April 20, 2021
What was once a niche workout only discussed in the world of Crossfit, AMRAP workouts are now used by fitness trainers across the board, and for good reason. AMRAP workouts are an extremely effective and efficient way to improve your overall conditioning and body composition. With AMRAP workouts you will increase aerobic capacity and muscular endurance while burning fat and building muscle. This standalone workout regimen is a guaranteed way to get into the best shape of your life.
In this post, we discuss everything there is to know about AMRAP workouts. If you want to become an AMRAP workout specialist, read on…
Note: We’ve also included a full-length steel mace AMRAP workout that you can follow along to!
The definition of the acronym AMRAP is “As Many Rounds (or Reps) As Possible”. An AMRAP workout is a metabolic, high-intensity workout that typically consists of a few exercises (although it can be just one exercise or many exercises) done in a continuous circuit, with minimal rest (only when you absolutely have to), for an allotted time. AMRAP
AMRAP Rest Time
With an AMRAP workout, you will be pushing your body to the max, only resting when you really must (for example, if you are unable to complete a rep with good form, you can pause, then continue, and/or slow down the pace). All in all, the goal is to do as many rounds or reps as possible within a set time. So, the workout is intense.
How long are AMRAP workouts?
AMRAP workouts can range from 3 minutes to as much as 60 minutes. Of course, you need to be in stellar shape if you are doing an AMRAP workout for 60 minutes as that will be very difficult. That is, if you do the workout properly (very minimal rest). Therefore, most AMRAP workouts for beginners are 5-15 minutes long.
AMRAP Exercise Strategy
Note: For longer AMRAP workouts, certain, more sustainable exercises can be mixed into the circuit, strategically, so you can actually complete the workout without too much rest time. For example, mixing in jumping jacks after burpees makes sense as jumping jacks are less taxing. Moreover, what area of the body the exercises are targeting should be considered when making the structure of the workout, as to allow for certain muscle groups to get a little rest while other muscle groups are working…i.e. push ups then pull ups then burpees then sit ups, rather than something like air squats then lunges then burpees then side lunges, as your legs will not be able to sustain this for the length of a longer workout.
AMRAP workouts can incorporate bodyweight-only exercises, free weight exercises, or resistance band exercises. Generally, only one type of training tool and weight load will be used for an AMRAP workout, as you don’t want to be changing weights mid-workout and waste time. So, you should choose the weight load strategically as well.
Have a look at a few examples of AMRAP workouts below, so you can get an even clearer picture of what an AMRAP workout entails. We will provide more examples later in the article, as well as a full length AMRAP steel mace workout that you can follow along to.
10-minute bodyweight AMRAP (As Many Rounds As Possible) workout:
Exercise 1: Burpees x 10
Exercise 2: Push Ups x 15
Exercise 3: Pull Ups x 5
You will do one exercise after the other, continually repeating the circuit, only resting when you absolutely have to, for 10 minutes. If you do rest, it’s just a short rest so you can catch your breath or a pause within your set (in position).
Once the 10 minutes is up, you are finished with the AMRAP workout. It’s very straightforward and very brutal.
Here’s another example…
1-Exercise 5 Minute Bodyweight AMRAP (As Many Reps As Possible):
For this AMRAP, you are only doing burpees. So you will do as many burpees as you can in 5 minutes. That’s it. Simple yet effective.
Related: Benefits of Burpees & Variations
And another example…
15-Minute Kettlebell AMRAP Workout (As Many Rounds As Possible)
Exercise 1: Front Squat x 5 reps
Exercise 2: Bent Over Row x 5 reps
Exercise 3: Cleans x 5 reps
Exercise 4: Swings x 5 reps
For AMRAP workouts with free weights, you won’t be using very heavy weights, as you need a weight that is sustainable for the length of the workout, and for all the exercises included. AMRAP workouts are done for conditioning purposes and high volume resistance training. Your goal is to rest as little as possible so you can get as many rounds or reps in within the allotted time. Even a light weight load will start to feel very heavy after a few minutes!
