Whether you're working off those extra pounds ahead of the holidays or you're interested in building a more active lifestyle, your smartphone makes an excellent workout companion — and not just for playing music to accompany your exercise. Check out some of the best workout apps, which include everything from step-by-step instructions (just like an expensive trainer) to exercise data tracking that syncs with the health-monitoring apps on your phone. No matter what your workout routine involves — strength training, yoga, running or some other form of fitness —you'll find a great workout partner here to help you meet your exercise goals.
PEAR Personal Fitness Coach (Android, iOS: Free)
The PEAR Personal Fitness Coach apps (Android, iOS) is all about eyes-free, hands-free audio coaching, providing users with a rich array of guided workouts for a variety of fitness levels and intensities that adapt based on your performance. You can check out a wide array of workout packages and coaches, and the app plays well with a variety of fitness trackers and devices, allowing you to keep track of your performance and share metrics with other fitness apps. PEAR has a free tier with a limited selection of workouts, but to really get the most out of the app, you'll want the premium subscription ($5.99 per month), which gives you unlimited access to the workout library and extra features.
Map My Fitness (Android, iOS: Free)
Under Armour’s Map My Fitness (Android, iOS) logs more than 600 different fitness activities and syncs with more than 400 devices to give users a complete picture of their athletic performance. Users can search for nearby running routes or share their favorite routes. Map My Fitness saves data on pace, distance, and calories burned for GPS-based workouts; you can use this data to set new personal goals. Through the Map My Fitness community, users can join challenges as well as motivate friends. The latest versions of May My Fitness are compatible with both Android Wear devices and Apple Watch. Premium versions of the app offer personalized training programs and the ability to monitor heart rate zones.
Fitbit Coach (Android, iOS: $39.99/year)
If you've invested in a Fitbit tracker, then adding Fitbit Coach (Android, iOS) to your smartphone may help you get even more out of your wearable. Fitbit Coach uses the daily activity logged by your fitness tracker to recommend workouts and activities. These are dynamic workouts that adjust not only to what you've done, but your fitness goals and feedback. (Tell the app the workout was pretty easy, for example, and you can expect a bigger challenge next time.) The good news is that Fitbit Coach offers hundreds of routines so there's bound to be a workout in there for you. You will have to pay for the privilege, as Fitbit Coach requires a subscription — either $7.99 a month or $39.99 annually.
Workout Trainer (Android, iOS: Free)
Skimble's Workout Trainer (Android, iOS) offers users thousands of free workouts complete with timed step-by-step audio and video instructions to help you get into shape. Whether you want six-pack abs or are simply aiming improve your conditioning for that next race, Workout Trainer has a routine just for you. In addition to the built-in workouts, users can access the app's library to build their own custom routines and share them online, as well as try out routines shared by the community. A premium subscription unlocks more features such as HD workout videos, more exercise routines, as well as removing ads.
Nike Training Club
Nike Training Club (Android, iOS) takes the freemium app approach, offering a vast workout library with exercises aimed at body parts or fitness objectives and with workouts stretching from 15 to 45 minutes and varying intensities. Guided workout collections let you focus on your fitness objectives, with workouts available for full or light equipment or bodyweight-only courses. Personalized recommendations are based on your workout choices, as recommended exercises spring out of your activity. A premium tier offers guided 4-6 week programs, nutrition and wellness guidance, and new workout formats for users looking for more ways to get fit.
FitOn (Android, iOS: Free)
FitOn (Android, iOS) aims to be a Netflix-style service for exercise videos, offering a vast array of video exercise classes, with varying training techniques and objectives. Workouts featuring pilates, HIIT, or dance, and classes designed for different workout targets and timeframes pepper the app. FitOn’s video workouts come with full voice and video instructions, and allow you to turn your smartphone, tablet or laptop into a portable exercise guide, with classes facilitated by celebrity trainers like Cassey Ho of Blogilates and Katie Dunlop of Love Sweat Fitness. Originally a premium subscription service, FitOn went completely free earlier this year, opening up its entire library of exercises to every user.
The Be.Come Project (Android, iOS: $35/month)
The Be.come Project (Android, iOS) mixes up the usual formula when it comes to exercise apps, taking a more boutique fitness approach that aims to be less judgmental and more body neutral. Each week, coach Bethany Meyers delivers a new guided workout that blends elements of techniques like yoga, pilates and dance over a 25-minute session, from warmup to cooldown. Rather than a smorgasbord, the app only delivers this one workout routine each week, encouraging you to repeat it to perfection until a new routine drops every Monday. The Be.come Project’s accessible, low-pressure style helps it stand out from the pack, but it is noticeably pricier than many of the other premium subscriptions in the list.
