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If you’re new to the world of strength and conditioning, our team at Garage Gym Reviews welcomes you to an exciting journey. Our team may know the best home gym equipment like the back of our hands, but you don’t have to go on a shopping spree in order to start exercising. 

Whether you’re trying to lose weight, get stronger, or achieve a specific fitness goal, there is likely a fitness app for you. Our expert product testers have used over 50 apps to determine which ones are the best workout apps for beginners. 

RELATED: Beginner Barbell Workout

While testing each app, our expert product testers navigated the app, tested workouts, experimented with accountability features, and looked at workout plans on a macro-scale. Our testers were tasked to rate apps on a 1-to-5-star scale across 10 different categories according to our GGR fitness equipment testing methodology. A few of those categories in included:

  • Trial period: Does the app offer a free trial period for beginners to try?
  • Pricing: How does the monthly subscription fee compare to similar apps?
  • Equipment demands: Will the equipment needed for most workouts be suitable for a beginner?
  • Progressive overload: Do workout plans offer progression for beginners or is it a collection of stand alone workouts?
  • Variety: While variety is nice, will the types of workouts offered be overwhelming for a beginner?
  • Instruction: Will beginners be following along with an instructor or follow a visual aid for each exercise? 

Best Workout App for Beginners

  • Best Workout App for Beginners Overall: Caliber
  • Best Beginner Workout App for Variety: Aaptiv
  • Best Personal Training Workout App for Beginners: Future
  • Best Workout App for Beginner Runners: MapMyFitness
  • Best Workout App for Rookie Racers: Joggo
  • Best Free Workout App for Beginners: Nike Training Club 
  • Best Live Workouts for Beginners: Peloton
  • Best Cardio Workout App for Beginners: iFIT

Best Workout App for Beginners Overall: Caliber

Good for: Anyone looking for a strength training routine plus general wellness education 

Best Overall

Caliber Strength Training

GGR Score: 4.68 starstarstarstarstar

Product Highlights

  • Strength training and nutrition app
  • Personalized, data-driven workout programs
  • Expert habit coaching
  • Free and paid versions
  • Private 1:1 coaching available
  • Weekly lessons, metric tracking, nutrition syncing

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Scientifically-based training plans
  • Individualized coaching for both fitness and nutrition with paid subscriptions is reported to be very thorough
  • Free version offers a library of curated workout plans
  • Reportedly easy-to-use

Cons

  • Personalized macronutrient goals only available with paid versions

Bottom Line

Caliber Strength Training is a fitness coaching program grounded in scientific principles designed to increase strength and improve body composition. The app offers both group and individual training plans which are written and modified by a certified coach based on progress.

Why did our product testers pick Caliber for the top spot on this roundup list (and our roundup of general fitness best workout apps)? It’s because Caliber offers an ideal introduction to strength training for any fitness level. There are also three different membership tiers to meet you where you’re at: A free-forever version, pro membership with group coaching for $19 per month, and Premium membership with one-on-one coaching starting at $200 per month.

You may like knowing that the free version of the app is ad-free and grants you access to the entire exercise library, which has over 500 different movements. The app generates workouts from your initial questionnaire based on your equipment, desired frequency, goals, and age. You’ll answer the same questionnaire when getting started, even if you choose the group coaching or private coaching path.

Once you’re set up with the app, our product testers note that demonstration workout videos and overall instruction are high-quality, something we deem important for beginner exercisers. 

“Caliber has easy-to-follow instructional videos,” says Lindsay Scheele, expert product tester and the face of Garage Gym Reviews Everything. Lindsay tested the Caliber Pro membership, which gave Lindsay access to group programming and coaching. 

“It’s not the same as having a personal trainer right there along with you, but overall I knew what I needed to do. Plus, proper form and expectations were explained clearly,” Lindsay adds. Because of this, Caliber earns a 4.5-out-of-5-star rating for instruction.  

