You already take your smartphone with you everywhere—you might as well use it to power your workout routine and glean precious data from your bike ride. This is the year you stick to your fitness routine for good. And with smartphone computers and sensors getting better and better, health and fitness apps have finally turned the corner from clunky to crucial.
There’s only one problem: How the hell is a prospective gym-rat-in-training supposed to choose from the myriad apps floating around online? (Hell, there are at least half a dozen apps promising a 7-Minute Workout, let alone ab workouts.)
So we combed through rankings, user feedback, and reviews to find a fitness app for every guy—whether you want a full suite of detailed full-gym workout generators, a quick bodyweight shakedown, or a music app that will match rhythm with your footsteps. We also broke them down by category: comprehensive trainers, which offer a full suite of exercises for various goals; quick-hit apps, which focus on shorter workouts for maximum impact; "get out of the gym" apps, for runners and cyclists who hit the dusty trail; "just get off the couch" apps, designed to help people go from zero to, well, okay; "de-stressing" apps, designed to help your mind recover; and music apps, which are designed with your workouts in mind.
A note about methodology: When ranking these apps, we took into account a 2015 study from health researchers at the University of Florida, which compared free (and only free) fitness apps against exercise recommendations from the American College of Sports Medicine. We also considered the ARC health and fitness app rankings from Applause, an app analytics company that crawls ratings and reviews in the App Store. We skipped over apps designed to pair with fitness trackers, since they’re dependent on hardware besides a smartphone. (The FitBit app, though great for FitBit users, won’t do much good for a Jawbone user, for example.) When looking at music apps, we stuck to fitness-focused apps, although popular streaming services like Spotify and Pandora also have countless workout playlists.
Best Comprehensive Trainers: The (New and Improved) 21-Day Shred
Veteran gym rats and newbie lifters alike can all take advantage of our newly updated 21-Day Shred app. Outfitted with a more intuitive interface and a revamped user experience, the 21-Day Shred combines three weeks’ worth of progressively tougher workouts designed to burn fat and get your muscles to pop. Unlike other fitness apps that randomly generate routines, the 21-Day Shred explains the field-tested rationale for each workout plan—and backs it up with a comprehensive diet routine to make sure you’re eating the right fuel for the body you want.