While most activity trackers count steps, distance and calories, a limited few have been designed to make your gym workouts more effective. Doing a single exercise, like lifting a weight, is pretty easy. Doing an exercise technically well, on the other hand, is pretty hard.
The majority of us want to exercise more, yet only 3% of the global adult population are documented gym members and more than 50% of those don’t go very often. That’s lots of gym memberships going to waste! Perhaps the latest crop of wearables can help remedy the situation.
Essential reading: Top fitness trackers and health gadgets
These devices remove the burden of manual tracking of workouts. By identifying your exercises and recording reps and sets, your workouts are showcased in unprecedented detail. Some even go as far as guiding you on form.
Whether you are just a beginner or a hardened gym buff, there is an activity tracker to suit you. Read on for our selection of wearables to help take your gym session to a new level. All of these were tried and tested by our in-house team.
The Beast sensor is configured as a small magnet which allows it to be easily plugged on barbells, dumbbells, kettlebells, gym machines or to the body itself. The device shows in real-time how much you are pushing, rep by rep, whether you are lifting weights, using a machine or performing bodyweight exercises.
Beast utilizes something called Velocity Based Training. This takes out the guesswork on how much load you should be adding or removing on a particular set. It also tells you if you should move on and try a new exercise altogether by using the measurement of the bar speed and work to understand the force production.
The gizmo tracks your improvement and helps you train better. You can chose to visualize Speed, Power or Strength and monitor your performance live while working out.
Moreover, it gives you an overview of all workout data, keeping a diary of your performance. Out of all the devices we tested for tracking your reps and sets, this is one of the best.
Push promotes its strength band as the first scientifically validated wearable to provide true objective insights about your performance in the weight room. This is an activity tracker plus mobile app that sends real-time weight-lifting data to your smartphone.
The wearable can be attached to your body or the barbell to detect exercise repetitions. This is another device that uses the concept of Velocity Based Training to let you know whether to keep pushing or to hold back.
After we figured out how to use PUSH, it became simple. With a glance of the stats it was easy to see how we were performing on the day. If the velocity for a particular set was high, it’s time to increase the weight. A slowdown indicates that fatigue is setting in. You’ll become more focused on each and every rep.
According to the company’s website, Push is already in active use by many professional teams across the NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL and AF. PUSH is water-resistant so you don’t need to wash it often. Just put it on and lift.
Atlas is an inexpensive wearable that tracks and identifies different activities, evaluates form, counts reps and sets and calculates the calories you burned. The company originally raised $629k on crowdfunding site Indiegogo to fund development. It is now on generation 2.
With a single on-wrist device, Atlas can monitor your body in 3D. It can tell the difference between push-ups and triangle push-ups, bicep curls and alternating bicep curls and squats versus dead lifts. The tracker also has the ability to automatically detect and count over 70 of the most popular exercises. Not to worry if your favourite exercise is not in the database. You can teach Atlas to recognise new ones.
The gizmo logs your workouts with very little user action and keeps track of your heart rate so you can see how each movement affects your body. The on-wrist display gives you live feedback on the type, speed and quality of your exercises as you’re working out which means you can leave your phone in the locker for added convenience.
Strenx by GymWatch measures strength and motion across fitness exercises, including machines, free weights and bodyweight. The sensor records the full range of motion of an exercise, determines every strength component, repetitions and detects incorrect execution to help ensure exercises are performed properly and desired fitness goals are reached.
The device is worn as an armband or on the upper leg and provides you with real-time verbal feedback. The user inputs the activity type using the smartphone app. The gadget then calculates your rate of motion and, should you overextend yourself, tells you that you’ve done something wrong.
It should be noted that Strenx can only calculate the movements for the limb that it’s wrapped around. The battery level is a decent 30 days, which should cover your workouts for a while.
Skulpt products measure metrics that you wouldn’t normally measure with more ‘traditional’ fitness trackers. Rather than monitoring daily activities, or counting your reps and sets, Skulpt measures muscle quality and body fat percentage.
The device tracks 24 different muscles on your body, providing the fat percentage and a rating of the muscle’s fitness for each muscle. You can then view a ‘heat map’ on the app to conveniently track your strongest muscles and identify those that need improvement. Skulpt claims that Chisel is five times more accurate than bioimpedance scales, and three to four times more accurate than measuring with callipers.
Essential reading: Devices that help you keep tabs on your body fat
The device will give you greater insight and enable you to measure the result of your fitness achievements, to better understand when you are losing fat and gaining muscle. The app will even suggest actual workout routines based on the MQ and fat % of your individual muscles. Next time you head off to the gym, you will have a clear understanding on exactly which muscles you need to place most focus on.
Moov is a one of a kind wearable fitness coach that actively monitors your activity and advises you in real time how to get the most from your workout. Similar to many other fitness trackers, the gizmo tracks your daily activity and sleep — but rather than steps, Moov measures movement within 3D space.
The device essentially translates your exact movement into real-time coaching, both through audio and on screen, and advises you whether you are performing your exercises correctly. It does this through use of the 9 axis motion sensing system – including an accelerometer, gyroscope and magnetometer to learn the wearer’s form and correct any issues that may lead to injury.
Moov pairs with an app to train users on five sports — running, cycling, swimming, cardio boxing, and a seven-minute bodyweight workout which you can perform at home as it doesn’t require the use of any weights. The tracker has been tailored to each individual activity, so offers separate exercise programs.
Fitbit’s flagship fitness tracker features exercise modes that provide real-time stats, helping you get the most from your sweat sessions. This includes multi-sport modes for tracking specific workouts like runs, biking, weight-lifting and yoga. Because the process is automatic, you will get credit even if you forget to log a workout.
Charge 3 doesn’t count things like reps or the amount of weight that you are lifting, but you can use its exercise mode to track your heart rate and calories while you lift weights. You also get a snapshot of your fitness level using a personalised Cardio Fitness Score. The value is based on your estimated VO2 Max that is calculated using your user profile and resting heart rate. The Cardio Fitness Level shows how you compare to those of the same age and gender, and ranges from poor to excellent. Plus you get bar charts of your fat burn, cardio and peak heart rate zones.
If don’t mind spending a bit more cash, you can always opt for one of the devices in the Versa range. They also track how much you’ve exerted yourself in the weight-room.
The Vivosmart 4 takes across all the features of its predecessors (apart from GPS), but adds more sophisticated fitness tracking tools. This includes a blood oxygen sensor and something Garmin calls Body Battery energy monitoring. The metric uses a combination of stress, heart rate variability (HRV), sleep and activity data to let you know when to push hard, when to rest.
Thanks to Garmin Elevate wrist heart rate technology, you still get 24/7 heart rate monitoring, and the wearable automatically tracks activity including steps, floors climbed, calories burned, intensity minutes, sleep and more. It also features smart notifications to keep you connected while on the go.
When you start a strength training activity, the device will capture your exercises, reps and sets along with your work and rest times so you can leave the notebook at home. That data gets pushed to Garmin Connect during your next sync so you can review your workout in even greater detail.
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