The SWEAT and FITBODY apps have a lot of similarities. Each has different qualities that can be appealing based on whether you value simplicity or more intensity.
What’s the skinny?
- This article, following the initial overview of female fitness apps, compares SWEAT an FITBODY in detail
- Following an overview of the structure and programs of each app, I go through the positives and drawbacks
- The article concludes with bottom line recommendations and more resources.
SWEAT BY KAYLA ITSINES
Kayla Itsines is a world renown Australian trainer who got famous for her famous Bikini Body Guide “BBG” style of working out. You can still download the PDF version of this, if you prefer tech-free workouts (yes, some of us are still out there). She has a huge following in the US and an even bigger following in the Western Hemisphere, especially Australia, Singapore and New Zealand. I personally have been following her program since 2015, with her downloadable PDF of the BBG guide.
Her SWEAT app, launched in 2017, raked in almost $80 million in its first year. and is in the top 10 highest grossing apps on the Apple store. Itsines first attracted attention for her presence on Instagram and famous “7-minute” workouts that could be done, anywhere. She has appeared regularly on shows like Today and in magazines like People and Shape, achieving household name status.
How the app works
The app is structured in a weekly training program format with Kayla and different female trainers specializing specific types of strength training, like power lifting. Once you choose a program, you can also choose whether you start at the beginner level or a later week. You can also start at the “1.0” level if you feel that the earlier weeks are not difficult enough.
Each workout, which is circuit-training based, is usually between 28-40 minutes. You can do the workouts without music, choose your own playlist, or use a selection of a playlist from the app.
With the exception of the barre program, the format is not traditional videos, but “video loops,” which essentially means a teeny tiny version of each trainer demonstrating the move on repeat. You can click on the particular move to get a description both audio and written at the bottom of the screen, as well as potential modifications.
The instruction can be silent with vibration/chime cuing the moves, or the trainer can cue them (in an Australian accent, fun!)
Programs: BBG, BBG Stronger, Fierce, PWR, BUILD and Barre/Yoga
“BBG” and “BBG” stronger with Kayla Itsines are the most promoted programs on the app, and probably the easiest to start for beginners. BBG is mostly bodyweight training, while BBG stronger is gym-equipment based strength training with plyo mixed in. “Plyo” is a term in the fitness industry short for “plyometrics,” which includes mostly jumping or quick movements with bodyweight, like burpees, squat jumps, and mountain climbers. This is often mixed into strength training workouts for the purpose of elevating your heart rate and burning more calories.
In a nutshell, BUILD helps women transition to heavy powerlifting, PWR is a gym-based weight training program designed to build lean muscle, and FIERCE is a weight training program with high intensity mixed in, in a style known as “AMRAP”, which means as many reps as possible.
Some of the programs, like the BBG, use timed 7 minute intervals of circuit work, where you complete as many rounds as possible in that frame of time. Other programs, like PWR or FIERCE, have pyramids (three sets repeated in a row) and supersets (switching back and forth between several sets of two exercises).
There is also a post-pregnancy program with Itsines, who maintained her physique and workouts while pregnant with her first child. Finally, there are barre and yoga programs.
Common structure for all the programs
No matter what program you choose on SWEAT, there is a consistent blueprint to the structure and format. Each workout gives you a warmup sequence and ends with a cooldown sequence. You are told what equipment you will need as you open up the particular workout of the day.
The duration of a given program can go up to 84 weeks, with progression of difficulty by the week. You can pick, based on your perceived athleticism, whether you want to start at the beginner level, 1.0, or 2.0 levels. The app has a suggested weekly schedule, or you can customize.
Each program has 3-4 resistance training programs per week. Built into the schedule of all the programs in varying frequencies are 3 or 4 cardio sessions throughout the week, including both HIIT and LISS.
LISS is an acronym for “Low intensity Steady State training”. This can include, according to the SWEAT site , the program has a built-in timer for interval training. There are also built in workouts for “recovery days” which include guided stretches and foam rolling.
Post-COVID, the programs have permutated into “at home” and “no equipment” programs. This gives the app a total of 15 programs, which you can overview on the SWEAT blog HERE.
Other on-demand programs
Besides the mainstream programs, there are specific quicker workouts for different body areas, like glutes, shoulders, chest, legs and abs, and also an express version of these workouts (about 15-20 minutes). There are also different “challenges” where you do one successive exercise after another without repeating circuits.
