Strava App Review
Not everyone thrives in the gym setting. If you prefer to get off the hamster wheel to engage in running and/or cycling, the Strava app is definitely worth taking a look at. With a growth rate of over a million users every month, there are more than a few good reasons this fitness tracking app has risen above the growing competition.
The Strava app was the brainchild of Mark Gainy and Michael Horvath who co-founded the company in 2009. By 2019, the app had shifted focus toward innovation and athletes, resulting in accelerated growth with users skyrocketing to 68 million in a six month period. Best of all, through crowdsourcing, over eight million activities are uploaded each day. Both its early start in the industry and extensive mapping library make for an invaluable resource for runners, cyclists, and swimmers.
Strava is Swedish for “strive,” and this word sums up the company’s business model well. With a focus on performance analysis and tracking, athletes are able to strive to do better with each activity, and its strong leaderboard presence creates a seamless atmosphere of accountability, motivation, and inspiration.
One of the most attractive features of the Strava app is its broad compatibility across a large number of devices, making it a more universal tool. Whether you’re an avid runner, couch potato ready for change, or somewhere in-between, there are some excellent features to help you make the most of your fitness journey with the Strava app.
What You Need To Know
- Strava is a prime app for runners and cyclists.
- Basic tracking features are free. For a premium subscription, you can pay $7.99 per month or $5 per month for an annual subscription.
- Strava is highly versatile with compatibility across a wide range of devices.
- You can allow a trusted person to keep an eye on you during your exercise using GPS tracking.
- Global community makes discovering new, exciting routes easy.
Getting Started — What Equipment Do You Need?
Since the primary highlight of Strava is tracking cardio exercise, you don’t need much. A good pair of shoes and a compatible GPS-tracking device is really all you need. With that being said, there’s equipment that can be used with Strava to help you take your training to new heights. In fact, one of the main features of Strava is its impressive compatibility with other technologies.
Don’t worry. You don’t have to be overly tech-savvy to take advantage of the compatibility feature. Strava understands consumers use a variety of tools to monitor their fitness, and they allow you to load this data into their platform. This allows you to get a bigger picture of your progress thorough precision tracking. Aside from data recorded from direct use of the Strava app, there are four other ways you can integrate information using your favorite fitness tools.
Upload from a GPS device– If you use other technologies to track your fitness, there’s a good chance it can be synced with Strava. From Fitbit and Garmin to Peloton, Wahoo, Zwift, and more, you can integrate all your data for easy comparison using Strava.
Sync data from fitness apps– Directly integrate data from fitness apps like MapMyRun and Garmin Connect. Check here for a full listing of compatible apps.
Upload computer files- If you have activity saved on your computer, you can use Strava’s convenient file uploader as long as the file is 25 MB or less and saved in GPX, TCX, or FIT format.
Manually add activities– If you have data not recorded on a GPS or other compatible device, Strava thoroughly explains how to manually upload your data.
What to Expect From a Strava Workout?
Since Strava is so comprehensive in their broad range of integrations across so many software programs, it’s primarily geared toward catering cyclists and runners. While it’s definitely great to have everything from hiking to yoga recorded in one place, you can expect to get the most out of your Strava workout when you’re able to take advantage of the route comparison capabilities.
At all hours of the day and night, valuable data pours in from users around the world. I live in a small town with a population of around 20,000 covering 13 square miles, and there are over 30 routes saved at the time of this review. Considering the increasingly frequent rate of new downloads, we can expect these archives to grow. If you’ve ever struggled to find new, safe routes to take advantage of, Strava makes it easy. Just select a local route, and you’ll see its GPS track, distance, and percent incline. You can also stay motivated by checking out who else in your community is crushing each particular route or even save your own favorites to share.
Whether you choose to try out a new route shared by another user or just use the app to track your treadmill runs, one thing remains the same. Strava provides an easy method to track all activities to monitor progress, compare workouts, and ultimately meet your fitness goals.
Strava Workout Types
Users have plenty of options when it comes to workout structure, and, depending on equipment you have that’s compatible with the app, you have a lot of freedom. However, from the standpoint of someone using just the free app without any integrated technology, let’s take a look at the main ways a Strava workout will be structured.
Record a Workout
The simplest and fastest way to start gathering data for a workout is to select “Record” on the main screen of the Strava app. From here, you can choose a sport, and there are plenty of options including canoeing, skating, rock climbing, surfing, and even wheelchair. Most of the options include GPS tracking, enabling you to keep a more detailed record of your workout and maximizing your ability to interact with the extensive Strava network.
There are a few ways to incorporate weight training into your Strava regimen. Through the app, you can record weight training, crossfit, and yoga. While it’s convenient that there is an option to track strength-focused workouts, unless you have an integrated fitness tracking device, the details recorded are limited. After you’re finished, your time is saved, and you’re able to upload a photo and provide subjective feedback including your perceived exertion and a description of how the workout went. This is helpful for tracking things like reps and sets of specific movements, but it doesn’t provide much feedback in terms of tracking progress in an objective way.
