Stop counting numbers in your head and concentrate on the exercise. These free timer, countdown, and stopwatch apps are the virtual gym buddies you never knew you needed.
Some of the best workout apps will coach you along as you exercise, but that’s not always what you want. You can have a set workout routine in mind, like the 7-minute workout or a variation of that, or different types of high-intensity interval training (HIIT). So all you need is a timer or a stopwatch. That’s where these free apps come in.
1. Seconds (Android, iOS, Web): Multiple Interval Timers for Training and Workouts
Seconds is a popular interval timer app for workouts and exercises, available mainly as a mobile app. You’ll find templates for several common interval training styles like Tabata, HIIT, stretching, calisthenics, boxing, MMA, and more.
Each workout is fully customizable, where you can add the exercises, give each a defined color, and set a custom timer for it. Seconds includes text-to-speech to read out the exercise name, as well as countdown the last three seconds of any interval. You can also flip it sideways to make it a large full-screen monitor, which is great for working out in groups.
You can also use Seconds through a web browser. Here, you can create an online timer for Tabata, HIIT, circuit training, rounds, or any custom workout. Again, you can name the exercises, the number of sets, rest intervals, and warm-up and cool-down intervals.
The free version of Seconds, much like the Web version, restricts you to using a timer only once. If you want to use the same timer or workout plan again, either upgrade to Seconds Pro or re-create the plan anew.
2. Exercise Timer (Android, iOS): Customizable Voice Alerts for Countdowns and Workouts
If you don’t want to keep looking at your screen, Exercise Timer’s fantastic voice alerts make it the best app for you. The highly customizable alerts and speech features are enough to keep you on track. Choose from vibration, bell sound, and text-to-speech voice alerts for exercise start, finish, half-time, countdown, and laps. The app can also read out the next exercise five seconds early, and lower your music volume so you can hear it clearly.
Much like the voice alerts, Exercise Timer is customizable in other aspects too. You can add a preparation time for each exercise in a workout, keep the screen on when the app is open, and enable fullscreen mode.
When you add any exercise to your routine, try to choose from Exercise Timer’s catalog. This way, the app can also show an exercise description, along with a small animated GIF of what the exercise is.
Once everything is set up, start your workout for uninterrupted exercising. You can view a workout in large-screen mode that shows the timer, the next two exercises, and the GIF; or in a list view mode that shows all the sets you’ll be doing.
Most of these features are available in the free version of Exercise Timer, making it a robust timer app for workouts. However, the free version limits you to only two custom workouts, three skips per workout, and includes video ads before you can start or end the training.
3. Time Rise (Android): Best Free Sand Clock or Hourglass Timer App
The simplicity of a sand clock or hourglass is fantastic for a workout, especially interval training. It’s a clear visual indicator of time for any set of exercises, and something that all can see in a group workout. And once it’s done, you can flip it around to start the next set.
Time Rise is one of the best free sand clock app for a digital version of the hourglass. First, set the timer to any amount that you want in seconds, minutes, or hours. Then, flip the phone or tablet upside down. The whole phone will fill up with color from bottom to top, just like sand filling up the glass. And there’s a countdown clock too, for a combined large visual cue. Once you’re done, flip the phone to restart the clock.
You can also set a notification chime (customizable from your ringtones) when the clock runs out. It’s a nice additional digital feature to a standard hourglass sand timer.
Download: Time Rise for Android (Free)
While there are several hourglass apps on Android, unfortunately, iPhone doesn’t offer any great alternatives to sand clock apps. The best you can do is Hourglass 2, which looks like Time Rise but misses key features like a notification chime and auto-resume by flipping it a second time.
Download: Hourglass 2 for iOS (Free)
4. Timerdoro (Web): Mobile-Friendly Browser Timer to Set a Series of Alarms
Timerdoro borrows its name from the famous Pomodoro productivity method. While the web app is made for productivity techniques, you can easily adapt it to workout routines and exercise circuits. Plus, it works wonderfully well on mobile browsers too.
When you create a new timer, give it a headline and set the amount of time for the first interval. Hovering over the box, you’ll see a + icon to add a second interval. From a dropdown menu, you can choose the chime or sound to play when the timer goes off. This includes motivational messages like “Keep going!” or different types of alarms and bells.
You can add as many intervals as you want, and create multiple timers too. Also, if you register for Timerdoro, you can save all the timers you create to access them again later.
Unfortunately, you can’t customize the notification message or add a name for each interval to remind you what exercise to do next. But that’s a small miss, especially for people who know their workout circuits and just want a good timer accessible on desktop and mobile.
5. Speaking Timer (Android) and SpeakTimer (iOS): Speaking Stopwatch and Countdown App
If you mix cardio like running with your workout routines, you’ll like an app like Speaking Timer, which mixes a timer and a stopwatch. There’s a focus on voice prompts and vibration alerts in the app to avoid looking at the screen in the middle of your exercise.
Both aspects are flexible. You can save timers for different purposes, adding a set interval time and a countdown time (10 to zero or five to zero). Unfortunately, you can’t get a countdown between intervals, but you could always do a series of timers for that.
The stopwatch keeps your screen on as you run, and will again announce intervals as set by you. At any point, you can tap the Lap button to indicate you’ve finished a lap, and the app will calculate how long you took on that lap. It sucks that you can’t add these laps through a voice command, saving you from ever having to touch your phone during your runs.
For iOS users, the default stopwatch in iPhone is a fantastic app and you actually don’t need to install anything more. For an audible timer, we’d recommend SpeakTimer, which surpasses Speaking Timer by letting you add custom messages. So you could add your entire workout plan, which it will read out as the time expires.
Download: Speaking Timer for Android (Free)
Download: SpeakTimer for iOS (Free)
Focus on the Exercise, Not the Numbers
The purpose of these timers and countdown apps is simple. They do the counting, while you focus purely on the actual exercise. The less your mind is occupied with how many seconds it has been, the more you can enjoy your workout.