Isn’t technology great? There’s an app for everything, and some of them are even useful! There are four apps in particular that I use on a regular basis to help with cross training.
One to TRACK WORKOUTS
I know that I wouldn’t get as much out of my time in the gym if I didn’t record my workouts. For me, using an app like FitNotes has a bunch of benefits:
- I don’t have to try to remember what weight I was using for a particular lift – I can just look back at my last workout
- I can see how I’m improving over time, in a number of different ways (weight, reps, workout volume, estimated one rep max)
- I can look back over the month and monitor how regularly I’m working out and which areas of the body I’ve been working most
- If I’m lacking inspiration for the day’s session, I can decide to just replicate the last one I did (and the app will even allow me to simply ‘copy’ that workout in full)
- I know when I’ve hit a new Personal Record (PR) because the app tells me (and rewards me with a little trophy symbol!)
One to TIME INTERVALS
I’m sure there are lots of different free interval timers around; I happen to use the HIIT Interval Training Timer. This particular app is basic but does what I need it to do – allow me to programme interval workouts, which I use on a spinning bike. I simply type in the ‘work’ and ‘rest’ periods I’d like to do, how many times (‘rounds’) I’d like to do them, and a warm up and cool down. I can save these workouts to do again later. When it’s time to switch between work and rest, the app lets me know (I have it programmed to give me three warning beeps before the ‘rest!’ or ‘go!’ orders which is particularly helpful so I know when I need to get my shit together). The app isn’t perfect, and it does have ads, but for something that’s free I’m not complaining.
One to MONITOR NUTRITION
Okay so I’m likely not telling you anything new with this one, but MyFitnessPal is probably so ubiquitous because it does its thing so well. I personally don’t have the kind of commitment (or battery power) to track my food all the time, but I like to take it up for a week intermittently for a reality check. I’m interested in protein at the moment, so like to keep track of how much I’m getting from different foods. If weight loss is something you’re aiming for, a few studies have shown that keeping a ‘food diary’ helps – such as this large study which found keeping a daily food record was a significant predictor of weight loss. Here’s a graph (it’s an American study – ‘AA’ stands for African-American). Of course, correlation is not causation – maybe people who are more driven to lose weight and just more likely to keep up a food diary – but it can’t hurt.
One to FIND A FUN WORKOUT
There’s this pretty neat website with videos on just about anything, I think the kid’s call it the “Youtube” – have you heard of it? Well it turns out that this website has a super handy app which makes it easier to access the (probably) thousands of workout videos anywhere with Wifi. I find this particularly useful for making the most of time on the spinning bike. I used to go to classes but my current super-off-peak-cheapskate-membership doesn’t cover them now. Short and sharp interval training sessions are easy enough to programme and stick to on your own with a HIIT app (see above), but I find that I can lose focus in undirected longer sessions. Enter Youtube, with its oodles of guided spin class videos that mean I actually stay focused and keep up the intensity for the duration, rather than follow my natural urge which is to slooowly trail off… Simply pick a video, pop in your head phones, balance phone on the handle bars and away you go!
Do you use any apps for cross training? What’s your favourite?