Plenty of us use our smartphones at the gym as a timer or to listen to our workout mixes, but that’s only scratching the surface when it comes to the benefits of smart technology in health and fitness.
Fitness apps on smartphones and tablets have encouraged people the world over to start exercising. There’s a wealth of great fitness, workout, and nutrition apps that really deserve some consideration whether you want to get serious about your training, or just make your sessions a little easier and more effective.
Most people who exercise will have looked up some video tutorials on how to do new lifts or radical weight-loss diets. A lot of us also, I’m sure, even have a well-intentioned fitness app gathering dust on our smartphone’s home screen. The key to a great fitness app, however, is one that can ease the transition of your diet or exercise routine from fad to habit.
Here’s a list of some of the best fitness apps to take your training to the next level, and make it stick.
Fitness Buddy: Gym Workout Log
Fitness Buddy is a free, highly rated app that combines 12-Week workout regimes with personalised diet plans to help users get stronger and leaner. The app does feature the ability to track your body weight and measurements, but the best part is the detailed instructions and HD video tutorials that go with each exercise - this ensures that you’ve got the proper technique, helping you avoid injury and get better results. The app also shows you which muscle groups each exercise works, so you know where you’ll be seeing the benefits. The quality of instruction alone makes Fitness Buddy one of the best workout apps available.
Gym Plan: Fitness Coach
Gym Plan is a workout app that provides a well-tailored experience; when you first use Gym Plan, it logs your key stats (height, weight, body fat etc.), your overall fitness goals, and more specific goals such as bigger arms and chest or tighter abs. You can log what equipment you have at your disposal, and how many minutes a day and days a week you can give to your exercise. The app then recommends a huge amount of tried and tested workout routines that match your requirements. It may be best upgrading to a premium membership, which provides more direct training from virtual PTs and tailored workout plans. The premium membership can be trialled for 7 days.
GymBook – Strength Training
GymBook isn’t as complex as a lot of other workout apps; essentially what it does is replace a notebook you may take with you to the gym to remind you of your routine and chart your progress in terms of your lifts, sessions, body weight and measurements. The simplicity of GymBook, however, is its biggest strength; the app is incredibly easy to navigate and use, where some of the other apps can be a little overwhelming. You construct your own routines with GymBook by compiling exercises from the list, each featuring a simple animation of how to perform it. GymBook is a great choice for those who still want to be in control of their workout with little interference. It is free but does have the option of a one-off payment to unlock all features of the app.
Seven – 7 Minute Workout
Seven is free and one of the best workout apps targeted at those who are short on time but want to get fit quickly. Seven’s workouts don’t require any equipment to perform, meaning the exercises can be done anywhere. Seven is simple, easy to navigate, and aesthetically pleasing, making it one of the least intimidating apps to get the ball rolling, fitness-wise. Whilst these seven-minute workouts are no substitute for a more intense, targeted routine, this app is great for people who simply don’t have time for much else, or those who want to make the process of working out a habit.
Strava Training: Run & Ride
Strava is a free app that’s great for running and cycling. The beauty of Strava is in its simplicity and coupled with its Editor’s Choice status on the App Store, is one of the best fitness apps on the market. Strava uses GPS tracking to chart and trace your runs and rides, giving you sophisticated reports on your distance, speed, elevation, and calories burned. The app also charts your progress over time, so you can adjust your training accordingly. It also boasts some community features that allow you to compare your performance with runners on similar routes, form clubs with others who have similar goals and take part in monthly community challenges.
A slight deviation here, but great for anyone who wants to kick a bad habit that’s impending fitness goals. Streaks is a paid app that won the Apple Design Award and tracks tasks you want to complete daily as well as negative tasks that you want to reduce or quit altogether. Whilst this is not solely a fitness app, it can be really useful if you want to encourage good habits that will pay a dividend to your fitness goals. For examples, drinking enough water in the day, getting enough sleep and hitting your desired number of workouts in a given week. The real USP of this app is that you can use it to limit or quit harmful habits like smoking, drinking too much caffeine, and eating junk food.
MyFitnessPal is a calorie counter and diet tracker, and a long-standing staple of the App Store, considered by many to be one of the best fitness apps available when it comes to diet and nutrition. MyFitnessPal is a great way to keep track of what you’re eating, with a huge food database of over 6 million foods and a barcode scanner to get accurate nutrition and calorie information about your meals. The app supports weight loss, weight gain, and weight maintenance by helping you to plan your diet in line with your exercise routine.
Because our goals are as diverse as we are, it’s impossible to choose the best fitness apps to suit everyone, but if you find the right one for you in this list, use it consistently for the best results. Naturally, there’s some overlap in the app world, and many of the free apps have an optional “premium” paid upgrade so it’s best to trial run a few of these to see which one feels best for you. Keep in mind, though, while no app can do the hard work for you, it can make your hard work more effective, so start downloading and then get training!