Home gyms have never gotten as much use as they did in 2020. Whether you turned your garage into a fully equipped workout space fit for a bodybuilder or you simply invested in a set of dumbbells to lift in your living room, home gym workouts are the new norm. But if you don’t have a fitness background, it can be a challenge to devise an exercise schedule that challenges you and helps you reach your fitness goals. For those who enjoyed going to fitness classes, you might miss the set workouts and consistent schedule that classes provided. If it’s all up to you, how do you plan an effective workout?
The answer: Workout apps. Even before the pandemic, workout apps were popular for people on the go who couldn’t commit to in-person classes or scheduled workouts with a trainer. Workout apps are convenient, as you can squeeze in any length of exercise from anywhere, whether you’re in the bedroom or the backyard, and any time, including in between conference calls. Now that fitness classes have gone digital, there’s no shortage of workout apps to fit your mood and goals. Below, we’ve rounded up the best workout apps of 2020 that we’ve tried and tested throughout this hellish year, and will carry us through these next few months as we all wait patiently until it’s safe to return to gyms.
You don’t need to own a Peleton to take advantage of the great workouts available on the Peleton app. The app features live and on-demand running, cycling, and strength classes to give you a complete workout. Peleton places an emphasis on whole-body health, which is why its app includes yoga and meditation exercises to strengthen your body and mind.
Community is also important, and if you love the energy of in-person classes, the Peleton app does a pretty good job of replicating that with its leaderboard, tag, and tribe features, which fan the flames of competition while allowing riders to link up with their friends or like-minded riders to workout together. It’s the closest you can get to a sweaty workout class without the hassle of a commute.
Cost: 30-day free trial;$12.99 per month; Available on iOS and Android
Nike Training Club
The fitness giant has two workout apps, Nike Training Club and Nike Run Club. Nike Run Club is popular among runners, but if you’re looking to introduce strength training into your workouts, the Nike Training Club comes jam-packed with over 185 free on-demand workouts led by Nike’s Master Trainers. It’s completely customizable from beginner to advanced fitness levels, low to high intensity, and durations from 15-90 minutes. Choose from a variety of programs, including yoga, mobility, strength training, cardio, and HIT. You can also specify the type of equipment you do (or don’t) have to narrow down your options.
The best part? Both apps are free as a result of the pandemic. Back in March, Nike offered this content at no charge for 90 days to help those staying at home during COVID-19 stay in shape. In July, Nike made the switch permanent, making this premium content free forever.
Cost: Free; Available on iOS and Android
Beachbody by Demand
The name might be cheesy, but the workouts are the real deal. This app offers a ton of popular classes and programs from P90X to INSANITY and 21 Day Fix to PiYo. You can search by workout or by fitness level and style, and they feature workouts from some of the industry’s top trainers to deliver streamlined workout plans that show you exactly what you should be doing and for how long.
If you’re an active athlete, you know that what you eat is just as important, if not more important than your workouts. Beachbody by Demand comes with nutrition plans tailored to your gender, activity level, goals, body weight, and dietary preferences. It’s an all-in-one fitness and diet coach on-call at all hours in the day.
Cost: $99 annually; Available on iOS and Android
If you’re someone who gets bored with the same workouts, you’re going to love Daily Burn. The app features a new workout every day along with your choice of 1,400+ fitness classes so you’ll never get bored. The fitness app also packages its workouts into programs, which last anywhere from two to eight weeks to get you the results you’re after within a designated timeframe.
Their beginner’s program is extremely thorough and helps ease people into a consistent workout routine starting with mobility and stability, and then building up to more difficult workouts. You can also chat with other users who are doing the same workout as you, which is helpful if you miss the community aspect of in-person classes.
Cost: $14.95 per month; $19.95 per month for the premium version; Available on iOS and Android
8fits is designed with results in mind. The app features on-demand workouts and meal planning that is tailored to the goal you set, whether it be to lose weight, get fitter, or gain muscle. The workouts and meal plans 8fit creates are based on your personal habits, like whether you’re a morning exercise person and the kind of meals you like to prepare. Based on your goals and preferences, you’ll be able to see exactly how long it’ll take you to reach that goal, along with the difficulty of achieving it.
If you like clear instructions and need a ton of guidance, 8fit is a great way to get a personalized plan in place to help you achieve your fitness goals. For those on a budget, the app has a free version with some features, but the Pro version unlocks all workouts, gives you custom meal plans, and provides a shopping list.
Cost: Free; Pro plan $79.99 per year; Available on iOS and Android
Australian actor Chris Hemsworth, best known for playing Thor in eight Marvel Cinematic Universe films, created his own workout app to help you get in superhero shape. If your crime-fighting costume is a little snug, the app is designed to assist in planning your training, executing effective workouts, and eating healthy. Hemsworth reportedly gained twenty pounds of pure muscle to play Thor, so the workouts in the “Train” section of the app are nothing to scoff at. You can choose between self-guided, coached workouts.
The fitness brand also recently launched Centr Unleashes, a 6-week bodyweight training program designed for people with little to no access to the best home gym equipment. The program has three difficulty settings, so it’s accessible to all fitness levels. There’s also a mindfulness section of the app with guided meditations and information on the benefits of mindfulness. If it’s good enough for Thor, it’s good enough for us mere mortals.
