Gym goers of the 20th century didn’t need fancy apps or trackers to get in shape, but with easier access to more processed food and a heck of a lot more distractions, namely the one that’s always in the palm of our hands, bodybuilders and fitness enthusiasts from any training background can benefit from modern day technology.
Between advanced heart monitoring options, seamless macronutrient mobile applications, cardio machines that transmit workout data to phones and the rise of at-home digital exercise programs, sticking to any kind of schedule has become more realistic for the masses, not just hardcore bodybuilders.
Here are some ways you can use fitness technology gadgets to lose/gain weight, improve aerobic endurance, stick to a schedule, and give yourself a kick in the butt when you’re falling off of the gym trail.
Heart rate monitoring
Heart rate monitoring has evolved from fingertip sensors to chest straps to wrist straps to even headbands (Moov), bras (OMbra), and caps (Spree Smart Cap). Polar was the first sports technology to focus on heart rate, and their chest straps have been a mainstay of fitness for their accuracy.
- Under Armour’s Record database offers a weight scale and heart rate monitor to track fitness through its easy to use UA Record app.
- Nike+ integrates with the Apple Watch and accepts signals from most chest straps.
- Garmin’s wrist heart rate monitors are pretty accurate and they make chest straps too.
- Suunto sells GPS watches and chest straps together at $200 or less, which is on the low end of the price spectrum.
The benefit of tracking heart rate is that the outcome of any aerobic fitness program, even if it’s just cardio 1-2 times a week, includes a lower resting heart rate and increased stamina.
A lower resting heart rate lowers your risk of heart disease and strengthens the heart itself so it can pump blood more efficiently, allowing for more exercise work to be done.
Using an app that tracks heart rate in real-time during long distance, slow cardio workouts serve as a welcome distraction as sometimes 60+ minutes of cardio can get boring.
Not only that, but seeing your heart rate during training enables you to push harder to reach a high percentage of your maximum heart rate, or to take your foot off the brakes when your HR is getting too high due to fatigue.
People looking to lose weight for important medical reasons or just to get shredded, as well as fitness enthusiasts trying to bulk up, have many options available to ensure they see the difference in the mirror.
- For starters, there are digital Bluetooth and Wi-fi connected food scales with accompanying apps, such as Bite, Situ and Drop, allowing for accurate macronutrient measurements that are automatically sent to your phone.
- For eating out, apps like Calorie Counter by Fat Secret, My Macros Plus and My Fitness Pal include features such as scanning barcodes, searching restaurants, popular brands, and pre-installed recipes.
A notebook, Google Drive, or Microsoft Excel are obvious ways to track your customized nutrition information, but after a while, this may start to feel robotic and get boring.
An app’s interface makes tracking macronutrients fun and includes some nutrition information not available to someone eating at a restaurant.
Plus, many fitness apps that track heart rate, calories burned, and other metrics sync into these same apps that count macronutrients and have recipes.
Smart machines and wearables
Many cardio machines, specifically treadmills and spin bikes, are now made with Bluetooth or Wi-fi technology.
- The Bowflex Max Trainer and Nautilus T616 treadmill sync heart rate data, calories burned, distance and effort from a chest strap and the machine to an accompanying mobile app.
- Bowflex also makes Bluetooth dumbbells, called the Select Tech 560s, which syncs the weight, reps and sets to an app. It also provides real-time form coaching.
- The Push Strength band is a wearable chip that monitors barbell speed, power, jump height and more.
- Atlas wearables identify the exercise you’re doing, tracks the reps, muscle groups worked and allows you to go back in time and compare the numbers.
- Athos is compression apparel that holds a chip that records EMG muscle activity and sends it straight to your phone.
Convenient wearables allow the users to see exactly what muscles they’re working, and track progress over time, which benefits the lone fitness enthusiast, personal trainers and their clients, and professional sports organizations.
Digital exercise programs
P90x is one of the most popular digital workout programs, but digital fitness has expanded beyond DVDs.
- Most recently, Daily Burn Spartan and Daily Burn Barre Harmony provide exercise programs for the outdoor and indoor fitness enthusiast.
- Beachbody Core de Force is a 30-day challenge containing mixed-martial arts inspired moves designed for burning fat.
- Perhaps the most motivating advancement in fitness tech is Peloton, which offers a spin bike with a screen that you can view live Peloton classes taking place in New York City from the comfort of your home. You can also choose classes that are not live and do them on any spin bike.
Digital exercise programs like these set up a schedule for you and track your exercise completions, meaning all you have to do is click or tap a button to commit.
There’s no substitute for hard work and a genuine passion for exercise. But, there are tech items make the fitness lifestyle easier to adhere to and even more enjoyable than seeing progress in a notebook.
Get a heart rate monitor, buy a food scale, maybe even a Bluetooth one, try a wearable, and/or sign up for a free trial to a workout program. You’re bound to find something interesting in the technology world that will help you become more fit.