The MadBarz Calisthenics App
One of the better iPhone apps available for tracking your development as a street workout athlete is a Croatian app called MadBarz.
MadBarz is the only venture-funded app I can find focused on calisthenics and bodyweight training. The application comes packed with lots of useful features, and its sleek UI makes it fun to use.
MadBarz provides a number of built-in workouts that you can follow, or you can create your own. The only limit in the app related to its being free that I can find is that you can only add one custom workout by default; to add more, you need to invite people to use the app.
Madbarz setup is where you’ll put in age and location, and then set the app up to help you towards your personal goals.
First, you indicate whether your goal is burning fat, being athletic and toned, or being ripped. Once you select one of those, you are asked to indicate your weight profile, and your fitness level (beginner, intermediate or advanced).
This allows the system to make appropriate recommendations for your training.
The workouts are where the rubber meets the road for a calisthenics app.
When you select a workout, the application provides a visual overview of which muscles are worked, and the workout’s ratio of strength to cardio.
By tapping on the muscle group overview, the app displays icons representing each of the exercises within, that provides a quick preview of what you’ll be doing if you start that workout.
One peculiar element of the app is that to start the workout you select, you click a button called “take.” I would expect “start” or “begin,” but that’s really a minor concern. I’ve never “taken” a bodyweight workout! 🙂
The library of bodyweight exercises is pretty comprehensive, although there were a couple of cases where I had to substitute something similar for the move I’m actually doing. Unlike other apps, the substitutions are reasonable (for example, I could only find Bulgarian split squats rather than shrimp squats).
Once you begin the workout, you can tap each exercise to change the number of reps you want to do. The workout includes a set number of cycles through all of the exercises, which cannot be changed on the fly.
Once you click OK, you’re able to modify the timing between exercises and between each cycle. Then, the app provides a convenient reminder to warm up–useful for those of us who like to just wake up and start working out.
As you’re prompted to Start (there’s the start button!) there is an option to save the workout for offline use. In my home and neighborhood, I’m practically never offline so this isn’t really important to me–but it may be to some of you.
Once an exercise begins, the app times your workout, and then when you’re done, it asks you to confirm how many reps you’ve done. To me, this is one of the best features to make sure you have accurate records! This repeats for each exercise in the progression.
Results are provided once you say your workout is done. The app times the entire duration of your workout, the number of points it gives you for your work, and a pie chart showing the percentage of workout vs. rest based on your recorded times.
Then, you are shown a review of how many overall cycles, and how many reps of each exercise you did. When you repeat a workout, you’ll see a comparison between the workout you just completed and the one you did the previous time.
As further encouragement, you’re shown the visual overview of the muscles you just worked out–presumably to feel better about yourself. 🙂
Finally, the app provides a quick way to share your workout on Facebook or Twitter, and another opportunity to save that workout for offline use. Note that the sharing behavior for Twitter merely shares that you completed a workout using the hashtag of the app–not how long you worked out for, or how many points, or any other specifics.
There are 4 ways to review your history with the app.
First, in the Total view, you can see:
- how many workouts
- total time
- average time
- top 5 used exercises
In the Progress view, you can see for each workout completed more than once, a chart of your points over time. That gives you a sense of when you pushed harder and when you didn’t.
In the Weight view, you can see your weight over time, in the event you are diligent about updating it. I’m not.
And finally, in the History view, you can see the log of the number of each exercise you completed during past workouts, the number of points and total workout time; and you can delete any workout you don’t want to keep.
Interestingly, the app provides additional features that are accessible only on the website.
First, you can follow a live stream of workout results posted by users around the world. You’re also provided an opportunity to “post” to the live stream. The feed can be filtered to public items, people you are following, your own posts, only workouts, and only status posts.
You can use the same workout functionality from the mobile app on the website as well, in case you’re working out near your laptop. The website also provides access to create workouts and save them.
On the website, you can see how many points til you move up to the next level, how many people you are following or who are following you, and how many people have given you “respect” (a form of social Like).
The website provides access to Competition, where you can arrange your friends into “battle groups” and check the leader board. I wasn’t able to find anyone using the person search within Competition, so I’m not sure this is fully functional quite yet.
The Statistics view on the website provides a view into progress of a particular exercise over time, rather than the progress per workout in the Progress view on the mobile app. Like the mobile app, you can also access stats, weight over time, and history.
The final website feature is another person search which does find people, but only by username.
The MadBarz team has plans to monetize. The PRO page suggests features that will be developed soon for paying members may include:
- Extra workouts
- Unlimited saved workouts
- Muscle tracker – to alert you when certain muscles aren’t being used!
- Progress charts on all exercises ever done
- Unlimited organizer
And there’s a Shop available for you to purchase Madbarz branded gear. So even though you can’t buy the premium features yet, you can buy shirts!
Finally–and this is free–The MadBarz team provides a pretty active blog which is enhanced with slick imagery. Their most recent post at the time of this writing was an inspiring post about a young man suffering with cerebral palsy who improved his life with street workouts.
Given that my needs are for a tool that’ll track my personal progress well, rather than to provide me a social venue to compare my results with others–this app works very well for me.
I find the ability to log results in a given workout along with timing it very easy, and the library of exercises is complete enough for my needs.
I’m not sure I’ll need the paid features, as at this point I’ll be challenged enough to make use of the built-in ones. And I can embed the exercises I’m trying to work on regularly into my single custom workout.
For the time being, given how feature rich this app is compared to others I’ve previewed, I’m going to rate this a 10/10 and consider it to be the calisthenics app against which I’ll compare all the others.
Are you using MadBarz? What do YOU think?
Image source: Gratisography