A big part of AMRAP workouts is keeping track of the amount of rounds or reps you’ve completed. That way you can try the same workout again in a week or so and see if you can beat your previous score.
AMRAP workouts allow you to easily track progress. The progressive overload technique is simple, doing more rounds (or reps) than your last workout means you’ve progressed and you are continually overloading the stimulus you are putting on your muscles and body.
AMRAP in Corssfit means you should be precise in the timing of your AMRAP workouts, counting reps completed then calculating your score. There are plenty of free apps to help with tracking the results of your AMRAP workouts.
We will explain more about how to structure AMRAPs, so you can have an endless supply of AMRAP workouts by creating them yourself!
Being in great shape is not just about looking lean and ripped or jacked and muscular. It is also about being able to sustain a high level of energy for a period of time and recover quickly. Just because you are strong, doesn’t mean you are in shape. To be in good physical condition, you need to have strength and endurance. That’s why an athlete’s training consists of ‘strength & conditioning’. Both are equally important.
So, AMRAP workouts are for anyone who wants to truly be “in shape”…better yet, in great shape. AMRAP workouts are one of the best ways to achieve muscular endurance and all-around impressive conditioning. With AMRAP workouts, you can get your body into peak physical condition in no time. No more huffing and puffing as you climb stairs, needing to rest after a few minutes of a pickup basketball game, or getting tired during sex.
AMRAP workouts are especially great for:
- People looking to cut weight
- People who want to be lean and ripped
- People who workout at home
- Those who don't have a lot of weights but still want to build muscle
- Anyone who wants to improve their stamina and endurance
AMRAP workouts will enable you to keep up with the fast pace of the world and life itself.
Even if you are not an athlete, you should start doing AMRAP workouts once or twice a week, mixed into your regular training regimen. This will improve your fitness training as a whole and your life on so many levels…
1. Improves Muscular Endurance, Stamina & Aerobic Conditioning
AMRAP workouts are fantastic for improving your physical preparedness. By doing AMRAP workouts regularly, you will have better muscular endurance, stamina and aerobic (cardiovascular) capacity. This is what physical conditioning is all about. Conditioning also crosses over into strength training, as muscular endurance plays an important role in strength training.
If you want to be ready for what life throws at you (running, fighting, sports, sex), start doing AMRAP so you can be #alwaysready.
2. Burns Calories & Fat
An AMRAP workout is going to burn a ton of calories and it will increase your oxygen consumption through the day. This means your body will continue to burn calories far after your workout is complete (this is known as the “after-burn”).
If you want to boost your metabolism, AMRAP workouts can be one of the methods you need to achieve that.
3. Improve Body Composition
AMRAP workouts will make you leaner. And although you are not using heavy loads, you can build muscle. The workouts should challenge your muscles enough to break them down so they can grow back stronger. After all, high volume resistance workouts are great for hypertrophy…You just need to make sure you are eating enough to build muscle.
4. Mental Fortitude
AMRAP workouts are as tough on the mind as they are the body. AMRAP workouts emphasize efficiency, focus and mental toughness. This will translate to everyday life, not just your workouts.
5. Easy to Progress
It can be hard to keep track of many things in life, but not AMRAPs. AMRAP workouts are straightforward. You record how many rounds (and reps) you completed and you try to break that record the next time. This will allow you to continually challenge your body. You know exactly what you need to do to progress - beat your last score. This is progressive overload made simple.
Progressive overload is a technique to improve your conditioning, build muscle and increase strength over time. It requires that you continually add more stimulus to your body and muscles than you did the previous workout (or week). This can be done by adding reps, decreasing rest time, increasing the weight load, and so on. So, for AMRAP workouts, the progressive overload is simple - increase reps and decrease rest (if using a barbell, steel maces, kettlebells, etc. you can also increase load, but first focus on increasing reps and decreasing rest).
