18 of the Best Health and Fitness Apps to Help You Get Stronger and Fitter
The best fitness apps are like having a PT in your pocket, always on hand to keep you on the straight and narrow (in health terms, at least) with fitness tips and nutrition advice. From humble beginnings, they have grown over the years to offer a cornucopia of live classes, longer-term programmes and much, much more, keeping you fighting fit whether you train at home, in the gym or on the go.
The conundrum lies in picking just one. Hop on to the app store and you’ll be met with thousands to choose from, and it’s hard to separate the wheat from the chaff. So, we’ve done it for you. You’re welcome.
Read on to find out the results of our MH Lab team’s tests, which aimed to uncover the best fitness apps for helping you subscribe to a healthier way of life.
What Do Fitness Apps Do?
Nowadays, the more prevalent question is: “What don’t fitness apps do?”.
Whether you’re after lung-busting live classes, nutrition tips, a 12-week plan to build strength and sizzle fat, or even an introduction to the wonderful world of yoga, there’s an app that can do just that.
However, while some apps like Peloton and Les Mills+ offer a one-stop shop for all things fitness, others opt to specialise in certain areas like mobility or, in the unique case of the TRX App, suspension training.
So, before pledging your allegiance to an app, always make sure it fits with your fitness ethos first.
Do Fitness Apps Work?
OK, so you’ll have to do a little more than hit download before your biceps start bulging. But, if you follow the advice of a top fitness app (and make sure you’re making appropriate nutritional choices) then it can help you leap towards your fitness goals.
If you’re looking to lose weight, intense classes can crush calories in a one-hour (or less) window, helping you hit a calorie deficit. Or, if you’re keen to pack on muscle, longer-term plans can help you take a practical and periodised approach to making gains.
Ultimately, though, you get out what you put in. So, all that’s left to do is find a quality app that suits your goals, lace up your trainers and trust the process.
Men’s Health Lab Approved
The Men’s Health Lab recruited a crack team of testers to put the top fitness apps to the test. Comprising all fitness levels and abilities, the panel was tasked with setting up an account and sampling what each app had to offer — from one-off workouts to longer-term plans to nutrition advice.
They provided no holds barred feedback on apps’ functionality, design and usability, with this data used to calculate an overall performance score. This was used to determine which fitness apps are worthy of your time, sweat and money, with top performers earning the coveted Men’s Health Lab Approved badge.
All other entries on this list have been hand-picked by our editors, who have experienced first-hand the physical (and mental) wellness benefits they can bring.
Best Fitness App: Peloton App
You don’t need to buy one of the brand’s signature bikes or treadmills to jump aboard the (warranted) Peloton hype train. This app comes loaded with workouts programmed for those with minimal or no kit, including strength, yoga and meditation sessions.
Despite the wealth of workout resources on offer, navigating the app was a cinch thanks to its easy-to-follow structure and efficient filtering system. Our panel loved the interactive elements too. Live classes, workout challenges and real-time interactions with other users added both motivation and competition, encouraging us to push harder than other solo home sessions.
A couple of our testers found the coaches a tad too enthusiastic at times, but most welcomed their helpful form cues and irrepressible cheerleading.
Best Fitness App for Motivation: FIIT
Get that Friday Night Lights feeling every time you work out with FIIT’s high octane approach to at-home fitness. Energetic instructors make the Duracell Bunny look positively sluggish, while the app’s disco-lit studio and pumping music give it a real “world’s fittest nightclub” feel. Essentially, if you like to work hard and play hard, this is the fitness app for you.
Our panel said the veritable and varied offering of classes — both live and pre-recorded — meant they couldn’t see themselves getting bored of FIIT any time soon, and there was something for all fitness levels. They also liked the workout plans, which can taper your training over several weeks to hit a specific goal.
Invest in the FIIT tracker (a chest-worn heart rate monitor) and you can track your workout stats too, including reps heart rate and estimated calorie burn.
Best Fitness App for Workout Plans: Beachbody On Demand
Yes, a one-off sweat-session can leave you feeling like a world-beater, but the key to hitting your fitness goals is consistency. That’s where Beachbody On Demand (and its expansive selection of workout plans) can come in handy, taking the guesswork out of getting in shape with regular scheduled sessions and customisable nutrition plans.
