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How to Create Your Own HIIT Workout App

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Anastasia Osypenko
Market Researcher

High-intensity interval training, or HIIT, has been continuously topping the list of the biggest fitness trends worldwide. The reason for its popularity is simple: HIIT sessions are equipment-free and comparatively short. They allow people to achieve their fitness goals faster than many other workouts.

HIIT’s health benefits were backed up by several studies. For instance, the Montreal Heart Institute study showed that those who regularly perform HIIT workouts show better results on cognitive tests because of higher brain oxygenation. Clearly, this type of workout is a trend worth considering in app development.

With the fitness app market thriving more than ever, an increasing number of apps focus on HIIT. Some apps provide various fitness plans and include HIIT in their offering while others are designed solely for HIIT sessions. In this article, we’ll review some of the latter to make sense of what’s in-demand on the market. We’ll also look at how to create your own HIIT workout app which can compete.

What Is HIIT?

The HIIT workout is defined as a combination of short intense sessions and quick rests. It can involve numerous activities be it jogging, jumping, body-weight exercises or swimming.

The hard work and high intensity during HIIT sessions lead to a higher oxygen intake and a greater calorie burn. But fat burn isn’t the only reason HIIT is so popular now. Because of the way the exercises are structured in a workout, HIIT may foster better oxygen consumption and raise an individual’s metabolic rate. For those prone to overeating, HIIT can actually help thanks to reducing the concentration of appetite-regulating hormones.

Because high-intensity sessions are performed at maximum effort and heart rate, there is a serious risk of injuries. A high-priority problem for a HIIT coach or an app for HIIT workouts is to give proper instructions on performing exercises safely and how to detect when something is going wrong.

The science of heart rate zones is the basis of any healthy workout but especially high-intensity ones. At MadAppGang we developed a running app which generates its recommendations in accordance with the user’s heart-rate data. We made this health parameter the core of our product because we wanted to promote healthy running and not just provide another service focused on fitness performance.

Heart rate tracking during HIIT sessions helps to ensure the body is coping and prevents injury. It’s also vital to check RR intervals (the time period between heartbeats) to confirm the body recovers from training. Welltory is a good example of an app based on heart rate variability which measures RR intervals to help users cope with stress. Incorporating heart-rate sensor data into a workout app is an absolute must.


Existing HIIT Workout Apps

The various HIIT workout apps differ mostly in terms of what they offer free users and those who pay. Most are free but include in-app purchases for personalised plans and professional trainer support. Applications can also be distinguished by the following:

  • The level of difficulty: some are targeted at total newbies while others provide more advanced training sessions
  • Equipment requirements: some HIIT sessions may require gym items but mostly this training is equipment-free
  • Specification: individual apps are dedicated to a particular type of HIIT like tabata or AMRAP

But what mainly draws users to a particular program is how convenient it is. Let’s see what the most popular examples are and which features they include.

The Johnson & Johnson Official 7 Minute Workout

Johnson & Johnson’s program is among the pioneers of HIIT cardio apps. Within five years, the program has collected nearly twelve-thousand reviews on Google Play. It’s a free app where users receive exercise guidance with adjustable difficulty. The warm-up is included in each training session.

The simple interface of three screens which users can swipe between is one of the major upsides to this app. Users can see instructions, add their music to the session, and set timers. The app keeps an activity log and enables shares with in-app friends or on social media.

One laudable feature is that the app asks users how hard it each session was to customise the experience and make training safe.

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Source: App Store

Seven 7 Minute Workout

On the market since 2014, this app has managed to attract even a greater number of active users; 120 million workouts were accomplished with the help of this program. It was recognized as the Apple Watch App of the Year in 2016 and received other industry awards.

What the Seven 7 Minute Workout gets right about mobile fitness is focusing on fun and customisation. There are lots of motivational badges, ability to share achievements, and a social feed with comments which prove very engaging, as we’ve discussed in our previous post on fitness gamification.

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Source: Perigee

The free version of this fat-burning app includes a basic full-body workout and the first session of every other available fitness plan. 7 Club members get a more personalised experience with professional trainer support.

Fitbit Coach

For $39.99 per year, users can adjust the level of training and choose a trainer to track their progress in this HIIT compatible app. The app offers guidance over both indoor or outdoor workouts, runs, and walks. Pre-recorded workouts and a single personalised fitness plan are available for users for free. The process can be synchronised with music from the Fitbit radio.


With a customer base of over 38 million users, Freeletics is one of the most successful fitness app companies.

