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Between commuting to the gym, setting up equipment, and actually doing your workout, sometimes it can feel like exercise takes up a lot of time.

Working out at home can be a convenient alternative, but you might not have access to the same equipment you’d find at your local gym.

If you’re looking for a quick workout that does not require much equipment, a Tabata workout can be a great way to add some movement to your day and make sure you’re getting some of the health benefits of aerobic exercise.

The Tabata protocol is a specific type of high intensity interval training (HIIT) workout in which you alternate 20 seconds of work and 10 seconds of rest for 8 rounds. You can complete a Tabata workout in as little as 4 minutes, or you can add more 4-minute segments if you’re looking to increase the challenge.

Using a timer app designed specifically for interval training workouts like Tabata is an easy way to keep track of which round you’re on and how much time is left in each work or rest period. Plus, many of these apps have a voice assist feature that will “coach” you through your workout.

Keep reading for our picks of the best Tabata timer apps.

We selected the Tabata apps on our list using the following criteria:

  • Price: The apps are free or inexpensive.
  • Customer reviews: We included apps with mainly positive reviews.
  • Features: We looked for easy-to-use apps offering features such as customizable timers, voice commands, and color-coded displays. Some also have music options.
  • Compatibility: The apps are compatible with devices such as iPhones, Android devices, Apple Watches, and heart rate monitors.
  • Vetting: The apps on our list have been vetted to ensure that they align with Healthline’s brand integrity standards and approach to well-being. You can read more about our vetting process.

Best overall

Seconds Pro Interval Timer

Seconds Pro Interval Timer is our top pick thanks to its easy-to-use platform that lets you color-code your intervals and coordinate the intensity of your music with the workout. You can customize the timer, and the large size makes it easy to see the remaining seconds while you’re working out.

Seconds Pro lets you name each interval and will tell you which exercise is next so that you can keep moving. It includes timer templates for Tabata and other HIIT workouts. You can choose from these preset timers or create your own. Plus, you can share timers with friends.

A few customers say the app is also handy for staying on track with daily tasks.

Pros

  • color-coded intervals
  • shareable, customized timers
  • runs in the background while you use other apps

Cons

  • lots of pop-ups
  • limited features on Android
  • some reports of timer issues

Best for customization

Tabata Stopwatch Pro

  • Price: free; $19.99 for Pro version
  • iPhone rating: 4.8
  • Android rating: 4.8

Tabata Stopwatch Pro is versatile enough to suit beginners and advanced users alike. It offers tons of ways to customize each workout, including the number of cycles, number of sets, rest time, exercises, warmup, and cooldown.

The colorful display is visible from far away, and the app uses different colors to represent the amount of energy you’re using during the workout.

You can jump between intervals if you need to, and you can choose from a variety of beep alerts that will help you stay on track. The app also has a voice assist feature that will guide you as you progress from one exercise to the next.

Tabata Stopwatch Pro connects to Google Fit and Apple Health, and you have the option to play your music in the background. As a bonus, you’ll see motivational quotations on the home screen.

The app can also provide heart rate data if you wear a heart rate monitor.

Pros

  • lots of customization options
  • straightforward, intuitive interface
  • large, visible timer

Cons

  • frequent pop-up ads and rating requests
  • does not sync to Apple Watch

Best for group workouts

Tabata Pro

  • Price: $3.99 on iPhone, $2.99 on Android
  • iPhone rating: 4.9
  • Android rating: 4.7

In addition to Tabata workouts, you can use Tabata Pro for other types of HIIT, weight training, running, cycling, and more. It’s fully customizable and has a split screen for multitasking.

It’s designed to display well on larger screens, which is handy if you want to use a TV screen to show the timer during a group workout.

The app has a voice guidance feature to coach you through workouts. It also has a Workout DJ feature that allows you to start and change music automatically during workouts and customize the music for each interval.

Tabata Pro integrates with Apple Health and works with the Apple Watch, so you’ll be able to see your timer right on your wrist.

Pros

  • good for individual and group workouts
  • split-screen display
  • no ads

Cons

  • a few reports that the screen freezes
  • does not display total workout time
  • no option to name exercises

Best for free

Timer Plus – Workouts Timer

Timer Plus – Workouts Timer has an intuitive interface that’s simple to use — plus, it’s free and does not have ads. It displays the number and duration of rounds and cycles so you can easily track your workouts. It also has audio cues and allows you to customize and save your routines.

Apple users can transfer workouts from other devices to the Apple Watch using the included Apple Watch app.

Pros

  • customizable and user-friendly
  • large, visible timer
  • voice guidance

Cons

  • no option to name workouts

Best for progress tracking

SmartWOD Timer – WOD Timer

  • Price: free; $1.99 per month or $12.49 per year for paid version
  • iPhone rating: 4.9
  • Android rating: 4.8

SmartWOD Timer – WOD Timer has timers for Tabata, AMRAP (As Many Rounds as Possible), EMOM (Every Minute on the Minute), and For Time workouts. It also has a count button so you can track your rounds and an option to group different types of workouts together.

