How to Elevate Your Workouts Using a Workout Timer

Time efficiency and effectiveness are characteristics of results-based exercise.

Using a workout timer to guide your training will allow you to get more work done in less time.

A functional and straightforward workout timer is a must-have tool for anyone participating in fitness.

Workout timers don’t discriminate. It doesn’t matter how you prefer to go about your fitness regimen; keeping track of time plays a role in every method.

A workout timer keeps you honest.

It’s like having a personal trainer guide you on when to start and stop, minus the price tag of hiring a personal trainer.

If you’ve been juggling the timer on your iPhone or clicking an old-school stopwatch like your gym teacher used to dangle around his/her neck, you’re due to upgrade your workout timer.

For $.99, less than that 12 oz can of sugar water you’re about to buy, you can download a quality workout timer to your smartphone.

And that $.99 workout timer will increase your productivity in the gym, keeping you on a steady pace from start to finish.

Why You Need a Workout Timer

1. Reduce Time Wasting

The amount of time people waste during a workout is astonishing.

Here’s a slick excuse:

“I usually go by feel on the rest periods. I rest 45 seconds between each set”.


In that “45 seconds”, this person:

  • Sent three text messages
  • Watched a leopard outrun a hyena to catch an antelope on Instagram
  • Took four slurps of Gatorade
  • Refreshed email twice
  • Struck up a conversation with a gym buddy

Pro tip: If you’re losing the sweat between each work set, you might be resting a tad bit too long.

The average Joe and Jane can increase exercise productivity by simply timing each part of the workout. This will keep you on schedule, moving from one exercise to the next.

How productive would your exercise time be if you kept track of time instead of dilly-dallying?

Productivity would increase 10x, and you’d likely realize how bad you’ve been dogging it.

The truth hurts.

When workout productivity increases, results tend to follow.

2. Time Management

Time management applies to exercise just like it applies to getting things done at your 9-to-5.

Staying disciplined with time management increases the effectiveness of workouts.

Assuming you were interested in engaging in total body workouts, here’s how a sixty-minute training session might look:

  1. Warm-Up/Mobility Training (10-15 minutes)
  2. Resistance Training (30 minutes)
  3. Cardio (15-20 minutes)

Using this workout format, you’re able to:

  • Nourish the joints with dynamic movement and mobility drills
  • Build strength and muscle
  • Finish with heart-healthy cardio training

Take 1-2 minutes between each section to gather yourself before jumping into the next.

Assigning a strict window of time for warming up, resistance training, and cardio keeps the workout moving along. You’ll find yourself getting more done in less time.

Professional trainers have used this method with paying clients for decades.

Get them in, get them sweaty, get them out.

3. Increased Training Effect

In general, workouts should have some flow to them.

The average gym goer can train hard using 45-60 second rest periods in between exercises.

More fit individuals may be able to decrease the rest time further.

Less fit people might need to increase it. We’re all different.

The amount of rest taken after resistance exercises mostly depends on the weight you’re lifting. If you’re keeping reps low and weight heavy with a strength-building emphasis, you’ll need more rest to ensure the successful completion of repetitions.

If you’re chasing a cardio-strength effect to help stimulate fat loss, rest periods might be incomplete or non-existent.

Ideas on How to Use a Timer for Workouts

Time-based workouts are an excellent alternative to the traditional work then rest format.

For people who find themselves short on time, timed bodyweight circuits are ideal.

In 15-30 minutes, a large amount of work can be completed.

These workouts often include resistance, locomotion, and ground-based movement training to create a cardio-like training effect.

Setting a timer and hitting the streets can give you a different look for the day’s run for runners.

Here are some ideas for time-based workouts you can put into play right away.

1. Steady-State Aerobic Cardio

If you haven’t used a timer for running, you have to try it! Especially if you’re running in an unfamiliar area.

The protocol is simple.

Set the LastTimer App for the duration you’d like to run. Run out until the timer sounds, at which time you’ll turn around and run back to your starting location.

For example, if the target running time is 30 minutes, program LastTimer to sound an alert at the 15-minute mark. At that point, turn around and retrace your path back to the start point.

