The Best Fitness Apps for Android – November 2017

Posted by William Sattelberg First Published:

If you’re like most users, there’s a good chance the computer you use through most of your day isn’t an actual computer at all—it’s your smartphone. Phones have gotten incredibly powerful throughout the last few years, to the point where some devices essentially match laptop computers in terms of their usefulness. Android phones can be especially powerful; devices with large displays like the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 or LG V30 can go a long way in managing your daily schedule, planning events, or even creating vlogs and short films. Considering both the ease of use and the pure utility of a smartphone, it’s no wonder that many people have turned to the device to track your fitness data, all in order to help ensure we’re living our lives to the healthiest of standards.

The Google Play Store has, in recent years, been absolutely flooded with apps that promise to help you lose weight, increase your muscle mass, help you sleep better, eat better, and live better. There’s no shortage of applications designed to track each movement and activity throughout your day, from eating to running to sleeping, and convert it into easily accessible data. With the sheer amount of choice, it can be a bit overwhelming if you’re just looking to dip your toes into the world of fitness tracking applications. Whether you’re looking for an easy place to start, or just a solid list of what apps are and aren’t good, it can be tough to find the right apps on the Google Play Store. The truth is the best app for you might not be the best app for everyone else, so you’re better off selecting from a wide variety of excellent fitness applications. No matter whether you’re looking for a fitness hub for your diet and exercise, or a dedicated app to track one single data point, we’ve got you covered. This is our guide to the best fitness apps available on Android.

Everyone else

If you’re looking for a way to get stronger while following a simple, straightforward program, we recommend downloading Stronglifts before your next trip to the gym. Out of every workout program we’ve tested on the Play Store, this happens to be one of our absolute favorites. With over a million downloads on the Play Store, Stronglifts currently sits at a 4.9 out of 5 from user reviews, one of the highest overall averages we’ve seen from any application, let alone a free app. The free version of Stronglifts offers the basic workout program, free and without ads. You workout three times a week, for about 45 minutes per workout, following the guidelines and directions set by the app. Each session contains three exercises, with two alternate days. Day A focuses on squats, bench press, and standing rows, while Day B focuses on squats (again), overhead press, and deadlifts. Each workout is maximized to give you as much progress per workout as possible without spending three to four hours per day at the gym. The app presents you with weight levels, rest times, and audible alerts to let you know when to do your workout. Though there are several smaller payments of $1.99, you can unlock the full version of the app for just $9.99, which gives you warm-up training, assistance work, Google Fit integration, and so much more. Apps like Runtastic may double-dip for their pro versions and monthly fees, but Stronglifts gives you a ton of value for just $9.99—or, if you wish, for free.

Runtastic has been the running tracker of choice for millions of users, both on the free and Pro version of the app available for $4.99, and it’s easy to see why. The app’s layout is clean, features a basic material design interface, and is generally easy to use. It’s always nice to see a major app developer like Runtastic—which has dozens of apps available on the Play Store for free or available with a monthly fee—follow Google and Android’s own design rather than sticking to their own proprietary look. It’s a powerful running app that can track and store your runs for free, with the option for paying the additional $4.99 fee to use the app without advertisements. The main app display can be customized to show the statistics you like, and can display calories burnt, distance and duration, and even heart rate information, assuming you’re willing to pick up the app’s own heart rate monitor to use. There’s a ton of extra features that can be used with this app as well, including interval training, leaderboards, and even the ability to track the life-range of your running shoes.

One major downside to using Runtastic: despite the Pro version of the app running you $4.99, you don’t unlock all the features of the application unless you sign up for a Premium account. Runtastic itself isn’t too clear on the features each version offers, but the major offerings are Runtastic’s Story Runs, which either have to be bought individually or unlocked by a premium membership fee. Monthly plans run you $9.99, or annual plans can be bought for $49.99. You unlock some cool features for this fee, and your premium membership will reach across every application in Runtastic’s ever-growing library, but overall, it’s a high price to ask for some extra, unnecessary content.

