New Years Resolutions: Track It!

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NYE Fireworks in Sydney, Australia

New Years Resolutions
As we close in on Xmas, New Years Eve, and the accompanying New Years resolutions which will no doubt follow the holiday festivities and overindulgences, many of you are perhaps preparing for your New Years resolutions. While there’s nothing bad about making new years resolutions per se, I’ve never personally been a big fan of them – they’re made, they’re broken, and most people end up on a merry-go-round of constantly broken resolutions from one year to the next.

One Ingredient for Long-Term Success
One method which I’ve applied both personally and professionally which can have an enormous impact on sustaining long-term fitness and exercise habits is recording each and every exercise session, including sets, reps, and weights lifted (or the equivalent if performing cardio). While it sounds fairly painful and tiresome to record every detail in this manner, it does become more straight forward and second nature after some practice and the initial learning curve. This is something I’ve put into practice myself for no less than 6 years, which has helped contribute to my own ability to sustain a long-term training schedule (about 10 years and counting).

There are enormous benefits that come with tracking and recording each workout, including the ability to monitor how you’re progressing from session to session, long-term statistics (that most good fitness-based apps include – such as Fitness Point) to monitor yearly trends, dips and troughs in your workout patterns, and increased flexibility, preparation and exercise ‘programming’ capacity.

I strongly urge you fitness enthusiasts to download a good app and bring your smartphone with you to the gym. While you’ll often hear “the gym is no place for electronic devices” I find this to be a bit of a self-defeating and short-sighted attitude. Just be sure to place your device in a safe position or keep it in your pocket so that you can easily record each set without a dumbbell getting dropped on it, and put it in flight mode if you lack the discipline to ignore incoming calls – when you’re at the gym, you should be in the training mindset, and that means not stopping for a chat or conducting business calls. It’s not that hard, really. And it shows that you’re serious about training and that you’re working with a program.

The Mindset

Don't be this guy.

Don’t be this guy.

This all takes a little bit of pre-planning, but that’s actually another benefit – by planning to take your phone with you, wearing appropriate shorts in which to store it, having your app ready to go and all of the exercises and program already ready-to-roll, you’re mentally preparing yourself to engages in a serious training session. No dicking around; get to the gym, follow your prepared program, get out. Done. Recorded. Filed.  Statisticalised (that’s a word now).

Your Resolution
If you have to make one new years resolution for 2015, let it be this: “I resolve to engage in exercise habits that I can sustain, without injuring myself, and to record every detail so I can look back with pride in 2016!”

Need an app? Sure you do, that’s why you’re still reading – both that and my amazing eloquence with the written language. I only have one app to recommend: Fitness Point Pro, and it’s all you’ll ever need. Don’t disappoint me, go download it. Download it NOW, show me how serious you are. The price of the pro version easily outweighs the value that you’ll obtain from using this app over the coming years, and if you need to be convinced before investing a lofty $4.99 then go ahead and download the free version first – available on both iPhone and Android.

I’m not a hypocrite. I use it myself.

Did you download the app yet?

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iPhone Apps for Fitness

I was lucky enough to receive a hand-me-down iPhone 3g back in early December, and have been delving into the world of iPhone apps ever since. Below are my recommendations for some of the best health/fitness related apps that I have found on iTunes to date (if you have personal recommendations, suggest them in the comments! I’m always looking for highly recommended fitness apps).

I have broken these down into targeted audience, along with main features, cost and drawbacks. Some of these apps, like Gym Buddy, have *tons* of features, so I have included only those which I found most useful and interesting. If you wish to read more just follow the link to the app description in iTunes.

These are all compatible with the 3g onwards.