If you were to sign up for Caliber Preimum’s customized coaching, you’ll not only have high-quality videos to refer to, you can also record videos of yourself performing a certain exercise and send them to your coach. You likely won’t get real-time feedback, but our product tester Amanda Capritto, CPT, CES, CNC, CF-L1, tested the Premium version and reports coaches respond ASAP. For her experience, she rated the instruction a 5-out-of-5-star rating for this additional video feedback feature. 

All three tiers of the Caliber app are beginner-friendly, but it’s worth mentioning that Caliber’s training programs are focused on building strength. There are plenty of bodyweight-only workouts to choose from; just know that even a few free weights (such as the best dumbbells) available to you may help you with your workout options and progression. Overall, our testers give Caliber a 4-out-of-5-star rating for equipment demands. 

Amanda holding the quadruped position isometric exercise outdoors

Another cool feature Caliber offers for beginners is short lessons on a variety of different topics relating to strength training, a feature I would have appreciated when I was getting started. Some topics include: 

  • How to log your workouts
  • Why strength training?
  • How to select your starting weights
  • Importance of a warm-up

For more details, Amanda lays out her entire experience in the in-depth Caliber app review

Price per monthFree version; $19 (Pro); $200+ (Premium) 
Free trial period Free version available at all times
Type of trainingStrength and conditioning 
Type of equipment required Bodyweight, home gym, or commercial gym options

Best Beginner Workout App for Variety: Aaptiv

Good for: Beginners looking for an at-home workout routine

Best for Variety

Aaptiv

GGR Score: 4.14 starstarstarstarstar

Product Highlights

  • Audio-guided workout app
  • Over 2,500 workouts 
  • New workouts each week

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Audio-based classes
  • Thousands of workouts
  • New classes each week
  • Goal-based programs
  • Free trial for annual plan

Cons

  • Fewer coaches than competitors
  • No information on nutrition
  • Must sign up for annual plan to get the free trial

Bottom Line

Aaptiv is a great option for people looking for an alternative to video-based workout programs.

Aaptiv is an app that offers a terrific starting place for beginners. If you’re brand new to exercise, you’ll be able to test the waters in a variety of different workouts and training styles, including running (outdoor and treadmill), strength training (weights or bodyweight), elliptical, indoor cycling, stairclimber, stretching, yoga, Pilates, and mindfulness meditation.

RELATED: Exercise and Mental Health

GGR product tester Amana Capritto, CPT, CES, CNC, CF-L1, gives Aaptiv a 4-out-of-5-star rating for variety, saying, “There’s a lot to do in this app.”

Using Aaptiv gives you unlimited access to 8,000 workouts and tons of structured programs. While the app offers a ton of variety, Amanda notes that it might not work for everyone as you begin to progress. “I think most people would be pleased with Aaptiv for a while, a year or more,” she says. 

But, when it comes to progressive overload, Aaptiv earns a 3-out-of-5-star rating. The principles of progressive overload are present in the app’s training plans, but Amanda notes, “The app offers basic progression. Most programs are just four to six weeks, so not really enough time to see big results for most folks, but would absolutely work for a beginner,” she says. 

RELATED: 6-Week Beginner Workout Plan

Additionally, Aaptiv is particularly well-designed for beginners because most workouts feature video tutorials with on-screen animation with a voiceover for every exercise. You’ll have the chance to watch and listen to the movement cues a few times before starting a new workout. I personally think moving at your own pace and watching videos multiple times will benefit you over fast-paced on-demand or live classes (however, there are on-demand classes in this app, too). 

Plus, you can use the app’s audio-based instruction to help you move through the exercise in real-time. You can pop in your headphones and listen to coaching cues as you work through a treadmill session or full-body workout with squats, rows, and pressing movements. Overall, Aaptiv earns a 4-out-of-5-star rating for instruction. 

Lastly, the app offers a seven-day free trial period, and the membership is reasonably priced at $14.99 per month. Amanda even notes, “This is easily the best value out of all the apps I tried.”

