I recently started using an Apple Watch again to help track my workouts in the gym. Did you know that you can track lifting and strength training as well? I didn’t, so I decided to find out how I could.
The best way to track lifting and strength training using an Apple Watch is using third-party apps. The built-in workout app also has functional strength training, traditional strength training, and custom workout types.
Some of these options aren’t available for older watches. Down below, I’ll go over the best options, which ones I recommend, and how to achieve the best results.
My first pick is the Strong App. It comes with dozens of pre-loaded workouts/lifts, and it also has the capability of connecting with other data from your Apple Watch so you can track heart rate data and calories burned at the same time.
There is a paid option for this app, but you can use the free option just fine as well. With the free version, you’re currently limited to 5 custom routines.
For the average lifter, this will be just fine. And, if you need more, the upgraded version costs $5/month or $30/year.
Even on the free version, you can load up custom routines with each lift that you normally do. After your routine is built, each time you’re lifting, you can input your other data like sets, reps, and weight.
In the premium version, there are advanced graphing features, allowing you to get an expansive idea of your progress.
Fitbod is another great option. They also have advnaced lift/exercise tracking, as well as a large exercise database and tools to help you learn new lifts.
You can check them out here.
The only downside to Fitbod is that they don’t have a free option. You can try it for free, but only for a few workout sessions, and then it costs $12.99/month or $79.99/year, putting it at considerably more expensive than Strong.
Fitbod has good graphing/progress reporting, and it has a multitude of articles/demonstrations for different lifts, exercises, and techniques.
Personally, I prefer using Strong, but Fitbod is a great option too.
Gymaholic is another popular option for tracking your lifting progress, but it’s a little different than the others.
This one uses augmented reality (AR) to show a 3D model of a person completing a specified exercise. This seems great for beginners, or someone learning a new exercise, but it may be a bit excessive for more advanced lifters.
Of course, this shows on your phone, not your Apple Watch itself.
Overall, Gymaholic is an interesting concept, but it feels less developed and refined than some of the other options for tracking your lifts and exercises.
Functional Strength Training
You might not know this, but Apple Watches have a few built in exercises that pertain to lifting weights. The first one is functional strength training.
Unfortunately, tracking lifting this way is not Apple’s strongsuit. While they do have a few preloaded lifting options, all they really track is your heart rate and calories burned.
This can be helpful in addition to other forms of tracking, but if you’re really trying to track your progress and lift more weight, this isn’t a great option. That’s why these ones are down at the bottom of this article!
The main benefit to using these is that your watch will more accurately track the calories you burn because it has a bit of an idea of what type of exercises you’re actually doing.
Traditional Strength Training
This is another one of Apple’s built in options, found in the exercise app within your watch.
The traditional strength training option functions almost exactly the same as the functional strength training option. You can’t enter in specific lifts, reps, sets or weights.
The main difference is in how each option tracks your calories, based on the type of exercises your watch thinks you’re doing when you pick one of these options or the other.
Custom Exercise Types
In addition to functional and traditional strength training, you can create your own custom exercise type within the exercise app of your Apple Watch.
Again, just like the previous two options, you won’t be able to track many important metrics like weight, sets, or reps.
The advantage here, however, is that you can create custom exercises for each lift that you do, and track much time you’re spending on each one.
From there, for example, depending on whether you’re going for hypertrophy or strength, you can attempt to increase or decrease the amount of time you’re spending on each lift.
Admittedly, you can also achieve this easily with a stopwatch on your phone, or the clock at your gym,