The Lazy Hacker’s Guide To Fitness

Why not make exercise easier?

Working out is tough. Activity trackers like the Nike+ FuelBand are good motivators, but they’re bad at crunching important data. Some can fail to track calories burned by as much as 40 percent, according to a study last year from Iowa State University. Still, technology can help you lose weight and get in shape if you know what to use–and how to use it. Jumpstart your summer fitness regimen with these tools.

This article was originally published in the June 2015 issue of Popular Science, under the title “The Lazy Hacker’s Guide To Fitness.”

TAO WellShell

Low-impact isometric exercises are among the most efficient ways to build strength—and you can do them at your desk. The WellShell is a handheld trainer that comes loaded with dozens of exercises, trackable on its app. Its pressure-sensitive casing can record the force of your reps and calories burned, putting a full-body workout at your fingertips. Price not set

Tangram Smart Rope

Boxers have long known that jumping rope works nearly every major muscle group. It also burns as many calories in 10 minutes as jogging an eight-minute mile. The Smart Rope syncs with your phone to make training recommendations (like when to speed up) and log calories burned. The rope’s 23 LEDs display your progress as you jump, so you don’t have to keep count of hundreds of revolutions. $70

Gaiam Muse

Getting in shape isn’t all about backbreaking work. Research suggests that just 15 minutes of meditation increases concentration, reduces stress, and helps you cope with pain during and after exercise. The Muse headband measures brain activity with electro­encephalogram (EEG) sensors while an app guides you through 12-minute medi­tation routines. It plays bird-chirping noises when you achieve a clear, relaxed state of mind and gusts of wind when it’s time to lasso wandering thoughts. $300

Skulpt Aim

Achieving symmetrical strength across the body is important but difficult. The Skulpt Aim gets you there. It uses electrical impedance myography (EIM) to measure muscle quality and fat percentage in the biceps, triceps, abs, and quads. Place it on target areas before and after exercise to find out precisely how strong you’re getting. Generally, the ideal amount of body fat ranges from 14 to 17 percent for men and 21 to 24 percent for women. $200

Saucony ISO Triumph

While you’re at it: Try the Saucony ISO Triumph. Its heel-to-toe differential is optimized for runners. $150