In this article, the best fitness trackers fitness apps for 2021 are introduced. The article is divided in four subcategories: exercising, food trackers, overall health, and mental health. For every category, one paid and one free fitness app is discussed. The list of apps is composed by comparing different apps with each other, weigh the pros and cons against each other, and trying the apps out. These apps are chosen as best in their category, because they provide the user with the best tools to meet their fitness goals and take both their physical and mental health to the next level.
We look at the best fitness tracker apps that are out there across 3 main categories:-
- Workout apps – these should focus on providing clear instructions on how the workout should be done as well as the possibility to modify your routine to meet your fitness needs.
- Food trackers used to track food input and calories burnt to enable you to track what you have eaten and drunk throughout the day
- Overall health apps to make sure you consider your health and fitness as a whole which provide relaxation and meditation techniques
Of course, there are thousands of fitness apps available in the app stores and we’ve tried to identify in our opinion the best in each of our 3 main categories.
Fitbod Weight Lifting Trainer
Fitbod Weight Lifting Trainer is the best free workout app that is currently on the market. This is supported by the fact that users give the app a rating of 4.8 out of 5! Focused mainly on strength training the app features a personalized fitness plan based on the equipment that is available in your own gym. The big plus of this app is that it starts with a personalized workout routine, which you can alter to your own wishes.
The app bases its workout routine on the equipment that is available in your gym. It shows categories, such as ‘Free weights’, ‘Bars & Benches’, and ‘Cable Machines’, together with photos of the equipment. That way, the user can pick the equipment available. Your workout is made based on your fitness goals, workout duration, and experience.
The app is also able to split exercises in your workout according to a training method. The choices are:
- Upper/Lower body split
- Full Body
- Push/Pull/Lower body split
After you have chosen your preferences, the app will provide you with a workout. If you are not satisfied with the workout, you can alter the workout to your wishes. Only change some small things, such as rep range and amount of sets? No problem, that is also possible in the app.
Once you have managed the workout program and altered it to your wishes, you can start tracking your custom workouts in the app. The app offers you an agenda in which your tracked workouts are visible. Although this is functionality is really handy, it is part of the paid subscription. If you want to track your workout in the app, you will have to pay for it.
Other extras that the app will provide once you have a paid subscription, is that you can see your fitness levels over time, get a personalized workout every day and you will have more exercises and workout instructions available. The last but definitely not the least feature of a paid subscription, is that the app changes your workout program based on your progress, almost taking the place of a personal trainer.
- Workout is based on equipment present in your own gym
- Popular training methods are used
- Workout can be altered to personal wishes
- Suitable for beginners and advanced gym goers
- App can be quite overwhelming at first
- Progress overtime is only visible in the pro subscription
Freeletics is the overarching concept of four apps all with their own specified purpose. The four apps are:
- Bodyweight training
- Training in a gym
A big advantage of Freeletics is that there are two different subscriptions available. For $80 a year, you can use the app for bodyweight training, training in a gym, and the running app. Do you want specialized nutrition advice, you can pay $10 extra and make use of that app as well. Unfortunately, it is not possible to only pay the $10 and use the nutrition app. To provide the user with a try-out period, there is a 14-day money back warranty. If you don’t like the app(s), you can just cancel the subscription and get your money back.
In general, the app features the same functionalities as the paid version of Fitbod. However, there are some extra features with which Freeletics sets itself apart. First of all, it is possible to design a program in which High Intensity Interval Training is used. This feature lets the user workout for 5 to 30 minutes, depending on personal preferences. In this workout, all body parts can be trained in a short period of time.
Secondly, the app offers a so called ‘alternative chart’. When doing exercises, it is possible that you don’t feel like doing this specific exercise. With an easy swipe movement, the user can consult the alternative chart and choose a different exercise that targets the same muscle group with the same intensity and rep ranges.
The last, but definitely not the least feature, is the personal nutrition advice that is offered. The app features nutrition advice that is personalized for the user. It can be altered if needed by the user itself, which allows the user to include personal preferences.
