The Top 5 Strength Training Apps

by Sarah Winfrey on 21 August 2013 2 comments

Strength training is a key part of any fitness regimen. If you're looking to lose weight, muscle burns more calories than fat, so having more of it means you'll burn more even when you're just sitting around. And even if you're happy with your current weight, having more muscle makes you healthier and helps your body function more efficiently. If the concept of strength training seems confusing for you, though, never fear. Let your smartphone teach you how to gain strength and help you track your progress toward your goals. (See also: 15 Ways to Exercise in Under 5 Minutes)

Looking to pump some serious iron? There's an app for that. Just wanting to do some overall toning? There's one for that, too. Read on to find out which apps I found to be the most helpful as you look to get stronger and healthier.

Best Lifting for Beginners: Stronglifts 5x5

Device: iOS

Cost: Free

This app guides beginning weightlifters according to the Stronglifts 5x5 program. The initial report is available for free online, although membership in the community costs. Basically, you perform five sets of five reps of the prescribed lifts each time. The app tells you which lifts to perform and what weight you're at for each lift and offers a timer for your rest periods. It also allows you to track your bodyweight as you progress through the program, so that you can see how you're progressing. And if you're ever in need of motivation, you can look back over all of your data to see how far you've come.

In addition to functionality, this app is pretty. Both layout and usability are intuitive, although it's a little tricky the first time you try to edit your workouts manually.

Best Bodyweight Workout: Gorilla Workout

Device: iOS and Android

Cost: $0.99

If you're looking to start a workout routine and you're OK doing your strength training via bodyweight exercises only, Gorilla Workout is a great option. It offers four different levels of difficulty, so you can use it no matter your current level of fitness. If you're not sure how to do a particular movement, you can see sparse but complete examples of what it should look like. All you need to do is pick a level, and then do what the app tells you to do. (See also: 20 Great Body Weight Exercises (and Why You Should Do Them))

This is a great app for developing overall fitness, including both cardio and strength training. However, it doesn't allow you to use different levels for different parts of your body. If, for instance, you're perfectly comfortable doing burpees but cannot yet do pistols, you cannot eliminate the more difficult (for you!) exercises from your list or choose an easier option until you're up to speed.

Best Comprehensive Fitness System: JEFIT

Device: iOS and Android

Cost: Free; Pro version is $4.99 on iOS, $2.99 on Android

JEFIT is another great all-around fitness app, although it includes more than just bodyweight exercises. If you like to use free weights or weight machines at the gym for your strength training, then this app may work better for you than Gorilla Workout. In addition, it offers robust ways to track your body and workout statistics, so you can see change over time. It also offers a rest timer, so you can maximize your time at the gym.

JEFIT is a customer favorite not only because of the varied exercise routines it offers, but because you can sync it with an online account accessible via the web. If you like to see your workouts or your stats on a larger screen, or want to interact with other users on the forum, this is a huge bonus. (See also: How to Stick to an Exercise Plan)

Best Beast Workout: British Military Fitness

Device: iOS

Cost: $4.99

If you subscribe to the adage "No Pain, No Gain," then this might be the strength training app for you. Simply tell the British Military Fitness app whether you're trying to improve muscle tone or get generally fitter, and it will make up a program specifically for you. It also offers a couple of fitness tests, which allow you to gauge your progress. Choose between a general fitness test or the "bleep" test, and see what you're capable of.

While the app claims that it isn't like boot camp and that it simply encourages you to exercise, some people simply don't find it motivating to be yelled at. If you follow the program, the app will give results, but you may not enjoy the time you spend with it. 

Best Lifting-Focused: Gym Buddy

Device: iOS

Cost: $2.99

Gym Buddy is a powerful app focused specifically on weightlifting in a gym setting. You can record nearly anything you want about the time you spend lifting, and you can always go back and edit. In return for your information, Gym Buddy can spit out all sorts of statistics. You can see how your one-rep max weights have changed over time, or track your workout volume for a particular lift over one month, three months, or the last year. (See also: 8 Legit Ways to Use the Gym for Free)

Gym Buddy doesn't offer examples of each lift, so it's targeted towards people who already know how to lift properly.

Which strength training and fitness apps have you found useful in your quest for better health and fitness?

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The description of "five reps of five different lifts each time you workout" used by the author to explain the Stong Lifts 5x5 program isn't quite right. 5x5 actually refers to the number of sets and reps that shoud performed for each lift — 5 sets of 5 reps (this does not include warmup sets). Furthermore, while the Strong Lifts program is composed of five different lifts total, each workout consists of only 3 of the 5.

Meg Favreau's picture

Thanks for the catch. We've updated the article.