JuggernautAI is a mobile application that’s designed to guide you in your powerlifting journey. A personalised programme gets generated for you by the app, based on information you feed it. As a software developer I was super curious to try this out! I think powerlifting is an ideal candidate to spice up with some AI because a big part of it is scientific and the training system can definitely be mostly automated. The real-time component with AI-adjustment of your programme based on your feedback before/during/after the workout is a great addition that can make the app extremely good.
I want to give this app an extensive review and I will not do this in one blogpost. At the moment of writing, I have only completed two workouts with the app, so I don’t feel like I can give a full review yet.
In this post I will focus on the basics and the sign-up flow. I am in no way, shape or form sponsored by Juggernaut.
Alright, let’s get to it!
The audience for this app is for now purely powerlifters. They are working on a Powerbuilding addition (a form of training that combines powerlifting + body building) in the app, but as of now it’s not done. If you’re not a powerlifter, this app is not for you. I think now is also the time to warn you that if you are a total beginner, this app is not for you. I’ll give more details in the sign-up flow part of this post, but if you don’t know what RPE & RIR stand for, it will be challenging to use the app (among other reasons, which we’ll get to).
The cost of the app is € 32,99 per month (I’m in the Netherlands). For many people, that may sound like a lot. I’d have loved for the app to be cheaper, but my human coach (that I had before trying this) was a lot more expensive, so that was my “anchor cost”. Compared to that, the app is cheap. And (this might sound cruel) the app offers me something that my human coach could not, simply because of availability: real-time adjustment of my programme. My coach made me a new programme each week, but that was the feedback loop. I couldn’t really contact them in the middle of a session asking them to change things because that would assume availability at all times on their part. Impossible. I’m just an amateur lifter, not a pro that can expect their coach to be there at all times.
So for this amount of money you get a personalised programme, based on Chad Wesley Smith’s (Juggernaut) coaching logic. Not a bad deal!
The sign-up flow in any app is often the bane of my existence, but I had a lot of fun filling out this one.
Here’s one giant complaint though. The first thing they ask, is to create an account. Then, they guide you through the sign-up flow (which takes a while to fill in!) and then they ask you to pay. You cannot preview a workout. This is a huge UX dark-pattern, absolutely disgusting. No user EVER wants to waste time in the hopes that they can try things out before deciding to spend money, only to be hit by a giant pay-wall. I think they should be upfront about this in the app because filling out the sign-up flow without getting to try out one workout is terrible UX. Just be honest that you cannot use the app without paying and don’t let people create accounts for no reason at all.
Let’s switch to why the sign-up flow is awesome. Take a look at the first few screens. It starts with really basic stuff, but the first inkling that this is not beginner-friendly can be found when they start asking about your nutrition habits. If you don’t know how to track macros or what macros even are this is your first “wtf” moment. My true answer was not an option “I often track my macros but sometimes I cannot be arsed, tyvm”, so I just went for the “I track my macros”-option.
Apparently, my training age is super young, I’m only a powerlifter for one year now. The next beginner-unfriendly hint is that you have to tell the app your historic workload. There’s no “none” option. Also, it requires you to know what your ability to recover is, not something a beginner would know.
Some other notable questions include “how is your sleep” and “how is your stress”. I loved those questions! If you want to improve your training you’ve got to sleep enough and avoid stress. The app also recommends that you set a date to test your 1RM maxes. I don’t know any powerlifter who doesn’t test their maxes. The app needs this date to calculate the periodization / meso-cycles that you get leading up to your chosen test date. Generally, the further out you are from your test day the more your training is focussed on building up strength. You have time to focus on volume (strength focussed periodization) and when the test day gets closer that changes to intensity, prepping your nervous system to get used to the heavier loads (higher KG on the bar, less repetitions per set).
You can pick your own periodization style, but I’m not going to test that out because I’m too n00b for that shit. This is why I subscribed to this app in the first place lol, I trust the fine people at Juggernaut to guide me! I bow to the wisdom of the AI overlords. Finally, we get to more powerlifing focussed questions. You fill in your current maxes (yes, those are my current maxes, 67KG female here). Super important info: squat style, bench grip, deadlift style. Again, if you’re a beginner you probably have no clue.
We’re almost there! The most important questions of all: what are your weaknesses? I filled those in and was curious what would be done with it. Now that I’ve done two workouts I know the answer: specific exercises that address those weak points. Because I said my deadlift is weak off the floor I now get to do deficit deadlifts in my workouts. And after the weakness questions I was finally done! This is the point where you get hit by the paywall (UX dark-pattern). The last screenshot is a sneak peak of what you get once you’ve passed the paywall of Mordor.
I’m going to wrap up the review for now. I think the questions they ask are super thorough and a good basis to apply automation on. So far, it’s not rocket science and I wouldn’t call it “AI” for now. The programme gets generated and your periodization gets generated. I’m really curious how the real-time adaptation will help me over the coming weeks. I’m looking forward to start using the “readiness score” (look at the top of the last screenshot). As a woman, how I feel during training changes drastically depending on where I am in my menstrual cycle and I think this will affect my readiness score as well. I will write a follow-up review after I’ve trained for a couple of weeks, so be patient.
Questions? Hit me with your barbell!