ChatGPT generates responses to word prompts with a staggering amount of speed and accuracy (for the most part). With seemingly so much power, can it design effective workouts for you, as well?
By comparing the AI chatbot’s workout plans to similar exercises and routines available now on websites and apps, it’s easy to see what the chatbot gets right as well as highlight its potential weak spots. Here’s what to know about ChatGPT and its use in the fitness realm.
What Is ChatGPT?
The AI chatbot ChatGPT works by generating natural-sounding responses to prompts that you type. Although this type of technology has existed for a while, ChatGPT in particular is notable for its (mostly) accurate and intelligent responses.
Despite a few limitations—the chatbot has limited information about the world after about 2021—it’s useful for summarizing books, writing a resume, debugging code, and much more. But does it have enough information to design a workout plan for you? Here’s how ChatGPT responded to common requests for three different types of workout plans.
Basic Workout Plans From ChatGPT
For the first prompt, I asked ChatGPT to create a workout plan for beginners. The basic workout plan it generated allotted time for cardio, resistance training, warm-ups, and cool-downs.
For the most part, it looks like a solid plan that you might find on any beginner-friendly workout app, such as the J&J Official 7 Minute Workout. There’s even a note at the end to increase your duration slowly over time and stay hydrated, which is excellent advice for any athlete.
In this instance, ChatGPT responded to the prompt with a standard list of exercises that would work well for many people. If you’re interested in a simple, straightforward fitness routine, then its suggestions are legitimate.
Meanwhile, a second plan for more seasoned athletes follows a similar format, including plenty of examples for cardio, core, and resistance training. Each section includes many options.
For instance, you can decide to use resistance bands or weights for strength training or high-intensity interval training (HIIT) and cycling for cardio work.
A note reinforcing the importance of rest and recovery helps make sure you aren’t overtraining as well. Again, it’s a dependable plan to increase your baseline fitness.
What if you are recovering from an injury? It’s safest (and always recommended) to consult your doctor for any specific questions about how you can exercise with an injury or other health concern, but I wanted to see how the bot would respond.
Wisely, this response also includes a prompt to listen to your healthcare provider, so ChatGPT covers its bases in that way. It also encourages you to stretch gently, incorporate low-impact activities where appropriate, and avoid pushing too hard right away.
As someone who has recovered from a fair share of sports injuries, this is the same kind of advice I received from physicians and physical therapists when returning to activities. Again, nothing can replace personalized advice from a healthcare provider, but the chatbot gets the broad strokes correct and advises caution.
How ChatGPT Creates Running Plans
Next, I prompted the chatbot to create a running plan. It responded with several questions about my current fitness level, as well as overall training goals, to generate a more detailed response.
I responded to the questions in order, and it provided a multi-week plan. The plan is actually pretty solid, even taking potential injuries into account, but it didn’t get into more granular details like pacing.
If your goal focuses on speed (such as running a 10K in less than an hour), then you may want a plan that targets a certain pace. In this example, you’d need to hold around a 9:30/mile pace to complete the 10K in under one hour.
Even with a few attempts at follow-up questions, the chatbot did not respond with any specific pacing information. Compared to similar training plans from Runner’s World, the ChatGPT responses are not quite as detailed; however, they do offer basic plans that can help you get ready for specific distances.
However, there is some level of self-awareness with ChatGPT’s advice on this topic (if you can say such a thing about AI technology). For instance, if you ask it to create a running plan that will help you qualify for the Boston Marathon, then it directs you to find an online plan that already addresses this ambition. It’s a huge, years-long goal, even for many talented runners, and the app rightly doesn’t attempt to offer a pat response.
While ChatGPT provides adequate training plans for runners, there are many free resources for running plans online that offer much more detail. In time, however, it’s likely the chatbot will be able to provide more in-depth plans that take pacing, heart rate zones, and more information into account.
Strength Training Plans From ChatGPT
Likewise, ChatGPT’s general strength training plan is also pretty dependable, calling for bodyweight exercises like squats and push-ups as well as dumbbell rows. It’s similar to what you might find from top strength-training apps.
What if you have more specific questions about how to perform the exercises correctly? The chatbot can help with that, too.
In this example, I received detailed instructions on the correct way to do deadlifts. It offered helpful pointers about your stance, grip, and even breathing techniques in order to make the most of this particular exercise.
If you ever need to double-check the way to perform a certain exercise, or simply try out a new series of strength workouts, then ChatGPT is a helpful resource. The simple, straightforward responses and training plans offer a lot of information for beginner and more experienced athletes looking to increase their strength. Just be sure to verify the information with reputable sources before you take ChatGPT’s advice.
It’s Possible to Use ChatGPT to Help With Your Fitness Goals
Although ChatGPT can’t replace the role of an experienced personal trainer or coach, it can provide accurate and usable training plans for anyone who’s just looking for the basics. If you want to start a new workout habit or shake up your current routine, then the AI tool offers concise, quick responses for your exercise plans. It will be exciting to see how this technology continues to evolve and impact the fitness world in the future.