Some people could (and do) spend hours in the gym and thrive on every hard-earned second. The heavy weight of the barbell, the milage racking up on the treadmill, five variations of crunches…they love it all. Others have no desire to spend the majority of their free time in the gym. They find it boring and favor a workout that’s as efficient as possible.
Whichever camp you fall in, an AMRAP workout just might be your new favorite way to get your heart racing and tone your entire body. You can make it as hard (or easy) as you want and it keeps you on your toes (literally and figuratively), so you definitely won’t be bored. Intrigued? Consider this your AMRAP workout primer, with everything you need to know.
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What Is an AMRAP Workout?
fitness instructor lauren george explains that AMRAP can stand for As Many Rounds Possible or As Many Reps Possible; both are correct. If you’ve ever done CrossFit or F45 classes, you’ll have a leg up on giving AMRAP workouts a try as they are similar in format.
fitness instructor Jen Eddins says that the way you do an AMRAP workout is exactly what it sounds like: By doing as many rounds or reps of a certain fitness move as possible in an allotted amount of time. “For example, you may have a circuit of five exercises that you repeat for as many rounds as you can for 20 minutes with minimal rest,” she says. George adds that the goal of an AMRAP workout is to minimize rest while on the clock, which increases the intensity and builds endurance.
Eddins explains that AMRAP workouts are scored by the number of rounds, plus any reps you get within the set time frame. “They’re great for tracking improvements in strength and conditioning because you can repeat the same workout and see if you’re able to get more rounds or reps,” she says. If you keep track of your AMRAP score, you can try to beat it the next time you hit the gym.
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Are AMRAP Workouts Beneficial?
Both fitness instructors definitely find AMRAP workouts beneficial. “The primary reason I love AMRAP workouts is that they allow everyone to do the same workout but at their own pace,” Eddins says. For example, she says that one person might finish five rounds in a 20-minute AMRAP while someone else finishes seven. “It doesn’t mean that one person worked harder than the other. In fact, they probably worked at the same intensity,” she says. “I usually find that the person who finished five rounds is just as tired at the end as the person who finished seven. AMRAP workouts accommodate all levels of fitness.”
If you get bored easily while working out, AMRAP workouts will hold your attention because you never stay in one exercise long. Eddins says another benefit of AMRAP workouts is that you know exactly how long your workout is going to last. “This motivates me to work hard and stay consistent,” she says.
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George says that she likes AMRAP workouts because they’re efficient. “If you are committed to pushing yourself, you can get a lot done in a short amount of time so they are perfect when your schedule is packed or you are traveling,” she says.
You aren’t short-changing yourself on the end results, either. George says that AMRAP workouts help you build muscle, improve muscular endurance, and increase your cardiovascular endurance—all in one workout. “Additionally, high-intensity workouts have been shown to be very effective at burning fat, so AMRAP workouts can be especially beneficial for those looking to lose weight,” she says.
How to Do an AMRAP Workout On Your Own
Another benefit of AMRAP workouts is that you can incorporate whatever moves into the circuit that you want. “Simply choose a few exercises, set a time frame, and get to work,” Eddins says. She recommends keeping the exercises simple and focusing on movements that you can confidently do with good technique. “When I’m putting together a full-body AMRAP workout, I like to choose one lower body exercise, one upper body exercise, a core movement, and a cardio movement,” she says. “That might look like 20 bicycle crunches, 15 squats, 10 pull ups, and 5 burpees.”
George says that you can take virtually any group of exercises and turn them into an AMRAP workout, but she likes to choose exercises that incorporate more than one muscle group at a time for maximum efficiency. Some examples of workout moves like these include burpees, kettlebell swings, and thrusters. Below, she shares a sample AMRAP workout to try:
Sample AMRAP workout:
Complete as many rounds as possible in 5 minutes.
- 5 Thrusters (squat to shoulder press)
- 5 Alternating lunges (Right lunge and left lunge together equals one rep.)
- 5 push ups
While AMRAP workouts have many benefits, Eddins doesn’t recommend doing them every day. “It’s too much volume and intensity,” she says. “They work best when they’re part of a balanced mix of focused strength training, stretching and active recovery like walking or cycling.” Also, AMRAP workouts are intense, so if you have any underlying health conditions, be sure to talk to your doctor before giving them a try.
Last, Eddins says that if your fitness goal is to increase muscle mass or strength, she recommends focusing on lifting heavier weights with longer periods of rest instead of doing AMRAP workouts.
“Anyone looking to spice up their workouts should give AMRAPs a try,” George says. “They are extremely versatile because they can be as hard or as easy as you make them. Since the goal is to fit in as many rounds or reps as you can in a certain duration of time, each individual sets their own pace which makes them very easy to customize for all fitness levels.”
Next up, check out this list of more than 125 free streaming workouts you can do at home.