The Best Free Workout Apps to Try This Year – Sports Illustrated
The Best Free Workout Apps to Try This Year Sports Illustrated
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Exercise motivation can dwindle without tips, tricks and coaching to get your sweat on. The best free workout apps offer those reminders and help, along with access to a variety of workouts and general health information. Apps organize workouts by time, level and workout type, like yoga, pilates, HIIT, strength training and cardio. If you need a way to work out on the go or don’t want to waste time scrolling, these free apps are a great option.
Free workout apps are made in different configurations and platforms and may emphasize one type of exercise over another. Many have options to make in-app purchases or upgrade to a paid subscription to unlock extra features or access to a personal trainer.
There’s no one app that outshines them all. Rather, you’ll have to determine based on your fitness goals, fitness level and preferred workout type which is the best free workout app for you. It can take some trial and error, but since the apps are free, you can try an app for a week or two until one clicks with your workout style. Our list includes the apps we think stand out for ease of use and the variety and quality of the workouts. Some only provide a free trial, but that trial can give you a good idea of whether or not the app is the right fit.
Our Picks for the Best Free Workout Apps:
- Overall Best Free Workout App: Nike Training Club
- Best Free Workout App for Women: Sweat
- Best Free Workout App for Men: Fiit
- Best Free Workout App for Runners: Nike Run Club
- Best Free Outdoor Workout App: AllTrails
- Best Free Workout App for Community: Map My Run
- Best Free Gym Workout App: Train Fitness
- Best Free Workout App for Tight Schedules: Johnson and Johnson 7 Minute Workout
If you’re willing to spend a little more, one of our favorite workout apps to help you reach your fitness goals is Future. Future brings personal training right to your phone. The app pairs you with a personal trainer who will help you come up with a fitness plan that works for you based on your interests, goals and current workout routine. While Future requires a monthly subscription, it is offering a free 14-day trial so you can try the app to see if it is a good fit for you.
- Apple/Android rating: 4.8/4.3
- In-app purchases: No
- Top features: Access to 450+ on-demand classes, training programs available, guides and health tips
The Nike Training Club tops many free workout app lists because of the depth and variety of the classes and training plans. It used to have a premium membership option, but Nike nixed it during the COVID-19 pandemic. The app includes more than 450 on-demand classes in a wide range of categories, including but not limited to yoga, strength, zero equipment and cardio. You can focus on specific muscle groups or a broader fitness goal, like mobility or strength. There are also 14 training programs if you need help developing a longer-term workout plan. Granted, you can only do one training plan at a time, which can get annoying if you want to customize your plan by combining two programs.
The app provides access to health information from articles, blogs and podcasts. Plus, there are recipes to help you develop a well-rounded fitness plan. The format of the workouts varies by type and instructor. Some have guided instructions, while others don’t. You can also elect to turn off music or connect to Apple Music to listen to your own tunes. A couple of downsides—you can only do one training program at a time, and you have to download the workouts to your phone. Finally, the number of features and layout of the app can be overwhelming at first.
- 450+ on-demand workouts
- 14 training plans available
- Option to listen to Apple Music
- The number of features can be overwhelming
- Can only do one training plan at a time
- Have to download workouts to a phone
- Apple/Android rating: 4.6/4.3
- In-app purchases: Yes
- Top features: Offers nutrition plans, selection of trainers, includes challenges and on-demand classes
Sweat is only free during the seven-day trial period. However, it’s an impressive app with strong features for those who want an individualized approach to fitness. Sweat is like having a personal trainer at every workout. There are multiple trainers on the app with a wide selection of training plans. It’s a great option for women because it features everything from gym training to home-based bodyweight workouts and post-partum training options too.
The daily workouts begin by customizing based on your location (gym or home) and the available equipment, like a kettlebell or resistance bands. There’s also an option to connect to your Spotify account to play your favorite playlist while you work out. We especially like the instructional videos that come along with the workouts to provide examples and tips on proper form. The app even times rest periods for you, taking most of the brain work out of training.
