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As my training has moved to incorporate more CrossFit style workouts with higher volume, lower rest from a more traditional strength training set up I’ve found I’ve become obsessed with… Time!
Building CrossFit levels of work capacity is pretty tough – particularly if you are used to much less aerobic strength and powerlifting programming like me!
Using a CrossFit gym timer has really helped me make the transition – here’s all you need to know about them!
At a glance…
- The Bulldog Gear Magnetic Gym Timer is the best CrossFit gym timer. Check it out right now here.
- Look for a timer with a countdown to the first interval to give yourself time to set up
- Make sure you can MUTE the timer for late night WODs!
- Rechargeable timers are super handy and save trailing wires to power sockets
- While timers are NOT essential, they are REALLY nice to have when training for CrossFit
The best CrossFit gym timer in the UK?
Hitting intervals, EMOM or density blocks as part of your training? Then chances are you would benefit from a dedicated timer to keep you on the right track.
Here’s why I am pleased with the Bulldog Gear Magnetic Gym Timer for my CrossFit WOD’s:
- Size – The Bulldog timer is a really nice pocket-sized piece of kit. With magnets on the rear it’s easy to move from workstation to workstation and pop out of harms way – on a rack upright, weight plate, sled or similar. This is AWESOME for CrossFit as it simply fits around your workout!
- Custom programs – I hit a lot of custom intervals. Not that I do anything exciting – just that I like to try different set ups that I find online! There are rubber buttons to quickly set up custom work/rest interval and save these for future workouts too. There’s also a phone app so you can set everything up from you mobile if you prefer.
- Built in programs – Surprisingly the built in programs are actually pretty useful. Alongside the custom interval setting you get count up, count down, a stopwatch, EMOM, a couple of ‘Fight Gone Bad’ variations and probably more I’ve forgotten! EMOM and FGB are awesome for CrossFit training or simply adding some variation to your GPP days.
- Volume & mute options – with three volume levels (muted, low and high) there is a mode to suit most situations. Mute is ideal for evening workouts or in the garden if you’re trying to be a good neighbour. Low volume registers around 80db (so equivalent to an alarm clock) and high volume is 90db (similar volume to a hair dryer or power drill)
- Display options – There are 3 options for display brightness which is helpful when working in direct sunlight in the garden. I find the lowest setting a bit too low for me in a well lit garage but if you’re in a basement or duller setting it might work well
- App support – If grabbing and going I tend to use the hardware buttons along the top of the timer. They are chunky rubber items and feel really good. Some of the more fiddly settings like customising multiple intervals are a bit quicker in the app that can be downloaded. The app is best described as ‘functional’ and one area of improvement I would like to see would be a more intuitive, bespoke app from Bulldog. For the money I appreciate this is a lot to ask.
Overall I am really pleased with the Bulldog timer – initially I was not sure what to expect, but now I’m not sure how I managed for so long without it!
Gone are my days of fiddling around with a phone timer thankfully!
So if you’re looking for an AWESOME, reasonably priced gym timer for CrossFit workouts then you should definitely check Bulldog out.
Do you need a gym timer to do CrossFit?
Short answer: No you do NOT need a timer to do CrossFit. As you get more stamina and vary your training more AT THAT POINT a dedicated timer becomes increasingly useful.
As someone new to CrossFit training I found keeping it simple and chasing an increase in training volume each workout was an excellent way to ramp up my stamina for longer CrossFit style WODs.
However as most of us have other things going on in our lives eventually we ramp up volume so much that we begin to be limited by TIME to train.
That’s where I found CrossFit and more aerobic style training really came in to its own – density blocks, EMOM, circuits, FGB… You name it – they are ALL ways of getting us to increase training volume while being very time efficient.
BUT then What began to get on my nerves was constantly having to check my phone when I was using it as a timer. Then I was finding I was constantly tapping the screen to keep it from turning off on longer intervals. Then I was struggling to program more elaborate routines. Then I was losing track of which interval I was even doing…
So overall it became a bit of a mess.
Since moving to a dedicated CrossFit timer it’s been much easier – an always on, bright LED display with a supporting app to program intervals has made it super easy to focus on the workout and not mess around with a phone during a workout.
You definitely don’t NEED a timer, but if you’re serious about improving work capacity and you have a few quid to spare at the moment you will certainly ENJOY a timer!
What to look for in a CrossFit timer
If you’re serious about getting a stand-alone timer for your WODs then there are a few things to keep an eye out for:
Price and value
Unusually for one of our posts, top of the list is price. Some of the large wall mounted timers are £200+ and, for me, this is simply too much to be good value for my own use.
At that price I would (and did!) stick with a compromised phone based solution.
HOWEVER there has been a new wave of smaller timers released sub-£100. At that price I thought it was worth a shot – and that’s what I’ve recommending here.
I would look to buy one of these smaller, more versatile modern CrossFit timers. The Bulldog Gear one I am using is available for £60, down from £77.50 at the time of writing.