If the additional features of Runtastic are a bit too much for you, we’re happy to say Strava’s own alternative running and bicycling application impressed us in our tests. Strava is much more of a social-focused application than Runtastic, with your feed populated by users you select to follow. You can plug in Facebook friends into the app, but unfortunately, Strava’s user base is significantly smaller than what we’ve seen from apps like Runtastic and Runkeeper, which means you might be out of luck when it comes to adding your real-life friends. You can add random users and some celebrities that use the app (most notably vlogger Casey Neistat), but otherwise, you might find the platform to be a bit lonely. Strava doesn’t utilize material design language, but the actual look of the app is pretty clean, with a nice white and orange design that looks great on most displays. Unlike the Pedometer app we reviewed below, this app is easy to use for both running and bicycling, and creating routes online is super simple. While the running interface isn’t as customizable as Runtastic’s own, it features large numbers that make it easy to check your stats while moving. Strava offers a premium model, just like Runtastic, but its base app is both free and contains no ads, putting it one notch above Runtastic’s Pro version. The Premium features for Strava offer personalized coaching, live feedback, and advanced analysis for $7.99 a month, but we think most users are going to find the free version suits them just fine.

If you’re looking for something less intense than Stronglifts, or you want something you can do at home without buying expensive weightlifting equipment or paying for a gym membership, you can’t do a whole lot better than something like Leap Fitness’ 30 Day Fit Challenge Workout. 30 Day allows you to pick a muscle group you want to focus—be it full-body, abs, butt, arm, or leg—and, over the course of thirty days, pushes you to do several intense workouts at a variety of skill levels, pushing you to new levels of fitness easily accessible from the comfort of your own home. The app itself is laid out in an easy-to-read fashion, with options and your current, trackable weight being displayed on the front page of the app. Settings allow you to back up your exercises to the cloud, sync to Google Fit, and set reminders to workout. Though 30 Day Fit does feature advertisements, both on the home screen and, more annoyingly, at the start and end of workouts, they are manageable and don’t seem to actually interrupt the flow of the workout itself. Once you’ve begun a workout for the month, your progress will display on the front screen, which is helpful. The app also displays how to do each exercise and announces your rests and reps.. If you’re just looking to get into full-body workouts and don’t quite have the time or money to dedicate to a gym membership, 30 Day is a good place to start. For those who already own gym memberships, however, or are looking to lift heavier weights than body-weight exercises allow, you’ll want to look into something more like Stronglifts.

Lose It! is one of the earliest diet tracking apps on both iOS and Android, and it’s made a ton of progress over the years growing from an early program into a full-fledged weight loss application. When you sign up, you’ll be asked for some basic information about yourself, including your height, weight, and age, in order to track your calorie intake throughout the day. You’ll then be asked for your target weight, and you’ll even be able to set the timeframe you wish to complete your goal in. For example, setting the app to lose 10 pounds gives you several speed suggestions. The default option is fairly slow, which pushes you to take your time in order to stay on track. The app set the goal date for over two months away, informing us that the caloric intake limit was set to just over 2,000 calories a day. This puts you at a pound a week over a period of ten weeks, and makes it easy for users to stick to this goal without trying to make the hill to steep to climb. The app is free, and contains ads and a premium monthly/yearly subscription model. The basic features—food logs, calorie tracking, nutrition preferences—are all available in the standard plan, but to plan meals ahead of time, set custom goals beyond calorie counts, or remove ads, you’ll have to upgrade to the premium model, which is billed annually at $39.99. It’s a bit too steep for us to recommend to everyone, but if you try the app out and enjoy its feature set, it’s much cheaper than comparable calorie tracking programs like Weight Watchers. It’s really up to what feature set you want; we found the premium model to be a bit too expensive for our tastes.

Mealime isn’t a traditional fitness application, but as any gym-rat will tell you, fitness starts in the kitchen. Whether you’re trying to lose weight or gain muscle, you’re going to want to ensure that your diet is up to tip-top shape, and one of the best diet planning applications we’ve found is Mealime. The app is rather simple: when you sign up for the app, you tell Mealime what you want in a menu-type, with several options. Classic will give you all options, flexitarian will limit meat, low-carb will limit your carb intake, paleo will follow the popular paleo diet, pescetarian will give you veggies and seafood, and finally, vegetarian will eliminate meat from the equation all together. If you have restrictions or allergies, you can also input those to avoid foods like peanuts or shellfish. You can also input the ingredients you dislike from a large list of commonly-disliked foods, including beets, eggplant, and mushrooms. If you don’t have any diet limitations, you can also skip over these options. The meal size is also flexible, between two or four servings, meaning the app is good for both individuals and families. Once you’ve chosen your meal settings, you can generate weekly meals, anywhere from two to six complete meals ready to go. For example, setting the diet options to low-carb and telling the app to deliver three meals gave us several healthy options that were different in tastes and types of food. Mealime also offers a premium version with a monthly fee of $5.99, which offers nutritional information, exclusive recipes, and the option to favorite meals in order to return to them. If you’re looking for a meal planner or you just want to learn how to cook, we can’t think of many better options than Mealime.