Our team said the app catered to all abilities and found the detailed descriptions of each workout plan helped them find a programme that was right for them. We really liked being able to connect the app to our smartwatches too, allowing us to track our health stats during sessions.
Best Fitness App for Busy Schedules: Sweat Factor
Work-life balance isn’t easy to come by at the best of times, and factoring sufficient sleep and a workout into the mix can be nigh-on impossible for many. That’s where Sweat Factor excels. You can filter classes by duration (from 5-45 minutes) making it easy to find a sweat session that fits your schedule.
The roster of coaches is impressive, from founder Mike Donavanik to top CrossFit athlete Joshua Al-chamaa, and there’s something for everyone to be found here — whatever space or kit you have available. The lack of in-app progress tracking is a miss for those committing to longer term goals. But for versatile and enjoyable classes, Sweat Factor is hard to beat.
Best Fitness App for Workout Classes: Les Mills+
To say Les Mills has been in the fitness game for a fair while is to say that prime Arnie’s chest was on the larger side. Founded in 1968, the Aussie brand has had plenty of time to fine-tune its approach to group fitness, and it shows.
Les Mills+ is a culmination of more than 50 years of work, providing a smorgasbord of classes and plans at your fingertips. Each of the 12 types of workout on offer has been given a unique Les Mills twist. For example, Bodycombat is a lung-busting martial arts-inspired practice, Bodybalance is a yoga-based class and the Les Mills Tone blends strength, cardio and core exercises as part of a cross training set-up.
The variety of workouts and plans on offer make them easy to integrate into your everyday routine, and there’s something to suit all lifters — whether you’re looking to get fit at home or recover from heavy powerlifting sessions at the gym. Our testers gave the instructors rave reviews too, saying they struck a perfect balance between being knowledgeable and encouraging (without ever hitting Peloton levels of intensity).
Best Fitness App for Yoga: Movement For Modern Life Yoga
Ok, be honest. When did you last switch up your training? Yes, those 3×12 push downs may be treating your tris all right, but variety is the spice of life after all. So, why not try something a bit different?
This feels like an opportune moment to introduce you to movement For Modern Life Yoga — your intro to yoga 101. Our panel said it opened their eyes to the far-reaching applications of the practice, with some sessions providing a soothing relief from their usual heavy lifting while others left their brow wet and their muscles sore. The app will suggest suitable sessions, and you can map your completed sessions on its calendar, which we liked.
The instructors are brilliant; experts in their field able to guide you to perfect posture. Our testers also found them eminently likeable, which is always a bonus.
Best Fitness App for Trying Something New: TRX Training Club
When gyms shut during lockdown, calisthenics and bodyweight training were lifesavers when we needed a kit-free pump. The TRX (Total Body Resistance) Training Club takes these methods one step further through suspension training, using handled straps that can be looped around a tree or other solid anchor point.
This introduces an element of instability into classic exercises like the push-up, upping the difficulty, and also allows you to do a whole host of new moves.
Our team found they needed more space and an anchor point to get started with the TRX Training Club, making it slightly less accessible than purely bodyweight apps. But, after overcoming that initial hurdle, they said it had something to suit all fitness levels, with a range of workout styles alongside both live and on-demand classes.
Best Fitness App for Tracking Your Progress: Freeletics
Attaining the body of a Greek god is no mean feat, but Freeletics’ Olympus-inspired benchmark workouts (named after the deities) are sure to leave your muscles feeling sore.
Panellists found the app’s straightforward layout meant it took next to no time to get to grips with, and they were quickly able to find workouts that matched the time and kit they had available. Some said the monochrome design and lack of follow-along sessions made it less approachable, but this is down to personal preference.
The “Coach” section is a highlight, providing workout plans to match your fitness goals (whether you’re looking to pack on slabs of muscle or turbocharge your endurance). It records your reps, times and scores on all workouts too, so you can see how you’ve progressed since you started with the app.
Best Fitness App for the Gym: Everyone On Demand
Everyone On Demand’s premise is simple: take a selection of top health content and cram it all into one easy-access platform. So, whether users want a workout plan, nutrition advice or wellness guidance, they can find the answer in the app.
