App or web site to design custom workouts.
March 2, 2011 5:49 PM   Subscribe

I want an online or android fitness site/app that can keep a list of available equipment/preferences and then design strength training routines for each specified day. This seems like a pretty obvious thing for sites like fitday etc. to do, so it must be out there, but I can't find it.

So I have a gym. The gym has some things and not some other things. For example, yes there are weight training machines, but they don't have every machine ever. I want to be able to say I have these machines and not these. I have a ball and one of those half-balls, but no balance board etc. I also want to be able to set preferences so I don't include particular exercises (e.g. if I find an exercise hard on my knees) and have that no longer included.

Then I want to be able to get a different routine two or three times a week that would cover all the major muscles over the course of the week.

Most things I find don't let you give specific details of the equipment available or let you set "do not use" for exercises, though they may let you substitute exercises in and out one by one. I'd like to set my preferences and let it go.

I'd prefer an android app over a web site, but I'd take a web site. I might even take software. I'd also be willing to pay some not-giant fee or purchase price.

Does this exist?
posted by If only I had a penguin... to Health & Fitness (12 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Slightly less high-tech than you're looking for, but then it's doing the exercise that matters, not the format you use to choose it... Deck of Cards Workout
posted by Kandarp Von Bontee at 6:21 PM on March 2, 2011

Thanks, Kandarp, but that only involves 2 exercises! I'm ok with the non-high techness of it, but not so happy with the lack of variety and the fact that it's not actually designed to systematically cover each area.

However, before I read the link when I was imagining how a deck of cards might work, I was thinking it might be multiple decks: pick one from this pile, one from this pile etc. where each pile is a different muscle group. Then you would just have to throw out the cards involving equipment or exercises you don't want. So now I'm thinking if I had a giant list of exercises with different equipment maybe I could simulate something like that with excel.

I should add: I would also need descriptions of good form for different exercises. And part of the problem is that while every gym I've belonged to before has had basically one machine for every muscle group so you could just go through and do 3 sets on each machine, my current gym has a few specialty machines, but then just one giant thing with cables and pulleys and different types of handles. Though I can imagine ways of doing different things that look like exercises I'm familiar with with this machine, I'm afraid of setting it up wrong and hurting myself. Thus I would like descriptions/instructions.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 7:21 PM on March 2, 2011

Sorry, didn't realise Ross' deck workouts only featured 2 movements. But hopefully the gist is clear - the system can be modified by adding in as many different exercises as you care to remember.

Personally I would opt for a reduced variety of exercises, specifically only those that I fully understand how to perform (which often requires a bit of study), know which movement patterns and muscles they benefit, and most importantly can track how I'm progressing in doing them. The quality of a workout isn't measured in variety of movements, but in consistency of training certain movements over time. Take a scattershot approach and you never actually get good at anything: you're spinning your wheels and inviting injury.

Sorry if I'm coming off as unhelpful, but I believe there's a sound reason the thing you're looking for doesn't exist: exercising properly does require a degree of knowledge and planning. That's why there are personal trainers. I've never come across any app that spontaneously generates a worthwhile workout for the gym novice, especially one that imparts a safe level of comprehension about every crazy, mono-function machine in the gym and how you ought to factor their use into your own personal routine (which may be geared towards bodybuilding, powerlifting, olympic lifting, plyometrics, strength-endurance, aerobic or anaerobic conditioning, etc. etc. etc.) There are just too many variables.
posted by Kandarp Von Bontee at 7:57 PM on March 2, 2011

There's an excel spreadsheet linked on that page that lets you enter up to 48 of your own exercises, from which it will generate a random workout tied to a deck of cards.
posted by chazlarson at 8:07 PM on March 2, 2011

I should point out that the Excel sheet picks four of the exercises at a time; one for each suit.
posted by chazlarson at 8:13 PM on March 2, 2011

Have a look at JeFit, it may do what you want.
posted by rodgerd at 9:47 PM on March 2, 2011 [1 favorite]

Is there a power rack? This is really the most effective exercise program out there, and all you need is a power rack / squat+bench rack.
posted by Earl the Polliwog at 10:40 PM on March 2, 2011 [1 favorite]

I can't answer the question as you would like it, but I will be helpful none the less.

You should workout in cycles. Follow a program for 6-8 weeks and then switch it up. Your body gets used to doing the same routine over and over and you get less of a return on your effort. And it isn't from doing the same exercise. There is plenty variety in a simple exercise. For example, the bench press:

You can do low weight/high reps. High weight/few reps/many sets. You can pause at the top of the movement. You can do half a dozen half reps at the bottom. You can do explosive movement at the beginning with high negatives.

So, my advice to you is go to a comprehensive site like BodyBuilding and use one of their guides or use their program database. If there are any exercises in there that you can't/prefer not to do they have an exercise database that you can find substitutions with. Most of them are basic (read: effective) exercises that don't requite fancy-pants equipment.

I spent about 30 minutes and put together four months worth of workouts and I keep them on file so when I get home from the gym I can put tomorrow workout in my gym bag and not forget it. The solution isn't as good as I would like either, but every app (iPhone) that I have seen that does something similar is really quite awful. Hope that helps.
posted by munchingzombie at 11:34 PM on March 2, 2011

I'm going to be one of those annoying askers (I want to learn to swim, but I can't get wet...) though hopefully not that bad.

It seems like if it didn't' exist because it's a bad idea, there wouldn't be a million sites out there doing essentially the same thing minus the ability to specify what you have available and permanently block specific exercises. I would think letting you do this would make it more safe/effective not less. There are lots of sites/apps/programs that will generate a different workout for you every day. The problem is that they only give you the most basic options for preferences and then require you to go in and customize/substitute one by one if it's not right.

I have looked at JEFIT and it does not let you say what you have available. I had high hopes for the bodybuilding database, but it seems only to do free weight type exercises and not cover the giant magic cable machine.

Randomly designed workouts obviously won't work since one could easily get four variations on a bicep curl followed by two neck stretches, which would kind of be sucky. It does have to be somewhat systematic in making sure everything gets covered.

And yes, when I say variety essentially what I mean is that it would include variations on basic exercises: Today do it with freeweights on an incline, wednesday do it flat, friday with a different grip, Sunday use the machine, wednesday use a yoga ball, Friday use the weird cable machine etc. (No, I can't think of an exercise to which all those would apply, but you get the idea).

I'm really surprised this doesn't exist. It seems like allowing you to set specific preferences would be a simple thing for fitday/sparkpeople/jefit/etc./etc. to add.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 5:30 AM on March 3, 2011

I haven't used either of these, but I'm looking for the same thing you are, these are my top 2 candidates at the moment:

1) FitSync: website with mobile app available. Free version only gives you use of the site and a 15 day trial of the app. Premium version is $40/ year.

2)Gym Technik: website with a mobile version for your phone, seems to be completely free.
posted by Laura in Canada at 9:31 AM on March 3, 2011

iFitness is the gold standard app on the iPhone. Or rather it was, until Apple removed it from the store for reasons unknown. The developer's website says they are solely focused on Android development now.
posted by Exploding Gutbuster at 6:41 AM on March 4, 2011

Thanks, all. None of these let you start by listing/selecting available equipment, which is the feature I'm looking for.

For the moment I've decided to stick with jefit, which unfortunately meant creating my own routines by hand, which also unfortunately also means no real variety. Other random things I don't like about jefit: shortage of thigh exercises, and the web site makes reference to men and ladies, instead of men and women. If I find something better within a year I'll post it here.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 5:22 AM on March 7, 2011

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