I consider myself well-versed in fitness lingo and have tried more workout classes than I can count — everything from standard bootcamp cardio classes and traditional Pilates to acrobatic aerial yoga and trendy aqua cycling.
But the first time I heard "AMRAP," I had no idea what my virtual fitness instructor was talking about — like, zero clue. Seconds after I finished this mysterious (and incredibly challenging) AMRAP circuit, I knew my muscles would never forget.
For those unfamiliar with the term (like I was), it means As Many Rounds as Possible, or As Many Reps as Possible. "AMRAP workouts are versatile, easy to modify, and keep things interesting for those looking to shake up their routine cardio workout," Matt Kite, CSCS, the director of education at D1 Training, says. "The circuits are also great for building muscular endurance, improving cardiovascular health, and tracking progress."
AMRAP workouts are always attached to a number — you complete as many rounds or reps as possible within a certain amount of time. "For example, an AMRAP12 of 10 burpees, eight deadlifts and 12 push-ups, means you have 12 minutes to perform as many rounds of those three exercises as possible. AMRAP workouts can be as short as three minutes and as long as 60," Kite says.
AMRAPs lend themselves well to customization — the exercises you choose to fill your AMRAP workout with can directly relate to your overall workout goal, though one AMRAP circuit should include at least two exercises to toggle between.
"If you're looking to work out a specific group of muscles – like abs or arms – choose exercises that target those. If cranking up the intensity for a cardio workout is your goal, choose dynamic exercises that incorporate multiple muscle groups to get the heart racing faster, like burpees, squat-jumps, or lunges with a bicep curl," Kite says.
After my very first AMRAP workout, my fatigued muscles filled me in fast — this type of circuit is very demanding. Because you're focusing on completing as many rounds of the exercises as possible (with good form, of course!), you're not getting a ton of rest.
So, when it comes to AMRAP workouts, listening to your body (taking breaks as needed!) and avoiding mistakes that lead to injuries are of the utmost importance. If you're new to AMRAP, Kite suggests starting off with a 5- to 10-minute circuit of bodyweight exercises, adding in weights or upping the time limit as you feel comfortable.
Try giving it a go for yourself with this AMRAP arm workout, curated by Kite. In six minutes, I completed nearly four rounds, but I was feeling the burn within 60 seconds.
AMRAP6 – ARM ISOLATION
Repeat this circuit as many times as you can, maintaining form, for six minutes.
10 x Hammer Bicep Curl (3-6 lbs.)
- Pick up dumbbells with arms dropped to your sides.
- Flex and curl the weight, isolating your bicep muscle.
- Resist the urge to use momentum (swinging).
10 x Shoulder Press (5-6 kgs.)
- With a dumbbell in each hand, raise arms all the way up above your head.
- Now, drop arms to be bent at 90-degrees at the elbow.
- Flex to extend above the head again, focusing on shoulder muscles.
12 x Overhead Tricep Extension (6 kgs.)
- Pick up one dumbbell, raise it over and behind your head, holding only one end of the weight. Bend at the elbows and drop it down.
- Flex triceps and straighten arms.
- Keep elbows close to ears.
12 x Plank Shoulder Taps
- Start in a plank position, which looks like you're at the top of a push-up.
- Shift your weight to your right hand, lift your left hand to reach over and tap the right shoulder. Return to plank position.
- Shift weight to left hand, raise the right hand off the ground to tap the left shoulder.
- Return to plank position and repeat.