6. Works for all fitness levels
AMRAP workouts are great for all fitness levels. You are only competing with yourself. This means you and a buddy can do the same exact workout, but you go at your own pace, use your own specific load, and so on, so you control the intensity. So, although the reps, rounds and weight load may be different, the workout and the intensity will be the same no matter what level you are.
7. Convenient & Efficient
AMRAP workouts are super convenient and time efficient. You can do them anywhere - on the road, in a hotel room, at home, at the gym…And, moreover, you can get a killer workout in just 15 minutes or so! Great results with less time. Would you rather run for an hour or go through hell for 15 minutes and get not only the same calorie burn but also stimulate muscle growth?
8. No equipment needed
One of the finer points of AMRAP is that you can get a killer workout in with just using your own bodyweight. This means you can get amazing results without spending any money on equipment while reducing the possible added stress on your joints.
The dangers of AMRAP:
Because you are focusing on speed with AMRAPs, you may get sloppy with your form. Don’t do this. Form is more important than speed! Yes, try to do as many reps and rounds as you can, but don’t sacrifice form to do so. This can lead to injury and bad body movement mechanics in the long term.
So, with that, rest when needed. Rest when your form starts slipping.
A better way to “rest” is to just slow down your pace. But if you need 10 seconds or so to stop, catch your breath, and let your muscles recover so you can continue, then do it! The next time you may need less rest, and that’s the point of AMRAP workouts, to continue to improve. So, go at your own pace and focus on form.
Finally, you need to eat and sleep well. AMRAP workouts are taxing, so your nutrition and sleep need to be on point or else you won’t recover properly. If your body is not fully recovered, don’t do another AMRAP workout until it is.
Sleep enough, eat well, and you should be perfectly fine to do a couple AMRAP workouts a week, mixed in with other types of training like strength training, cardio, flexibility/yoga.
Some people considered AMRAP workouts to be form of HIIT, and while there are a lot of similarities, it is not the same.
HIIT vs AMRAP
HIIT is interval training. You do sets of an exercise (or exercises) in short bursts, reaching 85-95% max heart rate. After each set, you have an interval of rest (or active rest), allowing your heart rate to lower to around 65%. You continue this for a specific number of sets.
With AMRAP workouts, you don’t have set intervals of rest. You take rest only as needed. Moreover, you don’t have a specific number of sets to complete. Your aim is to complete as many rounds or reps as possible within the allotted time.
Because you control how much recovery time you get within an AMRAP workout, it can be more intense or less intense than a standard HIIT workout like TABATA. It can also be much more high volume, which is better for building muscle.
HIIT workouts are strict in terms of work and rest, so you know exactly when to rest and when to go all out.
What’s more, typically HIIT exercises are bodyweight only. AMRAP workouts can be bodyweight only too, but they often employ fitness equipment for a specific workout (i.e. barbell, dumbbell, steel mace, or kettlebell AMRAP workouts).
With AMRAP, if your quality of movement drops with a specific exercise, you can move on to the next, allowing that body part to rest. With HIIT, you must do the exercise until the time is up, which can mean a lack of quality movement (less range of motion).
What AMRAP and HIIT workouts have in common is they are both efficient and high intensity. Because of this, the benefits are very similar. HIIT and AMRAP are both great for improving body composition, burning calories, aerobic conditioning, muscular endurance and mental fortitude. Furthermore, HIIT and AMRAP workouts range from 5-20 minutes on average.
Another thing to note is AMRAP doesn’t necessarily mean a workout, which we have yet to discuss. AMRAP can even be done intra-workout. For example, the last set of shoulder presses during a standard bodybuilding workout can be “as many reps as possible”.
Think of AMRAP as the free-nature, wild, more muscular sibling of HIIT.
There are two main differences between AMRAP and circuit training. The first difference is that in regular circuit training there is a predefined number of reps and sets. In AMRAP there is only a fixed time frame. Also, circuit training generally consists of fixed break times where in AMRAP workouts you only rest as needed. The second major difference is that in circuit training there is always more than one exercise but AMRAP workouts can be composed of a single exercise.
