If you've decided to get healthier or stronger by working out, your smartphone can be incredibly helpful. There are hundreds of apps that can be used to monitor your workouts, and the simple act of recording what you have done makes it easier to see what progress you're making.
Your phone is perfect for this, as you'll probably have it on you anyway to listen to music while you work up a sweat; why not stick an app or two on there to make your workouts easier to manage?
Some apps simply record what you're doing, while others also serve to encourage you to exercise, using timely notifications to prod you to do a little more. With so many workout apps to choose from, we've rounded up the very best from a range of sports and activities to help you select the one that's right for you.
Best workout apps 2019 at a glance:
- Map My Fitness
- Yoga Studio: Mind & Body
- One You Couch to 5K
- StrongLifts 5x5
- Garmin Connect
- Nike Training Club
1. Map My Fitness
Free but ad-supported, Map My Fitness features support for literally hundreds of different activities and exercises ranging from running and cycling to swimming and yoga. This workout app also has a social element: with activities such as running and cycling, you can learn about new routes from other users to keep your exercising a little more interesting. Goal settings options give you something to aim for, and help to create a sense of achievement when you hit them – which, of course, you will!
Map My Fitness is compatible with a huge number of fitness trackers, and it links in with MyFitnessPal to help you make better sense of your calorie burn.
There's a Pro version of the app available for a fee, and this not only removes ads, but also gives you access to extra features such a improve heart rate monitoring and analysis, audio updates during exercise routes, and live location sharing.
2. Yoga Studio: Mind & Body
This workout app offers guided yoga classes for you to follow, whether you're just starting out or you're a more seasoned practitioner, and you can stitch together snippets of different exercises to create your own custom workouts. There's even the option to schedule classes so they fit in with appointments you have added to your calendar.
Classes can not only be customized based on the level and type of exercises and poses you want to do, but also by selecting the type of background music you need to put in in the right headspace.
You can try this workout app free for seven days, and there are various plans available to suit different budgets once your trial expires.
3. One You Couch to 5K
Part of a health and fitness initiative by Public Health England, the aim of Couch to 5K is to encourage more people to get into the habit of exercising. As you'd probably guess from the name, it's aimed at beginners, and the pace is nice and gentle, building up from simply walking.
The ultimate aim is to be able to run 5K, and the training programme lasts for nine weeks – although there's nothing to stop you working a little slower and taking things at your own pace. You're presented with a choice of trainers to work with, and the real beauty of the app is that there is encouragement rather than pressure; it's absolutely fine if you are starting from zero, as the objective of the app is to create athletes from couch potatoes and there are lots of helpful tips along the way as well-known voices provide friendly encouragement.
4. StrongLifts 5x5
This workout app's name is derived from the popular 5x5 concept (five sets of five reps) which has made something of a resurgence in recent years. Results can be impressive, but the idea isn't to push yourself to breaking point. In fact, no more than three 45-minute workouts per week are needed.
While it can be used by anyone, it's really aimed at beginners and intermediate lifters who are looking for an easy way to track what they are doing, maintain a regular routine, and not really have to think about structure: it's all taken care of for you, including handy weekly and monthly progress reports.
Each session is fully guided so you know what to do, for how long, with how much weight, and then how long to rest for before you continue so you can focus on the weights and nothing else.
Strava is one of the best-known running apps out there. It has a huge following, and not without good reason. While most users turn to Strava to track runs, it can also be used by cyclists, swimmers and Used in conjunction with your smartphone and/or GPS-enables smartwatch, the app tracks your outings on a map so you can easily see how far you travelled, how long it took, and so on.
To help encourage you to push yourself, you can not only try to beat your personal best, but you can also take part in challenges with other users – as well as learning new routes from them. There is an element of treating exercise as a game, and this is an approach that might help you push yourself that little bit harder.
Proving that you don't need to spend a fortune on a gym membership to get fit and strong, Freeletics focuses entirely on exercises and workouts that doesn't need any equipment. The apps shows you hundreds of ways in which you can use your own bodyweight as a gym, with the added benefit that you can follow the routines just about anywhere, whenever you feel the urge (or when you have the free time).
The free version of the app enables you to take advantage of customizable coaching, with workout sessions ranging from 10 to 30 minutes, complete with audio and video so you know you are doing things correctly. If you're willing to pay for a premium subscription, you gain access to extra features such as workout goals, a personally-tailored weekly training plan, feedback to help you improve, and more.
7. Garmin Connect
Garmin used to be a name associated solely with of sat-nav systems, but more recently it's branched out into other areas including the burgeoning fitness market. Garmin Connect works with a range of Garmin watches – the company describes the app as 'an extension of your Garmin device' – and can be used to not only monitor the activities and exercises you undertake, but also to build up custom workouts, and to challenge friends if you feel like getting competitive.
The app can work in conjunction with others, syncing data with the likes of MyFitnessPal and Strava, and it provides detailed analysis of your performance, suggesting personalized routines based on this.
The Garmin Coach feature not only tells you what workouts to follow for the best results, but helps you to train for specific events such as a big race or marathon – or just beating your personal best.
8. Nike Training Club
With a big name like Nike behind it, you would probably expect great things from this workout app – and Nike Training Club doesn't disappoint. As well as the association with Nike, the app benefits from endorsement and content from celebrities and professionals, meaning there are scores of workouts to help you get the results you want.
There are workouts that target particular muscle groups, and others that help you improve performance in different sports and activities. Nike has tried to made things as approachable as possible, including workouts varying between 15 and 45 minutes, and suitable for a range of abilities.
If you're looking to improve strength without hitting the gym, look no further than the selection of bodyweight-only workouts. But the app is about much more than just workouts and strength. Nike Training Club takes something of a holistic approach to well-being, so there are also mindfulness, nutrition and general wellness tips.