In the race to build strength, agility, and an overall ripped physique, there is a tendency to focus on strength training at the expense of cardiovascular activity. Sure, dropping a sweet pump in the gym feels much better than spending an hour on the boring treadmill. However, study after study has proven that a lack of cardiovascular conditioning is one of the leading causes of preventable deaths (6) (9). The good news is that you don’t have to sacrifice your gains to get your heart rate up. In fact, by incorporating AMRAP workouts into your routine, you can take your fitness game to the next level.
What Is An AMRAP Workout?
AMRAP stands for “as many rounds as possible”. Essentially, the goal of an AMRAP workout is to complete as many cycles of a given exercise circuit as you can within a set period (8).
For example, you might have 15 minutes to complete as many rounds of the following circuit as possible:
- 5 pull-ups
- 10 push-ups
- 15 squats
The key to successfully completing an AMRAP workout is to maintain a consistent pace throughout the workout. This means that you shouldn’t go all out in the beginning and then peter out towards the end.
Instead, you’ll want to find a sustainable pace that you can maintain for the entire duration of the workout.
Why Are AMRAP Workouts So Effective?
There are a few reasons why AMRAP workouts are so effective at building both strength and cardiovascular endurance.
Boosting Metabolic Rate And EPOC
First, AMRAP workouts are great for boosting your metabolic rate and EPOC (excess post-exercise oxygen consumption). EPOC is the “afterburn” effect that you experience after a particularly intense workout (4).
Essentially, your body needs to work overtime to restore itself to its pre-workout state. This process requires a lot of energy, which means that you’ll continue to burn calories long after your workout is over.
Research has shown that HIIT (high-intensity interval training) workouts, like AMRAP workouts, can increase your metabolic rate for up to 48 hours after the workout is over (5)!
If you’re looking to lose weight, AMRAP workouts are a great way to torch calories both during and after your workout.
Improving Workout Efficiency
Another reason why AMRAP workouts are so effective is that they force you to be efficient with your movements.
When you’re trying to complete as many rounds as possible in a set period, you simply can’t afford to waste any time. This means that you have to be very efficient with your movements, which will transfer over to other aspects of your life as well.
For example, let’s say that you’re trying to complete a circuit of 10 pull-ups, 15 push-ups, and 20 squats in as little time as possible. To do this, you’ll need to be very efficient with your movements. You can’t waste any time between exercises or else you won’t be able to complete the entire circuit.
In the long run, this improved efficiency will help you to get through your workouts more quickly and effectively (1). This is especially beneficial if you’re short on time but still want to get a great workout in.
Muscular endurance is the ability of your muscles to sustain repeated contractions over an extended period (7). When you’re doing an AMRAP workout, you’re essentially asking your muscles to do just that.
In addition, by using your body weight as resistance, you’ll also be able to strengthen your muscles without having to lift heavy weights. This is great news for those who are looking to avoid injuries or those who don’t have access to a lot of equipment.
Increasing Cardiovascular Fitness
AMRAP workouts are also great for increasing your cardiovascular fitness (3).
When you’re working at a high intensity, your heart rate will increase and you’ll start to breathe more heavily. This means that your cardiovascular system is working hard to deliver oxygen-rich blood to your muscles (11).
Over time, this will help to increase the efficiency of your cardiovascular system. This is beneficial for both your overall health and your athletic performance.
Increasing Speed And Power
Speed and power are two important components of many sports. And, as it turns out, AMRAP workouts can help to increase both speed and power (12). By doing explosive movements, like jump squats or burpees, you’ll help to increase your speed and power.
In addition, the fact that you’re trying to complete as many rounds as possible in a set period will also help to increase your speed. As you get more comfortable with the workout, you’ll naturally start to move more quickly in order to complete more rounds.
Adding Variety To Your Workouts
AMRAP workouts are a great way to add variety to your workout routine.
If you’re someone who gets bored easily, then an AMRAP workout can help keep you motivated. This is because you can change up the exercises, reps, and sets each time you do an AMRAP workout. This means that you’ll never get bored and you’ll always be challenged.
In addition, these workouts are highly versatile and can be customized to fit your specific goals. For example, if you’re looking to build more muscle, you can focus on exercises that target your major muscle groups.
On the other hand, if you’re trying to improve your cardiovascular endurance, you can choose exercises that get your heart rate up and keep it there for the duration of the workout.
Breaking Through Plateaus
AMRAP workouts are a great way to break out of a fitness plateau. If you feel like you’ve been stuck in a rut, doing the same old workouts day after day, then an AMRAP workout can give you the change of pace that you need to jumpstart your results.
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How To Incorporate AMRAP Crossfit Workouts Into Your Routine
If you’re interested in switching up your workout and are wondering what are good exercises for AMRAP, below is a comprehensive list:
Dumbbell AMRAP Workouts
Dumbbells are a great way to add resistance to your AMRAP workouts. By using dumbbells, you can target specific muscle groups and get a great strength-training workout.
A specific advantage of dumbbell workouts is that they allow you to train unilaterally. This means that you can focus on one side of your body at a time, which can help to correct any imbalances that you may have. These exercises also demand extra core engagement which helps to improve your stability and posture.
Alternating between upper and lower body exercises in this dumbbell AMRAP workout gives your muscles a chance to recover while you’re working the other muscle group. This makes for a more well-rounded, effective workout.
Perform as many reps as possible within 30 minutes:
- Dumbbell press: 1×12 on each arm
- Dumbbell Romanian deadlift: 1×10
- Renegade row: 1×10 on each arm
- Dumbbell floor press: 1×10
- Walking lunge: 1×15 on each leg
Barbell AMRAP Workouts
The barbell is the handiest equipment in a Crossfit gym. It can be used for a vast array of exercises that work your entire body.
