The best fitness apps we’ve used – get in shape in just 20 minutes a day

The best fitness apps we’ve used – get in shape in just 20 minutes a day

With our busy schedules these days, it’s hard to find the time (or energy) to stay in shape. Either we’re working constantly, or we’re buried up to our necks in social obligations, and we’re not exactly chomping at the bits to set aside huge swaths of our schedules to working out every week. Luckily the best fitness apps can help you stay in shape – and the best part is that you don’t need to have hours free every single day to do it.

Now that winter is literally right around the corner, and the warm summer weather is now just a pleasant memory, everyone is going to be spending a lot more time inside. This means it is more important than ever to stay active, especially with those deliciously high-calorie holiday meals coming. The best fitness apps are ready for this winter demand, supplying you with fast High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) exercises that will make you sweat without making you late.

The three aspects that all the best fitness apps will aim to include are affordability, convenience and sports science. And when you combine these with some awesome running gadgets, you can make expensive personal trainers and gym memberships a thing of the past.

However, there are hundreds of different fitness apps out on the market, and it’s definitely challenging to find the best one for your needs. But, you can save your energy for those HIIT workouts, because we’ve found all the best fitness apps that you can download for whatever mobile device you carry. 

1. Nike+ Training Club 

Free: iOS, Android

Nike, with this extremely comprehensive and aesthetically pleasing app, boasts 100+ workouts varying from endurance, mobility and strength with a host of both swift, 15 minute workouts and longer endurance sessions, so you can constantly change up your workout.

AirPlay and AppleTV support (along with Chromecast mirroring) will display the instructions on a larger screen or speaker system, and it even features a lot of famous athletes (including Rory McIlroy, Ellie Goulding and Serena Williams) busting a sweat with you as ‘motivation’.

An added bonus exists if you use the Nike+ Run Club app, as all your jogging efforts will be automatically synchronised to your Nike profile too, giving a complete picture of your fitness.

2. Freeletics

Free (Coaching from £2.28 ($2.69 / around AU$4) per week): iOS, Android 

Freeletics offers a host of workouts that are all centered around high intensity interval training, or HIIT. This platform revolves around four free platforms – Gym, Bodyweight Workouts and Training, Nutrition and Running.

You’ll use bodyweight moves such as sprawls, jump squats, pull-ups, jump squats, burpees and sprints that you must finish as quickly as possible, weekly nutrition plans help maintain your fitness between workouts and a superb premium coaching service is available if you need an extra boost.

3. Sworkit

Free (£3.98, ($4.99 / around AU$7) per month): iOS, Android

Tell Sworkit the type of workout you’re looking for (strength, cardio, yoga, or stretching) and the amount of time you’ve got to do it (anywhere from five minutes to an hour), and the app delivers moves to follow during your sweat session.

Choose to upgrade and the app will enable you to customise your workouts by setting the number of reps and the areas of the body you want to focus on.

It’s a simple system that offers great workouts for those already armed with knowledge of the areas they want to target.

4. Adrian James Bootcamp

£2.29 (around $3 / AU$4): iOS

Adrian James proudly boasts that his bootcamp is the toughest 15-minute workout on the planet. 

Yeah, it’s one of those apps, just like the Insanity DVD infomercials you’ve woken up to on the sofa (although we’ve completed that plan, and it does actually work – unlike most things that are advertised late at night).

No equipment needed, lots of how-to videos, points grading, motivation and plenty of exercises that are suitable for beginners too… but do expect to sweat and ache.

There’s also companion Six Pack and High Intensity apps for the same price, should you feel the need to punish yourself further at the end of the ‘basic’ Bootcamp.

5. Daily Burn

Free (In-app purchases from £7.99 ($10, around AU$13.50)): iOS, Android

Daily Burn is like your own private YouTube fitness channel, offering 500 workout videos taught by expert trainers, lasting from 15 minutes to an hour.

Your money gives you the power to pick and choose just what’s right for your workout, and if you can ever conceive of getting bored with what’s on offer, more videos are added regularly.

