Apps for your phone are incredibly helpful. Many of the things we take for granted today wouldn’t be where they are if it weren’t for apps. Think social media, Google Maps (how did I get anywhere before this?!), mobile banking, and email.
There’s quite a few that I’m frequently dependent on. But in the fit app world, there’s so many free fitness apps out there, how do you choose which one to use?
For most people, it’s a matter of experimentation to see what works best. Fortunately, I did the leg work for you this time. Instead of cherry-picking from the array of choices, here’s three of the best free fitness apps that will help you stay fit or lose weight.
1. Gymboss 2 Interval Timer
I love this application for it’s simple interface and wide range of use. You can use this app for intense tabatas, circuit training, interval training, sprints or other home cardio sessions.
It’s easy to create your workouts, name them, choose your sound options and then start! Here’s a few examples of how I use this free fitness app.
Burpee+Sprint Cardio Session
Perform a 200 meter sprint, then do burpees until the beep for 1:30 minutes. Rest for one minute, then repeat for 10 total sprints. It’s a killer, but it’s really incredible how your body adapts so quickly.
Perform three tabatas of eight sets of 20 seconds work, 10 seconds rest. Here’s an oldie that I refer to often.
- KB swing
- Tuck jumps
- Mountain climber
- Squat jumps
- Jumping Jacks
I recommend that all of my clients use MyFitnessPal. There’s multiple reasons for this, but the primary is the following:
- most people overestimate how much they eat
- most people aren’t certain of how many calories they’re consuming
- food choices and consumption is a major barrier to reaching goals, whether it be fat loss or muscle gain
While it isn’t necessary to track calories long term, it does help you gain a sense of what you’re eating and what you should be eating to meet your goals. I don’t use this app everyday, but I do use it on a consistent basis to help me gain perspective of what I’m eating. It’s easy to fall in to old habits (or form new unhelpful ones) and MyFitnessPal provides accountability and hard data to help you stay on track.
Note: I don’t recommend that you use the calorie targets provided by MFP. Most people with weight loss goals need to eat more protein to retain muscle mass while eating in a calorie deficit. You can easily change the calorie goals on their website, but not through the app.
The interface is pretty intuitive and easy to use. I take a look at the percentages view to gauge my macronutrient intakes.
Another great thing about MFP is that it incorporates with many other applications like Jawbone, Fitbit or other activity trackers so you can aggregate data in one place.
This is the primary activity app I use for walking, running, mountain biking, hiking or any other low-medium intensity activity. The app has a simple and intuitive interface, yet provides detailed data that you can use to analyze your performance.
I love receiving congratulations emails when I best my time for an activity or set a new mileage record. It’s encouraging and uplifting to know that you are improving and RunKeeper helps to make it obvious.
As you can see, there’s just about any activity that you can track.
Here’s an overview of a completed mountain bike ride. As you can see, it tracks mileage, duration, MPH, calories, and time away from best pace. Different activities will display different summary stats.
You can also select types of workouts. For example, if you’re running, you can set a pace target and the voice updates will tell you how close you are to that target pace.
I love looking at the speed changes and elevation on the graph view. It really gives you a great idea of your conditioning (for example does your pace stay the same through your run? Or does it drop significantly?) and the challenge of your activity.
RunKeeper also has training plans for certain races or goals. There are more than enough free plans of your choosing as well as some paid plans. You can set goals, add friends and post your activities to facebook. You can even pair a heart rate monitor.
While there’s plenty more free fitness apps that you can use, there’s no need if you won’t use them. These are the three that I use on a consistent basis and frankly, I don’t need any others. So if your iPhone is limited on space, here’s the only three you need!