You can combine these workout modalities to get some awesome results. One of the most famous combinations of circuit AMRAP workouts are Tabata circuits.
For example, try the following Tabata air squat circuit:
As explained above AMRAP is As Many Reps As Possible where there is a set time. EMOM stands for Every Minute On The Minute where you will do a set of an exercise every minute on the top of the minute. AFAP is As Fast As Possible where the goal is to complete a number of reps of a particular exercise in the shortest amount of time. AMRAP and EMOM are more beneficial for strength gains and work capacity compared with AFAP which is better for conditioning purposes.
However, these are all great workout modalities to incorporate into your fitness routine and will help switch it up a bit to keep challenging yourself.
AMRAP workouts involve high volume resistance exercises, so they can absolutely build muscle. An AMRAP workout places plenty of stress on your muscles - time under tension - which will stimulate hypertrophy (the growth of muscular cells). Moreover, because every AMRAP workout you are progressively overloading by pushing yourself a little harder than the last workout (less rest time, more reps), you will be able to continually build muscle with AMRAP workouts.
All that being said, you can’t build muscle without proper rest, sleep and diet. So after your AMRAP workout, make sure you eat right and recover if you want to build muscle.
An AMRAP workout is like cardio on steroids. Aerobic workouts (cardio), involve keeping between 55-85% max heart rate for 20-30+ minutes. AMRAP will definitely get your heart rate to the top range of that aerobic level. However, the workouts are not usually longer than 20 minutes. So, if you want more cardiovascular health benefits, aim to do longer AMRAPs (15-20 mins) rather than shorter AMRAP workouts (5-10 mins).
AMRAP workouts are like a hybrid of cardio and resistance training, with the intensity level turned up to eleven. So, you will get cardiovascular benefits and you will build muscle with AMRAP workouts.
In essence AMRAP workouts are great for fat loss as they increase your heartbeat which leads to more calories burned in a short amount of time. However, if you want to super charge your fat loss you need to create AMRAP workouts for conditioning. The best method for fat loss is to use the Tabata like circuits combined with AMRAP.
Warmup- 6 minutes
Tabata Lunges – 5 minutes
Rest – 1.5 minutes
Tabata Push Ups – 5 minutes
Rest -1.5 minutes
Tabata Air Squats – 5 minutes
Cool Down – 6 minutes
If you want to challenge yourself even more try adding a weighted vest to the equation.
AMRAP workouts come in all shapes and sizes. They can involve one exercise or many exercises. They can incorporate barbells, kettlebells, steel maces, resistance bands, dumbbells, sandbags, bodyweight exercises and so on. There really are no rules when it comes to how many exercises and what fitness equipment you are using.
What every AMRAP has in common is the exercises are done in a circuit and you only rest when you must. The goal is to complete the circuit (or exercises) for as many rounds and reps as possible within a set time frame.
If you are going for reps, and you have three exercises, your workout could look like this:
Push Ups x 10
Pull Ups x 5
Air Squats x 25
You do this for as many rounds (which in the end is as many reps) as you can within the time frame.
However, it doesn’t have to be as structured as the above. You could simply do as many reps as you want for each exercise then jump back and forth between exercises and do more reps to failure. So maybe the first set of push ups you do 50, then you jump to squats and do 100, then pull ups 10, then back to push ups and do 40.
The only issue with this method is it’s hard to keep track, but if you can manage it, then it’s all the same. Again, the goal is to do as many reps as possible within a set time frame.
This method of AMRAP is straightforward. You have a circuit of exercises with a set number of reps to do each round. Then you go through the circuit again and again for the allotted time.
Push Ups x 10
Squats x 20
Pull Ups x 5
Crunches x 20
Pike Push Ups x 10
Jumping Lunges x 20 (10 each side)
Chin Ups x 6
Burpees x 5
You rest when you have time. That can be mid exercise, mid round, or after a round. It doesn’t matter. The end goal is the same, do as many rounds as you can. If the allotted time finishes mid round, record exactly where you got to so the next time you do the workout you can see how you progress, even if it is just doing two more exercises or 1 more rep within the same number of rounds. Progress is progress.