There are options to jump into a challenge to use competition as motivation, and there’s nutrition support with recipes and meals. You can filter through recipes based on your dietary needs, like gluten or dairy-free. For Apple Watch users, there’s an Apple Watch app, too, allowing you to follow some plans through the watch.
- Trainer selection
- Diverse workout options
- Includes instructional videos and a timer with each workout
- Nutritional guidance and information
- Doesn’t have a true free tier
- Apple/Android rating: 4.9/4.4
- In-app purchases: Yes
- Top features: Two membership tiers
The Fiit app is technically only free during the 14-day trial period when you sign up for one of the Unlimited plans. The Unlimited Yearly plan is $9.99 per month and the Unlimited Monthly Plan is $19.99 per month. The less expensive Only plan costs $7.99, but the benefits are highly restrictive in comparison.
The 14-day trial provides access to over 30 training plans, 1,000+ on-demand workouts, community challenges and group classes. The app also tracks and records metrics by connection with over 30+ fitness devices, like FitBit or Garmin.
If you need a little extra motivation, you can also put the app in game mode to compete with global users for top spots on leaderboards. The Only plan is far more limited, with only access to 30+ training plans, DJ music tracks, a Spotify connection to play your own music and integration with Google and Apple Health. The biggest downside is that it doesn’t have a free tier, only a free trial. However, if you use that trial to test the training plans, you’ll get a good idea of the overall flavor of the app.
- Integrates with many fitness devices
- Records a wide range of performance metrics
- Provides access to training plans and on-demand classes
- Options to participate in challenges and leaderboards
- No free tier
- No trial period for the Only plan
- Apple/Android rating: 4.8/4.2
- In-app purchases: No
- Top features: Access to numerous training plans, weekly and monthly challenges, custom goal setting
There are a lot of great workout apps if you’re looking to up your mileage, but runners would be hard-pressed to find a free app better than Nike Run Club (NRC). The app used to have a premium membership, but Nike got rid of it during the COVD-19 shutdowns. To this day, it’s still free. Runners get full access to a wide selection of training plans for 5k, 10k, half and full marathons.
Workouts are broken down by distance, time and even the mood you’re in. There’s also the option to use the app to track your run without using a training plan at all. Or you can customize your run goals by setting a time, distance or speed you’d like to maintain. If you need extra motivation, join a weekly or monthly challenge. This versatile app has something for all runners, from beginners and seasoned runners, and it doesn’t cost a dime. The downside—there’s so much to take in, it can be overwhelming.
- Access to a wide range of race training plans
- Workouts are divided by distance, mood, goals and experience level
- Can track basic run metrics
- The dashboard can be overwhelming at first
- Apple/Android rating: 4.9/4.8
- In-app purchases: Yes
- Top features: 300,000+ trails uploaded and accessible, filter trails, add new trails and save favorites
The AllTrails app is well-known among outdoor enthusiasts. It has two membership tiers, with an impressive free version. Even the paid membership is affordable, costing $35.99 per year. The free membership includes access to the 300,000+ uploaded trails. A filter feature can sort trails by length, experience level, type of activity (hiking, running, cycling) and distance from your current location.
You can add trails as you explore, save favorites and share trails on social media. The app acts as an activity tracker where you can record your experiences and save photos, too. The free membership includes ads, one thing that the pro membership gets rid of. The pro version is for those who regularly hit the trails and prefer extra information before getting their adventure on, like air quality, satellite weather and heat maps. This version also makes maps available offline and includes an alert system if you stray off route. AllTrails is super user-friendly, but if you want extra protection while you hike, you’ll have to upgrade to the pro membership.
