Freeletics App Review and Critique: 5 Issues and Alternative for Lifters

Freelectics looks great, but do its HIIT workouts deliver?

If you’re looking for an independent and critical review of the Freeletics workout app, you’ve come to the right place.

My name is Garett Reid and I have been in the fitness, strength, and conditioning industry for well over 10 years. Over that time, I have gained my Masters in Exercise Science and earned my NSCA, CSCS, and CISSN certifications.

I’ve also used a lot of apps and deleted a lot of apps. So, I believe I can give a good assessment of Freeletics not just on the tech side, but more importantly, the fitness side. Will this app deliver on what it promises or does it use gimmicks to sell? That’s what this review will be going over.

Why this review is different

If you search Google for reviews of Freeletics, you’ll find a ton that seem to be based on if people liked it, not if it was effective. This is important as there’s a difference between the two. This being so, the guys over at this blog reached out to me to see if I would be willing to do a review of Freeletics as well as compare it to their app.

So, I’ll give you:

  • The apps’ strengths and weaknesses in light of proven principles
  • 5 big issues I found with Freeletics
  • My professional opinion

Now full disclosure: I was paid to try both apps and give my thoughts. But I can confirm no one tried to influence my conclusions. This is honestly what I think of both apps.

In short, I found Freeletics to be flashy and slick. It looks great, and the interface is user-friendly. Yet it primarily uses random “programs” or high-intensity interval training (HIIT) sessions with seemingly zero guidance in progression. Basically, it offers little to no professional training advice. Later, we’ll compare that to Dr. Muscle which is heavily backed in real science and will serve as a personalized program with progression for extended use.

Let’s dive in.

In case you’re in a hurry, are the highlights of my review:

  • Freeletics is very clean and stylish. The interface is user-friendly.
  • It primary utilizes pre-made circuits and seemingly random high-intensity interval training (HIIT) style workouts. Those can work for people who are perfectly happy with doing random workouts but I do not see it being used long-term. This is because random workouts eventually limit progress and gains in muscle, strength, and overall fitness.
  • On TrustPilot, 8% of reviews were 1 star, with many people complaining their cards were set up for auto-renewal and charged without their knowledge.

In short, Freeletics is a very “pop-fitness” app but its substance is lacking. It also seems to have an issue with billing. An alternative is the Dr. Muscle workout app.

Dr. Muscle is for the trainee who is more serious about building muscle and strength. It creates plans specific for your needs and updates them as you train (I hate cliches but it’s like a personal trainer just cheaper).

Freeletics workout app: a brief review

Freeletics was founded in 2020 so it is relatively new on the fitness app scene. It claims to be an all inclusive app which can offer a variety of different programs based on your needs as well as giving nutritional coaching as well. For example, they provide programs and training styles it uses are body weight, dumbbells, and running.

They offer several different packages for Training & Nutrition:

  • 3 months/$34.99
  • 6 months/$62.99
  • 12 months/$80.99

I can’t say much about the nutrition as I did not check it out. There’s also training only: 1 Year/ $52.99.

5 big issues with Freeletics

Upon first looking at Freeletics, I was very optimistic with it’s potential use. However, after digging deeper, I began to notice several issues with it.

People complain they are charged without their knowledge

One issue which is cause for concern relates to some real reviewers complaining of being scammed with their automatic-renewal system. While you can always expect at least one review like this, when I looked at, I came across three within a three day time-frame. Further, I noticed that all of them complained that they were misled to believe there was a one-time payment for their plan but discovered their cards were actually set up for auto-renewal and charged without their knowledge. Then, after contacting Freeletics, they received no response. Upon clicking on only 1-star reviews, seemingly everyone had a similar complaint. Also, this consisted of 8% of the total reviews. While Freeletics does have a 4.6 review on Trustpilot, I felt that there were too many reviews in such a short time frame to ignore.

Too many options is not good beginners

Freeletics offers a large set of pre-programmed plans that they deliver after you complete some questions. While this may seem good, the problem is that they give the plans catchy names such as “Hybrid Strength”, “Aphrodite”, etc. Plus, you have to go through all of the flashy pages to get to your program. In my opinion, this is a problem as I can easily see a beginning trainee perform what we call “program hopping”. To clarify, “program hopping” refers to trainees switching programs too often which results on zero progress and is quite common.

As a coach, I have many different options that I can use. However, I don’t present all of these options to a new client and ask them what they want; that kid of defeats the point. Concerning the fancy names, it just comes off very gimmicky and I can see it being a distraction as a trainee will want to try them all.

They place too much emphasis on HIIT style training

HIIT is fine when used correctly used but it’s benefits have been greatly exaggerated, mainly for marketing. After looking at Freeletics, I noticed they followed this practice as HIIT is labeled everywhere. For example, even many of the “strength” workouts were really HIIT and circuits. Even though HIIT is great, it should primarily be used for cardiovascular fitness and not as a means to build muscle. While you may be able to build some, it’s definitely not the best way to do so. In summary, I felt it was gimmicky as they presented themselves as cutting edge but the plans were very basic.

