "abworkout" and "absworkout" hashtags. Next come the muscles known as the glutes with more than 680 million views for the "glutesworkout" hashtag, and then the legs with nearly 350 million views for "legworkout."

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It also seems that we're looking for ultra-efficient workouts -- meaning that we want to work as many parts of our body as possible in record time. So it's no surprise to learn that the plank, a core strength exercise, tops the list of the most popular moves on TikTok with no less than 10 million views for the videos featuring it ("plankworkout"). Next are squats, which sculpt buttocks and legs, with more than 6 million views for the "squatworkout" and "squatsworkout" hashtags.

Another observation directly related to the global pandemic is that these training sessions are primarily done at home. Videos tagged with the "homeworkout" hashtag have generated more than 6.6 billion views over the past year. Note that workouts on the beach also have many followers (32 million views on TikTok), while the bedroom appears to be the preferred spot for doing fitness activities at home (6.5 million views for videos tagged "bedroomworkout").

Poor advice and incorrect form

Money.co.uk teamed up with sports coach Maiken Brustad to determine whether the videos shown on TikTok, often proposed by influencers, were effective for optimal training. To do this, she analyzed hours of content on the application and classified it according to the techniques and poses being taught. The result seems to be conclusive, since more than a quarter of the videos (27%) contained flawed advice and bad form.

The report states that the kettlebell swing is the worst exercise presented on the network, with 80% of the advice and form found to be incorrect. A finding that is not without consequence as this movement is intended to work several parts of the body, including the shoulders, trunk, quadriceps, hamstrings, buttocks, and back. The deadlift was found to be performed with errors 57% of the time, and the renegade row with errors 42% of the time.

"It's amazing that people can use apps like TikTok to get inspired to get fit, but not using the correct form can lessen the impact of your workout or even cause you an injury. I'd recommend taking new exercises slowly and if you're using weights, start out very light. If possible, research the person who's made the workout and look for influencers with professional personal training backgrounds," advises Maiken Brustad. The coach specifies that it is not a question of discouraging those who use these videos to work out, but of becoming aware that these tips and tricks are not necessarily delivered by qualified professionals.

The lists of the top workouts were compiled by examining the associated hashtags on TikTok and the number of views. All data is from January 2021.

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