At fitness 101 we use a number of fitness apps on our iPhone’s to help us meet our goals. Here are just some of our favourites and the ones we use regularly! Note: Some of these may also have Android versions too.
This has to be our number 1 app, as it’s something we all use almost every day. MyFitnessPal is an easy to use app for tracking your calorie intake. It has been shown that if you don’t track your calories, the average person will typically under-estimate their calories by anything up to 20-40% which is huge. When I first start using this app I myself found that I was typically eating around 500 calories more than I expected, and I was also quite shocked to see how much sugar I was actually consuming. Not only does MyFitnessPal track calories, but it also tracks your micro and macro nutrients. Over the last few years MyFitnessPal has been improving, getting easier to use and getting an expanding food database.
The app originally seemed focused around American meals, and I found myself manually entering in a lot of foods. However, now I can pretty much type in anything and get a result, and scanning a barcode normally brings up all the nutritional information in a split second. Logging in to your account online allows you to change your settings from an automatic calorie calculation to a manual setting, which also allows you to easily change your Macro nutrient goals for the more advanced user. The only real negative is that my goals change daily depending on my training, and it would be good to change it to predefined settings but it’s a minor point.
The progress tracker on MyFitnessPal is pretty basic, but I do use it for tracking my weight. For everything else I prefer to use a dedicated app, but for it’s primary function it really can’t be faulted.
GymBoss is another app that I use almost everday, with the exception being when I’m going swimming (simply because I can’t take my iPhone with me into the pool!). I initially downloaded this app for HIIT (high intensity interval training) sessions, and this acts as a timer with an audible alert (I use the boxing bell) to tell me when to sprint and when to rest. There were some predefined settings already in place, but I quickly created my own. The first was a 20 second sprint, with 40 seconds walking, of which there were 7 sets in total. I then created a program for my weight training sessions where I would estimate the amount of time it would take me to complete each set (around 30 seconds) and then the rest period in between sets (typically 1 minute 30 seconds) with around 5 work sets.
I now using it for timing everything from MI40 to sessions on the heavy bag. No more guessing! Don’t be fooled by the simple graphical interface on this app. It may look basic but it works perfectly, and for a free app that is 4MB in size it should really be a no brainer!
Whether you are a bodybuilder or not, male or female, bodybuilding.com is a great resource for anyone interested in fitness, training or nutrition. If I’m honest, I probably only use about 50% of the functionality that exists on this app, and that is for the forum and the bodyspace profile. The forum on bodybuilding.com is enormous, and if you have a question it’s no doubt already been discussed in multiple threads on the site. Going through the forum on the app makes it convenient as well as making it easy to ask questions & respond without having to login in and out from a laptop or PC.
When you sign up to bodybuilding.com you get a bodyspace profile. Here you can set your goals, and there are lots of easy mechanisms for tracking the progress of your weight, individual measurements, body fat and much more. You also have the option of uploading progress pictures either for your own records or to show other members on the site as you become more engaged. It’s a great app to use for this purpose, and can be very motivational either by seeing the progress of other members or to ensure that you’re own pictures are good for anyone that might be viewing them!
So this is a little bit gimmicky if I’m honest, but it’s fun to use and I think could be quite educational for any newbies. I use this on occassion when creating new workout plans as it has a large library of exercises categorised into areas of the body. In essence this is a series of animated demonstrations of a “skinless human” performing exercises. The fact that he has no skin enables you to see the muscles working, and you can zoom in and rotate the 3D model while the exercise is repeated which is very cool. The other thing I like about this app is that it lists all the supporting secondary and tertiary muscles that are activated during the exercise. You can also navigate to the different exercises by clicking on a body part and choosing from a list, or you can search for specific exercises.
There is a workout creator on this, but I don’t really like it and I think a dedicated app for tracking workouts is much better for the purpose.
As someone that doesn’t cycle very often this app isn’t one for me, but I know a number of cyclists that love this app. Using the GPS on their phone, it tracks their cycle route, time, distance, speed and even elevation for each trip. It can even be integrated with other third party sensors via Bluetooth for tracking heart rate and power data which can be added to the tracked route.
The most interesting part of this is the ability to then share your routes with other friends either as motivation or as recommended routes. For the more enthusiastic riders there is even a premium version that allows you to compare your own data against other athletes and cyclists in your age range and weight class, and this can appear on a leaderboard.
Strava can also be used for running and hiking.
Very similar to Strava, RunKeeper uses the iPhone’s built in GPS to track your runs including distance, speed and time. A few people in my office favour this app because of it’s integration with MyFitnessPal. It uses the data from RunTracker, and combines it with the users weight to calculate the number of calories burned during your run. It then substracts these calories from your total calories eaten on that day.
As an app on it’s own, Strava is probably more comprehensive and has the better interface. However the convenience of the MyFitnessPal integration makes this a winner!
Sleep Cycle alarm clock
There are three main things to consider with all workout programmes; training, nutrition and rest. The Sleep Cycle alarm clock calculates your natural sleeping rhythm to work out when you should wake up. By placing the phone at the corner of your bed, it uses the accelerometer to measure movement, and wakes you when you’re in the lightest stage of your sleep.
I love this app, and have found that I actually feel much better waking up earlier than I do when I try and give myself a bit more time in bed. Getting out of bed is much easier when you haven’t been rudely woken from a deep sleep by a buzzing alarm clock. The app has about 15 different sounds to use as the alarm, but I like the option of selecting an MP3 from iTunes.
At £0.69p this app certainly isn’t going to break the bank, so even if your sceptical it’s probably worth a try. Waking up and feeling rested can have a huge impact on the rest of your day. My only real complaint with this is that it automatically assesses what your sleep quality was for that night, and I sometimes feel that I would like to decide that based on how I feel when I wake up that day.
So there we have it, seven of our favourite fitness, health and nutrition apps. Do you agree? What apps do you use?