The Sad Truth about the Best Workout Apps—Brutal Review

Opinion: The most popular workout apps are about as different as the burgers of McDonald’s, Burger King, and Wendy’s

Here’s what you need to know:

Imagine you enter a 1-million dollar contest. To win, you have to get in better shape than the other contestants.

To help you win, you’re only allowed to pick a workout app. How would you choose it?

  • Would you go with the apps made by big brands? They must have some knowledge of exercise, right?
  • Would you choose the most downloaded one? Everybody can’t be wrong, no?
  • Would you use something a celebrity or an athlete endorsed?

Is there a better option out there?

Let’s start by looking at the list of top downloaded apps.

Most popular workout apps by download

One thing that is the most misleading when it comes to choosing an app for workouts is the amount of downloads and good reviews. The only thing it means is that the owners of the app spent a lot of money in advertising and that the user are somewhat happy with the improvement in their lives.

These are the most downloaded workout and fitness apps based on their download stats. After a quick overview they are all doing the same. Either they will put you in a fitness class with a virtual coach or give you a mix of exercises, fitness routines and workouts programs. They will track your body weight and make a graph to show you the results. Nothing more, nothing less. If you are looking for the best workout app, the nothing more part here is where it goes wrong…

Here is the list of the most downloaded workout/fitness apps:

Nike Training Club

How they describe their own app:

The Nike Training Club app will make your fitness habits stick with quicker options, goal-setting tools, and new content daily.

What it is really:

High budget Branded Workout generator. Lots of information, classes.

What is it good for:

It’s intuitive user interface and classes. They are getting a lot of bad review from the last update that say workouts are not available anymore, only classes. A great exemple of developer following data for the business part and not to help their clients

My fitness pal

How they describe their own app:

My fitness pal Is one of the best weight loss apps and fitness apps, helping nearly 1 million members reach their nutrition and fitness goals every year. 

What it is really:

More a Diet tracker. They have some exercise and workout but it’s not the main focus of the app. Invites you to join a community.

What is it good for:

It’s good to track your diet and your body measurement. There is some fitness program and it feels like a complete solution but there is nothing behind the workouts they provide


How they describe their own app:

Access high-energy workouts, instantly. Discover Peloton: streaming fitness classes to you live and on-demand.

What it is really:

Bicycle group workouts. Cardio. Replaces going to a spinning class at the gym or outside with a group.

What is it good for:

If you are trying to lose weight and think group cardio on a bike is the way to go, you will like Peloton. It looks perfect for experienced cyclist looking for a virtual group experience

Gym workout planner

How they describe their own app:

Create a personalized meal and workout planner based on daily activity and eating habits

What it is really:

A generic workout creator 1 fit all with a meal plan

What is it good for:

To lose weight and follow a diet. Keeps you active and maintain your shape if it’s already good.

Workouts For Men & Home

How they describe their own app:

Build muscle, lose fat and Stay motivated! – Hundreds of gym & home workouts. – Clear instructions and videos for all exercises

What it is really:

Another generic workout creator with a focus on exercises instructions

What is it good for:

For people who want to learn movements

Workout Planner Muscle booster

How they describe their own app:

You can start a workout wherever you are at that moment. MuscleBooster workouts will take you only 30-50 minutes, and you get better, stronger, faster, harder.

What it is really:

Diet planner + AI generated workout but no info on what they based their algorithm to create workout

What is it good for:

Seems like a good complete solution to have a great shape. If Dr Muscle didn’t exist it would be my choice.

7 Home Workout – No Equipement

How they describe their own app:

Home Workouts provides daily workout routines for all your main muscle groups. In just a few minutes a day, you can build muscles and keep fitness at home …

What it is really:

Best free option, advanced users uncovers workout mistakes in reviews Cheapest way to workout

What is it good for:

The best app to choose if you want to workout for free and save on a gym membership. The free version of this app goes further than any other

LADDER Strength Trainning

How they describe their own app:

Ladder is built for strength training and specifically for busy people who are already motivated to workout.

What it is really:

In ear coaching, Human coach created workouts

What is it good for:

If you are looking for a crossfit like experience

Fitness Coach and Diet—Fitcoach

How they describe their own app:

HOME-BASED FITNESS WORKOUTS … FitCoach is a source of simple home-based workouts that will not take too much of your time.

What it is really:

Simple home-based video workouts with diet plan.

What is it good for:

Women trying to get back in shape.


How they describe their own app:

The HitFit app offers a wide range of professionally developed workouts to help you achieve and maintain all your fitness goals

What it is really:

Home workout & tracker for women

The hard-to-swallow truth about these apps

As you can see with our quick overview, if you browsed the app store and read a few articles already, it’s pretty hard to make the difference between the apps. You can separate them by type of workouts but that’s it. The reason for this is that they are all the same with some having unique features. The vast majority of apps developpers spend most of their budget creating an attractive user interface so that the money they spend on ads attracts more new users. They will use a more or less known trainer to endorse the app and will simply organize exercises and workouts in a way it’s easy for the user to navigate.

