There are a lot of fitness apps out there that promise to work seamlessly with the Apple Watch and improve your health. Not all of them make good on that promise. Some are unintuitive. Some are overly complicated. Some are too basic. Some are just too expensive for what you get. As with every type of app on the App Store, you have to sort through a lot of bad ones to find the good ones. This post is about one of the good ones that I have personally tried and used for years now – Fitbod.
Fitbod is a fitness app that is primarily geared towards strength-training with a little bit of cardio mixed in. The app works on both the iPhone and the Apple Watch, though you primarily interact with the iPhone to use it. There are plenty of apps out there that have a huge inventory of strength-training exercises for you to choose from in your workouts. Most of them also show you how to do the exercises, typically through video. Fitbod goes a step further and actually uses Artificial Intelligence (AI) to help you structure your daily workout and keeps track of your progress.
According to Fitbod, the app uses the following criteria to generate a unique workout plan for you each day.
a primary and recuperated muscle group
an exercise that most aligns with your fitness goals
exercises that satisfy a variety of personal preferences from strength-training style, gender, and experience, and also available equipment
a core-based exercise
a secondary exercise that represent the second-best option that satisfies the above listed criteria
additional exercises that target fresh muscle groups and support your overall fitness goals (it your workout duration permits it)
Personalizing the App
In order for Fitbod to best generate workouts for you, you need to do a little bit of upfront personalization. Most of this takes place in the “Your Gym” section of the app, which contains multiple different categories. The User Interface (UI) of the app is very clean and organized though, and it’s not cumbersome or complicated at all.
One of the most important personalizations that you need to complete in the app is telling it the types of equipment that are available to you (or that you want to use). The app will only pull exercises for your daily workout that use this exact equipment. This even includes things like resistance bands, if you’re someone that does primarily home-based workouts or you’re working on recovering from some sort of injury.
The app has an enormous catalogue of equipment, some of which you may not even recognize or know how to use. Let me reassure you. That’s perfectly fine. Don’t be imitated. Fitbod does an excellent job showing you how to use every piece of equipment that is listed. So, if it’s actually available to you, I recommend selecting it and not being afraid to branch out of your comfort zone. Variety is your friend here as it keeps things new and fresh. If you’re anything like I used to be, you probably stick to the same exercises over and over again, which eventually gets boring. We all know what happens at that point. You stop doing it and slowly strength-training goes out the window.
Next, you’ll want to make sure that you select the proper level of experience that you have with strength-training, as the app will take this into consideration when generating workouts. If you’re someone that’s never really gone beyond lifting a dumbbell occasionally or never branched out from basic machines, you may want to start with beginner. If you have experience with a variety of strength-training exercises and have some experience with more than just the basics, go with intermediate. If you’re a pro at all things strength-training and already incorporate it in most of your workouts, go with advanced. Keep in mind that you can always come back and change this later on. You’re not stuck with what you initially select.
After you’ve selected your experience level with strength-training, you’ll want to make a selection for your overall fitness goal. The app provides options for those that are looking to increase their strength, those looking to increase their muscle mass or size, those looking to tone their muscles and lose weight, those looking to learn exercises and try new gym equipment, those who want to practice powerlifting, and for those looking to practice olympic weightlifting. With all these options, every possible goal should be covered.
Lastly, you’ll want to tell Fitbod how long you want your workouts to last. This information impacts the number of exercises the app gives you in each workout, the weight used for the exercise, and the number of sets and reps. As with the other personalizations, you can come back and change this later on. You can actually even change it for a specific day and then change it back the next. There’s no negative effect from this, and I do it quite often. You can also just alter the workout that gets generated by deleting specific exercises or decreasing the number of sets or reps. It’s just easier to go ahead and set the duration for the amount of time you know you can actually set aside for your typical workout.
Using the App
Once you’ve personalized the app and start using it, there’s actually very little that you need to do other than just use the app. Just like almost every app these days, you can set the app to remind you when it’s time for your workout. I personally almost never use these. Truthfully, I am not sure why I haven’t turned them off still. Either way, they’re there if you want or like to use notifications.
As soon as you open the app, it will have a workout generated for you for the day based on the criteria listed in the beginning of this post. All you do is press “Start Workout” and follow the workout laid out for you. Frankly, this is one of the biggest benefits of the app. It takes all of the planning and thought out of the process, allowing you to just jump right in your workout. I suspect there is a small group of people out there that truly enjoys thinking through and planning out a plan, but most are probably like me and would rather not. Personally, this was one of the biggest barriers that kept me from consistently integrating strength-training into my workout routine.
The other huge benefit to the app is that it tracks your workouts and how much you’ve used each muscle. You can leave your paper journal at home (if you actually use one). Fitbod then uses this information to generate your next workout, making sure that you don’t over-train any particular muscle(s), and to populate the information on the Recovery page. The Recovery page gives you a color-coded and percentage-based summary of how much you’ve strained each muscle. It’s helpful to see the data this way, but you don’t really have to use it. As I said, the app factors all of this into your workouts on its own.
Right away, Fitbod removes two of the biggest barriers to those who want to incorporate strength-training in their workout routines: planning and tracking. Sure. It’s not as mindless as turning on Netflix and jumping on the treadmill, elliptical, or stationary bike. You still have to manually tell the app when you complete each set, and you do occasionally need to alter the weight amounts or the exercises generated. For example, sometimes the equipment that I need is out-of-order or just being used by someone else, and I don’t have time to wait for it. Other times, I decide to pick an alternative exercise that is more enjoyable for me. The app makes all of these changes extremely easy. It’s also very simple to rearrange the order of your workout. As you can see, the amount of time you spend manually interacting with the app is mostly up to you.
How much does it cost?
Fitbod operates on a subscription business model, and gives you two different payment options: monthly and annually. Keep an eye out though, as it’s not that uncommon to find a coupon or for sales to come up.
I waited to mention this until the end because I know most people are exhausted with subscription after subscription. After all, they can be costly and a good way to end up wasting a lot of money. Let me assure you. Fitbod doesn’t fall into this category. It offers great value in my opinion, and if you want to get more serious about strength-training and actually stick with it, Fitbod is a great option.