Price per month$14.99
Free trial period 7 days
Type of trainingStrength training, cardio, yoga, Pilates, mobility
Type of equipment required Bodyweight or home gym setup

Best Personal Training Workout App for Beginners: Future

Good for: Beginners looking for personalized workouts and fitness plans 

Best for Personal Training

Future

GGR Score: 4.5 starstarstarstarstar

Product Highlights

  • Virtual training from qualified coaches
  • Personal plan designed to help reach your goals
  • Great interface
  • Use our link for 50% off your first month

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Incredible user interface; very well designed and intuitive
  • Choose your own coach based on your personal preferences and goals
  • Lots of variety in your workouts

Cons

  • No real-time coaching from your trainer
  • $199 per month membership cost

Bottom Line

An online training program that's staffed by real-life humans, and one of our favorite fitness apps.

As a personal trainer myself, I know that hiring a personal trainer is a major investment of both your time and money. We know a mobile app is not the same as a personal trainer, but Future will go above and beyond your expectations of a workout app. 

Our team is a group of experienced lifters, and everyone who tested the Future app has been blown away by the level of coaching, ease of use, and overall value. You can read all the details of our experience in our Future app review

Both of our GGR expert product testers, Logan Block and Kate Meier, CPT, USAW-L1, CF-L1, gave Future a perfect 5-out-of-5-star rating for accountability. You’ll speak to and interact with a real coach who will customize your workouts based on your experience level, fitness goals, and equipment available. You’ll also have the opportunity to filter and find personal trainers by coaching style, coaching expertise, or sport-specific training. 

Woman FaceTiming with her online personal trainer

Logan appreciated working one-on-one with his coach Layne, saying, “My coach did a great job of checking in on both training and rest days. He also took my feedback into account when designing fitness routines going forward.”

During the initial period of working with a Future coach, Logan was asked to send a video walkthrough of his gym workout space. “This helps your coach understand what equipment you have access to. They will then plan your workouts around that,” says Logan. 

While you won’t have your coach actually watching you while you complete each exercise, Logan says that the audio and visual cues in the demonstration videos are super helpful. 

Much like Caliber’s Premium coaching option, with Future you can send your coach a video of yourself lifting directly through the app for each specific movement so your coach can check your form. Overall, Future earns a 4-out-of-5-star rating for instruction. 

We know that a subscription fee of $199 per month is nothing to sneeze at, however, we also know that most personal trainers charge anywhere between $50 to $150 per hour depending on your area. 

RELATED: Best Online Personal Trainers 

Product tester and GGR head of content Kate Meier compares Future to a typical CrossFit membership, which may range from $150 to $200 per month. “A CrossFit membership allows you access to tons of equipment and coaching,” says Kate. 

“But, at the same time Future provides personalized workouts catered specifically to your goals and equipment. I think it’s a really good value for virtual training,” Kate adds. Overall, both Kate and Logan agree that Future earns a 4-out-of-5-star rating for value. 

Price per month$199
Free trial period No (But you can get 50% off your first month)
Type of trainingStrength and conditioning 
Type of equipment required Custom: bodyweight, home gym, commercial gym

Best Workout App for Beginner Runners: MapMyFitness

Good for: Runners who need a solid starting place

Best for Runners

Map My Fitness by Under Armour

GGR Score: 4.2 starstarstarstarstar

Product Highlights

  • Fitness platform that integrated GPS to track routes, distances, pace, and more
  • Customizable training plans with personalized coaching tips available with MVP version
  • Claims to have the largest selection of activities (over 600) including running, cycling, walking, gym workouts, cross training, and yoga
  • Large community of athletes
  • Premium features enables live tracking, personalized training plan, and audio coaching

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • GPS integration
  • Great community aspect
  • MVP version is affordable
  • Lots of options with free version
  • Integrates with most trackers and wearable
  • Plan and track your own routes

Cons

  • Requires MVP subscription to unlock some features

Bottom Line

Map My Fitness is a well-established and widely-used fitness tool that allows you to choose from a huge variety of workouts with some really notable features. Whether you're working out in a gym or looking for a route to run, Map My Fitness has got you covered.

MapMyFitness is one of the best running apps we’ve tested, and you can get it for an affordable price of $5.99 per month for the premium version. It’s a little different than a strength training app that provides instruction and coaching, but the data it offers gives you fantastic insight into how you’re progressing over time. 

