There are a ton of great free workout programs out there, and they’re not too hard to find, especially once you start browsing fitness forums like the ones on Reddit. But even when these programs are free, there are still barriers to getting started, like figuring out how to get a program from a spreadsheet into your phone (or, if you’re like me, a precious diary you carry around the gym).
I know I’m not the only one who chose a not-great beginner program because it came with an easy-to-use app. My mistake occurred years ago. Fortunately, today, there is Boostcamp.
Boostcamp is a workout app that comes with several different preloaded programs, with a focus on those that are beginner-friendly. The app is free and nearly all of the programs in it are free, although you do have the option to tip the program creators.
The programs currently available in Boostcamp include:
- GZCLP, a linear progression (LP) designed by powerlifter Cody Lefever. (LP’s are built for beginners in that honeymoon stage where you can keep adding weight every workout.)
- nSuns, the Reddit-famous program that riffs off 5/3/1 by packing approximately a week’s worth of training into each day; it gives you the main lifts each day and lets you choose your own accessories.
- Candito 6-week, designed by powerlifter Jonnie Candito, which provides short but intense workouts with a goal of increasing your strength in the main lifts (squat, bench, deadlift).
- PHUL, a program with “power” and “hypertrophy” days for upper and lower body each week, aiming to build strength and muscle size with a variety of rep ranges and accessories.
- The Reddit PPL, a push-pull-legs split (so, three different types of workouts each done twice per week) that has more of a bodybuilding feel, with 8-12 reps of most exercises, and a body part focus each day.
- Greg Nuckols’ Beginner Program, a program of short, customizeable workouts designed specifically for this app. (Nuckols has a few other cheap and free programs that come highly recommended on Reddit and elsewhere; Nuckols is also an advisor to Boostcamp.)
- The r/bodyweightfitness Recommended Routine, which we’ve written about in the past; it’s a great way to strength train without weights. The app also includes a “Primer” routine that assumes you know nothing and starts you off with one or two beginner-level exercises each day.
- Several beginner-friendly, size-inclusive programs from Morit Summers, including a “Fit at Every Size” series without weights, and two premium programs that require a subscription.
- A mobility program by Matt Hsu that can be run alongside any of the other programs.
- And two running programs from John Henwood: one for people who are new to running (you start with run intervals of just one minute) and another for those who are returning after some time off. Both have audio tracks to guide you during the run, and you can listen to your own music while you do them.
Not only are these good programs — I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend any of them — the app also has special features for each. If you were to load any of the spreadsheet programs into a general-purpose app like Strong, you would be able to follow the workouts just fine, but you’d still have to read the details of how to progress from session to session and apply them manually. Boostcamp takes care of that for you.
In the bodyweightfitness program, for example, you can progress by choosing the appropriate level of each exercise. If you can do regular air squats, you get to move on to the one-legged squat progressions. There’s a “progression” button in the corner as you’re doing your workout, and you can select the one that’s most appropriate. (There are also video demos for every move, which is extremely helpful.)
Many of the weight-training programs include a setup step in which you tell it how much you can lift, and then the programs adapt as you go, telling you how much to put on the bar for each set of each workout. Some, like nSuns, unlock an “analytics” card that shows how your strength is increasing over time. And every program has a “community” tab where you can ask questions or give encouragement to others who are running the same program.
You can also run multiple programs at the same time, like a strength program and a running program. Runners might like the bodyweightfitness program; lifters might want to jump into the “Zero to Hero” for returning runners if they already have some fitness but aren’t used to running.
Bottom line, this is a great app for running a variety of tried-and-tested programs, and you don’t have to crunch a bunch of numbers or understand progression schemes before you start. If you felt intimidated by the spreadsheets, give Boostcamp a try.