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Fitness Apps to Make the Most Out of Your Workout

Updated on April 3, 2015

So you want fit?

I started going to the gym not too long ago. Before that, my exercise consisted of running and biking. As a total newbie, I didn't really know what to do and so having others instructed me into working a steady routine. I started exploring into some fitness apps that I could use to enhance my workout. If you spot any new fitness apps for iOS and Android that's worth checking out, feel free to leave a comment below.

As for the apps I picked, there are a few things I look for:

  • As I am not a fan of ads, I generally look for apps that do not have annoying ads on the top or bottom of the screen. I found this very annoying while biking and I believe this applies to working out as well. Of course, I will be including some cycling apps in this collection.
  • I focus on both free and paid versions. I will definitely try to list free apps. However, I will still list paid apps if I find one that is well built, gets the job done, and the developer deserves a gold star.
  • Feature wise, I will consider both apps that are fully loaded with functionalities and apps that focus on one particular aspect. I look for development and ease of use. These apps don't take up a lot of space so worse comes to worse, use more than one app. Platform stability is something I also consider. I discard apps that randomly crashes and lag during use.

Quick Poll Before We Continue

Which activity is part of your main fitness routine?

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Mobile Platform

I will be focusing on both Apple iOS and Google Android. These two mobile operating systems are most popular. When more apps populate the Windows Phone OS, I will consider doing another article or update this one.

To make it clear as to which platform you can find the app, I will make list this in either the title or description section of the app presented. Occasionally, there will be apps for both platforms so I will make that clear as well.

JEFIT Workout Exercise Trainer for Android and iOS

The image shown here is the free version. As you can see in the right screenshot, this is advertisement supported. The 'Pro' version slightly more on the expensive side at $4.99 in the Google Play store and $5.79 in the Apple AppStore. Starting off with the price, I do not feel like the 'Pro' version is worth it in terms of the features you are getting. There are a few additional features if you upgrade, but not many that make a significant difference. This is for those who really want to remove the advertisements.

Features

Whether you are new or experienced to bodybuilding, this app is for you. Each exercise comes with a description of which part of the body it works on as well as how you should proceed with the machine. As a beginner, I found this very helpful. The tips and steps to start working are pretty clear. It would be nice if the demonstrations were a bit smoother, but I realize I am asking a bit much. It is amazing to see that the demonstrations are animated, but I would like to see a few more move sequences. If you are on the more advanced side, the record keeping is pretty thorough. The logs or diary keeps track of your current weight amount, reps, and sets. The best part is that this is customizable. What I found really helpful was the in-app calendar. This allows you to plan your workouts in advance. The calendar allows you to plan your schedule and to determine when you are free and which exercises you will be working on.

Drawbacks

There seems to be a few issues here and there. One of the issues is if you want to alternate between reps and weight. I read up on this issue and then experimented it with myself. It seems to work for me the majority of the time, but occasionally there are glitches that require a restart.

I wouldn't call this a drawback, but it is a bit of an inconvenience. I found that there tends to be an awful lot of navigation involved. It required quite a bit of swiping and tapping to navigate to where I want to get to. After selecting a workout, it requires navigating to another page in order to log your performance.

Conclusion

This app is amazing for beginners. I would say it is probably better for those starting out. My recommendation is to open this app and then study it before hand. It looks a bit awkward when you are looking down trying to read the details in order to understand how the exercise work when you are at the gym. It is definitely better to read the descriptions before hand. Overall, the free app works amazingly well. It comes with a pretty extensive workout tracking, but you can get even more from the paid version. Just keep in mind that it isn't too much more.

If you want to experiment with the paid version, you have 15 minutes. Once you pay for the app, you have a 15 minute leeway in order to get a refund. The best way to approach this is probably to create a workout plan and then follow through by logging it. Once this is done, upgrade the app and then view the results. If you like the additional details you see, then you know what to do.

Category
Rating (1-10)
Price
4
Features
9
Stability
8
Tracking
9
Ease of Use
7

Fitocracy for Android and iOS

I would say Fitocracy is for those who want a bit more motivation. Workout wise, this app focuses on body building. However, the setup process was quite thorough asking for my interests. The selections range from weight loss, strength training to cardio and sports. After comparing Fitocracy and JEFIT side by side, I definitely root for the latter. However, I find Fitocracy pretty creative actually with achievement and point systems. Rather than focusing so much on weight and rep targets over a period of time, the point system pretty much encourages you to continuously improve and push yourself to the limit. This is, of course, you actually push yourself to the limit.

If you care about the social environment with followers or keeping up to date with friends, then this app is definitely for you. In my own opinion, I just do not understand the feed. For me, working out is for fitness and self-improvement. What is the point of sharing it or showing off to others? I really do not see the point of this because you do not do this for show.