This method allows you to enjoy the run and take in your surroundings. It’s one less thing to think about while you’re exercising. Tracking time also keeps you honest with the exercise time.

Suppose you’re not ready to pound the pavement with running, no worries!

The same strategy can be used for walking.

Accumulating daily steps (8,000-10,000 steps) is the fountain of youth and has been found to reduce all-cause mortality dramatically.

The benefits of walking include:

  • Burn calories (weight loss)
  • Strengthen the heart
  • Boost energy
  • Improve immune system
  • Clear your head for creative thinking

A couple of fifteen-minute walking sessions each day is a fantastic strategy to earn your steps for the day.

Program the exercise section inside the LastTimer App for fifteen minutes. Find a good podcast and get to walking. LastTimer will keep track of your walking time while other apps provide entertainment and data on step accumulation.

You’re killing two birds with one stone by improving health and intelligence at the same time.

If you’re open to some added benefits, try deep nasal-only breathing during the walk.

Deep inhalations and exhalations.

Here’s how to do it:

  • Inhale for 5-8 seconds
  • Pause for 2-3 seconds
  • Exhale for 5-8 seconds
  • Pause for 2-3 seconds
  • Rinse and repeat for the duration of the walk.

Deep breathing techniques are game-changing for relieving anxiety, decreasing stress, increasing calm, and boosting creativity.

2. Time-Based Bodyweight Interval Training

Organizing bodyweight-based exercises into total body circuits creates a massive training effect.

These workouts can be adjusted to be high-intensity or aerobic.

How you go about modifying the intensity of the exercise will depend on your current fitness level, goals, and what you’re feeling that particular day.

There are a million different ways to design a bodyweight circuit.

Here’s an excellent option to get you going:

  • Push-Ups
  • Squats
  • Chin-Ups or Body Rows
  • Hollow Body Rocks
  • Reverse Lunge
  • Forward/Backward Crawling
  • Alternating Crab Reach

Set the timer for:

  • 10 seconds of prep
  • 30 seconds work
  • 30 seconds rest
  • 7 exercises
  • 4-5 Tabatas/rounds

Each round will take about seven minutes.

4-5 rounds will take 28-35 minutes.

This workout will get you in and out of the gym in a time-efficient manner while working a ton of muscles and burning a significant number of calories.

“Wait, I can’t do thirty seconds of push-ups!”

I hear you.

Modify the work and rest periods to suit your current fitness level.

Beginners might consider lowering the work intervals to 15 seconds, resting for 45 seconds before starting the next exercise.

Intermediate could go with 20/25 seconds of exercise and 35/40 seconds of rest.

Regardless of how long you exercise for, get after it!

3. Continuous Effort Bodyweight Training

Set the timer for 15 minutes and perform the following:

  • 10 Push-Ups
  • 10 Squats
  • 10 Jumping Jacks
  • 10 Lunges
  • 10 Reverse Crunches

Where are the rest periods? Ahem, there is no rest. No rest between each exercise. Do your best not to stop moving for the entire fifteen minutes.

You can do this type of workout anywhere. Perfect for home gyms, hotels, and outdoor training sessions.

Continuous effort training is equally taxing for muscles and the cardiovascular system.

Don’t underestimate the difficulty of a workout like this!

4. Density Circuits

Density circuits involve:

  • Setting a timeframe (10-15 minutes)
  • Choosing 3-5 exercises
  • Selecting rep ranges for those exercises
  • Working until the timer sounds

Here’s an example of a total body density circuit using a single kettlebell:

  • Overhead Press x 8 reps/arm
  • Goblet Squat x 8 reps
  • Bent-Over Row x 8 reps/arm
  • Kettlebell Swings x 8 reps

5. Active Mobility Training

Mobility is the ability to move a joint actively through its range of motion expressing strength and control.

Strength requires a sturdy foundation of mobility.

If you don’t have enough mobility to move into a position like a squat, you’ll unknowingly opt for poor mechanics to make it happen. These are known as compensations.

Compensate long enough, and you can develop imbalances, stiffness, pain, and maybe injury.