Next to the “Record” option is “Maps.” Selection of this feature allows you to browse local routes known in the Strava world as “Segments” that are mapped out by real users, and you can specify whether you’re riding a bike or running. You’re provided a map of dozens of options which can be filtered out by location, elevation, distance, and surface type like dirt or paved.
The Maps feature provides a more competitive and interesting way to get your cardio in. Not only do you get to discover new areas to explore, but you can challenge yourself against others who have tried it out. Best of all, if you’re on vacation or otherwise in uncharted territory, you can quickly get a good recommendation of a safe place to run or bike.
The free version of the Strava app also allows some accessibility within the “Groups” section of the app. Here, you can take part in challenges such as half marathon runs, distance biking routes, hikes, and a whole lot more. When you join a free challenge, you can watch the leaderboard and compete to win fun prizes while connecting with new friends along the way.
If you’d like to enjoy a more local experience, you can also join clubs within the Groups section where you can meet locals interested in specific activities like triathlons or marathons. This does wonders in improving accountability when you know you have others rooting for you and pushing you to go harder, further, and stronger than you would on your own.
Strava Nutrition App
Strava is dedicated to a strong focus on tracking and analyzing fitness and connecting enthusiasts across the globe. While they don’t offer a nutrition app, you could consider the supplemental download of the Freeletics Nutrition app. It allows for meal tracking as well as provides customized menu suggestions categorized by meal. Learn more in our detailed Freeletics App review.
Our Experience With the Strava App
Is the Strava app ticking all the boxes? It could be just the tool you need to take your training to the next level, and it takes some time to get the hang of using it effectively. Let’s take a moment to review our experience with the Strava app and explore workout tips to get you through the learning curve. Although a privacy radius can be setup, it’s limited to less than a mile, so it’s possible someone could locate your address based on your mapping. For safety purposes, it’s never a bad idea to walk or drive to a location away from your residence before initiating tracking.
Every time you open the app, you’re taken to the activity feed by default, also known as the home screen. While you may get into the habit of immediately moving onto recording a workout or checking up on your standing in a challenge, take some time to interact on the news feed. Here, you can see the stats your contacts are sharing as well as show off your own accomplishments. You can even increase visibility in group events since you can share them and include other users. Your feed is also the place to be if you want to see how other athletes perform in your favorite activities in terms heart rate, speed, and power output.
Early on in your Strava journey, take the time to utilize the “Friend Finder” feature. It’s easy since you can sync contacts directly from your phone and Facebook page, or you can do a search for a specific person. Once you start building your network, Strava will begin making suggestions of people you may know and wish to follow. This is a great way to start turning mundane activities into more competitive events you’ll find yourself looking forward to.
The free version of the Strava app has a lot going for it, and it’s more than enough to get you started on a more engaging cardio journey without having to make a commitment. However, if you decide it does offer what you’re looking for, you may decide to invest in a subscription. Previously known as Summit, the subscription version of Strava runs $7.99 per month or $60 per year.
The free version of Strava allows activity recording, device support, and access to the social network. When you pay for a subscription, you get to tap into the following features:
- Access to all training plans including hypertrophy
- Route planning and recommendations
- Total body transformation plan
- Ability to import biometric data and receive analysis of your work
- Training log
- Segment leaderboards and competitions
- Monthly comparisons
- Goal setting
- Training plan
Whether or not you pay for a subscription, users can record, view, and share activities, and, in this way, it still serves as an incredible training log. Furthermore, if you use other devices to gather data like Fitbit, Apple Health, or Garmin Connect, the free app in and of itself can provide a useful way to integrate all your data for a collective measure of central location.
Is the Strava App Worth It?
The Strava app, whether you’re using the free or paid version, is a fantastic tool for the cardio enthusiast. It provides tracking for just about any outdoor cardio activity you can think of ranging from running to wheelchair, and the social component and active leaderboards keep you pushing your limits and coming back for more.
With that being said, Strava isn’t the solution for everyone. Although it does allow you to measure very basic, subjective stats in strength-training sessions, unless you’ve integrated an external data-tracking device, strength training is limited. If you’re a fitness buff looking for a full range of fitness tracking, you may find what you’re looking for in the Adidas Runtastic app. Furthermore, if you’re brand new to fitness, you may become demotivated as many people only share their most impressive data, making newbies feel inadequate.
Overall, Strava is a go-to app for cardio training. Its focus on mapping is useful for anyone training for outdoor competition, and you can even locate routes that simulate the expected conditions you’ll encounter on race day like incline and road type. Its diverse compatibility with a large array of technology makes it ideal for anyone who already uses fitness software as a way to compile all data into an easy-to-analyze report to maximize your progress. The large social network accepts new mapping suggestions from users around the world, making the tool more useful every day.