Strong has been my app of choice to track my gym sessions for a few months now. I was looking for an app that was more advanced than Apple Workouts, in order to track my progress, and aid me in hitting PRs and making progress. Strong was the app I chose – the simple UI, yet powerful analytics as well as the Watch app were exactly what I was looking for.
Strong is a free app – however, you can choose to subscribe, or make a one time payment, in order to access features such as charts and analytics, the plate calculator, and unlimited routines. You don’t need to purchase pro at all – in fact I am currently using the free version – however it does unlock some handy features, and I plan to get it soon. You can either have a monthly subscription for £4.99, a yearly subscription for £29.99, or a one time purchase to unlock Strong Pro for life at £99.99. I really like this pricing model – it allows you to get pro for pretty cheap, or if you are very happy with the app, you can make a single one time purchase. A free month trial is offered too. so you can see what pro provides.
The interface of Strong is spectacular. It’s easy to track your workouts whilst you are doing them, meaning you don’t have to faff about between sets, and the Apple Watch app is intuitive and easy to use.
Strong launches to show your templates, allowing you to quickly launch your workout. You can save folders of templates – for me, I have my PPL split saved, and I plan to save a few more folders that follow different workout plans. You can tap on one of these workouts to launch a premade template, that can include weights and sets. Or, you can tap at the top to start an empty workout.
Once starting a workout, Strong lists the exercise type, and the sets below that. You can add notes to the exercise, add more sets, and log your weight and reps. Tapping on the title of an exercise will bring about four tabs – About, History, Charts and Records. You can see all specific metrics about the exercise in those tabs. Instructions on how to perform the exercise; history of the exercise with sets performed and weights; charts of your progress, allowing you to see progression of that exercise, and finally records. In records, it will tell you your estimated 1RM record, your weight record, and your max volume record. You can view a history of this record, allowing you to see progression, as well as various predicted 1RM below it.
A useful feature of Strong is the ability to log your REP for each set too, as well as mark sets as warm-ups, failures, and drop sets. The phone app for this is really clean and easy to use, allowing you to quickly check sets.
It also shows previous sets, allowing you to see how you did last time on the exercise, and another great feature is the ability to show a focus metric on the top right of the exercise. You can choose total volume, volume increase from last time you did the exercise, total reps, or weight per reps. These are all really great metrics to be able to track, and helps in judging progress.
You can see the below video from the Strong website on how logging your sets work.
The watch app is great too. It syncs with your phone, showing your next set, allowing you to edit the weights and reps easily and quickly. In addition, it shows your previous performance on the set you are on, and on the rest timer shows the weight of your next set, allowing you to set up for it. The watch also shows heart rate throughout tracking.
You can manage your entire workout through your watch, however I found that it was a bit clunky to do so. I usually start the workout on my phone, and make major edits and additions via my phone, which then syncs to the watch. I usually make weight and rep adjustments via my watch, as well as start the rest timer.
Strong also logs to the Health app, and workouts show in the Fitness app allowing you to compete with friends and use the various fitness tracking features of Apple Fitness.
A brilliant feature of Strong is the rest timer. You can set a default duration for it. I have this at one minute – this means that once you complete a set, it will give you a minutes timer by default. However, you can adjust this for each exercise. For example, I usually use a longer rest timer for compound exercises such as deadlifts and squats, and use a short timer such as one minute for machine based exercises. This allows you to get an adequate amount of rest between sets, whilst making sure that you are not having too long a rest.
Once you have completed your workout, Strong will store it in the History section of the app. Here, you can see all your previous workouts, and a calendar that allows you to see days that you did and did not work out on, as well as allowing you to quickly navigate to a certain section. History lists the amount of time, as well as the total weight and the amount of PRs you hit. It then shows a lists of exercises, telling you how many sets you did of these, and your best set.
You can also use the Exercises tab to search through various exercises, and view more information on how to do them. In the Profiles tab, you can set various widgets such as workouts per week, specific charts from exercise, and similar. Charts show various metrics of exercise, such as best set, 1RM progression, and more. They give a good overview of progress.
There are a few things I would like to see improved in Strong however. As someone in the UK, I use kilograms to track weight – on the Apple Watch, this is rounded up to the nearest .5. So, 45.7 kg would be rounded up to 46. This is a real pain when using some weights, and means that I have to log via the app, picking up and putting my phone down. It would be nice to see the watch app able to support decimal places other than 0. and .5.
Another thing I had trouble with is the Apple Watch disconnecting from the phone – I started a workout on my phone, however the Watch would simply not pick it up. I managed to get this sorted after quite some time with restarts, and deleting the watch app and the phone app and reinstalling them, and I only had this problem once, however I thought it would be worthwhile pointing out. This being said, they do work fine together now, and have for the majority of the time that I have used Strong.
Strong is a brilliant choice for a workout tracker – it has a simple, quick and easy to use UI, allowing you to log without hassle, and the Watch app is brilliant and simple to use. I strongly recommend Strong – it’s a pleasure to use and doesn’t complicate tracking your progress at all. The various charts and metrics are brilliant in seeing areas where you are strong, and areas that need improvement.