MapMyFitness offers route tracking (which is always available on the free-forever version of this app) in addition to custom interval workouts, cadence analysis, custom split data, audio coaching, power analysis, and heart rate analysis (available on the premium version). Your running workout data can also be exported to any additional fitness trackers or health apps you utilize.  

MapMyFitness app screenshot

GGR product tester and endurance athlete Amanda Capritto, CPT, CES, CNC, CF-L1 says if she didn’t have so much data already stored on Strava, she’d totally switch to MapMyFitness. “It’s the best GPS app out of all the ones I’ve tried,” she says. 

When it comes to setting up the app and the ease of use, Amanda gives both categories a 5-out-of-5-star rating. “It’s super simple and quick to set up the app,” she says. 

“It syncs easily to other apps and devices including Garmin, Apple Watch, MyFitnessPal, and Under Armour connected footwear to name a few,” Amanda says. “It also sports a clean interface that is easy to navigate and find what you want.”

RELATED: Best Running Apps

Price per month$5.99 (pricing break with 12-month commitment)
Free trial period 15-day trial (some features are always free)
Type of trainingRunning
Type of equipment required None

Best Workout App for Rookie Racers: Joggo

Good for: Someone new to running who has a goal of completing a race

Best for Beginner Runners

Joggo

GGR Score: 3.3 starstarstarstarstar

Product Highlights

  • Personalized running plans based on your fitness level, needs, and running goals
  • Customized plan includes a strength training component with video-guided and equipment-free videos 
  • Customized meal plans created by certified nutritionists
  • Running tracker to monitor progress

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Personalized run training program
  • Adapts every two weeks based on a progress test
  • Audio-guided encouragement
  • Treadmill running mode

Cons

  • Reviews complain that the focus is on weight loss even when not noted as a goal by the user
  • Reports that the customized meal plans leave users in a calorie deficit
  • No free version

Bottom Line

For those looking for a running-specific app, Joggo offers personalized running and nutritional plans although there are several users disappointed in its emphasis on weight loss.

While we really like MayMyFitness for running overall, we like Joggo for runners who have a goal of completing their first long-distance race, whether that be a 5k or a marathon. 

This is because Joggo is essentially a digital running coach, providing a 4-out-5 rating for Value. It is on the pricier side at $33 per month—high for a workout app, which earns it a 2 out of 5 in this category—but we think that for someone with a goal to cross that finish line, Joggo is worth it.

Not only do you get a personalized training plan that adapts to your progress, you’ll also get a library of resources on running, recovery, nutrition, and more, plus audio cues during your run that encourage you and remind you to focus on form and breath work. Because of this, we gave Joggo a 3.75 out of 5 in Instruction. One of our testers, CPT Amanda Capritto, is a seasoned runner and found the audio cues a bit annoying, but our other tester, GGR head of content and CPT Nicole Davis, liked them and found them helpful.

Nicole is just getting back into running. After completing her assessment run, Joggo placed her at the Advancing Jogger level, and she got a half-marathon training plan complete with strength workouts to do on off days (in Nicole’s opinion these are nothing to write home about, but it’s a nice bonus-add for beginners, many of whom will neglect strength training altogether and focus just on running).

An image of Joggo screenshots

For Accountability, Joggo earned a 3-out-of-5 rating, as you can get push notifications and earn running streaks if you complete all of your workouts for the week, but with no community aspect or live coach, Joggo earned a 1 out of 5 for Interactive Features.

One thing Nicole didn’t like about Joggo was the emphasis it placed on running for weight loss. For some people, that’s not their goal when they set out on a running journey; and for those who do have that goal, Nicole cautions that tying cardio exercise directly to calorie burn is not an effective long-term strategy.

“All in all, I think Joggo is a good option for someone new to running who needs the guidance of an affordable running coach to finish a race,” Nicole explains. “However, the weight loss component turned me off.”