Their app keeps its focus on coaching, providing what they call custom journeys to various body workouts. There are exercise plans for beginners and advanced athletes, with basic options available for free. The premium version costs between $12 and $15 per month. Freeletics also provides subscribers with nutrition support and has a separate nutrition app. We’ve mentioned some of their products in our post on fitness app design.


This popular app is dedicated to strength HIIT workouts. It offers a functional map with specific exercises and recommends exercises based on the time length, movements, and muscle groups involved in completed sessions. Keelo also suggests the same workouts all over again to track user progress over time. The free version has a limited number of workouts and full functionality can be unlocked for $49.99 per year.

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Source: App Store

Some apps for HIIT provide merely a timer for a certain number of consecutive intervals. Interval Timer is among the best free HIIT apps designed for such a purpose. It has different templates, customisable alerts and also allows data export.

Tabata, a variation of HIIT, has its own stable of apps. Tabata is even faster than regular high-intensity session training and lasts 4 minutes. Tabata Stopwatch Pro and Tabata Timer have a great number of users and reviews.

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Tabata Stopwatch Pro. Source: Parabolic River

Must-Have Features in a HIIT Workout App

Like any application with guided workouts, a HIIT app needs to have several fitness plans, user profiles, a community, and game-like elements to keep it fun. We’ve described some of the key features to implement in a fitness application in previous posts. For now, let’s see what a HIIT app should include:

  • Workout plans designed by professionals – categorised by difficulty, type of training, and other parameters
  • Heart rate sensor data – needed to track the current heart rate zone and maintain healthy training levels
  • Music integration – Most people exercise with a playlist running in the background
  • Voice controls – for hands-free exercise
  • Smart suggestions and chatbots – to personalise the service and recommendations on how to improve
  • Personal profiles – with workout history and preferences
  • Social feed – with the possibility to follow friends, share progress, and comment on posts
  • In-app purchases and paid subscriptions – there are a number of ways to sell a fitness service from special, paid training plans to communication with a real trainer

Things to Consider When Making the Best HIIT Workout App

Since high-intensity workouts are completed quickly, your app should aim to facilitate exercise as its primary goal and limit distracting elements. Users should be encouraged to perform the exercises they wish to during those seven or even four minutes.

Let’s find out which are the most important aspects in a good training app.

Science Behind the Exercises

Any fitness-related service requires scientific research. Workouts deal with human health and general wellbeing so they need to be performed safely, especially when it comes to HIIT.

Sometimes people feel pain during or after HIIT classes and over-exertion might be a serious problem. Taking all that into account, a HIIT app has to be accurate in its recommendations, always include a solid warm-up, and give tips on restorative periods and recovery.

To build a trustworthy brand, every element of your service must be backed by science and industry professionals.

Personalisation of Workouts

HIIT plans can be designed in a different way and serve multiple aims including fat loss, muscle gain, or improved endurance. Many people appreciate its equipment-free nature but some HIIT plans involve barbells and other gym equipment.

You should decide which aspects of training you want your app to cover. Most people are looking for an effective calorie burn app, which any HIIT program is at core. But HIIT isn’t limited to that.

You can go for traditional full-body exercises and create a workout plan app or you can narrow your focus down to a single activity. Even though HIIT is known for combining various exercises, there’s room for a HIIT running app, for example. This way, the benefits of HIIT training can be tailored to the particular needs of runners.

Any app-guided training plan should consider personal preferences and parameters such as the user’s current weight and heart rate data. A good idea might be to craft a workout based on additional information about nutrition, hydration, or health issues. As some of the high-intensity interval training apps already do, it’s reasonable to ask a user how a session went, how difficult it was, and if there was any discomfort.

Basic Functionality for Free

Fitness enthusiasts are ready to pay for a personalised experience, and that’s what most workout applications sell and compete for. But there should also be a basic package with pre-recorded exercise videos, a timer, and music synchronisation. The best high-intensity interval training apps tend to offer a trial period for paid functionality.

Social Feed

Fitness brands are expanding their influence on social media and community is what makes an app trend. With a social feed, users of workout applications get additional motivation. Most people don’t want to be left alone with their exercises, instead, they enjoy sharing their experience, getting tips from others, or just getting cheered on during their fitness journey.

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All the features we’ve mentioned are available for users in existing workout apps, which makes the level of customisation and fun the real basis of competition.

You could make a distinguishable product by implementing the newest AI solutions to detect human movements and adjust workouts based on them. Or you could focus on fun elements, adding more challenges or creating a cartoonish virtual assistant. Another way to leave competitors behind might be the result of an attractive payment model or a niche specialisation.

If you have an idea for a HIIT app in mind and need an experienced team by your side, reach out to us to find out how we can help.

05 September 2019