I felt the whole app was very “pop fitness”

This is a term I use to describe fitness that is easy to sell to the masses. For example, many of the programs are labeled “Balanced Fat Burn”, “Calorie Burn”, “Fit For Life”. Again, this doesn’t necessarily mean they’re bad, but I find companies which use these terms are more into marketing then actually delivering results. In addition to the HIIT issue above, I started to see what their marketing strategy was.

Nothing really special with what they offer

A large percentage of the reviews have similar statements concerning Freeletics being similar to free Youtube videos. In the same vein of what I have already spoken about, this seems to be a running theme with HIIT based programs. During my years of training I have realized that HIIT workouts are more or less similar as they’re main focus is to raise VO2max. That is to say, programs will use different exercises to achieve elevated heart rates but the basic idea is to make you tired; for them, being tired equals a good workout

Why I believe Dr. Muscle is a better alternative to Freeletics

I have used the Dr. Muscle app and know the individuals credentials whom use it. Above all, I can verify that they are true fitness professionals whom use real scientific principles in their AI system to create programs and guide clients as they progress.

Dr. Muscle offers a true free trial

Most importantly, Dr. Muscle offers a completely free trial. Since no credit card is needed, there is need to cancel or get charged. To be clear, the free trial is 100% free with no obligation which is a rare find anywhere! Plus, it gives you total access to the entire app. As a result, it literally doesn’t hurt you to try Dr. Muscle as nothing will be asked of you and you get a legit program for two weeks. After that, you can then choose to buy a subscription or not. No harm no foul.

This is in contrast to some of the issues reported with Freeletics discussed above.

Dr. Muscle Delivers True Personalized Programs

Freeletics says it delivers a personalized program. However, they actually a pre-planned program that they think fits your needs. In comparison, Dr. Muscle delivers a truely personalized program after you answer a series of questions. Examples of information taken are:

  • Age, sex, & weight
  • Access to equipment
  • Goals
  • Specific body parts that you want to concentrate on

After going through these, Dr. Muscle delivers a program that is truly crafted for you and your needs. For example, I did an experiment and changed some of my information and Dr. Muscle delivered a completely new program.

While I was unable to do this with Freeletics, multiple reviewers reported that they delivered the same programs regardless of the trainees stats. Even still, as mentioned above, those were just pre-programmed workouts that were assigned based on your answers

Dr. Muscle Delivers delivers an easy to use database of exercises

This has been a common problem I have seen with apps which is they just list their exercises alphabetically. As a result, if a beginner were to use this, they would have no idea where to start. On the other hand, Dr. Muscle separates their exercises by body part. For instance, if you wanted to do a chest exercise but don’t know what to do, you can simply go to the list of chest exercises. Compare this with randomly going through 300 exercises to maybe find one.

Dr. Muscle uses what works with no fluff

This is a little pet peeve of mine but I hate when I see trainers or programs utilize movements which are too technical for the audience as a means to make them look like advanced coaches. It happens a lot. To clarify, when looking through Freeletics exercises, I saw a lot of advanced exercises (especially body weight exercises) which I can’t imagine anyone buying an app would need. While I don’t know their motive, having 300+ exercises to choose from isn’t all that great when your clients can’t do a good portion of them.

On the other hand, Dr. Muscle does have a large database of exercises but they tend to gravitate to the basics and what works. To clarify, Dr. Muscle focuses on your big compound movements which have consistently been found to be superior in building muscle and strength, especially beginners (Gentil et al. 2013)

Dr. Muscle is perfect for beginners and intermediate lifters

Due to it’s design, Dr. Muscle Can take a true beginner and run them through a legitimate program designed to increase muscle mass and improve strength. It focuses on using progressive overload in all of it’s programs which is the foundation of any effective program.

Dr. Muscle uses DUP for periodization

Still, Dr. Muscle utilizes a method of periodization known as daily undulating periodization or DUP. This basically means that your intensity and volume changes on a daily basis (or at least weekly) rather then blocks which can range anywhere from 4-16 weeks. To be clear, this is important as DUP has been found to elicit greater strength and hypertophy gains then traditional methods (Simao et al. 2012)

Dr. Muscle uses RPE to monitor intensity

It also uses a method to gauge intensity known as rate of perceived exertion, or RPE. This form has been found to be a very effective means for trainees to gauge their training and works to mitigate fatigue (Day et al. 2004) . Plus, as a coach, I have found it works well with beginners as they can “work into” weights and learn how their body functions under loads.