Price per month$33 per month
Free trial period None
Type of trainingRunning
Type of equipment required Running shoes (and a treadmill if you desire)

Best Free Workout App for Beginners: Nike Training Club

Good for: Anyone looking for a free resource to start physical activity 

Best Free App

Nike Training Club

GGR Score: 4.1 starstarstarstarstar

Product Highlights

  • Completely free
  • Massive library of on-demand workouts and live classes
  • More than 10 workout categories
  • App is easy to use
  • No individualized programming

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Completely free to use
  • Previously premium/paid content is available for free
  • More than 10 workout categories
  • Most workouts taught my certified trainers and instructors

Cons

  • Audio controls can be finicky
  • Sometimes hard to see on-screen metrics like reps and time

Bottom Line

Nike Training Club is a free fitness app with a robust workout library that includes one-off workouts as well as periodized programs led by certified instructors.

The Nike Training Club app isn’t perfect, but it’s 100% free and offers a low-stakes starting point if you’re new to exercise. You’ll be able to build muscle and aid weight loss from the comfort of your own home or in a commercial gym as you follow along with instructor-led workouts. 

RELATED: Best Weight Loss Apps

The reason I say it’s not perfect is because there is no fitness assessment or questionnaire to help personalize your workouts. Plus, it’s also only compatible for iPhone users with iOS 16.0 or later.

Dumbbell Shoulder Press 2023-06-02 at 2

However, you’ll be able to filter workouts based on training style, equipment available, or workout duration. GGR expert product tester Amanda Capritto says it’s user-friendly, which will be helpful for beginners. 

“It’s easy to navigate the workouts, blog articles, recipe and meal plan ideas, and a motivational social media-style feed,” says Amanda. Overall, Amanda rates Nike Training Club a 5-out-of-5-star rating for both getting started and ease of use. 

So, if you’re on a tight budget and you need an app that will help you get your heart rate up, Nike Training Club could be the ideal solution. It offers hundreds of on-demand, trainer-led workouts for strength training, HIIT, yoga, and Pilates. You can also find mindfulness sessions, stretching, and mobility. 

RELATED: The Best Kettlebell HIIT Workout

You may also like knowing that Amanda enjoyed the trainers and on-screen instruction during her test workouts. “NTC offers better instructions than most download-and-stream fitness apps—plus, it’s free,” says Amanda. She gave NTC a 5-star rating for instruction. 

Price per monthFree
Free trial period Always free
Type of trainingStrength training, yoga, Pilates, mobility
Type of equipment required Bodyweight and minimal home gym setup

Best Live Workouts for Beginners: Peloton

Good for: Anyone who wants to experience live workouts and excellent music 

Best Live Workouts

Peloton App

GGR Score: 4.5 starstarstarstarstar

Product Highlights

  • World-class workout classes
  • Variety of fitness routines
  • On-bike and off-bike workouts
  • Don't need a Peloton bike to sign up for the app

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • World-class programming
  • Not just bike workouts
  • Can be used all over the world
  • Keeps tracks of all training metrics
  • Train from the comfort of your own home
  • 30-day free trial
  • Two plan options

Cons

  • Required to access Peloton Bike's features

Bottom Line

The Peloton app is one of the best training programs we've come across on any piece of exercise equipment.

Peloton is a popular home workout app—and for good reason—offering variety, high-quality instruction, and live workouts with ultra-peppy trainers. Using the app is easy, and you’ll be able to filter your search based on your training style, duration, instructor, or music genre and playlists. 

Between excellent instruction and fan-favorite music, GGR product tester Caroline Lubinksy says Peloton is hard to beat for live classes. She describes her workout experience in detail in the Peloton app review

using touchscreen peloton bike

Plus, live workouts may provide additional motivation for newbies. It helps knowing you’re not the only one sweating, working hard, and pushing yourself in that moment. Caroline gives Peloton a 4.5-out-of-star rating for instruction, saying, “The instruction and trainers are top-notch—you’ll work hard and get adequate time to catch your breath.”

Peloton is available to download through Google Play for Android devices and the App Store for Apple devices. It’s also available on Apple TV, Fire TV, and Roku TV. Plus, Peloton is accessible on the Peloton Tread, Tread+, Bike, Bike+, and Guide. 

