The first two weeks of 2016 have passed by. How much progress have you made toward your resolutions?
Better health is on most people’s list of New Year’s goals, but it’s easy to feel confused in the midst of gym ads, diet books and thousands of articles on the subject. Where should you begin?
Body weight exercises are an easy way to get in shape and improve your overall well-being.
Besides the convenience of working out without a gym or any equipment, body weight training is a great way to get or stay in shape because it’s challenging regardless of how fit or not fit you are. Because you use your own body weight to work out you’ll always be working with an amount of weight that’s neither too heavy nor too light for real health benefits.
Research shows that doing body weight circuit training, like HIIT exercises, can significantly help with weight loss and can help you build stronger muscles relatively quickly.
Aerobic exercise has numerous benefits for high-risk populations and such benefits, especially weight loss, are amplified with HIIT. High intensity interval training involves repeatedly exercising at a high intensity for 30 seconds to several minutes, separated by 1-5 minutes of recovery (either no or low intensity exercise).
In a study from the Journal of Athletic Training, researchers found that doing body weight exercises effectively damaged participants’ muscle fibers (you have to damage muscle fibers for them to heal and become stronger, thus making your muscles bigger).
You don’t need anything other than your own body to tone and strengthen all your muscles. So ditch the expensive gym membership or home exercise equipment and banish excuses. In as little as a few minutes a day, with no bells or whistles, you can get fit anywhere. These apps can help:
You Are Your Own Gym ($4.99, iOS and Android)
Just as the title states, your own body is all you need to get a full workout. This app will show you how by using exercise plans from fitness instructor and author Mark Lauren. Choose from programs as brief as two minutes and no longer than 36 minutes. Wherever you are, however long you have to exercise, you’ll find something suitable from You Are Your Own Gym.
When you’re ready for more, this app offers 10-week fitness programs for all levels. If you have an Apple device, you can integrate You Are Your Own Gym with HealthKit to save and track your exercise programs in the Health app. The only downside of this app may be its price – $4.99 to buy the basic version plus in-app workout purchases ranging from $2.99-$6.99. Still, it’s a bargain compared to a gym membership you rarely use.
500 Bodyweight Challenge (Free, iOS)
Also created by a renowned personal trainer, 500 Bodyweight Challenge combines the ease of using your body as your gym with the fun and incentive of a challenge. With this app you’ll try to beat your own best time to complete the 10 included bodyweight exercises.
It’s easy to learn the exercises by watching the accompanying videos. Then set the timer and see how fast you can finish the workout. The program is designed to work out your whole body and you can do it anywhere. Best of all, the app is free, so what are you waiting for?
Download: 500 Bodyweight Challenge (iOS)
Gorilla Workout ($0.99, iOS and Android)
Did you love playing “Donkey Kong” as a kid? Chances are you’ll also enjoy Gorilla Workout, which offers the charm of a cartoon character and the appeal of a video game to make your workouts more fun. Start at the beginning and savor the satisfaction of progress as you pass one fitness level after another.
The Gorilla Workout exercises utilize cardio in addition to strength training to target all of your muscle groups and help you get fitter in the least possible amount of time. The app costs $0.99 and you can purchase additional signature workouts such as 100 Pushups within the app for 99 cents each. Skip that next high-calorie espresso drink and give Gorilla Workout a try instead.
Fitness Trainer ($0.99, iOS)
What kind of learner are you? Whether you prefer to listen, watch or read, this app has a tutorial for you. Each exercise can be learned by reading a description, watching a video, listening to an audio tutorial or looking at a picture. To further personalize your experience, you can filter exercises by muscle and body type. There’s also a BMI calculator and log feature to help you track your progress toward your fitness objectives.
In addition to the more than 100 bodyweight exercises included, Fitness Trainer also offers workouts for the gym, should you occasionally find yourself in one.
Download: Fitness Trainer ($0.99 iOS)
Sworkit (Free, iOS and Android)
Like other bodyweight apps, Sworkit’s exercises can be done anywhere without equipment. However, this app offers Pilates and yoga workouts in addition to the standard cardio and strength-training routines featured by its competitors. You can choose from Sworkit’s predesigned routines or create a custom workout of your own. This app also syncs with the Apple Health app.
The free version of Sworkit comes with a variety of free workouts. Premium features can be purchased in-app for access to bonus workouts, ad-free exercising, and the ability to save your history and custom routines.
Boot Camp Challenge ($3.99, iOS)
This app offers an authentic boot camp experience from U.S. Army Trainer Lori Patterson. Choose from three levels: beginner, intermediate or advanced. Most of the exercises only require body weight, but you can add equipment for a different or more challenging experience.
Boot Camp Challenge also offers the unique feature of beat-sync technology so your workout tempo will align with the music you listen to. You can also share your results on social media.
Download: Boot Camp Challenge ($3.99 iOS)
Fitness Buddy ($2.99, iOS | $1.99, Android)
This is another app that offers body weight exercises as well as workouts involving equipment. However, there are so many to choose from – more than 1,700 exercises – that it’s easy not to get bored even if you only use the body weight options. Additionally, you can personalize your routines based on gender, equipment or body weight, and specific goals such as weight loss and muscle toning.
Fitness Buddy’s premium version can be purchased in-app for $4.99 per month or $49.99 per year. The premium app gives you access to additional content, personalized emails and advice for healthy living beyond your workouts.
Virtual Trainer Bodyweight (Free, iOS and Android)
Is convenience your main objective? Virtual Trainer Bodyweight will deliver everything you need and nothing you don’t for an effective bodyweight exercise routine. Get off to a fast start with readymade workouts in whatever difficulty level you need. You can also design a personal workout if you want to. Virtual Trainer Bodyweight uses timers according to the type of workout you choose, such as circuit training.
In-app purchases are available, ranging from $1.99-$9.99, for additional content and exercise plans.
Meet the Healthier, Fitter You of 2016
Just as body weight training is accessible to everyone, all these apps offer something for people of all fitness levels and ambitions. Don’t waste any more time doubting your fitness abilities. Start using one of these apps today and you’ll feel the burn (and deep, personal satisfaction) tomorrow.
You might also want to try some Chrome extensions for staying healthy.
Do you find bodyweight exercises challenging enough? Which body weight exercise app will you use? Which is the fitness app you would recommend?
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