Editor's Note: For more up-to-date information on what's currently available out there, check out our new fitness technology article here.

With the continual spike in technology (and no real end in sight), there's a lot of debate about the use of technology in different sectors and whether said technology helps, hinders, or just distracts from the original purpose.  Fitness, being no exception, has been flooded with technology-laden aides over the last couple of decades.

Of course, technology has always been an emerging trend for the research sector.

New ways of performing different measurements and collecting  and analyzing data have been around since the 70's.  Just look at Rocky IV where, during the training montage, Drago was using some pretty cutting edge stuff for that time.  More recently, however, the industry has shifted to user-end products.  The trend started in the mid-90's with computer programs you could purchase, then moved internet-based tools.  Now, the trend has spread to mobile phone applications, where you can take all of your fitness resources with you anywhere you go.

The problem is this:  Just because someone creates an app, that doesn't necessarily mean it'll be worth anything.  So how do you differentiate the good, the bad, and the ugly among fitness apps?  Well, I can't give you information on EVERY fitness app, but I can tell you about the ones I like.  Having no less than 25 fitness apps downloaded on my phone (all free, I might add -- I don't believe in paying for them!), I've whittled away the junk I've downloaded (and need to uninstall!) and come up with a list of my favorites.  Here they are, in no particular order, with brief explanations.

HIIT Interval Timer

HIIT (or High Intensity Interval Training) is a method of training using short bursts of "all out" training, followed by rest periods (usually "active rest," where you don't completely stop, you just slow down).  You don't really need to do High Intensity to enjoy this app.  I have used it for boxing/kickboxing, Tabata drills, and my ab-o-matic routine.  This is one of my favorite apps, and if you do anything in your training that requires you to measure time, rather than reps, then this is a great application for you.

iMapMyRide

This is a very cool application from the creators of MapMyRide.com, MapMyRun.com, MapMyFitness.com, and several others.  This app will integrate with the website, giving you access to your mapped workouts both online and on your phone.  It actually has a GPS feature that will let you know your distance, pace, elevation, and other stats.  It will trace the route you did, so you can refer to it later or share with others.  Although it was designed for bide rides, you can use it for other activities, as well.  I've used it in the car (out of curiosity) and on runs and it works exactly the same.  I'm sure the accompanying sister apps exist for each of the websites, but all you need is one.  Choose your favorites and hop on your bike!

1RM

1RM stands for 1-Repetition Maximum, which is the maximal weight that a person can lift in 1 repetition.  This is a testing parameter used to see improvements and to prescribe programs.  Usually, 1 RM is used for the major power lifts (Bench Press, Squat, and Deadlift), but I've seen it used with many different lifts.  The nice thing about this app is that it helps you to estimate your 1 RM without actually doing it.  All you need is a weight that will cause muscle failure in 10 reps or less ("Failure" is actually a good thing in this case!  Also, you'll want to use a spotter for this type of lifting.).  The app will take the weight you lifted and the number of times you lifted it and calculate your 1 Rep Max.  It will also estimate how many reps you can do at a given weight or how much weight you can lift for a given amount of reps.  This is handy when you are planning your workouts.

Training Peaks

This is another app that was first a website and they integrate together nicely.  It seems as though it was designed around triathletes, but it's useful for swimming, biking, running, walking, cross country skiing, and rowing.  It has other items, but I don't really see them as all that useful, if that's all you do.  You can plug your workouts into this app and it will give you stats for each workout.  You can use a calendar to see different workouts you have done.  The web interface has charts, additionally.  The paid version has more features, like you can actually plan your workouts in advance, but I really like the free version for what I'm doing.

Mobile Metronome

On the surface, you may mistake this for an app only musicians would use, but I have found a couple of fitness uses as well.  The way I use it is for my biking cadence (or pedal rate).  I can set it to 90 rpms and push to maintain that pace.  This way my speed becomes very predictable based on the gear I have my bike in.  I have to wear an earphone (I would never wear both because I want to hear traffic) so I can hear the beeps.  I can run this app concurrently with the iMapMyRide app.  It eats up my battery, but it seems to work nicely.  One negative note is that is tends to cut off after about 25 minutes, but by then, I have that little beeping sound burned into my brain, so I can pretty much maintain it for my last few miles!

There you have my list of favorite fitness apps.  I hope you find them useful. 

Since I brought up Rocky earlier, let me just mention that technology ultimately didn't win over the blood and guts training Rocky put in. 

Technology isn't the be-all-end-all, it just leverages the effort we should already be putting into our workouts.