While the Peloton app is similar to iFIT with a heavy focus on cardio (and cardio machine-based workouts), there is still a huge selection of off-machine style training, including strength training, yoga, Pilates, barre, and more. 

RELATED: Peloton vs iFIT

Price per month$12.99 (app only) or $44 (all-access)
Free trial period 30-day trial for new users only
Type of trainingCycling, bootcamp, walking, cycling, stretching, tread, bootcamp, running, meditation, outdoor, yoga, strength, boxing, Pilates, barre
Type of equipment required Bodyweight, free weights, cardio equipment 

Best Cardio Workout App for Beginners: iFIT

Good for: Beginners looking to improve cardiovascular fitness 

Best for Cardio

iFIT

GGR Score: 4.2 starstarstarstarstar

Product Highlights

  • Over 16,000 live and on-demand classes
  • More than 60 types of workouts
  • Immersive experience
  • Classes filmed worldwide
  • Live races and events
  • World-class trainers
  • Syncs with Nordictrack and ProForm equipment

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • At-home training
  • World-class coaches
  • Immersive training experience
  • Vast library of workouts
  • Record and track workout metrics
  • Individual and family memberships available
  • Free trial

Cons

  • Pricey for some
  • No true path for progression

Bottom Line

iFIT offers fitness lovers versatility with machine-based classes and classes that do not require anything more than a towel or mat. Anyone looking for a home-exercise program will be hard pressed to find a more technology forward, expansive and inclusive platform than iFIT.

The iFIT app is an excellent choice for beginners who want to focus on cardio training. The app can be used for machine-based workouts on ellipticals, rowers, exercise bikes, and treadmills (like one of the best NordicTrack treadmills) or used as a stand-alone app without a machine. 

GGR product tester and senior editor Erin Chancer uses iFIT (and her NordicTrack S22i) on a weekly basis. Erins finds her continuing experience with iFIT enjoyable and easy to find what she wants, which she understands is important for a beginner new to cardio workouts. 

“I tend to choose rides that fall around 25 to 30 minutes,” says Erin. “But, at first, I was all about the locations when choosing which workouts I wanted to try, but soon found that the type of workout—such as endurance or intervals—was the better determining factor for me.”

However, when it comes to app set up, Erin experienced a bit of trouble during the initial set up process with her S22i bike. She also experiences an occasional crash in the app. For that reason, iFIT earns a 4-out-of-5-star rating when it comes to ease of use and a 3.5-star rating for the set up process. 

Not only that, there is a ton of variety with iFIT, earning it a 5-star rating for this category. You’ll have access to machine-specific workouts and strength training, circuit training, yoga, and Pilates. In our original iFIT reviews, the app featured more than 16,000 on-demand workouts, with tons of new options added since then. Plus, you’ll also be able to choose from studio-style workouts, instructor-led outdoor workouts, and self-led scenic outdoor workouts. 

Price per month$15 (individual); $39 (family plan) 
Free trial period 30-day trial
Type of trainingCardio, strength training, yoga, Pilates
Type of equipment required iFIT-enabled cardio machine, dumbbells, resistance bands, exercise mat

Other Workout Apps for Beginners We Tested

In our quest to find the best workout apps for beginners, we’ve specifically tested more than 50 apps and researched even more. Here are some that didn’t quite make the cut.

Joggo: This app didn’t make the list because it’s similar to our favorite running app, MapMyFitness. However, Joggo is more expensive and doesn’t connect to third-party apps and devices. 

Fiit: I personally tested this app and found it to be intuitive to use. It didn’t make the list because it didn’t stand out to me as an exceptional on-demand class offering. Fiit offers programs, some even lasting up to 6 weeks, but on a macro-level folks will grow out of this app quickly. 

Alo Moves: Our testers agree this app is suitable for beginners, but where it falls short is progression. Frieda Johsnon, GGR editor, tested this app and says it’s mostly standalone workouts. She thinks most folks will outgrow Alo workouts as strength improves. 

