If you’re committed to riding your bike more frequently or focusing more on your overall health and fitness, it’s easy to get bogged down in apps. While many are great, it’s easy to fill your screen with apps that you will rarely use, and end up more overwhelmed than aided by your home screen. Here, we’re talking about a few tried-and-true apps that we’ve been using for years to stay fit and make our rides easier and more fun.
Remember: Apps can only do so much when it comes to changing your habits and helping you find the best routes or get back in shape. Ultimately, you have to take the actions, not just hit a download button and forget about them. So start with downloading just one or two at a time and commit to using them regularly before adding even more to your homescreen.
Strava has become the top mapping and tracking tool for cyclists, and we love it because it’s not only ideal for planning routes, you can use it to record your ride and keep an eye on your route while you’re riding if you don’t have a cycling computer. Use a handlebar mount for your phone and the app can help you get to work on time. (We do recommend paying for the upgrade if you find you use the app a lot: The access to Strava’s Heat Map function that shows where cyclists tend to ride is fantastic for route planning, and there are tons of other perks.)
Get it here: Strava.com
Whether you’re hoping to drop a few pounds, put on more muscle, track your macros or simply check in to make sure that you’re eating enough throughout the day, MyFitnessPal is easily the best food tracking app available, with tons of fantastic free features. It’s easy to input your meals and snacks throughout the day, since MyFitnessPal has hundreds of thousands of common foods and meals (including most fast food options) already in the database. You get a quick snapshot of your macro—protein, fat and carbohydrate—breakdown as the day goes on, and can also add in exercise or sync it to other exercise trackers.
Get it here: MyFitnessPal.com
Another great tool for both mapping routes and tracking your training, MapMyRide syncs smoothly with MyFitnessPal and is a great choice for urban riders. Because it has decades of data, it’s easy to see what the best routes in your area are, saving you time when trying to decide where to ride.
Get it here: MapMyRide.com
For cyclists who plan to ride inside on a trainer in the winter, Zwift can help motivate you to enjoy your ride by virtually participating in races and group rides with millions of cyclists worldwide. Consider it like playing a video game, but rather than using a hand-controller, your bike is the controller. Having a smart trainer that can sync your power to the app makes racing more fun, but you can get started with a “dumb” trainer and a cadence sensor for under $150 (assuming you already have a bike). There’s a great roundup of trainers you can check out here if you are considering getting a trainer this season. You can pay for a subscription for Zwift for more perks, but the free version works well too.
Get it here: Zwift.com
No one likes getting caught in downpours, and AccuWeather seems to be a bit more… well, accurate than the native app that comes on phones. AccuWeather is a great, simple weather tool for cyclists who prefer knowing whether or not to bring a raincoat on a ride. While you can upgrade to premium, the free version is all you need to get through your ride knowing if you should wear a buff or a balaclava.
Get it here: AccuWeather.com
If you train a lot but rarely pay attention to recovery, or you’re trying to implement healthy habits and you want to see how they’re actually working for you, using an app like HRV4Training is a great way to keep track of your overall health and fitness using heart rate variability as the metric that gauges your overall recovery and stress on your body. It also allows users to log subjective data in addition to the objective measurement of heart rate variability. It’s a fantastic way to see if those healthy habits are making you stronger and healthier over time, and a way to gauge if things are starting to go sideways and you’re not recovering as well.
Get it here: HRV4Training.com
While there are a lot of paid yoga apps out there that are fantastic, most cyclists rarely make enough time for yoga to make paying for one worthwhile. So if you’re on the fence about committing to a yoga practice, start with the free Down Dog app for access to easy to follow videos and yoga resources that will help you start stretching on a daily basis. If you can just carve out 5 or 10 minutes for yoga every morning before your day starts, that’s huge progress that compounds over time: Remember, 10 minutes a day is over 60 hours per year of yoga!
Get it here: DownDogApp.com