Today, there’s an app for everything. The popularity of fitness programs delivered via Smartphones and Androids is exponentially growing. A study published by Polaris Market Research estimated the global fitness app market size could reach over $14.7 billion by 2026. We are even seeing more and more celebrities launch their own fitness apps and Instagram is full of transformations credited to certain programs.
But should you use a strength training app to guide you through workouts? Tom Myers, a NASM Certified Personal Trainer at New York Health & Racquet Club and a Running Coach, shared some pros and cons to consider when following this kind of resistance training program.
- Especially as Americans are becoming more sedentary, downloading an app may get a person motivated to move and can make physical activity fun. “But don’t do anything that will hurt you. Make sure to employ some common sense,” said Myers. Guidelines for physical activity issued by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommend that for significant health benefits from exercise, you should engage in at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity each week and include strength training two to three times per week.
- Strength training apps are accessible and generally more affordable than a personal trainer and some gym memberships. Depending on the app, you can do workouts anywhere, making them very convenient.
- Apps that focus on resistance training can introduce a user to new exercises for specific muscles in the body, which helps build knowledge.
- Resistance training apps don’t take into consideration a user’s abilities, injuries or range of motion. The programs on the app could put more strain on joints and tendons than they can sustain.
- Proper form and technique are essential to avoiding injury while strength training and an app is one-sided. An app can’t correct a movement to maximize results or ensure you don’t get hurt. “I rarely see someone doing the exercises they are following on a tablet correctly,” said Myers. The people demonstrating the exercises are generally personal trainers so understand how to move or someone (usually a celebrity) doing the work with a personal trainer by their side.
- Progression is difficult to achieve with strength training apps because workouts aren’t tailored to your individual fitness goals. “The biggest issue with an app is ZERO accountability. The app can’t tell you to add ten pounds of resistance or more importantly, when to take ten off to preserve form. An app cannot gauge intensity. Hence, you could be seeing half the amount of progress you should be due to low intensity or you could get injured by operating at too high an intensity too frequently,” explained Myers.
It’s important to lift weights consistently for a healthier life. If you are going to follow a strength training program from an app, Myers recommends writing all the exercises down and taking a video of yourself performing those exercises, so you can review and correct yourself. However, he warns, there will be some things you may be doing wrong that you will not be able to see in a video.
If you are just starting a strength training program, it’s highly recommended to get the help of a personal trainer who can help guide you through exercises to ensure you are working safely and efficiently to meet your goals. As always, check with your doctor before starting a new exercise routine.