- Access to an incredible number of trail maps
- Useful filter options
- Ability to upload and record your favorite trails
- Share adventures with family and friends
- Can only use maps offline with the pro membership
- Apple/Android rating: 4.8/4.7
- In-app purchases: Yes
- Top features: Tracks routes in real time, extensive list of trackable activities, records metrics
MapMyRun was created by UnderArmour as a workout tracking app with a strong social platform. Each account includes an activity feed, where you can interact with other users or stick strictly to your friends and family. However, the MapMyRun community also includes challenges to help with motivation and create friendly competition. This app does more than track runs. It also records metrics for a number of activities, such as cycling, hiking and water activities.
A favorite feature of many users is real-time GPS route tracking, though it can be inaccurate at times. The GPS feature gives you the ability to record your routes and use them later. You can also access routes saved and shared by other users can upload their routes, giving you instant access to new trails when you’re in unfamiliar territory.
MapMyRun has free and paid tiers, with a couple of key metrics absent from the free version. For example, there are no heart rate zones or cadence information if you don’t pay for the upgrade. That upgrade also offers audio coaching to call out turns and information while you’re on the move.
- Real-time route tracking
- Option to save and share routes
- Records metrics for a wide range of activities
- Social platform offers competition and motivation
- Occasional inaccurate GPS information
- Apple/Android rating: 4.5/NA
- In-app purchases: Yes
- Top features: Automatically records activities and counts reps, syncs with Apple Watch
The Train Fitness app is a workout log app that brings AI to the gym so that users can focus on technique and forget about counting reps. The app syncs with an Apple Watch to record workouts while you’re doing them. For gym rats, that means you don’t have to count reps because the app does it for you. Plus, it has auto-recognition for up to 82 exercises so you don’t necessarily need to stop and write down which lifts you’re doing.
If you do exercises or lifts that are auto-recognized, you can manually enter over 400+ exercises. When the workout is over, you can review data by exercise time, muscle group or exercise. You’ll still have to enter the weight you’re using. This app isn’t designed to guide you through training, but to record your training for you.
- Auto-recognizes 82 exercises
- Option to manually enter over 400 exercises
- Allows users to filter and review data by multiple metrics
- Doesn’t include workouts or training plans
- Only available for Apple Watch
- Apple/Android rating: 4.7/4.5
- In-app purchases: No
- Top features: Quick preset workouts, analytical Smart Workout feature, create custom workouts
When there’s no time for a trip to the gym or even a walk around the corner, the Johnson and Johnson 7 Minute Workout app has 22 preset seven-minute workout programs ready to go. They range in difficulty and target different areas of the body. The app also provides some analytics to check fitness levels and identify motivation to guide users to the right workout.
However, the app is also loaded with 72 exercises with the option to create your own custom workouts. Exercises include different variations to accommodate varied fitness and skill levels, so you can tailor your quick sweat session to your needs. There are options to share results and workouts through popular social media platforms. Workout information is recorded and can integrate with the iPhone Health app. You are, of course, limited to the exercises loaded in the app, but when you’re in a hurry, any exercise is better than no exercise.
- Includes 22 preset workouts
- Option to create custom workouts using 72 exercises
- Records data with the option to share on social networks
- Limited to the 72 uploaded exercises
How to Choose the Best Free Workout App for You
The list of free workout apps and workout apps with a free trial can feel endless. You’ll need to ask yourself key questions to determine which one best fits your goals, lifestyle and preferred workout routine. For example, are you easily bored, needing to switch between pilates, yoga, strength or dance workouts? Or do you know what you like (yoga) and want to only explore more of your favs?
What you want from the app
Do you want to replace a gym membership with a personal trainer in your pocket? Or are you after quick at-home workouts or full-body workouts when you can’t make it to the gym or the weather isn’t cooperating? There are apps that offer a choice of several training plans or those that keep things relatively simple with a list of exercises so you can create new workouts. Do you want the app to act as a workout log or provide instruction? Someone focused on weight loss may benefit from a free training app that includes nutritional tips or recipes.