The beauty of the barbell is that you can load it up with as much weight as you can handle, which makes it perfect for building strength and muscle.
And, since barbells are so adaptabe, you can use them for a wide variety of exercises, making your workout more interesting and effective.
Note that for barbell AMRAP workouts, you’re not looking to lift until failure (i.e. the point at which you can’t perform another rep with good form. Instead, you want to choose a weight that will challenge you but that you can still complete all the reps with proper form.
Perform as many reps as possible within 30 minutes:
- Barbell back squat: 1×12
- Barbell overhead press: 1×10
- Barbell bent over row: 1×10
- Barbell Romanian deadlift: 1×10
- Barbell thruster: 1×10
Bodyweight AMRAP Workout
You don’t need any fancy equipment to do an AMRAP workout. Bodyweight exercises are some of the most effective exercises that you can do. They require no equipment and can be done anywhere, making them perfect for busy people on the go.
Bodyweight exercises are also great for beginners who are just getting started with their fitness journey. These exercises are relatively simple to learn and can be modified to suit your fitness level.
As you get stronger, you can make the exercises more challenging by adding additional reps, sets, or even weights.
Here is a basic bodyweight AMRAP workout that you can do at home or in the gym:
- Burpee: 1×10
- Push-up: 1×10
- Squat jump: 1×10
- Mountain climber: 1×20
- Bear crawl: 1×20 strides
Tips For An Effective AMRAP Workout
1. Set A Goal
Before you start your AMRAP workout, take a few minutes to think about what you want to accomplish. Do you want to build muscle? Burn fat? Improve your cardiovascular endurance? Once you have a goal in mind, you can tailor your workout accordingly.
2. Choose The Right Exercises
As we’ve seen, there are a variety of exercises that you can do for an AMRAP workout. It’s important to choose exercises that will help you achieve your goals.
For example, if you want to build muscle, you’ll want to focus on compound exercises that work multiple muscle groups at the same time. These exercises are more effective for muscle building than isolation exercises that only work one muscle group.
3. Use The Right Weight
If you’re using weights, it’s important to choose a weight that is challenging but not too heavy. Remember, the goal is to complete as many reps as possible, so you want to be able to maintain good form throughout the entire workout (13).
4. Pace Yourself
Starting too fast is a common mistake people make when doing an AMRAP workout. Remember, you want to be able to maintain your intensity throughout the entire workout, so it’s important to pace yourself in the beginning.
5. Control Your Breathing
The intense nature of an AMRAP workout can make it easy to get out of breath. This is why it’s important to control your breathing throughout the workout. Taking deep breaths will help you stay calm and maintain your intensity.
6. Focus On Form
It’s easy to get sloppy as you start to fatigue during an AMRAP workout. But, you need to maintain good form throughout the entire workout. Not only will this help you avoid injuries, but it will also ensure that you’re getting the most out of your workout.
If you must lower the weight, or reduce the intensity of the exercises, do so while maintaining good form.
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7. Prioritize Easy Transitions
One of the main goals of an AMRAP workout is to peak your heart rate and keep it elevated for as long as possible. To do this, you need to minimize the amount of time spent switching between exercises.
To make transitions between exercises smoother, lay out all the equipment you need before you start the workout. This way, you can quickly grab what you need and get started with the next exercise.
Ensure that some exercises are relatively less intense than others so that you’re able to catch your breath while still keeping your heart rate up.
8. Take Rest Breaks As Needed
If you start to feel fatigued or lightheaded, take a break. It’s important to listen to your body and take rest breaks as needed. Otherwise, you could risk injury (10). Adjust the length and frequency of your rest breaks as needed.
9. Keep Track Of Your Progress
One of the great things about AMRAP workouts is that they provide a way to track your progress. Each time you do an AMRAP workout, try to beat your previous score. This will not only motivate you to keep pushing yourself, but it will also help you see just how much you’ve improved over time.
The Bottom Line
AMRAP workouts are beneficial for anyone looking to improve their fitness level. These workouts are intense and can be adjusted to fit any goal. By following the tips above, you can make sure that you get the most out of your AMRAP workout.
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- Analysis of Pacing Strategies in AMRAP, EMOM, and FOR TIME Training Models during “Cross” Modalities (2021, mdpi.com)
- Changes in body composition, bone metabolism, strength, and skill-specific performance resulting from 16-weeks of HIFT (2018, ournals.plos.org)
- CrossFit Overview: Systematic Review and Meta-analysis (2018, sportsmedicine-open.springeropen.com)
- Exploring Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption (EPOC) (n.d., blog.nasm.org)
- High-intensity interval training for health benefits and care of cardiac diseases – The key to an efficient exercise protocol (2019, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Physical activity, exercise, and chronic diseases: A brief review – ScienceDirect (2019, sciencedirect.com)
- Physical Fitness and Its Components (n.d., physio-pedia.com)
- Physiological Responses at 15 Minutes of Recovery after a Session of Functional Fitness Training in Well-Trained Athletes (2022, mdpi.com)
- Prevention of cardiovascular diseases: Role of exercise, dietary interventions, obesity and smoking cessation (2017, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Recovery from exercise: vulnerable state, window of opportunity, or crystal ball? (2015, frontiersin.org)
- Regulation of Increased Blood Flow (Hyperemia) to Muscles During Exercise: A Hierarchy of Competing Physiological Needs (2015, journals.physiology.org)
- The relationship of aerobic capacity, anaerobic peak power and experience to performance in CrossFit exercise (2015, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Weight Lifting Tempo & Sets: How to Select the Right Sets for Your Clients (2014, acefitness.org)