1. 5K Runner
Some people are naturally athletic. They have strength and endurance, and they have no problem chasing after a bus or playing an impromptu game of football. For the rest of us, the couch-to-5K program is a great way to get into shape and build up that endurance.
We’ve all been there: getting back on the treadmill after a few months and realizing that a mile is a lot longer than we remember. Pushing ourselves for a few days and then falling off the bandwagon. What we’ve been missing, and what 5K Runner provides, is structure. The program lasts nine weeks, starting with one minute of running and one and a half minutes walking, repeated eight times. There are three runs a week, and each week (or sometimes between weeks) the program has you run for longer periods of time until you are running for 30 minutes straight. If you have a bad day you can repeat it after resting for a few days, and your body gets stronger with each run.
The app allows you to listen to music while on your run without worrying about the timing, because when it’s time to change gears a nice voice will come on and tell you. There are several other couch-to 5K-program apps but this one has the first four runs for free, and it’s only $2.99 to get the rest of the program.
Sure, it’s nice to hear “Well done!” at the end of your run, but you want a more detailed way to keep track of your progress.
RunKeeper uses your phone’s GPS to track your location and pace, and after your run you can see your mile splits and where you actually went on a map. If you have a heart monitor you can even connect that.
It’s not the prettiest running app, but this is the only one that directly connects to Fitocracy and if you’re running intervals like in 5K Runner it saves you a lot of time entering data. Add friends to your Street Team through Facebook if you like, but I think Fitocracy does a better job of the social media approach.
This real life video game is a great social app for anyone who struggles with motivation. Earn points and level up by tracking all your workouts, or lose points if you curl in the squat rack. Follow your friends or the folks who have the body you want to get ideas for new workouts. Complete fitness quests for extra points while also trying out new types of exercise. FYI: lifting earns you points a lot faster than cardio. Ass to the grass, folks.
Join groups of like-minded people: my favorite is called “Workout Haiku.” Students and faculty should join the University of California Santa Barbara group for upcoming fitness challenges.
The app tracks your personal records for time, weight and distance, which is an easy way to track your strength and endurance gains.
If you haven’t already heard: abs are made in the kitchen, not in the gym. For those of us who don’t really understand macronutrient ratios and how much sugar is in that smoothie, MyFitnessPal is a great way to track your fuel intake to learn what is really going in your body.
Studies show how much people change their diet just by writing down everything they eat, and MyFitnessPal makes it easy by using your phone’s camera to scan barcodes on food packages. Enter your height, weight and goal weight and MyFitnessPal will calculate what your caloric intake and nutrient ratios should be. It’s one less thing to think about as you work your way to that sexy beach bod.