JEFIT (Android, iOS: Free)
JEFIT.com's apps (Android, iOS) serve as an incredible resource for users looking to do strength training and bodybuilding. Loaded with an exercise database of thousands of routines sorted by targeted body part, the app comes complete with detailed instructions, a workout planner, exercise log, progress tracker, numerous timers and options and synchronization with your JEFIT profile. The free version is ad-supported, while a pro version offers more features and removes advertising.
Aaptiv (Android, iOS: $9.99 / £8.99 per month)
Aaptiv (Android, iOS) provides trainer-led audio workouts for a variety of workout styles and goals, complete with accompanying music playlists. Users can select from more than 2500 workouts in hundreds of fitness classes, whether for running, cycling, high intensity interval training, 5k, or marathon training, with training routines streamed or downloaded to your phone for offline use. Workouts can be configured for distance, duration, intensity, and calories burned.
Daily Burn (Android, iOS: $14.99/£14.99/AU$14.99 per month)
Daily Burn (Android, iOS) channels the energy of group workouts by offering live daily workouts that you can stream and work out to. The app provides beginner-friendly full body workouts, with live chats and special guests. Even if you miss the time for the day's live workout, you can still stream it on demand, along with a wide variety of more specialized workout courses such as yoga, high-intensity cardio, and strength training. You can even listen along with audio workouts — guided courses with a trainer and music that you can take anywhere. Basic membership at $14.95 / £14.95 per month gives you access to the daily workouts and the workout library, while a Premium tier ($26.95 per month) adds an expanded "Best of 365" library of the daily workouts.
Kineticoach (iOS: $9.99 monthly)
Kineticoach is designed to help travelers and frequent fliers to always stay fit and in top condition, offering customized workout plans tweaked to fit the limitations of your hotel gym, as well as your available time, fitness goals, and level of fitness and experience. The app builds your routine from a rich library of 1,000-plus workouts; many come with GIF and video instructions as well as built-in timers.
ASICS Studio (iOS: 14-day Free Trial)
From the same team behind Runkeeper comes ASICS Studio, which gives subscribers access to unlimited guided audio workouts. ASICS Studio can help you meet a variety of fitness goals, such as strength training or cardio, with workouts led by professional trainers and accompanied by motivational music. Videos and photos provide exercise tutorials, while timers and audio prompts make it easy to follow along with the pace of the workout. You can download workouts for offline use, and ASICS Studio integrates with the Health app allowing you to store your fitness data in one place. The app comes with a free 14-day trial, after which you'll need to subscribe for access to the workouts.
Couch to 5K (Android, iOS: $2.99/£2.99/AU$4.49)
Active.com's Couch-to-5K (Android, iOS) is designed to gently ease couch potatoes and casual runners and joggers into running 5K courses over time. Users get a training course of 20 to 30 minutes, three times a week over nine weeks, to build up their stamina from wheezing wreck to race-winner. You can choose from four virtual coaches, complete with accompanying audio cues to help motivate you on the run, with automatic or manual logging for easily keeping track of your progress.
Freeletics (Android, iOS: Free)
Freeletics (Android, iOS) provides you with hundreds of workout routines covering a variety of muscle groups and fitness levels, all designed to use only your body weight as your exercise equipment. Audio and video guides provide step-by-step sequences for your workouts. Premium subscribers get access to further training plans, performance analysis, workout goals, and a "2x2" training mode that requires only a tiny amount of workout space.
Yoga Studio (Android, iOS: $3.99/£1.79/AU$2.99)
Gaiam’s Yoga Studio (Android, iOS) includes a library of more than 70 yoga and meditation classes that range from 10 to 60 minutes. These classes address strength, flexibility, relaxation, balance, or a combination of all four, and the app lets you filter based on duration, focus, and ability level. More advanced Yoga Studio users can create their own classes from the app’s library of nearly 300 poses as well as 20 pose blocks. Users can download videos and play them later, without an Internet connection, while class instructors can sync Yoga Studio to a television using Chromecast, Apple TV or AirPlay.
Seven (Android, iOS: Free)
There are lots of seven-minute workout apps available through both Google Play and the iOS App Store, but one of our favorites is Seven by Perigee (Android, iOS). This app challenges you to workout 7 minutes a day for seven months, with a tracker screen to monitor your progress. Stick with the program and you can earn achievements that unlock new activities. You can turn to friends through the app for encouragement or a little friendly competition. If you're not sure about this whole business of working out, Seven's 3D guides can help you get comfortable with each exercise. And if you're looking for something more, the subscription-based 7 Club ($9.99 per month or $79.99 per year) delivers personalized workout plans and access to all workouts.