Unlike a lot of other workout timer apps, SmartWOD Timer has a workout log feature that allows you to record, name, and take notes on your workouts so you can track your progress.

These notes will also be visible when you select one of your customized preset workouts, which means you won’t have to search to find out which exercises or how many reps you completed last time.

Pros

  • customized workout log
  • simple, user-friendly interface
  • customizable voices and alerts

Cons

  • some reviews noting that a workout may restart if you pause it
  • full-screen ads
  • possible syncing issues with the sound and the timer

Best minimal design

Tabata Timer

  • Price: free 1-week trial, then $1.99 per month or $9.99 for a lifetime subscription
  • iPhone rating: 4.9

Tabata Timer has a clean, minimal interface that’s easy to navigate. To adjust rounds, work intervals, and rest periods, you simply drag and drop the corresponding tiles.

It also features audio cues in case you don’t want to look at the screen, and it lets you play music in the background. You can adjust the voice volume, which is handy if you prefer it louder or softer than your music.

The app has a history and statistics page where you can check your progress. And you can set workout reminders if you want to plan ahead for the next day’s workout.

While this app is listed as free, you’ll need to pay for a subscription after the 1-week trial period.

Pros

  • intuitive interface
  • option to name and save workouts
  • option to set workout reminders

Cons

  • not available for Android devices
  • does not list completed rounds

PriceiPhone ratingAndroid ratingKey features
Seconds Pro Interval Timer$4.994.84.5• color-coded intervals
• shareable and customized timers
Tabata Stopwatch Pro• free
• $19.99 for Pro version
4.84.8• lots of customization options
• intuitive interface
• large timer
Tabata Pro• $3.99 (iPhone)
• $2.99 (Android)
4.94.7• good for group workouts
• simple-to-use split-screen display
• no ads
Timer Plus – Workouts Timerfree 4.84.5• customizable
• large timer
• voice guidance
SmartWOD Timer – WOD Timer• free
• $1.99/month or $12.49/year for paid version
4.94.8• customized workout log
• user-friendly interface
• large display
Tabata Timer• free 1-week trial
• $1.99/month or $9.99 for lifetime subscription
4.9• intuitive interface
• option to name and save workouts
• option to set workout reminders

Which is better: Tabata or HIIT?

A HIIT workout involves repeated bouts of high intensity effort followed by recovery periods. There are lots of options for work and rest intervals, so the ratio of work to rest and the length of the workout can vary.

“Tabata is a type of HIIT workout,” explains Dr. Ryan Belmore, PT, DPT, a physical therapist and certified strength and conditioning specialist. “Typically, Tabata workouts will consist of 20 seconds of work with 10 seconds of rest for 8 rounds total, which adds up to 4 minutes per ‘block.’ While not always the case, Tabata can be more intense due to the shorter rest periods.

“When considering which is better, trying each can be the best way to discover your body’s preference. Some people find the work and rest periods in Tabata to be too short, while HIIT training can offer work or rest periods of a minute or more.”

What is the best Tabata workout?

“Tabata workouts tend to be very high intensity, so be careful using accessory movements during these workouts because smaller muscle groups can quickly get over-extended,” says Belmore. “Instead, look to utilize larger compound movements such as squats, deadlifts, pushups, rows, and shoulder presses to challenge as many muscle groups at once.

“Tabata training with traditional cardio like cycling, running, and rowing is certainly quite challenging and effective for general exercise (particularly in short time allowances), but it won’t replace sport-specific training or training for a particular race or event.”

Which is better: Tabata or cardio?

“It depends!” says Belmore. “Tabata is great for squeezing high amounts of work into short periods of time but does come with risks of injury or overtraining as a result. You can get a very productive and satisfying workout completed in 15–20 minutes using Tabata.”

That said, the higher intensity of Tabata also means you’ll need more time to recover. Belmore suggests incorporating some longer, more traditional cardio workouts into your routine as well because they typically will not require as much recovery time in between. Plus, there’s generally less risk of injury during lower intensity exercise.

He also emphasizes that while both forms of training can be effective for weight loss, improving overall health, and producing physiological adaptations, it’s important to find a type of training you enjoy, because that will help you be consistent and see progress over time.

Belmore adds that it’s important to consider the purpose of your training: “If you’re training for a specific event or purpose, the training should mimic it as closely as possible.”

Tabata apps are a valuable tool for designing workouts and can help you keep moving without worrying about tracking time and sets. Many apps allow you to customize and save your workouts and offer features such as color coding, music integration, and audio cues.

The Tabata apps on this list are suitable for designing basic workouts. If you’re looking for something specific in an app, such as music options, heart rate monitor connectivity, or an ad-free experience, look for one that ticks those boxes.