Video games are better on a big screen and so are guided workouts! And now that the FitBit Coach personalized training app is available to download for Windows 10 and Xbox, getting and staying fit is more doable than ever (Photo courtesy of FitBit)

Fitness Apps aid workouts

You don’t have to spend all your time and money to stay fit.

We all have busy lives — it comes with the times we live in — and while this does wonders for productivity, it can mean that it is increasingly difficult to find the time or energy to stay in shape. Either we’re neck deep in social obligations or we’re constantly grinding for a paycheck — either way we’re not exactly eager to set aside huge amounts of time to work out every week. However, the best fitness apps will help you stay fit — and they’ll do it without requiring a huge time commitment.

Spring and warm summer weather coming, so everyone suddenly remembering the shorts and bathing suits packed away — for now. The best fitness apps are ready any type of weather — whether it’s the sunny, 60 degree perfect walking weather from midweek or Thursday’s cold, damp north wind chilling us to the bone.

Apps supplying you with quick High-Intensity-Interval-Training (HIIT) routines will fill your exercise quota in no time flat.

High-intensity interval training (HIIT) has been gaining in popularity recently, and for good reason — a workout promising big results from short workouts is going to sound pretty appealing to people who are short on time. Apple has even announced the Apple Watch will soon have an HIIT function.

There are three different energy systems used by your body during exercise, one aerobic system that uses oxygen as fuel, and two that are anaerobic, using lactic acid and phosphates as their fuel. Long-duration cardio training (running, swimming, cycling) is dependant on the first of these energy systems, as it's the only energy system that can continue to feed muscles for long periods of time.

The problem with this is low-intensity training burns a relatively small amount of calories, so in order to achieve a caloric deficit for weight loss, a large amount of this exercise needs to be done.

High-intensity exercise, on the other hand, burns a large amount of calories, but you’re unable to sustain it for long enough that it makes a significant difference to overall fitness.

HIIT bridges the gap between the two training disciplines by interspersing short periods of high-intensity exercise with periods of low-intensity, to help you recover while still burning calories.

You basically need three things for HIIT: an exercise of your choice, will power and a timer.

The exercise needs to be something you can do for extended periods of time. Static bike is perfect, because it’s easy to shift quickly between low and high intensity. Running machines can work, but they need to be set up to alternate between the intensities. Depending on your level of intensity, it can get risky having sudden changes of speed happening out of your control.

A lot of people do burpees as a HIIT exercise, which seems to make sense because it’s a full-body exercise, but the fundamental problem with these is that you're likely to reach muscular fatigue, which will inhibit your ability to push yourself to your desired level of cardiovascularly.

If you don’t have access to a gym — or would just prefer to do your exercise using body weight — then skipping, star jumps, and even jogging on the spot can all be employed.

To do HIIT exercise you need a good timer. Why not use an app?

Seconds

Seconds is an app for creating your own exercise timers. It has templates for circuit training, HIIT and custom timers. You can adjust the length of the high- and low-intensity periods, you can adjust the number of sets you’re going to be doing, and you can name the exercises — so if you’re doing a circuit it’ll tell you you’re on the kettlebells next.

During your workout it gives clear audio signals for starting and stopping, and the screen has a massive countdown on it, so even when sweat is streaming into your eyes you should still be able to see how long you have to go before you can rest.

Seconds is free to download and use.

Fitbit Coach

You don’t need a FitBit to use this app, but it does require paying a small monthly fee for an annual subscription. You can customize your workouts depending on your fitness level, choose your preferred coach, create personalized workout plans based on your progress, feedback and goals.

Fitbit Coach functions as your personal digital training coach, adapting exercise routines to match your physical capability, as well as your daily activity tracked with the Fitbit fitness tracker. Workouts are carefully calibrated to be challenging, without being too difficult. The app provides guided video workouts, with varied routines, step-by-step guidance, and accompanying workout playlists to provide music that complements your workout. A premium subscription unlocks a greater variety of workouts, along with expanded features.

Nike+ Training Club

With this very comprehensive and extremely stylish app, Nike offers 100+ workouts varying from endurance, mobility and strength with a host of both swift, 15-minute workouts and longer endurance sessions — so you can constantly change up your workout.

Daily Yoga

Fitness isn’t just about squat-thrusts and burpees. This app explores alternative ways to stay fit by packing in high definition video as an ideal introduction to the ways of the Yogis.

All the routines are under 30 minutes and there are 50 classes available ‑ the Yoga for Runners is particularly recommended if you’re a jogger and getting worryingly stiff — and each session is categorized according to the body part you want to focus on.

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