If you’re in a huge space or run a commercial facility a dedicated wall mounted solution might make ore sense, but for a garage or home gym it is overkill.
Magnetic: No screws!
Where traditional gym timers are wall mounted or sometimes free standing the smaller and lighter alternative I’m using comes with MAGNETS.
Exciting? Probably not, but it’s certainly practical!
If you’re like me and vary your exercises being able to workout in different stations with your timer constantly in your eye-line is excellent.
This is extra practical in smaller home or garage gyms like mine where I might face completely different directions for each movement – so burpees facing one wall, pull-ups facing another then a few overhead presses facing yet another!
I’ve found grabbing the timer and slapping it on a rack upright, my weight tree, a dumbbell stand or the side of my air bike covers pretty much all of my CrossFit stations!
If it was free standing or wall mounted I wouldn’t be able to do this as there simply isn’t the same versatility if you need a flat surface to pop the timer on.
Size & Design
Your timer needs to be big enough to be seen from all work stations.
If you live or work out in a huge barn then you will need a huge timer, if you have a more typical home or garage gym set up then a small but clear screen will suffice.
My timer measures around 16cm cm by 5cm and is clearly visible from across my garage. This is ample for me but if you have poorer eye sight or a larger space then a larger clock might be a better fit for your needs. At about 3cm deep the timer is a really nice size for moving around or popping in your gym bag.
As noted above I like to move the timer around as I move from one WOD station to another. This is not possible if the timer is mains powered.
A battery powered clock is FAR more versatile for both moving around your space and also simply NOT needing to take up a power socket.
If – like me – you do your CrossFit workouts in a humble garage you will likely NOT have an abundance of sockets and losing one to a relatively low powered clock is needless in my opinion.
Either replaceable AA-style batteries or, preferably, rechargeable clocks are much more versatile as a result as they can be put anywhere and have no wires. It’s just EASIER.
The Bulldog Gear magnetic timer is rechargeable via a USB-C charger which is ideal for my needs. It comes with a USB-A to USB-C charging cable.
One of my MUST HAVE requirements for any CrossFit gym timer worth its salt is the ability to program custom intervals and times.
The ability do so quickly and easily is also important.
Built in programs are great – if you will use them. For example the Bulldog I’m using has different “fight gone bad” modes, EMOM, Tabata and various other workouts pre-saved.
While I don’t really use FGB or Tabata frequently the EMOM is awesome, as is the ability to set up my own intervals.
Ultimately how customisable YOU need your timer to be will depend on how you like to train. I’d suggest keeping your options open if you can though as you never know when your goals might change!
Noise: Loud enough vs TOO loud?!
Picture this – you spend a load of money on a fancy CrossFit timer, invest time and effort to program it for your workout and then… You can’t hear it as it beeps between intervals!
This is EXACTLY what people experienced with the TimeBirds range unfortunately and was something I was VERY keen to avoid. I need a loud(ish) audible beep that will sound clearly over any music or TV background noise.
An issue I hadn’t considered prior to ordering is that they could actually be too loud. For example if I’m putting in some easy miles on the bike in an evening I don’t want a loud count down or ending beep which might disturb my family or neighbours more than they need to be. For this reason I would recommend a timer that can be muted when noise is undesirable.
As a result I was apprehensive when I ordered the Bulldog timer that it may be too quiet or loud – luckily it is LOUD. Like, power drill loud, BUT it can also be muted. As well as mute it has two volume settings – one at 80db and the other at 90db. Both of these are noticeable in a garage!
Most displays will include time elapsed (or remaining) as well as the interval number you are on.
Having these two pieces of information distinguished by colour is handy when trying to absorb the data at a glance (or when you’re bent over double after an intense round on the bike!)
Count down timer: CrossFitters, are you ready?!
A neat little feature to keep an eye out that is extremely helpful for CrossFit training is a countdown timer.
This means when you set everything up and hit start you get somewhere between 3 and 10 seconds of grace before the workout kicks in.
Honestly – this is a genius feature fro CrossFit users. It gives me enough time to set everything up and then hop on my bike or get to the first station BEFORE the first interval. Previously I‘ve found myself rushing and losing time on the first exercise.
So… Which gym timer should you buy?
As noted at the start of this post – I have the Bulldog Gear Magnetic Gym Timer and I think it is an IDEAL companion for someone integrating CrossFit style training in to their workouts.
With a small footprint, a clear screen and various programming options it’s got it all going for it!
Hopefully this article has given you a few pointers to help you pick the best CrossFit gym timer for YOU.
Personally I value a timer that has a countdown before starting (so I can jump on the bike before the first interval!), a decent screen with a modern design and a nice loud beep. Beyond this the preset programs are worth looking at – but a long as it has a custom setting you should be able to make it work!
I’ve got the Bulldog Gear magnetic timer and it works really well in my gym space, I’d recommend at least considering it if you’re in the market for a decent value timer in the UK.