The Apple Watch is one of the leading wearables for monitoring all sorts of daily activities. While many users already monitor the standard stats, like exercise minutes, stand hours, and estimated calories, there is much more that the watch can help with. One of those items is gym activities and weight lifting.
Even though there is a built in workout app for Apple Fitness, for a defined wight lifting plan the tracked stats are not sufficient. A gym workout by default will track time and use heart rate to estimate total calories burned. For anyone who wants to work through a structured lifting plan it is necessary to track sets of lifts, types of lifts, the weight and total reps. When looking to lift heavier and work through progressive overload this is crucial to seeing performance gains.
None of these sets, weights, and reps stats are easily available by default, but thankfully there are published apps that will help. Below are some of the most popular and useful traditional strength training apple Watch apps. Some of these apps are also available on Android and linked accordingly.
Recommended Apps for Apple Watch Weight Training
One of the most popular weight lifting tracking apps for Apple Watch is the Strong App, also refered to as Gym Log+. For cardio aware lifters, the Strong App is most similar to Strava and Apple Workouts, in that it is designed for one thing and can track and chart progress over time.
The primary focus is on popular lifts (bench press, dead lift, squarts, curls, etc.) with easy setup of a custom program that includes sets and reps. If you are looking for a guide that helps you go to the gym and avoid the random workout of whatever machine happens to be open, Strong does a great job of this.
One of the best features of the Strong app is that the phone version can show fancy charts of progress over time. Again this helps avoid the randomness of grabbing whatever weight feels good for the day, and instead focuses lifts on a program that has intention and improvement built in.
Strong also is popular due to the cost. A monthly subscription is <$5 and an annual Pro membership is $30/year.
Another widely popular weights tracking app is FitBod. It does all more or less all of the same sets, weight, and reps tracking that FitBod does. Each workout comes with a short description of how to execute the workout to maximize range of motion and results.
FitBod also touts having a learning system. In theory it analyzes your past performance and builds a plan going forward that accounts for how much load you have done on various muscle groups, and where you are looking to develop.
Where FitBod falls flat is on pricing, as it is slightly higher than Strong. In total FitBod is almost 3x as expensive at $13/month or an annual subscription for $80/year.
Intervals Pro (iOS)
Beyond tracking just sets, weights, and reps, there are times when it makes sense to monitor time intervals of training. This can be for things like cross-fit or simple cross training. Especially if you plan to hop on an exercise bike or erg, most machines can monitor the time spent on them but having a seperate interval timer and planned workout helps immensely for monitoring rest time.
Even for structured lifts, if you prefer tracking via a spreadsheet or old school pen and journal you will still benefit from a timer. The intervals app lets you preprogram a workout with time based sets and then just let it run. This is way easier than using the stop watch on a watch or phone as it will remove any math and just keep the whole workout moving along nicely.
The basic features of Interval Pro are free, with the full version less than $10 to download as a one-time fee. No subscription access makes this a solid option for saving a few dollars a month.
Gymatic is designed to take workout tracking further with automated recognition of the workouts you are preforming. In part this is predictive, Gymatic knows what to look for in terms of squats pushups, etc. because it has already outlined what you should be doing. This is a far cry from an entirely automated recognition where you just do what you want and the app senses the workout.
Rather than a focus on progressive overload and specific weights, Gymatic is more centered on identifying range of motion and rest/work timelines. This makes it a great option for those that are in the gym as a part of cross-training, but who are not as worried about individual improvements in specific lifts. Of course weight tracking does exist, but in contrast to some of the other lifting options Gymatic also has built in cardio workout options making it a one app stop for all activities.
Gymatic costs $4.99 a month, or $50 for a full year.
Gymholic is yet another in the list of set, reps, and weight tracking apps for weight lifting. The uniqueness of Gymaholic is tied to how they present their guides, which use video game style avatars and augmented reality to showcase the motion and movement of different lifts.
The Watch app also offers sample visuals of the lift, as well as a summary of the exercise and workout. This makes it easy to manage throughout a gym session and ensures you can keep your phone in your pocket (or in a bag streaming music to some bluetooth headphones.
Gymaholic is also a little bit less expensive than some other options. It comes it at a subscription fee of just $3.99/month and less than $35/year, which makes it less expensive for a year than many single workout classes are for an hour.
Ryse App (iOS)
Ryse takes more of a Strava like approach for weight lifting, focusing on the social aspects of sharing workouts. Like all the others Ryse lets you develop a sets, reps, weight style workout and logs everything about the workout. Unlike other gym based Apple Watch compatible apps, Ryse focuses on the output slides with the asy ability to add photos and details and create a shareable post after a workout.
The user base of Ryse is much smaller than the others, but it still does a good job of offering a stable workout tracker. If your core friends use the app, or you can encourage them to, it certainly makes the social aspect more appealing.
Ryse Workout costs $5/month of $50/year for a subscription, so is right in line with other tracking options.
SmartGym is another in the sets, reps, weights tracking, but has a significant benefit in that it also extends to a desktop option. For those that spend their day at a computer screen and prefer to load up a workout from there, SmartGym might be the best option.
SmartGym costs $7/month of $60/year for a subscription
Sweat App takes the focus of targeting towards women. Generally speaking all the exercies are gender agnostic anyways, but this does mean that all the demo videos use female models and focus on the range of motion specific to women. It also allows them to build plans that cater to women at different stages of their workout journey (think pregnancy workouts) and work to lower the barrier to entry especially for those building back or shifting from physical life stages.
Sweat App does run on the pricier side, with a monthly subscription of $20 and an annual plan at $120.
JeFit is one of the most heavily reviewed workout apps in the app store, and is built as a workout planner for gym rats. This ensures that JeFit has workouts that match most of the latest trends, as well as plenty of standard pre-built plans. In addition it offers the ability to plan and build your own workouts, then use a smart watch to follow along while at the gym.
JeFit costs $7/month or $40 for an annual plan.
Functional Strength Training vs. Traditional Strength Training Apple Workouts
The other options on the Apple watch are the built in workouts for both functional strength training and traditional strength training. Both of these focus less on actual sets, reps, and weights, and instead record and indoor workout in order to estimate the total calories burned.
Weight Lifting Calories on Apple Watch however are highly variable. Since the pre-built apps can only function with heart rate they make it much harder to estimate accurately. In addition, the need to continuously monitor heart rate is also limiting for some lifts where safety requires the removal of a wrist worn tracker.