If you aren’t interested in either Google’s or Samsung’s approaches to general fitness, you might want to check out Pacer Health’s Pedometer and Weight Loss Coach, referred to the app as “Pedometer” from here on out. The app is another approach at the same types of information that Google and Samsung are both trying to provide, with an emphasis on burning calories and your amount of steps taken per day. Unlike Google’s strict adherence to their own material design and Samsung’s own software design showing so clearly through their application, Pedometer feels more like an iOS application than anything else. There’s no sliding menus or large, menu-based options to be found. Instead, the tabs for each category are found at the bottom of the display, in an iOS-style. You can also see additional features by swiping on the main display, such as swiping left to set your workout plan or swiping right to start a GPS-based exercise. The app also allows for manual input of exercises, but unlike either of the first two applications, you’re fairly limited in what you can tell the service. Instead of offering fifty or sixty different workouts and forms of exercise, Pedometer gives you options like “Running, general” or “Sports, vigorous,” which means the user has to decide how much energy they put into the workout, instead of the phone tracking (or attempting to track) the intensity of any style of workout. Some users may find this as a benefit, but we’d rather our fitness applications to do as much of the tracking as it can automatically, and for that reason, Pedometer doesn’t make our Top Pick spot.

MyFitnessPal has been mentioned quite a few times throughout this guide as an example of another service you can use to sync your fitness data together, and Calorie Counter happens to be an app they built in-house. At its core, Calorie Counter is a lot like Lose It!. You tell the app what you want to do with your weight, whether it be lose, maintain, or gain, and the app tells you how many calories to eat during the day. The main display shows your remaining calories for the day, subtracting the amount you’ve eaten from your base amount and adding back whatever you’ve burned through daily exercise. The app essentially guarantees that you can lose a pound a week just by logging what you’ve eaten throughout the day, while still managing to eat a fairly large amount of food. Whereas Lose It! informed us to eat about 2,000 calories a day in our quest to lose a pound a week, MFP told us to eat nearly 2,500 while still hitting the target goal. Unfortunately, the rest of the app was disappointing. More than half of the app’s home display is taken up by blog posts about nutrition, a waste of an otherwise useful space. The app also cosnsitently served ads for MFP’s other fitness apps. Many of the settings are hidden behind a $9.99/month paywall, including setting specific calorie goals by meal, and even basic information like displaying nutrition facts for each meal you enter. Overall, MFP is just not as full-fledged as Lose It! unless you’re willing to pay for the full premium tier. Still, don’t completely count out MyFitnessPal—despite are opinions, there are definitely some positive qualities to this app.

Our final app suggestion is Headspace, a guided meditation app that is trusted by millions of users to bring balance to their mental health through daily meditation. This app won’t be for everyone—we know plenty of people who find meditation to be overwhelming, exhausting, or simply ineffective, and if that’s you, don’t stress too much about it. That said, meditation is something everyone should try at least once, and the benefits to daily meditation are obvious. With daily meditation, you can reduce your anxiety, stress levels, sleep better at night, and generally feel happier and an increased sense of calmness. Headspace is likely one of the top meditation apps available on the web, and it’s easy to see why. Each day gives you a new daily meditation exercise to work on that pushes you towards feeling healthier, happier, and an increased sense of calm. The app isn’t ad-supported, but it does have a dozen or so packs to unlock for extra meditation. If you want to get the most out of the app, you’ll probably end up having to pay for a specific guided meditation track. That said, we found the free version of the app to suffice for some basic meditation exercises, bringing us a sense of peace and relaxation. Not everyone can turn their brain off in a way required for meditation, and this app might not be for you. For loads of people, however, meditation can be a game changer. If you don’t think of mental fitness as part of your daily regimen, it might be time to start.

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