For reference, it consists of barre, sculpt, HIIT, Pilates, stretching, strength, and walking workouts. There are also mindfulness exercises like guided meditation and breathwork. 

alo-moves-home-screen

Obe fitness: Expert product tester Frieda Johnson reports this app is a bit pricey for what you get. It didn’t make it to our top picks for beginners because it offers a wide range of standalone workouts and only a limited selection of progressive workout plans. 

Sworkit: Our product tester, Amanda Capritto, CPT, CES, CNC, CF-L1, specifically does not recommend this app to beginners because the workout format is “pure chaos,” as Amanda puts it. “I am by no means a beginner and I felt pretty scrambled and overwhelmed with this workout session, and it was only 15 minutes long. There was no time to change weights or catch your breath,” says Amanda. 

Johnson & Johnson 7 Minute Workout: Our product testers have not tested the free app from Johnson & Johnson because it is set to be retired at the end of the year. Although we have not tested the app ourselves, we know that the app has a 4.7 overall rating in the Apple App Store and folks appreciate the short bouts of high-intensity interval training, also known as HIIT training. My initial impression is that the high-intensity may be too much for true beginners. 

How We Picked and Tested

Our product testers used a variety of workout apps. We went through the download process, app setup, payment, and of course we tried a variety of workouts (or long-term programs if applicable). 

We’re a group of fitness industry professionals, including certified personal trainers, nutrition coaches, CrossFit Level 1 Trainers, USAW L-1 Coaches, and Olympic-level athletes. We took our real-life experience and in-depth testing methodology to score 10 different categories on a 1-to-5-star rating. 

Below, I’ll show you a quick overview of our methodology on a handful of categories. When I refer to low scores, I typically mean a 1- or 2-star rating. High scores mean our testers gave an app a 4- or 5-star category rating. 

  • Pricing: Based on industry standards, if an app is more than $35 per month, it earns a low score. If it is $10 or less, then it earns a high score. 
  • Trial length: Low scores are for apps with no trial periods; high scores are given to apps with seven-day trials (or longer).
  • Equipment demands: Low ratings are given to apps that require full gym setups; high ratings are given to apps with at least 70% of the workout library offering minimal equipment or bodyweight workouts. 
  • Ease of use: Low ratings are reserved for confusing apps with unclear interfaces; high scores indicate the app is easy to navigate and filter workouts based on specific needs or wants. 
  • Accountability: An app earns low ratings without push notifications or community boards. HIgh scores go to apps with coach check-ins or community and ways to schedule your workouts as appointments or set reminders.
  • Instruction: Apps without visual or verbal cues earned low scores; apps with high-quality instruction and helpful coaching cues earned high scores. 
  • Progressive overload: Low scores go to training apps that offer random, stand-alone workouts; high ratings go to apps that track progress, offer several weeks of programming, and follow basic progressive overload principles. 

Benefits of Workout Apps for Beginners

As a personal trainer, here are the top workout app benefits (in my opinion) if you’re a beginner and wondering where to start:

Better Decision Making 

Athletes, personal trainers, and gym veterans don’t expect beginners to understand the complexities of strength training or any other form of progressive exercise. And trust me, you can nerd out about fitness; it’s a highly complex topic. 

This also means you may experience paralysis by analysis. There are so many exercises, programs, and techniques to choose from. Where does one even begin?

I think one of the best things you can do for yourself as a beginner is make an executive decision to use one workout app that takes the guesswork out of building a standalone workout or program. 

This will help you focus on the workout in front of you versus overwhelming yourself with the macro-level decision making of an entire workout program. Leave those problems to the experts! 

Woman lunging with the Core Home Fitness dumbbells

Ease In 

I personally think a workout app is a low-stakes way to start your fitness journey. Many fitness apps offer tons of home workouts, which means you can do your very first workout in the comfort of your own home, without experiencing any judgment, wearing whatever you want, and showing up as you are. 

Unbeatable Value 

While adding another monthly subscription fee your list of bills doesn’t sound ideal, in comparison to taking in-person group classes or hiring a personal trainer it’s actually quite the steal. 

Our experts found that workout apps range from $10 to $35 per month. Some personal training apps we tested were close to $200 per month, but those included customized workouts, check-ins, and a more personalized experience you might expect from working one-on-one with a coach. 