Gym Buddy
Cost: $3
Audience: intermediate & advanced resistance training enthusiasts
Youtube Video

Features:

  • Record reps, sets & exercises.
  • Create custom workouts.
  • Plan future workout days with inbuilt calendar, or review past workouts
  • In depth summaries, statistics, on-the-go 1RM’s and more
  • Timer for interval training and HIIT
  • Body tracker with fully customisable entry options, for tracking weight, BMI, BF% and more
  • Data management and email backup

Drawbacks:

  • No automatic programming functions (all manual, create your own programs)
  • No pictures of exercises or biomechanical guides/explanations

Review:
I honestly cannot do this app enough justice in this short review. Although I listed two drawbacks, these are necessary compromises for the amount of freedom this app allows the user. It’s assumed that you will do your own exercise research (know the right technique etc), so this isn’t really for the beginner unless you use it in conjunction with another app (ie Fitness Buddy). Highly recommended and easily worth the cost.

MyNetDiary

Cost: Free ($5 for Pro version)
Audience: fat loss / muscle gain
Youtube Video

Features:

  • Track meals, exercise performed (basic calorie tracking purpose), weight, charts & measurements, vitamins & medications (basic note function here)
  • Customise your own ingredients and ‘recipes’ for easy tracking of frequently eaten meals
  • Review macronutrients (carbs, fat, protein), micronutrients (vitamins, minerals, calcium, iron etc) eaten in the day, and whether they meet minimum daily requirements
  • Set calorie goal for the day, easily review remaining calories and macronutrient breakdown
  • Favourites category, easily identify your customised food entries
  • Barcode scanner!
  • Nutrition and consumption calorie reports

Drawbacks:

  • Barcode scanner only in the paid version
  • Barcodes are not always linked to products, and sometimes the barcode scanner does not scan properly (depending on lighting etc)
  • For most products, the only nutritional information available is that which is printed on the package. This means that a lot of micronutrients and even in some cases caffeine, are not displayed

Review:

I’ve never been a big fan of tracking calories, in fact I’ve been very stubbornly opposed to the entire concept for a long time. What this app does is allow you to remove the focus from calorie counting (though the info is all still right there, if calorie counting is your thing), and places the focus on macro and micronutrient tracking. The amount of nutritional information this app allows you to review is fabulous – you want to track how much iron, calcium or vitamin C you’re consuming? Easy!

Sports Tracker

Cost: Free
Audience: cardiovascular crazed / joggers
Youtube Video

Features:

  • Time and measure the distance, speed/pace of your jogs, hikes or walks
  • Measure calories burnt
  • Inbuilt Google maps function, shows where you are, and where’s you’ve jogged
  • Share your routes on Facebook with the click of a button
  • Basic functionality so only a small learning curve

Drawbacks:

  • No inbuilt heart rate monitor support
  • No inbuilt interval timing functions

Review:

Although my favourite jogging app to date, it’s lacking in the two drawbacks mentioned above. Still a great app though and highly recommended, let’s just hope for a future update which includes the two functions above!

Fitness Buddy

Cost: Free
Audience: beginner resistance enthusiasts
Features:

  • Preprogrammed exercise routines
  • Pictures and description of how to perform exercises

Drawbacks:

  •  Unable to modify or enter your own exercises, so you’re constrained to those on offer
  • Not a lot of features

Review:

A great program for beginners, provides some nice descriptions with accompanying pictures.

Cost: Free
Audience: RPG’ers (role playing gamers) who are also fitness enthusiasts
Youtube Video

Features:

  • Reward system (think badges, or ‘achievements’) for accomplishing strength goals
  • Reward system for accomplishing “quests”
  • Leveling system to encourage frequent workouts
  • Facebook/twitter style interface with tons of very active social groups to meet all tastes. The community is truly amazing, with heaps of support and social interaction

Drawbacks:

  • Resistance training focus
  • Information for past workouts can only be entered for 5 days prior to the current date
  • As you level up, it becomes harder to level up – but that’s what RPG’ing is all about!! (incentive to train harder)

Review:

Although not technically a simple app for the iPhone and more of an interface app for the Fitocracy website (requires sign-in prior to use), I had to include it on my list. Fitocracy has helped motivate me in a way that nothing else has, and given me goals where before I really had none. If you’re an RPG’ing nerd, like me, and also into resistance training – Fitocracy is an absolute must.

What smartphone apps have you found that help to organise, record and plan your workouts?

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