Standing for “As many reps as possible,” AMRAP training has the honor of being both heavily specialized and extremely flexible. If this sounds paradoxical, don’t worry; that only means that you are paying attention!
At its core, AMRAP is a kind of HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training), but can be so much more than fat-shedding and endurance-boosting cardio. The nature of the approach is simple, and can in fact be rather easily summarized:
Take a single exercise or create a circuit, and do every set until failure.
Now, while the results of AMRAP training cannot be denied, these training sessions are about as taxing as a workout can be. If you plan on tackling this behemoth, you should do so expecting a rough ride. That being said, if you’re still interested—keep reading!
Benefits of AMRAP Training
Given that we will be constantly pushing ourselves to the limits of our ability, these workouts have plenty to offer. An AMRAP training session will:
- Improve cardiovascular AND muscular endurance. Want to get stronger and get the benefits of cardio? AMRAP lets you do both, at the same time. This means that two of your major bases are covered by one type of training.
- Burn fat extremely fast. Being a kind of HIIT, this is a given. As far as fat loss goes, this is by far the most effective method, period.
- Save a lot of your time. These workout sessions are quick, short, and to the point. Add the fact that you are covering several bases simultaneously, and the bang for your temporal buck becomes insane.
- Help you get stronger mentally. In case it needs to be repeated: AMRAP is taxing. While the session lasts, your brain will be screaming at you to stop. As you advance however, that voice will eventually became a whisper, and you will find it easier to face other challenges head-on.
Structuring an AMRAP Workout
For a hard workout, it sure it easy to compose. All you will need to do is:
Step 1: Pick your exercise/exercises (for instance, squats. Or squats and push-ups. Or more). If you’re doing two or more exercises, determine the order in which you will do them. This will be your circuit.
Step 2: Determine the amount of time you will spend on the AMRAP session. A timer device (such as a stopwatch) would help immensely.
Step 3: Start your session. Your goal will be to do as many reps—or effectively rounds as you can. Favor speed, but don’t sacrifice form.
Step 4: If possible, try to go without rest for the duration of the workout. If you absolutely need to however, take 30 seconds to one minute, then continue.
Components of an AMRAP Workout
As always, warming up is essential. Now, while we normally tend to recommend lighter warm-up sessions, AMRAP should be taken more seriously. What this means is that you should prepare your whole body. For that reason we recommend a two-to-five minute circuit made up of:
- Jumping Jacks: 12 to 20
- Arm circles: 10 small ones forward, 10 small ones back, 5 big ones forward, 5 big ones back
- Bodyweight Squats: 8 to 12
- Push-ups: 8 to 12
Rotate these until you feel properly relaxed and mobile. Once that is done with, the real workout can begin. Truth be told, you can cobble it together from any existing move or moves, such as:
- Jumping Jacks
- Bodyweight Squats
- Pretty much anything else you can think of
Different Goals—Different AMRAP Approaches
As we’ve already said, the flexibility and sheer effectiveness of this approach is unrivaled. With perseverance and experimentation, only the sky is the limit to what you can accomplish. If you’re like me however, and prefer results over tinkering, here are two specific approaches you can take depending on what you want to accomplish!
For Building Muscle
As we’ve gone over in our articles on bicep and triceps workouts, the most important factor for muscle gain is Time Under Tension (often abbreviated as TUT). Maximize your TUT, and you maximize your gains. This means chasing that delicate spot between an exercise being manageable enough for you to make 8-12 reps (the optimal number), and being challenging enough to cause tension in the first place. For reference, if you can do over 70 reps of an exercise as part of an AMRAP workout, it is probably time to move on to something more challenging.
And this only gets more difficult as the workout period continues! So let’s say you’ve picked two exercises of reasonable difficulty; one for the upper body, and the other for your legs. Your strength-building AMRAP circuit would then look something like this:
- 5 minutes of warm-up
- 15 minutes of upper body exercise
- One minute of rest
- 15 minutes of leg exercise
Oh yeah, this is one application of AMRAP that assumes that you will be taking one or several breaks during the 15 minutes of activity. If you don’t need it, chances are you should move to a harder move!
For Conditioning/Cardiovascular Health
Want to be able to just keep going? If the answer is yes, then conditioning AMRAP training is for you! Sure, conditioning tends to get overlooked these days, but there’s no denying the feel-good factor of going through the day with precisely zero fatigue! Long walks? A breeze! 100 consecutive push-ups? No prob! The human body is an organic machine, and good conditioning fully accentuates the “machine” part!
To make an AMRAP conditioning circuit, take an exercise you’ve milked dry, and go crazy with it! Aim for fast reps, proper form, for either 4 minutes (if you use several different exercises) or 10 (for a single-exercise circuit. For instance:
- 5 minutes of warm-up
- Push-ups: 4 minutes
- One minute rest
- Bodyweight Squats: 4 minutes
- One minute rest
- Burpees: 4 minutes
Too difficult to start with? Do only push-up and squats, and add burpees when you are ready.
Single-exercise conditioning AMRAP:
- 5 minutes of warm-up
- Selected exercise: 10 minutes (try to make as few breaks as possible)
And there you have it. This toolset has infinite uses. How you choose to apply it, is as always up to you!
Chris is an experienced Calisthenics practitioner focused on isometric exercises and street workout. He founded thehybridathlete.com in 2017, which was subsequently acquired by theyhybridathlete.com
He is based in Portland and has been working out using solely his own body weight and bars for the past 6 years.