Advantages and Disadvantages

This app definitely has a very interesting motivational factor. It treats the workout almost as if it is like a game so it definitely makes things more interesting. It gets the job done of course, but I would say the logging is better than JEFIT. After doing each set, recording doesn't require multiple taps in order to get to the input screen. It is very immediate so you can focus less on your phone and more on your workout.

However, I found this a bit annoying. The initial app run required quite an extensive setup. I understand if it asked for my weight and height, but this social environment is not for me. If you really want to keep your workout private, it is much harder to do. I personally do not want to log into the app using Facebook or taking a personal picture. Furthermore, this app does not allow for workout planning beforehand. It provides a calendar, but it seems to be keeping track of historical workouts rather than future ones. I haven't used this app much because I do not see the focus is on the workout.

Conclusion

Category
Rating (1-10)
Price
10
Stability
7
Features
7
Tracking
9
Ease of Use
6

Google Fit for Android

This app was developed by Google so naturally you can only find it in the Google Play store. It is free for installation and does NOT work on a freemium basis. This means that there are no in-app purchases to unlock more features. Just one thing to note, it may drain your battery life as this app continuously runs in the background. This is essentially just a pedometer app, but with a few additional features. However, it has made its way to my list of top apps for a few reasons.

Advantages

What I really like about this app is the simplicity. The setup process is really straight-forward. You, of course, need to enter a few personal details in order for the app to calculate calories burned later on when you start exercising. Furthermore, navigation is also amazingly simplistic. No multiple taps and swiping required to get to your results, activity finder, and so on. I was able to just open the app and understand it right away.

I also like this app for its "passiveness". This app simply runs in the background and tracks my footsteps throughout the day. For example, yesterday or Sunday, I walked only 19 steps. Hopefully your lazy Sundays aren't as lazy as mine. I installed a couple of other pedometer apps and so far I cannot find this. These apps tend to record activity sessions. In other words, it treats walking like a workout. However, I highly doubt you are going to walk for an hour or two a day. You walk throughout the day with some sitting or standing and then continue walking. This is why I choose the passive recording advantage.

Though this app isn't very feature rich, it offers recording of other activities. Biking and running are the two most popular and this makes sense. However, I do not recommend using Google Fit for these activities. It lacks advanced tracking, which is something I would like to see in the future. It does a good job with calorie count and activity duration, but that is about it.

Disadvantages

One clear disadvantage briefly mentioned is the lack of features. While it is named "Google Fit", it is really just Google Pedometer. The pedometer is pretty much the only use for this app. I have a goal of 10,000 steps per day so I make sure I try to reach it. I also do quite a bit of biking and tracking the duration of my ride to calculate the calories burned probably isn't the best measure as it does not really take into account of intensity, speed, and stop times. Then again, it keeps battery consumption to a minimum by not enforcing GPS use.

I also noticed that this app tends to be a bit inaccurate with the step count. Rather than under-counting the steps, it over counts. If you have the phone in your hand during a car ride and you hit a few bumps, the app will register steps. It seems to me that this app detects repetitive movements and logs it as steps. Nevertheless, I find this a minor issue as no app is perfect.

Strava Running and Cycling for Android and iOS

For the longest time ever, I debated between Strava and Ride With GPS. Both apps can be found in the Google Play store and the Apple AppStore. I have used both apps and found similar features, but I put Strava out on top. Keep in mind that I am not saying that Strava is superior to Ride With GPS. I take this comparison from a beginner's standpoint.

As you may or may not know, both apps have a free and paid version. However, the paid version is not a straight up one time payment. Instead, you can purchase either a monthly or yearly subscription. I focus primarily on the free features and this is why I put Strava on top.

For basic features such as route recording, both Strava and Ride With GPS offer this without any subscription plans. However, Strava takes it a step further and offers free route planning while Ride With GPS does not. Without a subscription, you can create a route on your computer. It simply will not be downloaded onto your phone nor allow navigation. In terms of route planning, Strava is definitely superior.

As for the other features, I will compare the apps from a the aspect of a beginner and pro user. I will refer to the beginner along with casual riding while the pro is with training. Casual riders like me want trip planning and basic statistics on the ride. If you are a pro and want to use the app for training purposes, I will look at the features that allows you to optimize your workouts.

Where Ride With GPS Is Superior

if you do not have unlimited data or if your cell signal is rather choppy, offline maps have its advantages. This is exactly what this app offers. With a basic membership, which costs $6 a month, you can get access to offline maps. Most phones come with a GPS chip such as GLONASS so this allows you to navigate your ride purely on your GPS network. GPS usually doesn't require data nor payment so this is a big plus.

I did a route plan with this app and so far I like it better than Strava. The overall platform and interface runs much smoothly. Strava doesn't seem to want to give me the accuracy in the route planner. What makes this app so interesting is that it can recognize trails. For me, I have trails highlighted in green and plan my routes around them accordingly. This doesn't seem to work so well with Strava so another advantage for this app.

