If you’re an avid HIIT or CrossFit junkie, you’ve probably done your fair share of AMRAPS by now. Usually, they involve doing several burpees in a row within 60 seconds and ending up on the floor out of breath. But if you’ve never done CrossFit before, you’ve probably wondered what your friends are talking about when they use the acronym.
AMRAP stands for “as many reps as possible” or “as many rounds as possible.” It’s a workout structure frequently used for conditioning that pushes your body to the max within a set period of time (anywhere from 3 minutes to 60 minutes).
To do an AMRAP, you set a timer for a certain amount of time, and pick a set of exercises (say, 10 pushups, 10 pull-ups, and 10 squats). Repeat that sequence for as many rounds as possible until time expires, resting when needed.
Doing AMRAPs helps you track your progress over time, as you’re basing your review of your performance of a set period of time or a specific exercise.
“AMRAPs allow you to specify the amount of time that a training session will take. This is important for shooting for specific kinds of adaptation. If you know that you’ll be going for exactly 7 minutes, it’s much easier to understand the pacing of the effort required over that 7 minutes,” says Todd Nief, head CrossFit coach and owner of South Loop Strength & Conditioning in Chicago. As you keep at it, you can see if you can do more and more rounds within those 7 minutes with practice.
It also pushes that intensity factor, so you’re not wasting any time activating those muscles and breaking a sweat.
“Rather than specifying reps, sets, and rest time, you are able to move through as quickly as you are capable, which will increase the overall training volume completed in a specific timeframe,” explains Nief.
Below, Nief takes us through the dos and don’ts of doing AMRAPs and suggests a few workouts that’ll have you dripping sweat on the floor in no time.
1) Before starting AMRAPs, make sure you know the rules. “Having a basic understanding of your expected split times is crucial for an AMRAP. If you look at a workout, you should be able to guess roughly how long each movement will take you, how long you expect to spend transitioning from exercise to exercise, and how much you expect to slow down over the course of the session,” says Nief.
2) Try not to make common mistakes that can impair your performance. “Most people go out way too fast at the beginning of an AMRAP. Especially if it’s longer than 5 minutes, this can set them up to be very uncomfortable for the last half of their workout,” he says.
3) Keep in mind that you’ll naturally slow down as you get fatigued, but don’t let it come on too quickly. “People should expect to probably slow down a bit over the course of the AMRAP, but their later rounds shouldn’t be that much slower than the first few rounds, and they also shouldn’t get to the point that they’re engaging in a ton of compensatory patterns to complete their reps,” Nief explains.
4) Set a specific goal for how many rounds/reps to complete before time is up. “People often create AMRAPs without understanding what their goal is for the session. If you want to move quickly the entire time, you need to set something up so that you will be able to keep going through the rounds without significant breakdown over the course of the training session,” he says.
5) Try to mix it up. For instance, “if you have both a squatting-based movement and a lunging-based movement, you can assume that you will run into a limiter with muscle endurance in your quads,” he says, as it puts excess strain on the area.
To get you started, here are a few AMRAP workouts to get you blasting fat and building muscle.
1) One of the most famous and classic starter AMRAPs is “Cindy” (20 min.):
2) This workout is great for a muscle endurance training session, says Nief. Row calories are a unit for measuring output on the Concept2 rowing machines, and you can set the monitor to count in either meters or calories (10 min.):
3-6-9-12…strict pull-ups (pull-ups without swinging or kipping, where hips stay static throughout the motion)
3-6-9-12…handstand push-ups (done against the wall with heels on the wall)
3) This quick workout should leave people on their backs, sweaty and fatigued, says Nief (5 min.):
10 thrusters (Male 42.5kg/ Female 30kg)
10 assault bike calories
By Isadora Baum