Partners include Les Mills, personal training app Trion, mental fitness platform Mindshine and exercise bike experts The Ride by Keiser, giving gym-goers and cardio aficionados alike plenty to sink their teeth into.
The sheer amount of content available meant it took our team a while to figure out the app and find a session that suited them. But they appreciated the variety of workout options on offer, saying there were plenty to pick from whether they were in the gym or at home.
Best Fitness App for Rowing: Rowith
What Peloton did for your spin session, now Rowith can do for your dry-land rows. The app transforms your monotonous ergo training into inspiring full-body workouts, with audio-guided coaching and motivation from top Olympic rowers, such as James Cracknell and Steve Redgrave.
Choose from a deep pool of sessions that range from beginner to Boat Race hopeful, and follow training plans that adapt to your current level of fitness. All of your stats are logged, and you can challenge friends and strangers to make your time in the hot seat more competitive.
Best Fitness App for Reducing Waste: Olio
Every year in the UK, we bin roughly five million tonnes of perfectly edible food, placing a huge strain on the planet, not to mention your weekly grocery bill. Food-sharing app Olio reduces waste by linking people who overestimated their appetites (or bought a four-pack of avocados two days before their winter ski break) with those in search of extra ingredients. Simply snap a photo, set a safe location for collection and use the in-app ratings to filter trusted recipients.
Best Fitness App for Keeping Zen: Calm
We’ll assume that, by now, you’re fairly clued up on the benefits of meditation and mindfulness. But scheduling effective timeouts between meal prep, school runs, conference calls and workouts isn’t easy.
With more than 100 guided sessions for stress-busting, anxiety management and enhancing focus, Calm is your co-pilot to the land of chill, and it can also help you get to sleep. Specially selected bedtime tales narrated by the likes of Stephen Fry and Matthew McConaughey (really) will coax you into a higher state of unconsciousness.
Best Fitness App for Meal Prep: Nutrifix
Even for those who meal prep religiously on Sunday nights, the best-laid nutritional plans can fall apart when life gets busy. Whether you’re a pescatarian keen to fit more nutrients into your diet, gluten-free and cutting weight, or a vegan trying to pack on muscle mass, Nutrifix hunts and gathers the information you need. It starts by calculating your daily macros and scanning popular local eateries for meals that meet your requirements. Then, all you have to do is order a delivery, or click and collect. It’s a meal deal worth capitalising on.
Best Fitness App for Runners: Zwift
Another pioneer in remote training for riders and runners alike, Zwift transforms tedious turbo rides and treadmill slogs into challenging, social sweat sessions. Pair any Bluetooth-enabled static bike or a runner with the app and power your avatar around the virtual roads of six immersive environments, including a futuristic New York. There are more than 1,000 structured workouts to choose from, plus around 300 group rides or races each day – and you can even chat to strangers as you fly past them up the pixel mountains.
Best Fitness App for Commuter Hygiene: RunFriendly
Given the chance, most of us would convert the dead time of our commute into a daily workout. But having nowhere to freshen up before your morning meeting can put you off smashing out a sweaty commute, or squeezing in a lap of the park during your lunch break.
RunFriendly is a bit like Airbnb for showers. It uncovers local gyms, hotels and other places you can use to wash off the sweat on a one-off basis. As a bonus, your colleagues will never have to see you in Lycra, either.
Best Fitness App for Classes: ClassPass
Committing yourself to a single gym membership, fixed to just one club and location, feels… well, a bit 2019. Make this the year you untether your fitness goals. ClassPass allows you to book workouts in 20,000 venues around the world. A flexible monthly fee unlocks gym access, passes to group fitness classes from CrossFit to cardio, and even recovery treatments such as cryotherapy. You can search easily by location and activity and, when you can’t travel, you can stream classes.
Best Fitness App for Reading: Blinkist
Until we can upload information directly into our brains, we’ll have to make do with reading. But with so many new books being hyped and limited time to look into them, many life-changing ideas will inevitably pass you by. Blinkist’s app abridges the gap. Its experts distil the main concepts of best-selling non-fiction books into bite-sized text and audio files, so you can get the elevator pitch for the latest in fields such as leadership, health and nutrition. Consider it a York Notes for self-improvement.
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