AMRAP is defined as an abbreviation that means “as many reps as possible,” meaning to do a circuit of exercises as many times as possible within a specific period of time.
- The main goal of an AMRAP workout is to do a set list of moves as many times as you can in a set amount of time.
- AMRAP workouts are great for tracking your fitness gains and seamlessly progressing your workouts as you get stronger.
- Physiologically, AMRAP workouts can help you maximize calorie burn in a short amount of time.
- AMRAP is also a great structure for at-home workouts, and can be done with just your body weight.
Here’s a simple guide to create and follow an AMRAP workout:
- Select one or more exercises for your workout (i.e., a push-up). If you chose more than one, create a small circuit with fixed order and number of reps per exercise (i.e. push-ups, pull-ups, v-ups, repeat).
- Set a fixed amount of time. Preferably using a stopwatch.
- Perform as Many Reps/Rounds as Possible in this time period. Good form is, of course, essential.
- Rest as needed during the workout.
AMRAP can mean both rounds and reps, but you’re getting the same benefits no matter which way you look at it. If you’re given a workout with a list of moves and rep counts for each, and told do it AMRAP, then you’d do as many rounds as possible, while following the rep count for each move. If the workout gives you time intervals for each move, and tells you to do it AMRAP, then that means to do as many reps as you can in that time frame. With both methods, you’re supposed to take a break and catch your breath only when you need it, to keep the intensity high.
SO HOW DOES AMRAP DIFFER FROM OTHER HIIT METHODS?
Well, as we said, AMRAP workouts are a subset of HIIT. It really differs in two major ways:
- With typical circuit training, two or more exercises are necessary, and most workouts have at least a handful or more. With AMRAP, you’re free to choose as few workouts as you want. But say you just wanted to focus on your push-ups, you can simply do multiple sets of them without having to incorporate any other exercises.
- A regular circuit workout has a fixed number of reps and sets to be performed during the workouts. An AMRAP workout has, instead, a fixed time frame. So for example, instead of starting a set where the goal is twenty push-ups, your goal is as many push-ups as you can in twenty seconds. Also, regular circuit workouts have a standard break time, while in AMRAP workouts you are going to rest as necessary. But don’t take that for granted! You still need to push yourself.
So which is better, you may be asking? Well, it’s not that one is better than the other. They’re just different options that can help you based on what you’re looking to achieve. AMRAP workouts can be more adaptable and target different qualities, while circuit training is mostly going to help you with muscular and cardiovascular endurance and agility.
If you like both of them, you can always combine them. The most well-known Circuit-AMRAP combination is Tabata.
While AMRAP workouts don’t have set high- and low-intensity intervals like HIIT workouts do, they’re typically considered high intensity. It makes sense: If your goal is to get in more rounds or reps than last time, you’re pushing yourself pretty intensely. You should always listen to your body and stop and take a break when you really need it, and over time, you’ll need less rest and you’ll be able to keep the intensity up for longer.
HOW DOES AMRAP WORK THE BODY?
The biggest benefit from an intense AMRAP workout is that it creates metabolic overload—you’re really pushing your body’s limits in terms of how it uses available energy. When you push yourself to the point of fatigue, you use up all the quick-access form of carbohydrates stored in your muscles, called glycogen, which your body uses as an important energy source. When that’s all used up—when you work a muscle to “failure”—it induces a significant amount of stress, which triggers biochemical responses that cause changes in the muscles and lead to growth. Over time, pushing this glycolytic energy system to its limit trains the muscles to become more efficient at preserving and using energy, meaning you’ll find you can work at a higher intensity for longer before getting tired. That’s when the number of reps or rounds you can do increases. With this type of conditioning, your body also becomes more efficient at clearing the acidic by-products (like hydrogen ions) that are formed when glycogen is utilized from your bloodstream. The acidity is what cause that burning sensation in muscles during your workout—so as your body gets better at buffering it away quickly, you’ll notice the same level of work feels less uncomfortable.
AMRAP workouts may also help increase EPOC, more commonly known as the after-burn effect. High-intensity strength training is one of the most effective workouts for increasing how much energy your body continues to burn once you stop exercising. Generally, speaking, a more strenuous workout requires your body to work harder while you’re recovering to repair and adapt to the stress you just put it under.
Like we said, one of the best parts about AMRAP is it is going to fully optimize your workout time. If you think you need to spend hours working out for big-time results, think again!
Now, the reason you’re going to be able to save so much time is because, in an AMRAP workout, you’re going to be getting a cardiovascular and muscular endurance workout — at the same time! In a typical workout, this would require at least two different exercises. But AMRAP is so intense you’ll be pushing yourself to exhaustion constantly and therefore target both qualities at once.
Though, that’s just it — you need to really push yourself if you’re going to make AMRAP work for you. We won’t say you need to push yourself to the point where you’re vomiting, but you should be absolutely drained when you’re finished. So you’re going to have to push through and harness some serious mental toughness. The more you practice and push yourself, the more mentally tough you become. And we’re big on the idea that developing mental toughness in exercise bleeds over to every facet of life. So this is going to do more for you than just shed fat (which, by the way, it also does).
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Finally, AMRAP gives you the freedom to target the results you want. If, for example, your goal was to build your conditioning, you would implement exercises like squats, lunges, push-ups, or anything else you can do in a high number of reps. It’s all up to you!
Before you try any AMRAP workout, while it’s important to push yourself, it’s even more important to listen to your body. There’s a big difference in feeling like you don’t think you can do another push-up and feeling like you’re going to pass out. Recognize your limits. Again, one of the great things about AMRAP is that you can rest as needed. There’s no time limit. Even the instructors need a breath every now and then!!
Since adding more rounds or reps is a way to progress a workout and continually challenge your body, you don’t necessarily have to add weights to keep noticing positive changes—though once you start, chances are you’ll want to find new ways to challenge your body to continue reaping the benefits of your workouts.
GIVE IT A GO!