The Daily App: Amp Up Your Workout
High-intensity interval training, or HIIT, is the go-to workout for gym warriors, and a growing number of apps are promising to burn more fat in less time.
HIIT alternates periods of high-intensity sprints with periods of rest, and the technique has risen to prominence recently as more athletes discover its benefits. It helps burn more calories and fat in a shorter amount of time, boosts aerobic capacity and helps users bust through weight-loss, speed and endurance plateaus.
Used in conjunction with more moderate intensity aerobic workouts (and with a doctor's blessing), it's a valuable addition to the repertoire of any advanced exerciser. Most HIIT workouts are generally shorter than typical workouts, often lasting 15-20 minutes -- but what a grueling 15-20 minutes they are.
The number and length of high-intensity sessions and rest periods vary, depending on taste, activity and ability: some athletes like three-minute sprints with 1-minute rest periods, for example, and proponents of the so-called Tabata intervals -- named after the Japanese researcher who studied its effects -- like 20 seconds of extremely high-intensity work with 10 seconds of rest. Whatever your interval, many apps can help you keep track of intervals, cueing you to changes -- keeping your attention off the clock and instead on getting through to the next level.
What's the App?
The "Seconds Pro Interval Timer" app, available for $5 for iOS devices, is one of the premier interval training apps on the market, with a host of features that make it adaptable to several different training scenarios, whether you're sprinting on a treadmill, powering through squat thrusts in a weight room or skipping rope in the boxing ring.
You can create timers, designating each interval with a color, activity and amount-- and unlike other interval training apps, there's no cap to the amount of time an interval can be set. If you wanted to run a sprint for 20 minutes with the app, you can -- although you may have a heart attack when you're done. There are several "timer wizards" that can help craft interval workouts, with several devoted to classic HIIT workouts, Tabata sprints and even circuit training if you're at a loss. You can even combine different timers with the Compound Timer wizard, if you're up for an especially challenging workout.
The app includes several features and functions that enhance the quality of workouts for users as well. To keep you from having to glance at your mobile device throughout your workout, the app can signal new intervals with anything from simple beeps to airhorns to bells. Seconds also has a text-to-speech feature that will also read out the name of the interval in your timer as well.
To spur you on, Seconds also comes equipped with the ability to sync intervals with music. You can match the intensity of your interval with any song, album or artist on your iPhone, or simply choose to assign music for an entire workout.
You'll Want It If...
The app is a goldmine for interval enthusiasts -- it recognizes the simple truth that staring at your iPhone through a workout can be a hassle, and does its best to keep your focus on your exercise, not your mobile device. It manages to pack a ton of features in a sleek package that is easy to use and navigate, and the app's several nice touches -- an extra-large display, for example -- show the developers took much thought and care into how athletes would use the app in real-life situations.
It's Not My Thing -- What Else Ya Got?
The flurry of features, however, can be mind-boggling, and some may want a more stripped-down and cheaper interval timer. Those who primarily practice HIIT intervals -- and don't need the circuit training workouts that Seconds also offers -- might be better off with something like the "HIIT Workout Timer" app, though intervals can only be set up to 4 minutes. ♦
Categories: Healthcare & Fitness | The Daily App