Sports Tracker for Android and iOS

Unfortunately, this isn't my go-to app because my main activity is biking and this app does not offer route planning. Nevertheless, I put it on my list to consider because this serves as a great multi-sport tracking. I used this app for a few times and it offers tracking for running, cycling, walking, hiking, fitness, weight loss, and so much more. It syncs with Google Maps to record geographic routes for you.

Unlike Fitocracy, I actually like the social environment offered by Sports Tracker. It doesn't involve users posting "selfies" thinking that they are measuring change in their workout. This social environment sorts users by activity. You can see who else is biking or running or doing some other sport in your neighborhood. By the looks of it, you can organize social meetups and rides as well.

I took a brief look in their community base and the routes published are quite nice. There are usually moderate to long distance rides recorded unlike Strava. I found Strava a bit cluttered in terms of the rides recorded. There are some really short rides and practically no descriptions.

The premium subscription actually makes sense. It offers real time analysis so you can see how much more you need to go or do in order to meet your goal. Ghost mode also offers side by side comparison. While they don't call it "ghost mode", but rather real-time ahead/behind comparison, I like this term a lot better.

How do you know if this app is for you? If you need to plan your own routes like me, then this app is probably not for you. Once again, this app offers a nice basic route recording with some detailed analytics. Overall, I find this app a bit out of focus in the sense that it attempts to offer too many activities at once. This, of course, is just a personal bias. Some will see this as an awesome all-in-one app while others, like me, see this as an attempt to do everything just not the best.

RunKeeper for Android and iOS

RunKeeper for Android and iOS

Don't worry, I haven't forgotten about all you runners out there. While Strava and Sports Tracker does provide running support, RunKeeper also does an amazing job. This app not only comes with route mapping and statistics tracking, but also marathon training. Whether you are running just 5 km or a full marathon, this app is supposedly able to prepare for anything. Your workouts can be for training or just weight-loss, there is something in store for everybody. Best of all, this app is free. It does not contain any advertisements and syncs with just about any watch. Whether you use a Pebble, Android Wear, or the Apple Watch, this app is compatible.

Advantages and Disadvantages

Once again, this isn't an app I use much. I tend to bike more than I run, but I used this app enough to compare it to Runtastic, Run with Map My Run, and Endomondo Running. Of the three, I definitely find superiority in RunKeeper. Both Runtastic and Endomondo Running are too profit taking. Let's start off with Endomondo.

Before we begin, I would like to rule out Runtastic completely. I see that they are too profit oriented. They make a separate app with a premium version for each possible sport. Runtastic Road Biking and Runtastic Mountain Biking is pretty much the exact same app with a different color theme. There seems to be no motivation for the development of this app, but rather on selling it.

Endomondo is slightly better, but preys on those that don't know any better. This app comes in premium and subscription. I got my hands on the premium for free during an Amazon AppStore deal of the day promotion. One of the major complaints is the lack of feature distinction between the premium and subscription. In this case, premium is a one time payment upgrade while the subscription is recurring. I rule this app out completely because performance tracking just isn't practical. I experienced numerous updates that did not seem to offer any major improvements. This app definitely has stability issues. When I attempt to navigate, it will crash when I supposedly navigated too fast.

When it comes to the comparison with Map My Run, both are quite closely matched. They both offer similar features, but I feel RunKeeper does a much better job with the training aspect. Map My Run really just "maps" your run and records the route taken. RunKeeper actually prepares you for a goal to aim for. Furthermore, Map My Run does not offer an ad-free experience unless you pay. You do not experience this with RunKeeper. Furthermore, Map My Run seems be have been acquired by Under Armor so there is an additional promotional aspect to this app. This concerns me in the sense of where the development is headed.

I see a few advantages with RunKeeper that just does not compare anywhere else. The first is the ability for indoor tracking. The problem with most of these apps is that they literally map your runs. This means assigning a geographic route to your paths. RunKeeper gives you the additional training advantage if you, like me, run on an indoor track or treadmill. I personally run indoors the majority of the time so I prefer to have this flexibility.

Audio coaching isn't something I use much, but I consider this feature much more useful. Why? This feature makes sure you focus more on your running and less on your screen. Audio prompts give you periodic performance updates. I found this quite extensive with distance traveled, pace, speed, and calorie count. Finally, I find the Polar HRM integration extremely useful. I definitely prefer a watch over a chest strap as I'm one of those people that prefer to have none of these tensions no matter how minimum.

Category
Rating (1-10)
Price
10 - It's Free :D
Features
9.5
Stability
9
Tracking
9
Ease of Use
8

Conclusion

I aim to provide the best free apps. Don't get me wrong, I don't mind paying if I feel like the developer truly deserves my support. This is why Runtastic and Endomondo are off my list. All of these apps come in free versions so it gives you the opportunity to try them out without any monetary commitment. I hope this list of apps can help you in some way to take your training or exercise to the next level. I will see to updating this list if anything new comes up.

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