Are you scared yet?

You should be. (kidding)

Mobility training is a game-changer for many people and is works best using a timer to measure work and rest sets accurately.

People try to mentally “count” the seconds under tension during mobility drills, and it’s a mistake. First, rarely is your mental cadence the same as real-time. Second, your high sophisticated monkey brain is only capable of doing one task at one time (despite best efforts to multi-task).

You’ll get better results from applying complete focus on the mobility drills while you’re in the moment.

Using the LastTimer App, you can “set it and forget it.”

Here’s an example of a simple mobility session:

1-minute per exercise (each side) of:

  • 90/90 Forward Lean
  • Bear Sit Transitions
  • Kneeling Hip Articulations
  • Shoulder Articulations
  • Spine Rotations

Working through this list of mobility exercises will take 11:40 min/sec.

Following a timer puts the focus where it matters most: body position, tempo, and tension.

When the timer sounds, work! When the timer goes off again, rest! Get set up for the next exercise.

6. Stretching

Stretching is one area of health and wellness that people love to skip or give minimal effort.

Holding a stretch sounds like a good thing until you’re stretching. It’s not a particularly soothing experience.

The natural reaction is to wiggle out of that stretch ASAP.

Building long-lasting flexibility requires longer duration holds.

Much longer than the standard 30 seconds most people use, thinking it’s making a big difference. It isn’t.

To make impactful gains in flexibility, aim to hold each stretch for 2-5 minutes.

Say what?

Yes, longer is better if your goal is to improve flexibility.

Using a timer, you can hold yourself accountable for holding the stretches for an impactful amount of time.

Clear space in front of the TV, set the timer to alert every 2-5 minutes, turn on Netflix and start stretching.

An effective strategy to work through a full-body stretch routine while keeping boredom at bay.

Netflix and stretch, baby!

7. Bodyweight Push Up & Squat Tabata Workout Finisher

The Tabata protocol is a high-intensity training method that uses eight rounds of 20-second work bouts followed by 10-second rest periods.

Eight rounds will take four minutes to complete.

Beware: this is a brutal four minutes.

The Tabata Protocol was initially implemented with Japanese speed skaters using stationary bikes. Researchers found that super high-intensity efforts with incomplete rest periods improved conditioning.

Over the years, the Tabata protocol made its way to general fitness, where it was modified and repackaged using bodyweight exercises, weights, and various cardio machines.

Tabatas can be used as workout finishers to end a training session.

Here’s a simple and deadly Tabata workout finisher:

  • Round 1:
    • Push-Ups
    • Rest
  • Round 2:
    • Squats
    • Rest
  • Round 3:
    • Push-Ups
    • Rest
  • Round 4:
    • Squats
    • Rest
  • Round 5:
    • Push-Ups
    • Rest
  • Round 6:
    • Squats
    • Rest
  • Round 7:
    • Push-Ups
    • Rest
  • Round 8:
    • Squats
    • Rest

* Each exercise is performed for 20 seconds, while rest periods are 10 seconds.

Perform the most number of reps possible (with proper technique) during each work interval.

Note: Don’t be afraid to shake out the arms or legs during a work set if you need to.

The workout above is an example of a non-competing exercise.

Push-ups and squats use different muscles, allowing for higher output and better exercise techniques.

The fatigue will still be there, but it’ll be more manageable.

Time Management During Workouts is a Must!

A workout timer opens doors to unique training options and is an essential tool for keeping workouts time-efficient and effective.

It’s easy to get side-tracked while you’re at the gym. Giving in to the temptation of checking your social media can suck away 10 minutes like it’s nothing.

By pre-determining work and rest periods and staying strict to those times, you’ll be able to accomplish more work in less time.

Doing work in less time means the intensity of the workout will be kept high, and the overall training effect of the workout will be maximized.

A maximized training effect means you’ll get improved results.

What’s better than that?

LastTimer is an iOS-only workout timer app with customizable settings that let you know how much time has elapsed and what percentage of the remaining time remains. So the only thing left to worry about now is getting your sweat on!

Thanks to thursday466 for the great post and videos!

comments powered by Disqus