A small disadvantage of the app is that in some cases, the rep range of an exercise is very high. Doing an exercise for 30 reps or more is not that appealing to user. The advice is to manually decrease the amount of reps in order to keep the exercises doable.
Food tracker apps
The general rule applies that if you burn more calories than you eat, you will lose weight. If you eat more calories than you burn, you’ll gain weight. If you track the food that you eat, the trackers calculates whether you are in a calorie deficit or a calorie surplus. There are many different trackers available, all with the same goal, track the food that is eaten. However, are there any food trackers that can go the extra mile for you? Yes, there are. MyFitnessPal and MyNetDiary Pro are two food-tracking apps that really stand out from the crowd.
MyFitnessPal starts by advising you about the daily number of calories you should take. This is based on height, weight, age, how active you are, and if you want to lose or gain weight. Based on the number of calories, the app calculates the ideal number of macronutrients (carbs, fats and protein). This is pretty basic and is done by every food tracking app. So, what are the big advantages of using MyFitnessPal?
First of all, the app has the highest number of products available in the app. With over 5 million products, it can be used all around the world with products from every big food chain or supermarket. When adding this food to your diary, the app gives you advice on the food. If it contains a lot of salt, the app will give you a warning on this. A lot of sugar? Same story!
Secondly, it is possible to scan the bar code of products. This makes it way easier to enter the products in your diary. Another very handy feature, is the fact that you can mark certain products as your favourites. If you eat chicken with rice and broccoli three times a week, then you can mark those products as favourites. This makes it easier to add them to your diary.
At last, the app provides you with the most essential things to track your calories. It allows you to track your food, weight, exercises on a daily basis. For tracking your burned calories, the advice is to use a fitness tracker like a Fitbit. The Fitbit tracks the number of calories you burn based on heart rate, activity level and exercise. The Fitbit synchronizes the burned calories with MyFitnessPal so that you will have an overview of eaten- and burned calories. Let the weight loss journey begin!
For $9.99 a month, or $49.99 a year, you can upgrade to premium. This allows you to track your calories even more precise, changing your macronutrient ratio, and it removes ads. However, for most users, the basic version is sufficient.
The big advantage of MyNetDiary Pro is that the free version does not display ads. Compared with other food trackers, this is outstanding. As with MyFitnessPal, this app does what it is designed to do, it calculates and advises the daily number of calories, tracks the number of calories based on what you eat on a day and takes the amount of exercise on a daily basis into account. Then, what are the differences between the apps?
First, the database with products is smaller. Although the app searches and verifies the products that are registered in the app, it only contains roughly 700.000 products. Most of these products contain up-to-date and verified data but using the app worldwide can give you some problems.
Secondly, it is not possible to add favourites to the list. While this is a handy and possible feature of MyFitnessPal, MyNetDiary Pro does not have this feature.
This app also offers a paid subscription, which provides the same functions as MyFitnessPal. It allows the user to track the number of calories more efficiently, you can change your macronutrient ratio, and you can set personal macronutrient and exercise goals on a daily basis. Yet again, the free version of the app does what it is supposed to do and is therefore sufficient for most users.
But why should I pay for this app then? Well, the paid version gives you one big advantage. It allows you to keep track of your body measurement in the app, you can even track your micronutrient intake, and most importantly, you can download your diet history in Excel. This is especially useful when you are using a personal trainer who needs an overview of what you eat on a daily basis.
In today’s fast moving society with greater responsibilities, social media and long working hours, burnouts and high stress levels are rising (source). For relaxation, reducing stress, better sleep and so on, we recommend either ‘Calm’ or ‘Headspace’. These apps allow you to escape from your hectic life for a moment of relaxation, whether it is only for 2 minutes or for half an hour. Both apps come with a free subscription at first for a certain amount of days. After the free subscription has ended, a monthly-, yearly, or lifetime fee needs to be paid.
