Frankly, the science behind gaining muscle isn’t very difficult; it mostly comes down to loading up the bar, and then loading up the fork. That’s not to say it doesn’t take discipline and commitment. That’s why any help we can get is appreciated. So if the math is so simple, why do so many fitness apps sport more features than a Japanese toilet? All those gizmos and gadgets can be more hindrance than help.

Greatist has rounded up 11 of the best strength training apps to lift smarter (all at least available on iPhone; Androids never fear, there are options here, too!). These apps will help anyone work out right, eat better, rest up, and track the whole thing, all on a mobile device. Read on to find out how!

Getting Stronger

Time in the gym should be time spent working, not futzing with a phone. Skip the complex apps with tons of preloaded workouts by who-only-knows and walk in the gym with a plan from a trustworthy source, and pared down apps like:

Pumping Weight
Pumping Weight

Aside from being devastatingly handsome, this simple guy sports some nifty features, like automatically recording rest periods. That’s helpful for judging the intensity of a particular session (plus it fosters a beat-the-clock kind of focus). Although Pumping Weight does a fantastic job of recording and visually charting progress with everything from weights to intervals, it isn’t entirely intuitive. Sacrifice 10 minutes learning its ins-and-outs and Pumping Weight will become an indispensable training tool.

Details: Cost: $2.99. Available for iOS.

Gym Buddy

Gym Buddy is ugly. Very ugly. But it makes up for aesthetics with no-nonsense functionality that’s great for serious lifters. Take, for example, the swipe-through interface that makes tracking supersets super simple, plus it’s one of the few apps that can juggle multiple lifting programs. (Pro Tip: track more than 150 workouts and the app starts to lag, annoyingly.) The preset timers only offer 30, 60, and 120 second rest periods but they do count down to an audible boxing bell cue, which is embarrassingly motivational — cue the Rocky montage!

Details: Cost: $2.99. Available for iOS.

Gym Hero

A lesson in simplicity, this app is little more than a digital notebook. It can hold multiple programs and backs up automatically to the web, but for anything else — timers, instruction, the ability to track cardio — look elsewhere.

Details: Cost: Free. Available for iOS.

StrongLifts 5×5

This is an intuitive and well designed app that automates the super-popular StrongLifts 5×5 program. It can figure out ideal weights, tracking progress, and even deloading folks automatically when they plateau — but that’s all it does. There’s no room for tracking cardio or accessory work. Basically it’s all about drinking the “5 exercise, 5 set, 5 rep” Kool-Aid, or find a supplemental journaling app (Gym Hero, for example).

Details: Cost: Free. Available for iOS.

Digital Diets for Real Life Muscles

Livestrong MyPlate Calorie Tracker

A huge part of strength training, whether it be dropping fat or adding muscle, is going to come down to what goes into the tank, but keeping nutrition on point during the 160+ hours not spent grunting and grinding out reps can be harder than the actual workout. Food diaries can make monitoring calorie (and protein) intake considerably easier. It’s vital, however, to pick a good one like these:


Powerful and simple, MyNetDiary addresses the two biggest problems the trackers below have: It offers a decent portfolio of foods available offline, but MyNetDiary also comes with access to an online database that rivals the best resources out there. The app also includes a handy barcode scanner (though it’s really only useful in the paid version), and even a built in “Before & After” feature for taking selfies, which may sound silly, but let’s be honest — vanity is a heck of a motivator.

Details: Cost: Free, or $3.99 for the Pro Version (recommended). Available for iOS, Android, and Blackberry.

Tap & Track

The fact this guy works offline is huge (especially in New York, where subway rides are the perfect time to figure out what Apollo Ono’s fave foods really do to a diet). Tap & Track also allows for macro targets (protein, carbs and fat) for the day, which is a basic feature most trackers lack. While it’s incredibly intuitive, searching the database can get frustrating (Pop Chips? No results. Popchips? Oh, there we go!) especially since it’s probably somewhere in Tap & Track’s well-appointed database.

Details: Cost: $3.99. Available for iOS.

Livestrong’s MyPlate Calorie Tracker

Livestrong’s huge user base makes its roster of eats one of the best in the business (banh mí for lunch? BAM! There’re 30 options where most trackers have none). Don’t underestimate the importance of a good database, because really, who is going to spend five minutes entering the breakdown manually? That said, Livestrong’s Achilles’ heel is its reliance on the Internet. It may spare space on phones, but for anyone with slow (or no) service tracking, using MyPlate can become a trying experience.

Details: Cost: $2.99. Available for iOS, Android, most Blackberry devices (see app store for details), and Window’s Phone.

Make Sure to Rest

Sleep, along with training intelligently and eating well, is a key cog in any strength plan: get too little and the deficit will show in the gym. Plus it can lead to overtraining. While these apps have even greater limitations than their pricier brethren, for people who chronically miss out on the Zzz’s they can be useful to identify underlying problems so insomnia doesn’t have to be taken lying down (*groan*).

Sleep Cycle Alarm Clock

Sleep Cycle attempts to wake users during the lightest stages of their sleep cycle so they awake feeling more refreshed. To pull off this feat the app has users pick a timeframe in which they need to rise, then sleep with their phones in the bed so it can use the accelerometer to sense tossing and turning in the night. The app boasts that it was once the top paid app in nine countries, which is a testament to how useful many have found it. For the most part, I found it seemed to always go off at the earliest possible moment.

Details: Cost: $0.99. Available for iOS.

EasyWakeup Pro

While largely interchangeable with the above app, this slightly more expensive option also seemed to measure depth of sleep more reliably, which could be valuable to someone who’s trying to understand their sleep patterns better. However, even with this additional sensitivity, the alarm still seems to go off at the beginning of the designated wake-up window.

Details: $4.99. Available for iOS.

Track Your Progress

Working out? Check. Eating better? Check. Resting right? Check. Now all that’s left is to make sure all that hard work is turning into real results. These apps will help chart a user’s progress and stay on top of those strength training goals (we might even bust a plateau or two).


For anyone who’s looking to add strength for functional reasons, being able to measure how weight room accomplishments translate into real world gains, fitnessMeter’s an awesome tool. Using the phone’s camera the app can automatically time suicides, sprints (though it’s only helpful if they’re under 20 meters), and measure vertical leap. While all of these would admittedly be more accurately measured by a real-life person, fitnessMeter frees you from the need to drag a friend to the track every day.

Details Cost: $1.99. Available for iOS.


For anyone who plays sports, this simple app is a great way to quantify in-game performance. That could be a major help in figuring out if all that time under the bar is paying off. GameTrac makes managing the stats of one person, or an entire team (including wins and losses), incredibly easy — it even offers to populate teams using contacts found on the phone. Most major sports come preloaded, but everyting from the games to the actual states are customizable. Just don’t underestimate a stat sheet’s ability to heat up a friendly game of hoops.

Details: Cost: Free. Available for iOS.

Have you ever used an app or technology to improve your training regime? Any apps we missed? Share your experience in the comments below.