Which program to pick
The best advice I can give on how to choose a program is to study each trainer’s physique and follow their Instagram accounts to get more of an idea of what body goals motivate you. If you want significant muscle growth, BUILD and PWR are better choices. If you are after fat loss, BBG or FIERCE is probably a better choice.
- The app addresses a potential design flaw, which is the fact that you have to constantly tap the phone to progress through the exercise and complete the workout. If you don’t like constantly having to tap your phone, you can do the circuits and then hit the pause button, which will have an option to “end the workout” and mark it as completed.
- If you are short on time, you can always do just one-two circuits of each workout; in fact, Itsines recommends this with BBG.
- Flexibility with playlists: You can synch your own music with the workouts or pick one of the many playlists SWEAT offers, or just workout in silence with or without audio.
- The app also syncs with your iPhone step tracker or Fitbit so you can keep track of your step goals on the app.
- Even if you choose a program, you can try out other programs for a resistance day, which is a good way to see if another program may suit you better or just mix up your routine. For example, if you were doing BBG and wanted to dabble in more weightlifting you could do a PWR routine).
- Too many choices and programs. I feel like their selection of programs could be a standalone college course. You can easily go down a rabbit hole of constantly switching between programs, especially since many of them are structured for such a long period of time. There is a helpful breakdown of the programs on the SWEAT blog website, but it would help if the app explain why you would choose one over another, like why would you pick PWR over BBG stronger.
- Not enough express program options. In a professional environment, a “quick” workout is 10 minutes or less, 15-20 on a good day. Although Itsines makes the point that you can do one circuit of BBG for 7 minutes, that may not necessarily be the type of workout you want to do. The app would be well served to break up some of those 7 minute circuits and make them separate options.
- Mixed results – While I see a lot of “progress pics” , I also notice on the forums many of the members complain of plateaus or even gaining weight on some of the programs, especially BBG. Even if it’s due to muscle gain or weight retention, you can only go so far with that rationale. It’s not comforting to hear that when you can’t zip up your pants after working your ass off.
- Community feature – while is good for bonding and connecting on SM, as the above point illustrates, there is also a lot of unsolicited, unqualified advice which the SWEAT app doesn’t regulate. Also problematic is the public nature of the forum (a big complaint of people) that can attract trolls and weight loss ads.
- If you are here for the barre or the yoga, you will be disappointed. The instruction is more video-like, but really robotic. The sessions don’t have any time flexibility with time if you are in a rush.
FIT BODY BY ANNA VICTORIA
Fit body is very similar to a scaled-down version of the SWEAT app (see my review here). It has different trainers for different types of programs, animated video loops, and preview of full workout.. The founder, Anna Victoria, has been around for quite a while before the app, where she became well known for her “Fit Body Guide” and her “FBG” following on Instagram. She also has made her name being a vocal advocate for destigmatizing infertility struggles. She also has exposed the misleading nature of photoshop and filters by posting side by side photos at “not sucked in” angles, getting worldwide media fame for her famous “stomach roll” comparison photos.
Like SWEAT and other apps, there is a robust” FBG” community on Instagram (Anna Victoria recommends creating an additional “alter ego” FBG account to encourage more open dialogue).
How the app works
Like SWEAT, Fit Body has a structured weekly training program. Once you choose a program, you have a mix of strength training and cardio days, as well as a few optional “bonus workouts”. This is also structured as a “video loop” workout where you can preview all of the moves and the circuits. As you click start, the clock on the workout starts so that you can see the total time it is taking. While you are doing a particular move, the next move is previewed with a “mini” trainer in the bottom right hand corner of the screen. As you set up the app, you can choose your intensity level – beginner, intermediate or advanced for the workouts. There are mini tutorials that the app has available either by pop up or by clicking on the question mark, where it shows you by a mock screen what functionality is available to change settings or to use a certain feature.
Each of the workouts has an add-on 5-minute cardio burn, which is like a “finisher” that trainers usually tack on at the end of a session to burn you out and maximize results.
Like SWEAT, the Fit Body app programs are organized by trainers and what programs they specialize in. There are not as many trainers, and not as many programs. Nevertheless, the full range of bodyweight, flexibility, and strength training seems to be covered. Anna Victoria and Brittany Lupton specialize in strength training, HIIT, pregnancy and postpartum workouts. Nicci Robinson specializes in strength and conditioning, and Marina Sergei specializes in yoga and flexibility. The programs last up to 60 weeks.