The biggest advantage of the calm app is that some content is still available after the trial period has ended. This means that you can still learn to meditate, sleep better, or concentrate better after the trial period. In 2017, the app was awarded as best app of the year in several countries, according to the developers of Apple (source). However, why was this the case? And is this still true in 2019? A very short answer can be given here. Yes, this is still true in 2019. If you want to find out why, read along!
First of all, the user experience of the app is very good. The background and overall feeling of the app is very soothing. This is also true for the voice that is used during meditation. When using the app, the voice makes you relaxed and really get into the zone.
Secondly, the app offers personalized meditation plans based on your preferences. For example, it is possible to try programs targeted at better sleep, reducing anxiety, and improving focus. The calendar that is provided with the app keeps track of your progress on the different programs.
At last, as was mentioned earlier, the app still provides content after the trial period has ended. This is very unique in comparison with other apps. If you subscribe for the paid version, you get all the available content, with the option to download programs when you do not have an internet connection. The programs are updated on a regular basis, which makes it very refreshing for the more experienced users. If you are new to the whole meditation scene, then this is the app to go with.
Headspace also provides the user with a trial-period, which lasts for 10 days (3 days longer than the Calm app). Unfortunately, after the trial period has ended, there is no content available to carry on with meditation. You will have to buy the subscription in order to carry on with meditation. This is one of the major disadvantages of the app. We will leave it up to you if the subscription is worth it based on some advantages and disadvantages of the app. Let’s start with the advantages.
First of all, the app offers content in three different versions, packs, singles and minis. The packs offer a whole program that contains meditations specified to a certain theme. The meditation packs can last from 10 to 30 days, depending on which one you choose. The singles are short, single meditation sessions that last for somewhere between 5 and 20 minutes. This allows the user to choose a single meditation, without having to complete a whole program. Then there are the minis. These are meditation sessions that last between 1 to 3 minutes. Small, single sessions that make the user calm and relaxed again. The mini sessions are easy to fit in every schedule and can be done almost everywhere.
A small disadvantage is that the price of the app is a bit higher than with the Calm app. To compensate this, the app provides almost monthly updates of programs and sessions.
As we stated before, the app is not usable without paying, which makes it for most people less interesting. However, if you decide to pay for the app, it is totally worth it. The app gives users a moment of relaxation, peace and happiness.
Two aspects that need to be pointed out at first here are that, firstly, both of the apps require personal investment, both in motivation and time. Secondly, the app does not miraculously solve your problems. It gives you guidelines and reflection on your day and feelings. For deeper problem, you should consult a specialist.
The What’s up app is free to download for both Android and iOS. It is based on Cognitive Behaviour Therapy and offers programs for self-reflection and happiness. By registering your feelings, thoughts and habits, the app makes you more conscious of them. It then allows you to rate your feelings, thought and habits to reflect on them.
If you have bad habits, you can track them with the app. Making you more conscious of those bad habits, is the first step in stopping these habits. The same holds for negative thoughts. When you are aware of the negative thoughts, you can train yourself to put the negative thoughts away. The What’s Up app provides you with guidelines and instructions on how to do this.
- Gives insight in both your good and bad habits, thoughts, and feelings
- Accessible way of improving your mental health on a daily basis
- No advertisement in the app
- There is no daily trigger or notification to open the app
Mood Kit is another app that focuses on removing bad habits, negative thoughts and negative feelings. A disadvantage of mood kid is that it costs $4.99, but the app offers you a compensation for this with the ‘thought checker’. The ‘thought checker’ allows you to write down your thoughts and what you are doing with them to overcome them or to get rid of them. When having those thoughts again, you can act based on previous experiences with that thought.
To conclude, there are all kinds of apps available for different situations. The above-mentioned apps prove to be the best compared to other apps in their field. The free version might do the trick; however, do you want to go the extra mile? Do you want to get the last drop out of the bucket? Then subscribe to the paid subscriptions. This gives you many benefits and takes every app to the next level. And that is what we want after all; take ourselves to the next level!