Dr. Muscle’s interface and use is easy

Relating to the fact Freeletics tries to do so much, their interface can be confusing. For example, while it does look nice and sleek, there seemed to be random workouts right next to each other with no explanation. Consequently, I found it a little annoying trying to go from my workout plan to look at different exercises, and then come back to the workout plan. Again, this confusion can also cause some beginners to come across “new” workouts they want to try.

In comparison, Dr. Muscle is smooth. As a result, you don’t even need to be that tech literate to understand how to navigate the app. Once you get in, it pretty much tells you what to do. Most importantly, Dr. Muscle does offer choices and links what not, but it’s very easy to navigate. I believe this is because Dr. Muscle knows exactly what it is and it’s creators understand the client. For example, it does allow the client to customize their plan but then it tells you what to do. Unlike Freeletics which still leaves other plans for the client to “try” even after they have started one which causes unneeded confusion.

Freeletics & Dr. Muscle side-by-side comparison (with screenshots)

Table 1—Side-by-side comparison of Freeletics and Dr. Muscle

Freeletics Dr. Muscle
Exercise Demos Yes Yes
Who is it designed for? Those who just want ideas for something to do. It mainly uses HIIT/Circuit style workouts which are less sepecific Those who are focused on building strength and increasing muscle mass but also need some guidance.
Set-up time To download is easy. However, to set it up specifically for you takes time as you need to use your card for to initiate a full preview Less than 5 minutes.

Simplistic goal specific design.

Program Design Confusing as there are multiple genres

All programs are pre-made but you do have option to build your own (with no guidance)

Even “personalized” programs are just pre-made programs that fit you best (even this is questionable)

AI designed by leading muscle building researchers creates a baseline program from your information including training experience. Monitors each exercise using your effort and ‘reps in reserve’ to adjust loads depending on actual performance.

Suggests adjustments and rest ‘de-loads’ based on your individual progress.

Home workouts available? Yes Yes

Gallery 1—Screenshots of Freeletics App

Gallery 2—Screenshots of Dr. Muscle App

Drawback: Dr. Muscle is for serious lifters (serious does not mean advanced)

To be clear, Dr. Muscle is for literally anyone who wants to train. Subsequently, beginners can easily jump on and get started right away. When I say “serious” I mean its for people who are really wanting to get improve their body composition and fitness levels through a periodized plan, not go do random workouts “to sweat”

This is definitely not a drawback (or at least is shouldn’t be), however, there are a lot of folks who just want something to tell them what to do once in a while. Consequently, you should only buy Dr. Muscle if you are really wanting to dedicate yourself to getting stronger, building muscle, and losing fat. However, for those who don’t, there are plenty of cheaper, less professional apps out there that will do the job. If that’s you then awesome, nothing wrong with that and I hope you succeed.

However, if you’re tired of wasting time and want a serious app for serious progress, Dr. Muscle is for you.

Verified reviews for Dr. Muscle

For more reviews and videos, check out customer feedback.

FAQ: Free trial, cancel anytime & more

How much does the Dr. Muscle workout app cost?
Learn more on the app’s free trial page.

Can I cancel anytime?
Yes, there is no contract so you can cancel whenever you want.

Is there a free trial?
Yes, Dr. Muscle comes with a 2-week free trial that gives you full access to all of it’s features

Review summary: Looks only go so far when it comes to getting in great shape

Dr. Muscle is a bit more expensive but it’s also quality. Again, it’s for those who people who are really wanting to change their lives and dedicate some time to following a professional program. As the saying goes; “You get what you pay for”. In this case, you’re paying a quality program designed by professionals and that’s exactly what you get.

When analyzing actual use, Dr. Muscle is easy to navigate. To clarify, setting up is straightforward and once you get started, there’s a lack of distractions so that you can stay focused. In summary, on gym day you log in and you’re off.

The last part I really like about Dr. Muscle is it’s educational component. For example, they have a list of different articles or links (I haven’t even had time to read them all) which goes into a more detailed explanation of a huge list of topics. Above all, I love education and it falls in line with my philosophy as a trainer as I believe a good coach teaches, they don’t just show.

My final take on Freeletics

To be fair, I started off on a bad foot with Freeeltics due to the issue with the card and reported cases of mishandling. All that being said, when I first got into Freeletics I thought it looked really nice. However, looks only go so far when it comes to practical training. For instance, I started to notice the abundance of “buzz” words and the general approach they seemed to apply to many of their programs. Even as a professional, I found myself getting off track wanting to look at all the programs with fancy names.

Further, Freeletics is clearly not designed with long-term progression in mind. It’s overuse of HIIT and circuit shows they are banking on using trends However, I did find one cool thing which is that if you do some of the HIIT style programs, a trainer on the screen does the same workout with you.

So as above, it may be interesting for someone who just needs something they can follow along with. However, Dr. Muscle is by far the better option when looking for a professional app that will deliver results.

On the fence? You can try Dr. Muscle for free. Read real user reviews. Or check out this in-depth review of the 5 best bodybuilding apps.

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