There are plenty of great apps to keep track of your running mileage, and a clear winner when it comes to cycling (Strava, duh). But it’s a bit harder to pick a winner when you’re lifting in the gym. Until recently, all the apps were clunky and hard to use. Now… well, only some of them are.
Our Favourite: Strong
Strong (free on iOS and Android) is the clear winner. It’s easy to use, even when you’re exhausted mid-workout. With the free app, you can create three workouts, and check off your sets as you complete them.
The app fills in your previous weights and reps so you don’t have to fiddle with numbers every time. It syncs with Apple Health and Google Fit, meaning that if you spend 45 minutes logging exercises on the app, you’ll automatically get credit for a 45-minute strength workout.
Strong also keeps track of your personal bests, and it calculates your theoretical one-rep max of each exercise based on the reps you do. (For example, if you bench 41kg five times, it lets you know that you could probably do a single rep at 45kg.)
The pro version is worthwhile if you’re in the gym a lot. For $US4.99 ($7)/month or $US29.99 ($41)/year, you can save as many workouts as you like. (I upgraded when I switched from a two-day routine to one with four different workouts.) You also get a plate calculator, which tells you how many plates, and what size, to add to each end of the bar to reach your desired weight.
The subscription also unlocks a calculator for warm-up sets, a body measurement tracker, and a bunch of analytics to monitor your progress.
Best on Apple Watch: JeFit
While Strong can store a workout on the watch, it doesn’t have a mode where you can swap back and forth between the watch and the phone on the same workout. If you know that you will do exactly your planned workout, with no deviations, the Watch version of Strong might fit your needs.
But JeFit does the job much more smoothly. If the app is running on your phone, you get a little screen on your watch to log the current exercise and start a rest timer to let you know when to do the next set. If you want to do your exercises in a different order, or add something new, you can make those tweaks on the phone and your watch will follow along.
Fitnotes (Android only) is a bit clunkier than Strong and doesn’t have as many features, but it does the job and won’t bug you to buy a subscription (although there is a $5.99 version of the app that includes some graphs to track your progress.)
Progression (Android only) syncs everything to Google Drive. The pro version, $7.49 as a one-time purchase, unlocks some analytics.
Intensity (Android and iOS) focuses on your total poundage for the day (adding up all your lifts) and on progress graphs, and it has popular lifting programs like 5/3/1 and Stronglifts built in. The basics are free but you’ll need a $US3.99 ($6)/month subscription to unlock some of the features.
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