If you want a new approach to your workouts that promises to transform your fitness, look no further than an AMRAP session, says fitness writer Lucy Fry.
A must-know acronym for all fitness fans, AMRAP stands for ‘as many repetitions (or rounds) as possible’ – so, no rest until the clock stops. The goal is to minimise breathers, making AMRAP workouts super effective for all fitness levels and a favourite of personal trainers who are trying to push clients to the next level.
“AMRAPs are great for developing endurance and learning to pace yourself,” says trainer Danielle Gaskell. “We often programme them because they enable members of all levels to train alongside each other, doing the same workout with varying weights and at different speeds, which brings a feeling of inclusivity as well as motivation. You’ll get a great afterburn, too, with your muscles burning up energy for hours after.”
What is an AMRAP workout?
Strictly speaking, an AMRAP workout is a form of HIIT workout, so it has all the usual evidence-based benefits of high-intensity training, including killing stress, burning fat, reducing cognitive decline and boosting memory.
An AMRAP session focuses on pushing yourself as much as possible during a set time frame; it can form part of a bigger routine (a 10-minute AMRAP ‘burn’ at the end, for example) or it could be your whole workout. For example, a 15-minute AMRAP focused on rounds might be a 400m run, 30 squats and 20 press-ups repeated as many times as possible in 15 minutes, whereas an AMRAP based on repetitions (reps) could be 5 minutes of as many kettlebell swings, squats or jumping jacks as possible. The goal of an effective AMRAP workout is to focus on intensity, working as hard as you can in short bursts.
What’s the best approach?
Simply select a series of exercises and then complete as many rounds or reps of the designated moves as you can within your chosen time frame; a full-body AMRAP workout might consist of 5 pull-ups, 10 push-ups and 15 squats over and over for 20 minutes.
An AMRAP workout is best approached as an opportunity to go all out. That said, maintaining good form should always come first. Take it easy if you’re feeling fragile, new to exercise or returning from injury; move more slowly and pace yourself. AMRAPS are also a great opportunity to think strategically about how to get the best out of your body. For instance, taking 20-second breaks after each round might ensure you don’t completely drop off the edge of an energy cliff halfway through – and, ultimately, complete more circuits in your time frame.
Why are they so effective?
AMRAPs are a surefire way of burning lots of calories and hitting various muscle groups in a short time. They also keep you accountable and motivated even when you’re training alone. These workouts are designed to build fitness and endurance – to get you sweaty and boost endorphins – rather than to develop pure muscular strength, which is best done by lifting heavy weights with longer periods of rest. Because they require you to push yourself, AMRAPS are good for building mental resilience too, and it’s hard to worry about anything else while you are doing them.
They are also a great way to monitor changes in your own fitness level. If you perform an AMRAP workout today and manage to complete four rounds of exercises in a 10-minute time frame, you can try the same workout a month from now and try to accumulate five rounds of exercises in the same time frame. If you reach your goal, you know your fitness level has improved.
Since they involve plenty of repetitions, AMRAPS should not include any complicated exercises (e.g. weightlifting movements like the clean and jerk or snatch) you haven’t already mastered. This type of training is supposed to make you breathless – you’ll end up doing lots of repetitions and working towards fatigue. Allow recovery time in between; AMRAPs should be done 2 to 3 times per week and form part of a wider workout schedule that includes focused strength work and active recovery like walking or easy cycling.
Are you ready to start your workout? This advanced full-body chair workout is just want you need to start or finish your day and get those endorphins flowing!