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Ultratimer: a must-have for interval training

While Plain and Simple Software's UltraTimer [iTunes link] can't do your workout for you, it'll certainly provide you some guidance to help you follow your workout.

Let's face it. Working out is hard, and can sometimes get boring -- very boring. Especially when spending half an hour or more on the same machine, be it a treadmill, stationary bike, or elliptical trainer. To this end, I've recently taken up interval and circuit training to help liven up my workout.

While planning out interval and circuit training workouts is a fairly straightforward and easy task, following them isn't.

Wait a minute: Which exercise do I do next, and how long do I do it for?

Of the timers that I've tested, UltraTimer is my favorite. Its combination of ease-of-use and functionality make it the benchmark fitness timer app.

At the top of the list is the ability to create multiple sets of timers. Which means that you can have a timer with different intervals for CrossFit, a timer for boxing, or any other unique time-based routine. And each interval within a timer can be set for a specified time period, with corresponding sounds and display options. For example, say my boxing timer has four different intervals: jabs, crosses, hooks, and uppercuts. I'd like to do jabs for a minute, crosses for one and a half minutes, hooks for 45 seconds, and uppercuts for 30 seconds.

In addition, the screen can be customized to display a different color for each interval, which complements its ability to display the name (which you can customize) of the interval, alleviating the need to peer over at your workout sheet.

However, you needn't look at your iPhone either. Besides associating an interval with one of the app's many built-in sounds, you can record your own voice. So, if you want the app to speak the word "uppercuts" when it's time to do them, you just need to record your voice to say "uppercuts." I've found the app's voice features to be a particularly nice feature, as I like to put my iPhone's screen to sleep and listen to music when I work out; UltraTimer will run when you put your iPhone's screen to sleep, and also features controls to play your music.

Creating intervals is facilitated by the ability to copy and paste intervals. So, if you wanted to repeat each of the intervals in the above example, you could just select all four and paste them. Similarly, if you just wanted the first, third and fourth intervals repeated, you can do that as well.

Lastly, the app allows you to share the timers you've created with other iPhones either via Bluetooth or via import/export. In the case of the latter, the app will copy the specified timer's contents onto a clipboard, which others with UltraTimer can import.

UltraTimer is available for purchase at iTunes for $1.99.

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