At its core, weight loss is about thermodynamics — calorie intake versus calorie expenditure. For all of the crazy contraptions, crash diets, and “miracle pills” you’ve seen advertised ad nauseum, it’s really just that simple.
Now, with just a single trip to the iTunes store, you can put together a complete fitness plan that’ll get you on your way to shedding the pounds and feeling better than ever before. Below, we’ll look at 5 iPhone apps that will set you up with a plan for cardio, calisthenics, and calorie accountability.
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Calorie Tracker by LIVESTRONG.COM
When it comes to weight loss, it all starts with the proper diet. It’s said that 3500 calories is equal to one pound of fat loss. To retain a 500 calorie a day deficit for 7 days would be equal to 3500 calories, or one pound of fat loss per week. While the best results do come from a combination of diet and exercise, it’s been my experience that it’s much easier to cut hundreds of calories from my diet than it is to burn those calories in exercise.
LIVESTRONG’s Calorie Tracker is a perfect solution for quickly and easily logging the foods you eat and having the calorie calculations done automatically. This app also boasts the largest food database, containing over 1.3 million food and restaurant items. Weight tracking is a breeze, helping keep you on point and motivated.
Couch-to-5k by Active.com
There’s several similar apps on the market, but my favorite is Couch-to-5k by Active.com. The user interface is pleasing and easy to navigate, and you have some interesting customization options, such as choosing different trainer voices/personas.
Running newbies fear not; this is a 9 week program that’s designed to take you from a sedentary lifestyle to being able to run/jog 3.1 miles (5k). Workouts can be repeated, which is nice if you have an off day and don’t complete a run, as happens to many of us from time to time.
Your phone’s GPS automatically plots your runs, and there is also optional Facebook & Twitter posting, should you wish to share your run results with your friends.
Once you finish up Couch-to-5k, Nike+ Running is a great app to “graduate” to. You’ll find many of the same options: GPS route tracking, audio feedback (though it isn’t “encouragement,” like with Couch-to-5k), and Facebook posting.
One thing I prefer over Couch-to-5k is that because CT5k includes warm-up and cool-downs for each workout, you can’t see your distance/pace just during the period that you ran/jogged. Since there’s no particular agenda with Nike+, you can simply just start the app when you’re ready to run/jog.
Consider this the Couch-to-5k of pushups. Hundred PushUps is a 6 week progressive training program, designed to help you reach the goal of completely 100 consecutive pushups. The key here is correct form; when performed correctly, pushups not only work the shoulders, chest, and triceps, but also help build core strength.
Search YouTube for “military pushups” or “correct pushup form” and you’ll find plenty of demonstrations, but essentially the key is to keep your back, butt, and legs on one continuous plane. Also be sure to lower fully on each rep. Sometimes you’ll see a workout partner holding a fist on the ground for their partner to touch with their chest on each rep, but you can also simulate this by rolling up a sock and placing it on the floor below your chest.
For a more direct core workout, consider CrunchFu by GymFu.com. The concept is somewhat similar to Hundred PushUps, with the goal being to work up to 200 crunches. The key word here is “crunches,” as you’ll find that most apps stay away from situps because the back strain that they can cause.
A favorite feature of CrunchFu is that it checks to ensure that you’re working along the full range of motion (30 degrees off the floor), and will warn you about half reps. As it was said many times during my experience in the Army, “If you cheat your body, you cheat yourself!”
Chris Johnson is a freelance writer for Advanced Body Solutions, a personal training and nutrition company based in Charlotte, NC.