GAIN Fitness Review

After leaving Muay Thai and needing something to to get me motivated at the gym, I downloaded a bunch of apps to my phone (some paid, some free), to get workout ideas.  I pretty much have done most exercises at some point in time, but the problem is remembering all variations I can do once I’m out there, and having something keeping me accountable.

If you want to build your own workout at the gym, there are a ton of apps for that, but I basically wanted two things: 

1) an app that would guide me through workouts “do this, now do that” sort of thing, to make sure I’m hitting different muscles, taking the place of a personal trainer; and

2) an app that would work with the little equipment I have available at our building’s gym.

It was hard finding an app that lets you specify what you actually have available to you, which is why GAIN Fitness worked for me (I only have dumbbells and the row/lat pulldown machine, and going to the settings I was able to uncheck all the stuff not available to me, such as barbells, different machines, kettlebells, etc).  If anyone knows of a similar app, please send it my way!

GAIN Fitness is free and there are literally hundreds of options with the free version, but if you want an extended pack with more workouts they cost about $3/each (such as advanced core, advanced traps, and so on).  I bought the advanced abs for more variety, but didn’t invest in the other ones since a lot the sample pictures use equipment I don’t have.  It also doesn’t tell you what you’re getting for 3 bucks (how many more exercises?  10?  50?).

When you’re ready to workout, you can either set up “one off” workouts (concentrating in whatever body part you want), or you can build a 4 week workout plan, which is what I chose.  The screen sample is below (my workout plan of choice is highlighted).  If you choose things like “home” or “on the go” you’ll get workouts needing less equipment, but the home one will have options for using chairs and dining table, for example.


Here is a sample of what it looks like once you set up the week (I chose 3 workouts a week M-W-F):


And when you click on the date, you get a list of what’s in store for you:


Once you click on the workout you actually see an example of how it’s done (which for me works as a good reminder of form).



And when you start the workout, this is the screen you work with (you can edit the repetitions, as well as edit the lbs – bodyweight can be changed to whatever weight you’re using).


Once you check the “done” box, a timer starts automatically with the rest period, and then you get to the next set.  It also allows you to do these two things:  skip rest, and/or skip to the next workout (personally, I like skipping the rest, then jumping to another set of something else, doing 3 circuits instead of 3 sets of the same thing back to back, that way my arms can be resting while I’m doing squats, for example).

Once you do the exercise for the first time, your reps and weights will be saved for the next time the same workout shows up on your plan.

What I REALLY like about it, is that if you don’t want to do a particular exercise (either because you don’t have the equipment, something doesn’t feel right, or because you’ve done it recently and you’re bored of it), you can click on the scroll down and choose a variation of it, and still target the same muscles.  For example:


I get bored super-easily, so for me this is great!

Other great things I love?  If I can’t do a workout today, I can click on “do it tomorrow” and it’ll just transfer to the following day.  There’s also a “Quick Plan B” option, that is just using body weight, takes about 10 minutes, and perfect when you’re traveling, don’t have time (or equipment), but still want to get something done.  We all can fit in 10 minutes, right?  Usually things like pushups and jump squats are included on the Quick Plan B.

And of course, you can play your own music during the workout, and you can have voice prompts for the next exercise, when rest is over, etc (I turn the voice prompts off).

Now for the bads…  I hate that the only option I have is “do it tomorrow” and then after that, I have an option of Quick Plan B or nothing – I cannot push forward another day.  I was sick last week, and wanted to change my M-W-F workouts to W-F-Sa, but I could not postpone the Monday workout for a second time, so I just did the “Quick Plan B” on Tuesday night, as I was still feeling off for a full workout, but could suck it up for 10 minutes (I really didn’t want my streak to end!).

Since I do circuits and skip from first set of one thing to the first set of the other, instead of jumping to the second set, sometimes the program acts glitchy and it shows that the second set is already done once I reach it (I have to click on the drop down that shows all sets and from there I can see it still unchecked and click on the box then, now it’s second nature, but the first time I used it I was super confused).

I also wish there was more variety of exercises.  Sure, there are a bunch of things available, but even with the abs pack, I find that there’s not as much variety (I always end up doing another 10-15 minutes of my own ab-work doing other things, mostly because Muay Thai left my core super strong and I don’t want to lose that, specially since I had been battling a weak core for ages).  Another example is that it has lunges, but it doesn’t have options of walking lunges, or backward lunges and so on.  So it definitely needs more for long-term use (maybe if I had access to a full gym, it would be much more varied though).  So far for the 4 week plan is great, and I’ll likely start another 4 weeks once this is over, but can I see myself still doing this a year down the line?  I’d be too bored (right now I have my settings as “intermediate” but I’m wondering if I change it to “advanced” on the next go-round if there’ll be more options, or if it’s the same stuff as before).