Once you know what you want the app to do for you, you can eliminate apps that may be great, but aren’t what you’re looking for.
Your workout style
Workout styles vary, from those who prefer a yoga app with guided meditations to those who want an app that includes barre or dance. Someone focused on bodybuilding, weightlifting and running all have very different needs. If you’re into yoga, a rep counting app probably won’t help much. There’s the casual walker, the intense cardio nut, the devoted lifter and many more fitness styles and personalities. An app that fits your style and preferences will offer more value because you’ll actually use it.
How much guidance you need
Someone with years of experience in the gym may only need more workout options or help targeting a specific body part or muscle group versus someone new to working out who needs instructional workout videos or guidance to learn proper form. Some apps offer pictures, videos or access to a personal trainer, though you may have to pay extra for access to these premium features.
Some apps have an impressive library of workouts in different styles and lengths, from 60 minutes to a quick workout shorter than 10 minutes. Free workout apps can also work with the gym equipment available at home or at your local gym. For those looking to use the app for most of their workouts, variety can keep you interested, engaged and your body guessing as to what comes next.
Greater variety generally means you won’t get bored or run out of workout options too. However, some smaller apps designed for very specific purposes like five-minute stretching or five minutes of yoga can still offer value even if they have a smaller workout library.
We only mention app creators when it comes to major sport equipment brands like Adidas, Nike and Under Armour. Many of the best free workout apps are made by well-known brands. If you happen to use one brand over the other, it might be worth looking into their app because sometimes you can register your gear through the app to track how long you’ve used it. This is particularly helpful with smart gear that sends information to the app to make metrics even more accurate.
How We Chose the Best Free Workout Apps
You might have noticed that not every app on our list is entirely free. Every app on the list has at least a free trial period before you have to commit to a monthly or weekly subscription. Other factors we considered included:
- Ease-of-use: An intuitive dashboard with quick links to the most popular features gets you working out before you have time to change your mind.
- User reviews: Apps get rated on both Apple apps and Google Play, and we took those reviews into account. We not only looked for apps with high ratings, but apps that consistently perform well and get regular updates.
- Fit the targeted audience: Apps are designed for a specific group of people. We chose apps that successfully deliver what their targeted audience wants and needs. For example, an app designed as a workout log should have an extensive library of exercises it either recognizes or that you can manually enter. Similarly, a tracking app should have accurate GPS and metrics.
Is there a workout app that’s 100 percent free?
There are workout apps that are 100 percent free. The Nike Run Club, for example, is completely free and includes race training plans and a long list of workouts you can filter to find one that fits your fitness level and goals.
Can I lose weight with a free workout app?
Yes, you can lose weight with a free workout app. However, you’ll need to combine regular exercise with a healthy diet for the best results. Some free workout apps include recipes and other meal plan features to complement their workouts.
Do free workout apps have in-app purchases?
While some workout apps are completely free, others have a free tier with in-app purchases or premium features locked behind a paywall. Many people simply use the free features and don’t worry about the rest. However, you may find that you like the app and want access to extra workouts or playlists.
Can a free workout app track metrics?
Some free workout apps track metrics like distance, time and speed. A few might also include heart rate or cadence. However, if you want full metrics and analytical data, chances are you’ll have to pay a one-time fee or monthly subscription.
Can I get a hard workout with a free workout app?
You can get a hard workout with a free workout app. However, your fitness level and the depth of the workouts offered by the app will ultimately determine if the app provides the intensity you need. Some apps cater to beginners or advanced fitness levels, while others offer workouts for all levels. Pick one that works for you.
Free workout apps give you the power to work out from anywhere. They’re made for different types of users and have different features that may make one a better fit for you than another. Consider the kind of workouts you like to do and the kinds of features you need. It might be worth trying an app with a free trial to see if it’s worth paying a fee or monthly subscription. Then, put that app to good use and track your runs or try a new training program to jump start your fitness.
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