Long-time readers of this site will be familiar with Krista Stryker of from her interview in January. Krista is one of the leading figures in the bodyweight fitness community, and the founder of 12 Minute Athlete. She also has an amazing attitude towards fitness- what I really love about her is the way she has fun with everything she does.
Her specialty is short, metabolic conditioning workouts that can be done outside of a gym- at home, in a hotel room, or her preference, outdoors. Thus, you won’t find any barbells on her website- just jump ropes, pull-up bars, and a few other pieces of light equipment that people can use at home. Many of her workouts are bodyweight only.
Krista’s claim to fame is her eponymous 12 Minute Athlete HIIT Workouts app. For only $2.99, this app provides over 200 easy-to-follow interval and metabolic conditioning workouts.
So last week, I decided to take her app for a test ride. Well, the iPhone version to be precise; there’s also an Android version. She also has a free workout timer app which includes a few exercises and videos, essentially acting as a free preview of the premium app.
The first thing I noticed was that the paid app is easy to mix up with the free one, since they have the same display name and similar icons. Since the premium app has everything that’s in the free app, I just deleted the free one.
Most of the app uses a very simple and easy to read red and white color scheme, except for the profile section which is black and white. The whole thing looks very simple- everything you need is neatly organized into menus, without a lot of pictures or animations cluttering it up. There are videos, which I’ll get to in a bit.
It doesn’t look fancy, but everything is simple, well-organized, and easy to understand and navigate. So far, so good.
Doing the 12 Minute Athlete Workouts
The workouts are organized in a totally intuitive fashion. First, you select the workout duration- you have twelve and sixteen-minute interval training workouts, as well as challenge workouts in which you try to perform a prescribed number of reps as fast as possible. There are also some additional workout packs offered as in-app purchases.
After selecting from those options, you then select which types of equipment you want to use. The options include pull-up bars, jump ropes, medicine balls, and a few other items along with bodyweight-only, and you can select as many of the options as you want.
Based on your selections, the app will then give you a workout that uses only the equipment you selected. Choose bodyweight only, and you’ll get a workout full of bodyweight exercises. Choose jump rope, pull-up bar and kettlebell, and you’ll get a workout with a mix of exercises that use all the equipment you selected.
The ability to combine different kinds of equipment gives this app a tremendous amount of variety. No matter what equipment you have available, you’ll always have at least a few workouts that you’re able to do. My only complaint here is the lack of any resistance band or dumbbell exercises- resistance bands in particular would seem to be a good fit here since they’re cheap and lightweight enough to take anywhere you go.
Working out with the app is easy- once you’ve picked your workout, you know exactly what to do. The only thing I don’t like here is the beeping sound the app makes to tell you when to begin or end a set- it’s annoying and reminds me of 1980’s DOS computers.
But the actual process of doing the workouts is easy. The workouts have pre-determined rest periods and move forward according to the times programed into them, so you don’t need to do a lot of clicking and swiping. You just record how many reps you did.
I’ve used other apps that made me feel like I spent more time using the app than actually working out. 12 Minute Athlete is very streamlined, and lets me focus on just doing the workouts.
But that’s not the best part.
The 12 Minute Athlete has videos of every exercise
Every single exercise the app uses has an accompanying demonstration video. These videos are brief, showing Krista demonstrating the movement from a few different angles.
Although the videos are hosted on YouTube, they’re all embedded directly into the app, and can be viewed with two clicks without ever needing to leave the app. You can watch them between workouts by selecting from a list of every exercise in the app, or during a workout, if you need a refresher on one of the movements, you can just pause the workout and watch a video of your next exercise then and there.
The inclusion of these videos is that really sets this app apart for me- I’ve tried a lot of workout apps, and this one does the best job of helping me to learn new exercises.
Okay, but what about those in-app purchases?
The app contains enough workouts to keep most people busy for months, if not years. That said, it also offers the option to buy packs of additional workouts for $.99 each. Each of these workout packs contains 15 workouts of a specific type- such as boxing workouts, upper and lower body strength workouts, or travel workouts.
There’s also a Super Athlete subscription which unlocks all of the workout packs, as well as three new workouts per week. The subscription also enables custom goal tracking and performance visualization for people who want to crunch the numbers on their progress.
At $4.99 a month or $54.99 a year, the subscription will mainly appeal to variety junkies who want to do a different workout every day. The individual workout packs, on the other hand, are perfect for someone who has a specific goal and wants to focus on one specific type of workout.
So do I recommend it? Hell yes.
This app provides amazing value to anyone who wants to be lean and athletic without needing to work out in a gym. The additional workout packs make it easy to further specialize your training- adding upper or lower body strength workouts, or shorter tabata-style workouts, for instance.
I’m more of a gym guy, so I won’t be using this app every day, but I do plan to keep using it when I need a short fat loss workout that I can do at home.
For anyone who either doesn’t like going to the gym, loves exercising outdoors, or just wants to keep their workouts as short as possible, 12 Minute Athlete is just about as good as it gets. Grab the app on iPhone or Android and you can start getting shredded in minutes.