The programs (outside of yoga) generally split between ones that you can do with a mat and dumbbells (Tone, Shred) and ones where you need gym equipment (Sculpt, Strong, and Lift).
Anna Victoria’s “Shred” program is a bodyweight-based circuit training programs focused on toning and losing body fat. That program has six workout days with one rest day. Each day is broken down by upper body, lower body, and core. Her Tone program is very similar, but requires dumbbells. According to her website FAQ, Shred is designed for ultimate fat loss and Tone is designed for both fat loss and toning muscle.
For the “gym equipment” option programs, Anna Victoria’s Sculpt is like a BLEND of PWR and FIERCE from the SWEAT APP, with supersets, gym equipment, weights and some plyo moves mixed in. and Nicci Robison’s strong is very similar to BUILD on the SWEAT APP, really focused on heavy lifting and conditioning. Finally Brittany Lupton’s Lift program is very similar to PWR, with supersets and abs mixed in. You can select the intensity, which will adjust the weights.
All of the programs have built-in recommendations for several low-intensity “Limit” cardio (essentially “LISS”), “MISS” cardio (which is cardio at a medium intensive state) , and HIIT cardio workouts, including warming up and intervals (you can choose the equipment you are using including treadmill, Stairmaster, bike, elliptical, etc. ). If you are already doing a cardio-integrated workout like Shred, there are three sessions per week; if you are doing more of a gym/lifting based program like Sculpt, the recommendation is four sessions a week.
The workouts are split up into circuits, and total an estimated time of 30 minutes for the bodyweight/toning focused workouts, and 45-60 minutes for the gym-based equipment workouts.
How Fit Body is different than SWEAT
A few key differentiators that Fit Body has compared to SWEAT:
- Unlike SWEAT, the program provides a range of weight for the lifting programs based on your stats and desired intensity.
- Her Shred program, which is really similar to BBG, does not have timed circuits; it’s a fixed number of reps and sets.
- There are no “at home” “no equipment” versions -the program is the program.
- The app has a built-in macro and calorie calculator, based on your stats and weight loss goals. You can track your food intake daily and optionally follow Anna’s meal plans.
- The design of the app is simple and clean, without too many options to overwhelm someone new to this kind of training. It’s very easy to get the hang of using it in the first 10 minutes.
- There is gym equipment involved, but not as much involved, so you could hunker down and set up a home gym or use an apartment/hotel gym easily with all of the workouts.
- You can change the level of intensity mid-workout, so for example if you are sore or otherwise feeling low energy, you can do a beginner level workout instead of having to skip a day.
- The four trainers and the workouts they are about are very clearly displayed on the main menu, making it easier to narrow down and choose a program.
- The programs also clearly label what their purpose is – i.e., “burn fat and lean down” for Shred. Scrolling through each also gives you a video loop preview of a lot of the moves and the equipment needed for the entire program, without actually having to select the program first
- The customer service is nonexistent. I had an issue with my subscription, sent a note, and didn’t hear back.
- You cannot skip ahead weeks on this program. The programs last about 60 weeks, and after it’s over, there isn’t another progression- plus there are a limited number of programs to try, unlike in SWEAT.
- There is no option to do the workout without constantly tapping, which is especially bad for the yoga program.
- The HIIT feature/timer is much clunkier than SWEAT’s. It gives vague directions, like “increase speed or resistance,” but no specific guidance. Plus, resistance training is more interval than HIIT training, which is speed-focused – so there is some potential to confuse users on what HIIT actually means.
- Even the advanced version is possibly not challenging enough, for people that have trained for a long time with more advanced workouts. If you use the SWEAT app first, this may seem like a walk in the park in comparison.
- While the calorie/macro function is novel, other apps I described in my DAO of metrics post specialize in this and are a more robust platform for that purpose.
You should choose SWEAT if:
- You like a lot of options and constantly mixing up your workouts
- You want to replicate gym workouts at home with heavy dumbbells
- You want to minimize phone-tapping
You should choose Fit Body if:
- You get analysis paralysis and overwhelmed easily by a lot of choices
- You want separate core workouts worked into the program
- You want a prenatal program (currently SWEAT only has postnatal)