Keep fit from your own front room with our pick of the best bodyweight and minimal-equipment training apps.
Dragging yourself down to the local gym isn’t always convenient or wallet-friendly – and during the coronavirus lockdown, it’s not even an option – but that doesn’t excuse letting your fitness fall off a cliff.
With home workout apps, you can achieve your training goals wherever there’s a square-foot of space.
Here’s our pick of the best…
MF BEST BUY:
£32.99 for 3 months, freeletics.com
The original bodyweight training app, Freeletics is perfect for kit-free, personalised home workouts when you’re short on space.
You can choose from a huge selection of 30-minute workouts, target specific muscles with single exercises and sign up for goal-based training journeys covering everything from football fitness and MMA fighter training, to building explosive strength.
Setting up the app is simple: you tell the Freeletics Coach what your broad aims are, with a choice between getting started, getting running, gaining muscle, getting fit or losing weight. For each training programme, there’s a detailed, week-by-week breakdown of the work that awaits, and the specific results you can expect to see once you’re done.
Unlike some train-along apps, Freeletics Coach adapts your training based on your own quick post-workout assessments of how each session feels: was it too hard? Too easy? How did your technique hold up? And did you struggle with any exercises? You can even adapt the day’s session if your circumstances change and you need to train quietly, you’re too sore, or you don’t have much time.
The video demos for each drill are well presented, with excellent written technique tips and easy-to-follow visuals. Working through each session is also straightforward, with a simple tap to move to the next drill, and intervals timed for you in the app.
If you’re struggling to get into regular training, or you’re hitting a plateau, there are short mindset audio courses to help you with the mental side of building good habits and tapping into long-lasting motivation.
And as a final bonus, you can also get tailored meal plans in the Nutrition app as part of your subscription.
£13.49 per month, aaptiv.com
Unlike most video-based home workout apps, Aaptiv serves up audio-only classes for workouts where visuals aren’t necessary.
You choose your goals – lose weight, run further or faster, build strength, reduce stress or simply stay fit – with two- to eight-week programmes to hit your goals. You can tweak the programmes based on workout duration, the days you prefer to train and even the equipment you have access to.
There are more than 3,000 workouts in the library and 40 classes added weekly. A big chunk of those are gym-based, but there’s a decent offering of at-home sessions, with excellent variety and nicely targeted goals for all levels, including touching your toes in two weeks and a ‘90-day slay’ for more serious athletes.
Each coached workout comes with its own music and you’re stuck with the tunes Aaptiv chooses. Also, because you’re guided by voice rather than visuals, you’ll need to know how to do the drills, but they tend to be the kind of moves most people will know, such as squats and lunges.
You can schedule individual workouts and sync them into your calendar, as well as downloading sessions for offline training, and it’s compatible with the Apple Watch. There’s also a seven-day free trial.
Adidas Training by Runtastic
Free (£7.99 premium), runtastic.com
Runtastic automatically recommends pre-built workouts and complete training plans based on your goals – some free, some paid for. If you prefer to build your own, there’s a brilliantly simple workout builder for targeting specific areas.
Easy-to-follow videos demo more than 190 different exercises, and you even get a tip-off for the sessions that are neighbour-friendly.
$14.99 per month, playbookapp.io
If you like following celebrity trainers on Insta, this marketplace – where trainers sell their workouts and training plans – is for you.
Playbook is all about following PTs you trust, with each workout coming with video drills that you can play in-app or download. Unfortunately, there’s no goal-based recommendations and it’s much harder to find the sessions you want.
£7.99 per month, fitbit.com
A mix of free and paid-for workouts catering for beginners more than advanced gym-goers, Fitbit Coach lets you choose sessions based on muscle groups, difficulty level and duration.
Before you start – and pay – you get video demos of the drills included in the session, and you can monitor fitness levels and strength by body area. There’s also a neat momentum score that rewards regular workouts.
£19.49 per month, onepeloton.com
No space or cash for a bike or treadmill? You can still tap into Peloton Digital’s growing library of on-demand studio-style video classes.
Front-of-class coaches pump up the energy and guide you through cycling, running, walking, bootcamp, strength, stretching, cardio, and yoga sessions.
There’s a strong range of programmes, and you can link a heart-rate monitor and beam the streams to a bigger screen easily with Google Chromecast or Apple AirPlay.
Nike Training Club
Slick and motivational, this simple app has plenty to satisfy beginners and regular gym-goers. Discover workouts by type, equipment and muscle group, or based on your needs, such as sessions tailored to small spaces and 20-minute rapid workouts.
There are excellent, easy-to-follow videos for each drill, plus full audio coaching, including technique tips, intervals and rest timers. You can also construct goal-based plans in seconds, and get reminders to do the work.
£8.99 per month, sworkit.com
Sworkit packs more than 300 unique workouts, 400 individual exercises and full training programmes for getting lean, fit or strong.
The drill-by-drill sessions are less exciting than some, but you can stitch together your own custom workouts in seconds, and tweak the exercise duration, transition and rest periods for ready-made sessions.
There are kettlebell, dumbbell and resistance band workouts, and if you hit a wall certified trainers can answer your questions.
Fiit brings on-demand trainer-led sessions out of the studio, into your front room. It works best with the partner chest strap, but you can join the hundreds of classes covering strength, cardio and mobility, with Pilates and yoga.
Difficulty ratings and breakdowns of the drills help you see what suffering awaits, the instructors are pumped but not too cheesy, and it’s easy to fire sessions to your big screen.
From £25.99, kaiahealth.com
Need help honing your strength-training technique? This app provides the perfect introduction to equipment-free bodyweight drills.
You get a limited selection of video-guided workouts tailored to your fitness level, but the real standout is the state-of-the-art artificial intelligence that transforms your smartphone into a motion-tracking tool, dishing up real-time feedback to help you hit the perfect form for that plank or squat.
Words: Kieran Alger