It may not look like the most riveting of fitness apps, but an interval timer is an essential companion for your workouts.
So what exactly is an interval timer?
Beep – do exercise for X seconds
Beep – rest
Beep – do more exercise for X seconds
Beep – rest
Beep – do even more exercise for X seconds
Beep – rest, slightly relieved
Beep – do yet another exercise for X seconds
Beep – rest, try to remember why you signed up to this fitness lark in the first place
Beep – attempt another exercise move, give up half way
Beep – think about tonight’s dinner in desperate struggle to survive while gasping for breath
Beep – do burpees looking like a toddler attempting a Mexican wave
Beep – collapse into a crumpled heap
Rinse and repeat.
Now we’ve got the basics, down to the nitty gritty. “Interval Timer – HIIT Workouts” allows you to create your own repeatable interval patterns, from something as simple as “30 seconds on, 10 seconds off” to an entire workout including timed warm-up, high intensity periods, low intensity periods, rest, and cool down. You can control the number of sets and duration of each.
You can use it for anything that requires a regular timer – HIIT, tabata, pilates, yoga, lifting weights, warming up or cooling down. For example:
- a yoga routine where you simply transition to the next hold every minute;
- a high intensity tabata workout, with 8 rounds (sets) of 20 seconds high intensity work followed by 10 seconds rest;
- your warm-up, where you might do 20 seconds of low intensity work followed by 5 seconds rest/transition.
Naturally, it doesn’t tell you what exercise to do – you will need to make this up yourself, perhaps with a little help.
The free version includes a few bells and whistles such as the ability to overlay your own music playlist on top of the beeps, customise the sounds and save your workouts.
The only minor gripe is that programming the timer does take some getting used to and there are no pre-built routines (a simple 20 seconds on, 10 seconds off would be nice). Once you have mastered the basics, however, it is relatively straightforward to save your routines and re-use them in 2 clicks / presses.
Tip: when programming your first interval program, don’t bother with the warm-up / cool down / low intensity features. Just set the ‘High’ interval cycle to 20 seconds, the ‘Low’ interval cycle to zero, ‘Repeat’ the cycle for 8 times and add a ‘Rest Time’ of 10. This will give you your very first tabata interval program.
A key advantage of using an interval timer is it stops you from cheating. Each time you hear a beep, the realisation dawns that without it, you would have rested for the amount of time it takes to watch a whole episode of the latest Netflix hit. This applies to warming-up and cooling-down, as well as your core workout – you will surprised how much time is normally wasted transitioning between exercises.
The Pro version doesn’t seem to add anything else apart from being ad-free; and the ads on the free version aren’t that intrusive to begin with.