Since we’ve already given you a few AMRAP workouts up until now, we are going to give you just a few more, then we will provide you with one full length AMRAP workout that you can follow along to (if you have a steel mace) and finally we will show you how to create your own AMRAPs and program AMRAP into your weekly routine.
Alternating Swings x 10
Goblet Squat x 10
Snatch x 5 (each side)
Push Ups x 10
Bent over rows x 8 (each side)
Benefits: Build Muscle, Endurance, Cardiovascular Health, Core Strength & Stability, Mental Toughness
Squat Thruster x 10
Banded Push Ups x 10
Deadlift x 10
Bent Over Row x 10
Here is an AMRAP workout using a steel mace! This is a full length AMRAP workout so you can follow along at home if you have a steel mace. We recommend a 7-15lb mace. 15lb mace being for those who are strong and in serious shape!
Steel Mace AMRAP 12 Workout Details
4 Total Exercises
Repeat For As Many Rounds As Possible in 12 Minutes
Exercise 1: Squat to Single Arm Overhead Press (how to - 0:33)
Exercise 2: Alternating Strike (how to - 1:10)
Exercise 3: Curtsy Lunge (how to - 1:50)
Exercise 4: Alternating Overhead Press (how to - 2:23)
Creating an AMRAP is simple. All you need to do is the following:
Your ability to create new AMRAP workouts is only limited by your creativity!
The following equipment are the best for AMRAP workouts as they are the most versatile in the types of exercises you can do (various full-body compound movements), and they offer the correct weight load/resistance for AMRAPs:
Related: Kettlebells vs Dumbbells
For bodyweight AMRAP workouts, we like to use explosiveness, so plyometric exercises like box jumps and tuck jumps are great.
Barbell AMRAP Exercises:
Kettlebell AMRAP Exercises:
Buy a steel mace for the above AMRAP Workout
There are a few ways you can program AMRAP workouts into your current fitness regimen.
1. Solo Workout:
Do an AMRAP workout on its own.
Monday - Strength Training
Tuesday - 20-min AMRAP Workout
Wednesday - Yoga
Thursday - Rest
Friday - Strength Training
Saturday - 20-min HIIT Workout
Sunday - Yoga or cardio
or…if you prefer two-a-days
Monday: AM - Strength Training; PM - 20-min AMRAP Workout
Tuesday - Rest
Wednesday - Yoga
Thursday - AM - Strength Training; PM - Cardio
Friday - Rest
Saturday - AM - Strength Training; PM - 10-min AMRAP Workout
2. After Workout Finisher
Do an AMRAP workout as a finisher after a resistance/strength training workout
For this, a 5-15 minute AMRAP is enough.
AMRAP can be done during a traditional strength training workout.
For example, you could do your last set of every exercise within your workout as an AMRAP to failure.
In-between exercises, you could do a quick 3-5 minute AMRAP workout like:
The first option is great for building muscle, the second option is great if you are trying to lose fat.
1. Maintain Good Form
Unlike HIIT, where you are just trying to make it through the work time, AMRAP allows you to rest when your form starts to breakdown. Always put form first when doing AMRAP. This means good mechanics, full range of motion.
2. Go at your own pace
If you are doing AMRAPs with other people, don’t pay attention to them. This is between you and the AMRAP, no one else. Push yourself hard but at your own pace. And again, don’t sacrifice form for more reps.
3. Record your workouts
Be sure to record your workouts, so you know exactly what you did. You will know exactly what you need to do to progress and your results will be tangible.
4. Cool Down After AMRAPS
After an AMRAP, do a cool down so you can regulate your blood flow and get back to pre-exercise heart rate and blood pressure. This will also help you prevent dizziness and even injuries.
If you want to build muscle, lose fat, improve your conditioning level, then add AMRAP workouts to your routine ASAP. After a few weeks, you will be thankful you did. AMRAP workouts will improve all areas of your life, physically and mentally.
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