Do Fitness Apps Work?

July 31, 2022
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Fitness apps are big business, and there are lots to choose from. But do they actually work?

Fitness apps are big business, and there are plenty to choose from… but do they actually work?

Spoiler alert – yes! But also… no.

I’ve tried a lot of different fitness apps over the years, some of which provided better results than others, but fundamentally they’re all quite similar in how they work and what they offer.

Now I should probably start by saying that most training programs work, whether this is delivered on a fitness app, or it’s something that you follow with just a simple spreadsheet.

There will be lots of discussion around which training plans are the most optimal for your specific goal, but the biggest determination as to whether that plan will be successful, is your long-term adherence to that plan.

For example: If someone gave you the most optimal training plan in the world, but it was extremely complicated and difficult to follow, you didn’t enjoy it, and it really didn’t fit into your lifestyle… then the chances of you sticking to it long term would be pretty slim. So the results you got from that plan would likely be pretty poor.

Conversely, if you had a plan that maybe wasn’t quite as optimal, but it was easy to follow, it was fun, and fit around your lifestyle really easily, well you’d be far more likely to stick to that plan long-term. As such, even though the plan might not be as good, you would get far better results.

The last Fitness app I used was the Centr App by Chris Hemsworth, and I did the Advanced Power Program for 10 weeks which was supposed to be based on the workouts he did to prepare to play Thor. Now if you derive some inspiration from that which means you stick to that program more closely and for longer than any other program, then this can make a big difference to the results you achieve.

So to talk about the good things about fitness apps, I’ve achieved good results using almost all of them. Where they really seem to shine, is short term improvements in fitness or fat loss over a 6 – 12 week duration.

Now to caveat this, I’ve been training for a long time, and I know how to get the most out of each workout and I know how to measure and track my progression. The guidance for this within the apps is normally quite lacking, so for absolute beginners they might not get the same level of results.

When it comes to longer term goals such as building muscle, this is where I feel the apps are pretty weak. To reference the Centr app again for example, at the end of the 10 week program, it’s really not clear what you do next. Do you repeat the program? Do you do something else? There isn’t like a 12-18 month plan, which is really the type of duration you should be looking at if you’re wanting to build your physique.

There are apps that do seem to have an indefinite duration, such as Freeletics Gym. My issues with that app were that I didn’t really enjoy the structure of the plan, so I’m not going to stick to it long-term, and it felt very linear in its expectations of how your strength should improve each week. But this is going to be a coding limitation of any app until we have more sophisticated AI!

So to summarise, I think most fitness apps are a useful tool to help achieve a short term goal like weight loss or improving fitness, but they’re currently not great for longer term goals like building muscle.

If you’ve used or you’re using a fitness app at the moment, let me know what you think of it and if you’re happy with the results.

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