However, working with coaches in person can cost you $10 to $20 for in-person group classes per session or $50 to $150 per session when working privately with a personal trainer. 

woman-doing-wall-sit-exercise

What to Look for in Workout Apps for Beginners

Speaking as a personal trainer, the best form of exercise is the one you enjoy doing. That means that even the best, most highly-rated app won’t lead to success if you don’t use it. 

So, when you’re shopping around for the best workout app for your needs, be sure the style of exercise you want is available and the monthly membership fees are in your budget. Also, consider the following two points about the type of instruction and tracking progress: 

Type of Instruction

Whether you’re a beginner to exercise or just a newbie to home workouts, you’ll want to take into consideration how you’ll be led through an exercise routine. If you have experience with group fitness classes, you may naturally gravitate toward live and on-demand workouts that offer instructors guiding you through every movement in real-time. 

As a personal trainer who has worked with clients of all fitness levels and ages, I think on-demand sessions tend to be too fast for beginners. Also, an app that offers one demonstration video per exercise guarantees you can go through the workout at your own pace. This means you can watch and listen to the instruction several times before attempting the new movement yourself. 

man looking at future training app on phone

Tracking Progress

I personally believe beginners and experienced lifters alike should track their progress by jotting down weight used, reps completed, and number of sets. And as a beginner, an app can help you track all that data by prompting you with the right questions. 

I think it can be even more important in the beginning stages of learning resistance training because early strength gains may surprise you when the same 10-pound dumbbell no longer feels challenging. These “newbie” gains are often attributed to neurological adaptations1, which means your brain and body are coordinating to stimulate certain muscle groups and perform new movements. 

Best Workout Apps for Beginners: FAQs

What is the best fitness program for beginners?

Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced exerciser, there is no one correct way to exercise. The best app for you depends on your goals, equipment, and time commitment.

Because it will depend on a case-by-case basis, our Garage Gym Reviews team came up with some of the best workout apps for beginners that can suit a variety of needs: 

Best Workout App for Beginners Overall: Caliber
Best Beginner Workout App for Variety: Aaptiv
Best Personal Training Workout App for Beginners: Future
Best Workout App for Beginner Runners: MapMyFitness
Best Free Workout App for Beginners: Nike Training Club 
Best Live Workouts for Beginners: Peloton
Best Cardio Workout App for Beginners: iFIT

Which workout type is best for beginners?

Speaking as a personal trainer, I think there is a ton of value for beginner exercisers to learn four basic movement patterns: squatting, hinging, pushing, and pulling. There are many ways to do this, depending on your fitness level and mobility. For example, someone lacking mobility and strength can still learn how to squat to a high box, while a high school athlete should be coached to squat to their full range of motion. 

RELATED: Hip Hinge Exercises

Where should a beginner start working out?

With so many online resources, workout apps, and streaming capabilities—it’s easier now than ever to start your fitness journey in the comfort of your own home. Don’t be afraid to download one of the best workout apps with little to no equipment, either. Many apps will offer a wide selection of bodyweight-only workouts. 

RELATED: At-Home Bodyweight Workout

If you end up enjoying the method of exercise, you have a green light from your friends here at Garage Gym Reviews to explore the best home gym equipment on the market. 

What is the best gym exercise to lose belly fat?

As a personal trainer, I cannot in good conscience tell you there is a certain exercise that will help you lose belly fat. Unfortunately, humans cannot spot-treat fat loss. 

What can help with your overall fat loss is a healthy amount of cardiovascular exercise (and when I say healthy amount I don’t mean hours upon hours!). However, I do agree it’s important to meet the American Heart Association’s exercise guidelines of at least 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise per week.

Nutrition also plays a big role in overall fat loss and being in a calorie deficit is one of the major keys to fat loss. 

References 

  1. Lisa Griffin and Enzo Cafarelli. 2005. Resistance Training: Cortical, Spinal, and Motor Unit Adaptations. Canadian Journal of Applied Physiology. 30(3): 328-340.

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