Cost: 7-day free trial; $19.99 per month, $47.99 for three months, or $119.99 annually; Available on iOS and Android
If you love getting outside and running, biking, or hiking your way to a fit and healthy lifestyle, get Strava. Named “the social network for athletes” this app tracks important stats (like speed, pace, elevation, and more) so you can improve your performance over time. You can join clubs or challenges and follow your friends if you want to engage in a little friendly competition. If you own a GPS fitness watch, you can link your Strava account with the watch so that activities recorded on it will automatically sync and upload to Strava so you never miss logging a workout.
Plus, if you run or bike in the same place every day, you can rack up achievements measured against others who travel that same route. It also has super-accurate satellite global tracking, which is great if your evening run or ride takes you off the beaten path. The app is free, but the paid version will give you access to the company’s advanced route planning tool along with the use of the Beacon feature, which can allow friends and family to track you in real time. You can also view advanced training metrics and analyze your past workouts in greater detail with a paid subscription.
Cost: Free; Pro plan $5 per month; $59.99 per year; Available on iOS and Android
If you’re short on workout buddies and not keen on tracking down the right trainer for you, Aaptiv may be just what you need. The routines on this app are audio-only, with specially curated workout songs and trainers who unobtrusively interject to keep you on track. Sort workouts by specific trainers, difficulty level, duration, or musical genre to find what motivates you most. You can select from routines built around outdoor walking, running, indoor cycling, elliptical, treadmill, stair climber, rowing, strength training, stretching, meditation, or yoga, plus focused training programs for 5k, 10k, and half- and full marathons.
The app’s interface is clean, straightforward, and easy to use, and the audio-only format feels much more like working out with a buddy beside you than fighting for equipment in a crowded gym. Plus, with a constantly growing list of available classes, it’s next to impossible to get bored.
Cost: 7-day free trial; $15 per month or $100 per year; Available for iOS and Android
For a more hands-on, customizable workout experience and the ability to track and analyze your progress, Jefit is a solid home-gym companion. The app features a library of over 1,000 exercise types, which can be viewed individually in pre-built routines or by combining whatever strikes your fancy into your own personal exercise regimen. Enter your starting stats, ability level, and where you’ll be working out (gym, home, outdoors, or anywhere) and the app will suggest programs to start with. Instructional videos show you how to properly perform moves and the Jefit community lets users share their own routines and participate in monthly contests.
There’s plenty to be had in Jefit’s free subscription, but if you upgrade to Elite status ($40 per year) you get access to even more exercises and routines, plus a whole lineup of workout tracking tools that will sync with your Android wear or Apple Watch, time your workouts, notify you when you’ve set a new personal record, run progress analysis reports, and more.
Cost: Free; Upgrade to pro version for $39.99 per year; Available for iOS and Android
Whether you’re familiar with every pose or you’ve never even tried Downward Dog, this app can help you achieve full yogi status from your own living room. Everything about the Yoga Studio app is saturated in pure, chi-centering bliss, from its satisfyingly clean interface to the soothing soundtracks behind every routine.
Classes include beginner essentials, prenatal yoga, hip hop yoga, a series of sessions with world-renowned yogi Rodney Yee, and more. Select a pre-designed guided class or scroll through the app’s massive library of over 280 poses to build your own routine. A built-in calendar feature lets you keep track of every session, every single class features full HD video to guide you through the poses, and you can even download classes to view offline.
The app lets you filter available classes by difficulty level (beginner, intermediate, or advanced), duration (15, 30, or 60 minutes), and focus (strength, flexibility, relaxation, balance, or a combination) so you can stay completely centered on your goals.
Cost: Free trial; $20 per year; Available for iOS and Android
If you’re the kind of person who only runs if you’re being chased, the idea of beginning a running regime can be daunting. The Couch to 5K (C25K) app is the answer. It’s an eight-week program: three runs a week of varying lengths. A woman’s voice pipes up during the music or podcast of your choice to tell you when to walk and when to run. The first week you’re warming up with a brisk walk for five minutes, then you alternate 60 seconds of jogging with 90 seconds of walking for 30 minutes. Each week increases the amount of running time until by week eight until you’re running three miles in 30 minutes.
It’s impressive because it actually works. You can go straight through or repeat weeks, trying to increase your speed. C25K is a great place to start an exercise program because it gets you in the groove. Then you can move on to trail running for fun.
Cost: Free; Available for iOS and Android
Carrot Fit is an irreverent app with absolutely no manners. In its own words: “The hilarious talking A.I. construct, Carrot, has a new goal; to transform your flabby carcass into a Grade A specimen of the human race. And she’s going to do whatever it takes — including threatening, inspiring, ridiculing, and bribing you — to make this happen.”
It’s almost guaranteed there’s no other app like this one. One exercise tones your arms while you “fantasize about punching Justin Bieber;” another has you outrunning a rabid pack of ostriches. The weight tracker allows you to watch the pounds fall off, largely due to the judgmental A.I. threatening you.
The programs require no special equipment or big spaces, just a stiff upper lip for when you’re repeatedly called “meat bag.”
Cost: $5 one-time payment; Available for iOS
This awesome app provides you with High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) workouts that are at or under 20 minutes long. You can easily do the exercises in the gym, but it’s designed to be usable at home with any equipment you have (or don’t). You can also tailor it to your location (studio apartment, hotel room, gym) and the current weather. Text and video will ensure you’re performing each move properly.
Expert coaches design workouts for any fitness level, which you can increase in intensity as you get ripped. You even have the option to get help with coaches via chat or email. It’s a whole-body approach and tracks your reps and progress. It also takes the guesswork out of what to do next, suggesting ever-changing and expanding workouts so you don’t get bored or stagnate.
Cost: Free trial; $13 per month, $31 per quarter, $94 annually; Available for iOS and Android
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