Several weeks ago, back in the good ol’ pre-puppy days of my life, I posted about the Freedom app. Freedom is just one of three premium apps that have improved my life and productivity. Today I’m going to tell you about Runtastic Results, a body-weight-only fitness app.
I’ve never enjoyed strength-training. Not as a kid, not as an NCAA athlete, and certainly not now. This is not to say I wouldn’t enjoy supplementing my mountain biking with the benefits of a steady strength-training regimen. I would (who wouldn’t?). Though programs like Crossfit and Orange Theory certainly appeal to me, I can’t justify their monthly costs. At least not while the word “aspiring” continues to preface my chosen profession.
Dumbbells on Loan
Several years ago, during a 5-week business trip to Dallas, I stumbled upon the Spartacus Workout app. It was a simple timed set of exercises done without rest. The app was little more than a video of a really buff young man calling out the drills. Ten exercises done with dumbbells, a thirty second rest between sets. No variation.
I had a hotel suite with plenty of room so I went across the street to Target, bought a pair of 15- or 20-pound dumbbells and proceeded to do the workout every other day. A month of 14-hour workdays later, with the strategy guide for Borderlands 2 complete, I returned the dumbbells and never did the Spartacus workout again.
Which isn’t the same as having forgotten about it.
Runtastic Results with Body Weight
Body weight is in abundance. You have some. I have too much. In fact, most of the weight I lost bicycling across North America and Europe (and beyond) has tracked me down to the 425 area code. The Runtastic Results fitness app uses this body weight to give you one hell of a workout in 15 to 45 minutes. No weights or equipment needed.
Now, everything I’m about to say refers to the premium plan. The free demo grants you access to a few standalone workouts, but you’ll likely grow bored of them by week’s end.
With a premium membership, you get 150 HD videos showing you correct form, you get a simple nutrition guide (boring), and some other perks. But primarily, you’re paying for a customized 12-week training program. Each week, you can indicate whether you’d like to do 3, 4, or 5 workouts. The app then customizes that week’s workout list based on your initial fitness test and how you rated the difficulty (or lack thereof) of each previous workout.
The first step is the fitness test. Do as many push-ups, sit-ups, squats, and (I think) burpees as you can in a designated time. Based on this, you get a strength rating for core, upper body and lower body. From a scale of 0 (couch potato) to 10 (super hero). If there was any question that cycling, and even mountain biking, doesn’t translate well to these exercises, let me tell you that it does not. I scored just 2 to 3 in each zone. Sure, it had been years since I had done any squats or burpees, but this was way harder and more humbling than I expected.
I told it I wanted to do four workouts a week and for the month of August, I was on the ball. Then we went to Portugal…
The workouts vary nicely, with each set utilizing between three to five different exercises (at my fitness level). The app tells you how many reps to do (or duration, if applicable) and calls out with encouragement when you’re struggling. There’s a 4:50 warm-up that I never skip and the workouts are typically three to five sets with brief rest.
Week 1: Workout 3
50x Jumping Jacks
20x Mountain Climbers
30s Wall Sit
Perform this set a total of four times.
Week 3: Workout 3
5x Pike Push-Ups
30s Low Plank
20x High Knees
30s Wall Sit
10x Triceps Dip
Perform this set a total of five times.
Week 6: Workout 3
15x Jump Squats
10x Up Downs
10x Russian Twist Easy
Perform this set a total of five times.
After each workout, you are given the chance to record how you felt that day (various emoji) and asked to rate the workout on a scale of Too Easy, Just Right, Tough But Ok, or Way Too Hard. After completing the week’s workouts, you are asked again to rate the week’s difficulty.
I have resisted using the “Way Too Hard” rating, as I’ve yet to be unable to complete the number of reps. I certainly struggle sometimes once there’s 60 push-ups in the bank and I’ve got another set of 20 to go, but I’ve yet to be unable to finish a set.
That’s probably going to change this week.
The Potential Flaw
If there’s one flaw with the Runtastic Results app, it is that it could be impossible to catch back up once you stumble. Week 4 took place during my first week in Portugal. I told the app I wanted just three workouts and I was able to do get them done while traveling. The following week — still in Portugal — I didn’t get any workouts in. Then I came home and tweaked my back one night while camping and I was out of commission for two weeks. Life got in the way the following week (no excuse, I know, but still…) and before you know it, a month had gone by without doing any of the workouts.
Needless to say, Week 5’s workouts kicked my ass. I struggled through the workouts and ultimately gave the week the “Way Too Hard” rating in hopes that Week 6 would give me an easier re-entry point.
I took another week off, discouraged.
My wife says I should just start a fresh 12-week plan (an option within the settings menu), but I’m stubborn. Instead, I think I’ll start tackling some of the standalone workouts to get back into shape. You see, when I mentioned you’ll get bored of the demo in a week’s time, that’s because it only gives you two or three of these standalone workouts. There are over twenty and trust me when I tell you that they get INTENSE! Some are up to 60 minutes in length.
About Those Results
So? Is it worth it? After all, the app’s called Runtastic Results. In a word, yes. After just three workouts, I was able to see definition in my shoulders, arms, and legs. After a second week, I certainly noticed it in my chest and abs. The app cautions against expecting to lose massive amounts of weight, but you will tone up, burn body fat, and slim down over time. The app integrates with your phone’s camera to help you take before and after progress photos (optional).
For those who enjoy our modern gamified existence, then you’ll be happy to know that Results has some of that baked in as well. In addition to being able to share your workouts with a group or to social media (Pro-Tip: nobody cares), you also get weekly summaries mailed to you. I have to admit to feeling proud when I got an email telling me that I had done nearly 300 push-ups that week. And then there’s the Exercises page. For each of the 150+ exercises, there’s a set of rep/time-based challenges that you can tackle. You’re never going to plank longer than this guy, but the app will help you build up to five minutes.
*Disclosure: I have no connection with Runtastic, nor did I receive this app for free. I merely stumbled upon it, demoed it, then subscribed for an annual membership at $50. I was not asked to review the app.
Post Image by Fit Approach, used under Creative Commons.