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Pushtastic – Body Weight Training by Numbers

June 17, 2013

So yesterday I tried out a cool smartphone app: Runtastic Push-Ups Pro. It’s essentially a motivational tool for doing push-ups. The idea is that you place it on the floor underneath your head (face) as you do the push-ups and it automatically counts the reps. It also manages the programming, so you can set it to beginner level and it will automatically set up a training plan and remind you when it’s time to train again. And to further motivate you, they added game like features like achievements and leaderboards.

So far, so good – but my first training session has left me with mixed feelings about that approach. For starters, the automatic counting of reps didn’t work as advertised. The app is supposed to use the proximity sensor of the phone to count the reps, but that didn’t work properly. I still managed to use the app because you can count the reps by touching the phone with the nose, but as you can imagine, it felt kind of silly.

Another drawback is the rigid progression scheme they programmed into the app, which, as far as I could see, doesn’t take any differences between trainees into account. For example, elderly people don’t progress nearly as fast as adolescents do, and depending on whether your goal is strength, muscular hypertrophy, endurance or a combination, the number of reps and/or sets need to be tweaked, as well as the rest between sets and the frequency (rest days, number of training sessions per week).

I also quickly tried their app for pull-ups – it worked even less well. Supposedly the app counts repetitions by using the accelerometer, but – you guessed it – it failed to count the reps.

So, my verdict is: Simply count the reps yourself. Get a good book on body weight exercises (Convict Conditioning, You Are Your Own Gym, Pushing the Limits by Al Kavadlo) and draw your motivation not from a game like smartphone app, but from the changes the training triggers in your body.

BTW: Definitely also check out the awesome smartphone apps for You Are Your Own Gym – they’re definitely worth the money, if only for the training videos.

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