the joy of strength training


September 21st, 2008 at 8:39 pm

Interval timers

Circuit training

An interval timer is a great bit of kit for the fitness fanatic. The brand that I use is Gymboss. Many watches now have an interval timing function too.

You can set the timer to go off at regular intervals, such as every minute. This allows you, for example, to do a circuit that involved changing exercises every minute without having to worry about looking at a clock or a watch. This is extremely useful if, like me, you do a lot of your circuit training on your own or outside where you are not in sight of a clock.

Moreover, the Gymboss allows you to set two interval lengths, so you can use it to do tabatas – where you need one interval of 20 seconds and one interval of 10 seconds.


Interval timers like Gymboss make a whole host of conditioning workouts much easier, especially if you work out on your own.

1. Tabata protocol

The Tabata protocol consists of 20 seconds of maximum intensity exercise, followed by 10 seconds of rest. This cycle is repeated 8 times, for a total of 4 minutes. Tabatas can be performed using any exercise. The key is to perform at maximum intensity, which has the effect of increasing aerobic capacity and raising the body’s metabolic rate for long after the exercise itself has finished.

If you have never tried tabatas, you are in for a surprise! 20 seconds doesn’t sound like a very long time, but the body fatigues more quickly than you expect, especially if you are not used to high intensity work. Whatever exercise you choose, whether squats, press-ups, burpees or something else, count the number of reps you do in the first 20-second interval and try to get the same number of reps in each of the subsequent intervals. It’s a lot harder than you think.

2. Crossfit workouts

Some Crossfit workouts involve timed intervals, such as the popular Fight Gone Bad. In this workout there are five stations:

  1. Wall ball
  2. Sumo deadlift high pull
  3. Box Jump
  4. Push press
  5. Row

You perform each exercise for one minute before moving on to the next without a break. When all five exercises are complete, you rest for one minute, then start round two. Fight Gone Bad is usually performed in either three- or five-round versions.

Read more:

Gubernatrix does Fight Gone Bad with Crossfit London

3. Circuit training

You can use the Gymboss to put together your own circuits for high intensity workouts. A favourite circuit of mine is:

1 minute row
1 minute thrusters (front squat followed by push press)
x 3 rounds

Simple, tough but very rewarding!

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