I should also add that if you choose to include a warm up/cool down on your plan, that will come off your total time (so basically 60 minutes including the warm up), I do my own thing, so my 60 minutes is all on weights.  There’s also no cardio setting, so if you want a true circuit that adds the treadmill, jump rope, or what not, it’s not available, but you can certainly pause the workout and do a few of those things in between sets.

Anyway, I’ve done 9 workouts so far (including 2 Quick Plan B’s, one due to vacation, the other from being sick), and I have been able to increase a few weights, which is always rewarding!  (The lack of barbells, etc, makes it tricky to increase weights as my grip sucks.  I’m now using two 35lb dumbbells for my deadlifts, but have a hard time gripping it towards the end of the set.)

I got a bunch of recommendations the last time I posted about this, but I’m always open to hearing more!  I do like the guided workouts, and I have very limited equipment, so just keep that in mind!

Sadly, though I’ve been good in the workout department, I’ve been slacking off on the accounting my calories department, so my weight has been stuck for the last two months.  It doesn’t help that Karl brought me back a box of Almond Roca, and that because of his braces, he can’t eat any of it…


(And before anyone says my pet peeve of “muscle weighs more than fat” – don’t:  a pound is a pound, a pound of muscle just takes less space, but my measurements have not changed, so that’s really not it.)


Filed under Weightlifting, Workout

8 responses to “GAIN Fitness Review

  1. rshumanpowell

    Thank you for the review this is very helpful!

  2. jend420

    Wow! What a great app you’ve found. That is awesome! At least you’ve learned how to work around the kinks, and you can think up your own variations when they don’t list something. And how proud of you to keep up your streak?! That is fantastic work! Thanks for the review. I may need it, or a friend might mention they need something, so I’ll have this to look into.

    • I’m really hoping that sooner or later an update will come out with more variety, and without the bugs i’m experiencing. Said that, I am enjoying using it! And with the workout streak, you don’t want to break it, you know?

  3. Thanks for the review, Carla! FYI — the free version comes with about 350 exercises (and we’re always adding more), and the Expansion Packs contain about 15 additional exercises apiece. I’ll add the specific # of exercises in each Expansion Pack so you can see those in the store in a few weeks. Also, we’re adding additional training styles soon, I think you’ll like them!

    – Nick, Founder of GAIN Fitness

    • Hi Nick, thanks for reading my review — and personally replying to it! It’s not often that happens! As for the 350 exercises, I seem to always get about the same ones, and I switch here and there with the drop down menu so it varies a bit more. It could be because my equipment is limited to mostly dumbbells, but a bit more variety would be great!

      Personally I find that $3 for 15 exercises a bit steep (it should have at least 20, no?), but if you bought an expansion pack, would you get more exercises in it as you get updates in the future? I also don’t think my expansion packs are showing in my current plan, but that could be because I built it prior to buying the pack. I have 3 more workouts to complete the four-week plan, so hoping it’s slightly different next time.

      I’m really happy with the app so far, just don’t know how the long-term usage will be, since it’s getting a bit repetitive. Maybe things like burpees and the what-not can be added in the future? (Don’t get me wrong, I rather jump out of a bridge than do a burpee, but if it tells me to do some, I’ll do it!)

      • Hi Carla,

        Thanks for your questions. Note that Expansion Packs come with not just additional exercises, but also advanced exercise methods and protocols (in the case of Advanced Bodypart packs, these techniques have not launched yet, but will be included in our v3.5 release).

        The exercises are all intelligently selected based on your goal, fitness level, equipment, etc., so yes, there are some of the 350 exercises you wouldn’t be able to do if you don’t have certain pieces of equipment. We looked at those as practical constraints of exercise and customize/optimize workouts around your capabilities and equipment. It’s a new concept to many people, but I think it will become more apparent over time. Eventually, you may even decide to invest in some Expansion Packs (which don’t expire, and we could indeed add more content or technique to them over time) or go out and get a Kettlebell or other new equipment to expand your training options.

        Yes, you’re right in that the packs you purchase have to be present at the time you build a GAIN Plan, so if you built it before you got the Exp. Packs, they won’t be included until next time. Note that you can always build a brand new GAIN Plan, which will change all your workouts, but will maintain your Streak as long as you don’t miss planned workouts in the meantime.

        Hope this helps, and glad to hear GAIN is helping you achieve your workout goals! We’ll have several new “trainers” with all different exercise programs and techniques launching soon, hopefully you’ll dig those and other upcoming improvements to the app.


        P.S. if $3 for a “use-this-forever” good sounds expensive, when was the last time you bought a post-workout shake? 😉

  4. Pingback: Ok, I’m back! I hope! | Carla Runs the World

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