If you have tried the Tabata method you will know the importance of having a timer to ensure you are getting the intervals right. If you don’t have one you are continually taking a peek at the clock, which detracts from the goal of working at full pace. I definitely need a Tabata clock, that’s for sure. The first one I used was on a sports watch I used to have. The strap broke first and eventually the whole thing packed in and I need a replacement.
I thought it would be easy to get one but it was not, I scratched around and stumbled across the Gymboss timer, which I bought and was very happy with. I’ve had two of these timers as I left one somewhere and had to re-order another. Both times I bought ifrom the main US website which sends it from somewhere in the UK, so you get it quickly.
I’m extremely happy with this interval timer and at $19.95 I’m not complaining. It’s a extremely versatile and can handle Tabata method timing’s and pretty much any other interval protocol you care to devise. You can set it to run for any two interval durations between 2 seconds and 99 minutes up to 99 times. So it covers all bases.
It’s small and can be clipped onto your clothing or belt and has beep or vibration functions which can be set for 1,5 or 10 seconds for noisy environments! It also works as a stopwatch and you can run single intervals if you want. It’s so compact that you can use it anywhere.
I highly recommend it but have been looking for FREE and paid alternatives to see if there are any improvements from when I first looked.
Alternative Tabata Clocks
There are recordings of the Tabata protocol available to download if you search for them. They are of course non-programmable so you have to stick to the 20:10 work:rest ratio, but of course they are free! Or you could download a Tabata mp3 from Amazon for $0.99 if you prefer to pay, which is so daft I haven’t bothered with the link!
It’s a little limited so I looked for free software that offered a bit more, below are three Tabata clocks I tried.Firstly, the beach fitness version, a pretty nice clock which allows you to alter the number of full Tabtata sets and the rests between each set. Or you can choose the Crossfit inspired Tabata This option that calls for five full Tabata sets one after the other! It also has options for sound and countdowns cues. Of course you will need a laptop to use this anywhere other than the room your computer is in, which is a drawback.
I then tried the Sperker Tabata clock, better than the beach fitness one this allows you to change the duration of the rest and work intervals and provides countdown, sound and visual cues. You can use this online or download it to your computer/laptop. Better still you can have this on your mobile phone, so long as it has ‘j2me’ (whatever that is) which alleviates the portability problem, although I didn’t download the software to test it.
I do think the countdown would get irritating but that’s not much to put up with seeing as it is free!
The final Tabata clock I tried looked promising, with options to alter the work, rest times and the number of intervals and tabata sets. In operation though the sounds and the voice were not synced properly and the whole thing was a bit of a mess, I can’t recommend this. Nothing of interest here, move along…
To provide a comparison to the Gymboss Timer I had a look at the Seiko SE57, a professional stopwatch and interval timer, which allows you to do pretty much everything the Gymboss does and a fair bit more. You can measure and store up to 100 split/lap times for up to 100 hours. It’s really pretty good but you have to pay for it, $89.95! I can’t discuss delivery as I didn’t buy it, but if you require a high quality stopwatch with interval timer, this will do the job, no question about that.
Favourite Tabata Clock is….
For me, I’d choose the Gymboss timer all day long, as the portability is fantastic and it does everything that I need and the vibrate option is a useful feature. Otherwise, I would download the Sperker timer to my phone and use that, the only drawback being that I would prefer not to take my mobile with me when training outside. Not a huge drawback and it is a workable FREE alternative to the Gymboss.
The whole point of a timer, though, is to remove the nuisance of watching the clock as you workout at full pelt so if your Tabata timing is a distraction then it is definitely time for a Tabata clock with the Gymboss timer being the best option, in my opinion. Failing that you should give the Sperker software a try.