There are also 20 different programs – from high-intensity cardio to yoga – and each workout can be streamed to Apple TV, Roku, Fire TV, Chromecast, Android, iPad, iPhone, iPod, laptop or desktop…so you’ll have no excuses for not being able to access the right session at the right time.

It does seem a little expensive, but with the range of options and ways to stream the content it’s perfect for those committed to getting in shape.

6. Daily Yoga

Free (with in app purchases): iOS, Android

Fitness isn’t just about squat-thrusts and burpees, and this app explores alternative ways to stay fit by packing in high definition video as an ideal introduction to the ways of the Yogis.

All the routines are under 30 minutes and there are 50 classes available – the Yoga for Runners is particularly recommended if you’re a jogger and getting worryingly stiff – and each session is categorised according to the body part you want to focus on.

7. Seven

Free (£3.99 ($3.53 / around AU$7) per month for premium): iOS, Android

Treating fitness like a classic (but basic) video game, Seven sets you the challenge of working out for seven minutes a day for seven months using no more than a chair, wall and your own body weight.

You start with three lives but missing one day will lose one of them (shown as a heart, rather menacingly) and missing three in a month will reset your progress to zero.

If you stick to it you’ll see results, but it’s worth paying the extra per month for the premium workouts to avoid the monotony of the free routines.

8. Workout Trainer

Free (pro version £5.58, $6.99 (around AU$10)/month): Android, iOS (Apple Watch and Android Wear compatible)

With a dizzying selection of over 1000 intense workouts ranging in length from five to 15 minutes, each with step-by-step audio and video instructions, if there’s nothing in Workout Trainer to tempt you from the sofa you’re in serious trouble.

As well as the standard workouts, you can build your own custom routines and share them online, as well as trying out some of the community-created routines yourself.

A Pro subscription gives a big upgrade in features, such as advert-free HD workout videos and even more routines to torture your screaming muscles with.

9. Fitivity Pilates Exercise Workouts

Free (pro version costs £3.99 ($5, around AU$7)): iOS, Android

Pilates is all about strengthening the core – specifically the back, abdomen and hips. Ask any fitness pro and no matter what level of fitness you are, they’ll harp on endlessly about the importance of this area for back strength, balance, posture, strength and flexibility.

While not offering everything you could want – few Pilates apps are perfect, we’ve found – Fitivity offers all the instructions you need to start training your core, with simple-to-follow routines.

Do it for the three free weeks and, if you want more, the pro version will give you unfettered access when you pay up.

10. Pact

Free: iOS, Android

Tried all the above but still can’t seem to find 15 minutes to work up a tiny sweat? Does money motivate you more than the idea of a healthy heart and a six-pack?

If so, you need Pact, the first app that encourages you to gamble on your ability to get fit.

Wager how many days you reckon you can work out, put some money where your mouth is and get running.

It pairs with your phone’s GPS as well as with RunKeeper, Fitbit, Jawbone Up and MapMyRun and the more you stick to your programme the more cash you can win from competing lazy members.

11. Runtastic Training series

Free (upgraded versions £1.99 / $1.99 / AU$3.99) : iOS, Android
Runtastic sounds like it’s only good for one thing, but actually it’s brilliant at bodyweight strength training too.

There are loads of apps by Runtastic – confusingly, a lot of them seem to do similar things but look completely different – but we’re really into Sit Ups, Squats, Press Ups and Pull Ups at the moment, as they’re just so friggin’ simple.

Simply start the app, it’ll tell you where to hold your phone, and how many reps to do. You’ll get rest targets (which the more hardcore of you can skip) and the progression every couple of days feels manageable. You can even save your workout progress to the cloud and use other devices when needed.

The free version only gets you to level one, but by the end of that you’ll be fully into how much stronger you’re getting and the upgrade cost to Pro is fully worth it. If you’ve been an Adidas MiCoach user in the past, you’ll get free access to the Pro apps automatically too (thanks to Adidas buying Runtastic fairly recently).


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