Johnson & Johnson Official 7 Minute Workout App (Android, iOS: Free)
Another 7-minute workout app that's sure to be appreciated by beginners and veterans alike is the Johnson & Johnson Official 7 Minute Workout App (Android, iOS). The app guides users through the original 7-minute workout, as well as more advanced routines of varying duration and intensity, complete with short videos. A Smart Workout feature can function as your personal trainer. We also like that users can create their own custom workout routines.
Keelo (iOS: Free)
Keelo focuses on high intensity interval training (HIIT) for short, incredibly intense workouts that won't burn up your time but will burn up those calories. Keelo's exercises run the gamut from bodyweight-only drills to basic gym weights and equipment, and are scalable for beginners or experts. Regardless of which specific workout you've got scheduled, it'll only take 7 to 20 minutes. Video instructions keep things clear and simple, and Apple Health integration lets you share data with other fitness apps. A premium subscription provides extra features such as unlocking all workout plans, warmups, cool downs, and chat coaching, starting at $12.99 per month.
Sworkit (Android, iOS: Free)
Stop procrastinating and Sworkit, an abbreviation for Simply Work It. Rather than focus on set exercise routines, Sworkit (Android, iOS) has users create targeted workout routines. Select whether you want to build strength, do yoga, practice cardio, stretch, pilates or build a custom routine, as well as a duration of your workout, and Sworkit builds you a routine of randomized exercises that fit your exercise goals. Each workout is different, making sure that you stay alert and are never bored. A premium version unlocks more features such as exercise variations, a workout history and the ability to save custom workouts for a fully customizable experience.
Pocket Yoga (Android, iOS: $2.99 / £2.51)
You can now carry around your own Yoga studio with Pocket Yoga (Android, iOS), an exercise app that lets you practice the ancient art of stretching and breathing at your own pace and time. Pocket Yoga comes with detailed voice and video instructions for hundreds of different poses, complete with writeups on each one's proper execution and health benefits. Users can choose between three practices and three durations. Then the app logs your exercises and progress for future reference.
Strava Running & Cycling (Android, iOS: Free)
In addition to being a top-notch running and cycling tracker, Strava Running and Cycling (Android, iOS) adds some pretty neat competitive and gamified features to the usual run-tracking recipe. The app records your running speed, distance traveled, time and course taken, but also combines it with leaderboards, achievements and challenges. Strava supports a variety of running trackers, in addition to Android Wear and Apple Watch. A premium subscription improves on the formula with filtered leaderboards, the ability to create exercise goals and view more detailed analytics and more.
FitRadio (Android, iOS: $3.99 per month)
The right music can be a powerful motivator to an energetic workout, and Fit Radio (Android, iOS) delivers a wide variety of exercise-oriented music mixes, audio-coached workouts, and running playlists designed to help set and keep your pace throughout. Users can set their target heart rate and choose from a number of audio-coached workouts or go freestyle with a number of activity-oriented or genre based playlists. Users also can set intervals, track their distance run, and save and share their favorite playlists and DJs.
Tone It Up (Android, iOS: $12.99/Month)
Tone It Up (Android, iOS) is a fitness app marketed for women, offering a range of workouts from different disciplines, including HIIT, yoga, and kickboxing — all ideal for home workouts and fitness routines. Users get a daily array of workouts, as well as access to hundreds of routines that you can stream on demand, designed for a variety of fitness objectives. Each class is led by a fitness trainer who can show you the proper form and help keep you going with inspiration. The app also provides daily inspiration and reminders to make sure that you get your exercise.
Seconds Pro (Android, iOS: $4.99 / £4.99)
Runloop’s Seconds Pro (Android, iOS) helps athletes keep time during interval training workouts. The app offers templates for Tabat`a, circuit training, and HIIT, along with the ability to customize and combine timers. Once a workout begins, Seconds Pro will display the current interval and the next interval; text-to-speech capabilities will announce what’s next. Users can customize music playlists and alerts to match the mood of the workout. Seconds Pro connects to heart rate monitors using Bluetooth. iOS users can use AirPlay Mirroring to display timers on a big screen — a handy feature for class instructors.
StrongLifts 5x5 (Android, iOS: Free)
Based on the strength training program of the same name, StrongLifts 5x5 (Android, iOS) stands for five sets of five reps of five free-weight exercises — squat, bench press, deadlift, overhead press, and barbell row — done in three 45-minute workouts per week. The app tells you which exercises to do in each workout, complete with video tutorials, and how long to rest in between sets. As you log your reps, StrongLifts 5x5 graphs your progress in a weekly or monthly view. The Power Pack upgrade unlocks additional arm, ab, and calf exercises; the upgrade also syncs with Apple Health and Google Fit.