The 3 Pillars of Health: Fitness, Food, Sleep

Choosing an HIIT Timer


It’s a natural question: Which HIIT timer should I buy?

However, it’s not the first question you should ask!

In fact, it could be, depending upon what sort of HIIT routine you follow, you won’t need a timer at all.

Take a Step Back

Let’s go back one step and consider the basics of HIIT.

HIIT means high intensity interval training. We all know that.

The fact that there are intervals means that you need some system to keep track of those intervals.

So let’s make our first question: What sort of intervals are you doing?

There are basically three different types of intervals to consider:

  • Distance
  • Number of repetitions
  • Time

Distance Intervals

Using a distance interval can be the easiest when your HIIT workout is a combination of sprinting, running, jogging, and walking.

For example, you could do what my high school cross country coach had us do: sprint the length of the football field and then return at a slow jog.

Distance intervals can also work if you are swimming laps for your HIIT routine.

Also, almost all treadmills and elliptical machines are equipped with distance gauges. It may be possible for you to keep track of those numbers to use as your intervals.

Number of Repetitions

This can be an easy solution for you when your HIIT workout is weight lifting or many other exercises.

Say you’re doing jumping jacks. All you need to do is count, for example, 20 jumping jacks and then pause for a few seconds. Then do another set of 20 jumping jacks.

timers for HIIT workouts

Time Intervals

I’m a big fan of time intervals.

I’m always concerned that using distance or number of reps can lead a person to over extend themselves.

You can get so fixed on “finishing” that you keep going longer than you should.

For that reason I like doing my HIIT workout using something like the 20 / 10 system. That is: 20 seconds of intense exercise followed by 10 seconds of rest and recovery.

If you’re going to use time intervals, then you really need some sort of HIIT interval timer.

HIIT Timer Features

Here are the features that I would look for in an HIIT interval timer:


Look for a timer that allows you to set the length of both your high intensity and low intensity intervals.

If you’re a beginner, you may want a rest interval that’s more than 10 seconds long.

Similarly, if you’re more advanced, may be you need a high intensity interval of 30 or 40 seconds.

Set Total Length of HIIT Workout

The ideal is to have your HIIT timer keep track of the total length of your workout.

Say you’re doing a 12-minute workout using the 20 / 10 system. You don’t want to keep track of how many intervals you’ve done. It’s way too easy to lose count.


If you’re like most people, at some point you will drop your HIIT timer. ‘Nuff said.

Loud Enough

You want an interval timer that is loud, but not too loud.

This all depends upon your circumstances.

If you’re using it in a gym with other people doing their own workouts, then you want to be able to hear your timer, but you don’t want to disrupt the other members.

Ease of Use

There are two aspects of ease of use: setting the timer and using the timer.

Sadly, many electronic devices come with instruction manuals that are worse than useless.

The good news is that these days you can find videos on You Tube explaining how to set and use all of the popular HIIT timers.

However, once you know how to set your timer, how easy will it be to use? Maybe you understand the required steps, but they are so complicated that you don’t want to go through the process to make a small change in timing your workout.


Most likely you won’t want to carry your HIIT interval timer in your hand.

If you’re working out in your home gym, then you should consider getting a wall mounted timer. Once you attach it to the wall it won’t interfere with your workout and will be visible from across the room.

What options does the timer have for attaching to you? Many offer belt clips or wrist or arm straps.

What will work for you depends upon what exercises you’re doing, the weight of the timer, and how comfortable it feels.


You want a timer with a display that can be easily seen and worked with.

Will you be using your timer indoors or outdoors? If outdoors, can you easily see the display in bright sunlight?

HIIT Timers to Consider

Here is a brief run down of four HIIT interval timers that are top-rated on Amazon.

1. “No Limits” Programmable Interval Wall Timer

Programmable HIIT Timer

“No Limits” Wall Mounted Timer

This wall-mounted timer features:

  • clock display
  • stop watch
  • several preprogrammed intervals
  • save up to eight custom programs
  • display number of rounds

Some users say that the buzzer is not loud enough. Many others think that it’s fine.

2. Muscle Driver Clock Gone Bad Tabata Interval Timer

Muscle Driver Interval Timer

Muscle Driver Interval Timer

This wall-mounted HIIT timer is great if you are doing workouts using the 20 / 10 system.

Some of its features are:

  • 8.5 inches high and 21 inches wide
  • 5 inch high numbers
  • remote control
  • one ping to begin work, two pings to begin rest

This timer is pre-programmed with 20 / 10 intervals. However, you cannot set your own intervals.

Owners report that the beeps are loud enough that you won’t need to watch the clock during your workouts.

3. Gymboss Interval Timer and Stopwatch

Gymboss Interval Timer

Gymboss Interval Timer

This is a portable HIIT timer. It features:

  • set one or two intervals
  • intervals may be from two seconds up to 99 minutes
  • belt-clip included
  • built-in stopwatch and clock
  • chime and vibration interval notification
  • many color choices

Many people love Gymboss timers and some complain that they are too difficult to set up and use.

You will find videos on YouTube about how to set up and use your Gymboss timer.

As one user claims, “And it seems pretty tough–I’ve dropped it several times.”

4. Everlast Interval Training Round Timer

Everlast Interval Timer

Everlast Interval Timer

This is another portable HIIT timer. This one features:

  • dual interval timer mode
  • stop watch mode
  • detachable belt clip
  • hook and loop arm strap
  • adjustable rest periods between rounds

Some users comment that they find the Everlast timer easier to use than the Gymboss.

Again, this is mostly a matter of personal preference.

Final Thoughts

There are lots of good and versatile HIIT interval timers on the market today. You owe it to yourself to experiment and find one that works well for your training needs.

Photo Credit: Flickr – tanakawho – egg timer