A great user experience is what is giving them good reviews but i’m pretty sure if we could dig deeper into the real data it wouldn’t be pretty. How many users quit after how long? How many got injuried? What are the performance reports? And on and on. Obviously people who are just starting or never worked out seriously will feel an improvement from what they were doing when they use the app and give it a good review. The wolf pack effect crossfit gyms are exploiting to fill their gym can also be found in many apps. It is very motivating and great way for them to get viral.

Wether they are live classes with an instructor or an app that offers a variety of workouts if you take a subscription, the hard truth is that other than price and user interface they all give you the same thing; a generic workout that does not use the right data to create a workout adapted to what your body need in that particular moment.

Different results training with a live trainer, a training app, an artificial intelligence virtual coach or randomly by yourself

There are pros and cons to working with a live trainer, training app, or an AI virtual coach. It really depends on your goals, experience and preferences as to which method will work best for you.

Live trainers are obsolete

Working with a live trainer can be good if you are just starting because they can give you immediate feedback and help you stay motivated. They will manage your workout routine and will share many different workout programs with you. However, it is the most expensive option, it’s time-consuming and you are limited to the knowledge and moods of the person you hired. With all available options and knowledge today, unless you need someone to push you and motivate you, a live trainer is probably your worst option.

Most workout apps are as useful as a pen and paper

Workout apps can be more affordable and convenient than working with a live trainer. However, you will not get the same level of personalization or support. You also won’t have the same level of accountability. There is so many apps on the market that it’s really hard to choose the right one. The limiting factor here is you. Your knowledge of exercise science, assessing your desires, organizing everything together, choosing the right app and then do the right workouts on the app. Are you going to choose a free workout app, enter a group fitness class, workout from the comfort of your home or with gym equipment? Free app or paid training plan? Most workout apps won’t help you more than if you had written a workout you found somewhere on a piece of paper and track your progress on a paper. They are pretty but mostly dumb.

Artificial intelligence is the future of physical conditioning.

If you are serious about becoming healthier and building agood shape, it is worth it to invest in something that is proven to work.

An AI virtual coach can provide you with customized workouts and progress tracking. When developed properly artificial intelligence will never make mistakes, never have a bad day, judge you or see you as a cash cow.

Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide which method of training is best for you. If you’re not sure, try out different methods and see what works best for you.

Why choosing a workout plan based on scientific review is better than based on users review or screenshot

When it comes to choosing a program, it is better to base your decision on scientific reviews rather than opinion reviews. This is because scientific reviews are based on research and data, while opinion reviews are based on personal experience and preferences. Scientific reviews can help you make an informed decision about which program is right for you, while opinion reviews can only give you a general idea of what others think.

The best scientific reviews use data from multiple clinical trials to produce an evidence-based rating for each weight loss or mass gain program. This means that you can be sure that the information is accurate and unbiased, as it’s based on solid scientific evidence. Scientific reviews are often quite technical in nature, so if you’re not very scientifically minded, they might not be accessible for you and you might not be able to understand them. Wouldn’t it be perfect to have an app that uses 1000s of scientific research results and applies it to your to create a workout?

I don’t want to learn the ins, the outs, and the secrets of exercise science, I just want to follow a plan I can trust in an app easy to use

Unless you have a degree in exercise science choosing the best workout is like playing lottery. Most beginners can’t make the difference between Cardio, hiit and strength training and their different outcomes. Should you stick to the same or do different workouts? Even if you are curious and dig into the rabbit hole you won’t ever achieve the same results as if you had someone who read 100s of researches that revealed data on 10 000s of persons from beginners to top athletes. Most personal trainers don’t have that knowledge and unfortunately, workout and fitness apps do not apply that knowledge to what they sell their users, to be profitable they focus on user acquisition rather than the product itself

The best workout app according to science that everyone wished they tried first

There is one app out there that was developed with the intention to provide the very best possible workout for every session for it’s users.

Top exercise science researchers says that Rate of Perceived Exertion and Daily Undulating Periodization are the most effective way to improve human physical condition.

RPE is a way to measure workout intensity by using your own perception of fatigue, heart rate measurment and increased rate of breathing.

DUP is a technique which recalculate the amount of repetition and weight of exercises every session. The goal is to optimize fatigue and allow continual growth.

In other words, you program will be perfectly adjusted to your body reaction for every single workout. Unless you know exactly how to integrate these parameters in your workouts yourself you won’t progress as fast as you could do using Dr Muscle.