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This Training Method Can Help You Build Strength and Boost Your Endurance—Here's How to Do It

A Peloton instructor explains why the AMRAP can be a powerful addition to your fitness routine.

By Sara LindbergOctober 26, 2023

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The fitness world is a buzz of acronyms. From HIIT and LISS to EMOM and AMRAP, it might seem like you need a PhD in translation just to figure out how to work out. Fortunately, most of these abbreviations are easy to understand once you know how to decipher the code. 

AMRAP workouts, aka “as many rounds as possible” or “as many reps as possible,” is a structured workout methodology designed to have you complete as many rounds or repetitions of a specific set of exercises within a fixed time frame with the goal of maximizing the intensity and efficiency of a workout.

These workouts are known for their high-intensity nature, making them a top choice among athletes, advanced fitness fanatics, and regular gym-goers. That said, beginners or people with lower fitness levels can still enjoy the benefits of AMRAP by modifying the intensity, reducing the time, or adapting the exercises to fit their current abilities. 

We chatted with Peloton instructor Katie Wang about everything you need to know about the benefits of AMRAP workouts, how to use AMRAP as a training tool, and actionable steps to incorporate them into your routine. 

What Does AMRAP Mean?

Essentially, there are two ways to use the “r” in AMRAP workouts: reps or rounds. If you’re doing reps, you’ll cycle through the exercises and do the prescribed amount of reps as many times as you can in the specified time frame. Intervals for reps typically range from 30 seconds to several minutes. Push-ups are an excellent AMRAP exercise for reps. Set the timer for 60 seconds and see how many you can do before the buzzer goes off. 

But if the “r” in your routine calls for rounds, then you’ll be performing a short series of exercises, each with a set number of reps, for a specified time, such as a 15-minute express workout. This type of AMRAP workout will have a list of exercises and reps, and you will cycle through the moves as many times as you can before the clock hits 15 minutes. For example, complete an AMRAP of 10 squats, 10 push-ups, 15 high knees, and 5 burpees in 15 minutes. Typically, you won’t rest until the clock runs out. Once you finish, record the number of rounds and set a goal for next time. 

The goal of AMRAP training is to maximize your time by increasing the intensity of the workout. Rather than doing a set of bench presses and then checking Instagram for two minutes, you cycle through the moves with speed and focus, but also paying attention to form. The key is moving as fast as possible but staying focused on form. “AMRAPs are a great way to push yourself to hit high volume reps in a shortened amount of time,” says Katie.

AMRAP workouts can be either strength or cardio-focused. For example, a strength training AMRAP workout might involve doing as many push-ups as possible in 1 minute, while a cardio AMRAP workout might involve doing as many burpees as possible in 2 minutes.

Plus, AMRAP workouts allow you to create routines to match your style, skill set, goals, and even exercise space. You can perform moves with added resistance, like dumbbells and kettlebells, or use your body weight. You can also choose to focus on cardio intervals, strength, or mobility. What’s more, you can set the workout duration, such as 10, 15, or 20 minutes, and the specific exercise time to match your needs. 

Physical and Mental Benefits of AMRAP Workouts

Pushing yourself to complete as many rounds of a set of exercises as possible within a given time frame can help increase your cardiovascular endurance, build strength and muscle, and improve your overall fitness. Additionally, the mental focus required to complete an AMRAP workout can help improve your concentration, boost your mood, and reduce stress levels. 

Increased Strength and Muscular Endurance

Many AMRAP workouts incorporate strength-based exercises that target various muscle groups. The consistent effort required to complete rounds or repetitions can lead to increased muscular strength and endurance. Plus, because AMRAP workouts are measurable, they’re also a great tool for monitoring strength and endurance gains over time.  

Better Cardiovascular Fitness

AMRAP workouts often involve high-intensity exercises that allow you to work harder instead of longer. This can lead to improved cardiovascular fitness over time, including improvements in blood pressure levels, according to Harvard Health Publications

Higher Calorie Burn

The high-intensity nature of AMRAP workouts can lead to a significant calorie burn, making them effective for weight management goals, according to the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM). 

Easily Adaptable to Various Fitness Levels

AMRAP can be adapted to various exercises and fitness levels, making it versatile and accessible. Plus, the flexibility of these routines allows you to create workouts that are low or high-impact, giving you the freedom to choose moves that are easier on the joints. 

Relieves Stress and Boosts Mood

Most of us can attest to the stress busting and mood boosting benefits of exercise. That’s why so many people choose to work out after a tough day or in the morning to get started on the right foot. And while some of this evidence is anecdotal, the science behind why exercise helps emotional and mental health is pretty compelling. In fact, the American Psychological Association says it’s common to experience lower levels of stress hormones like cortisol after physical activity. They also point to research that suggests regular activity leads to lower rates of anxiety and depression. 

Mental Strength and Accomplishment 

Regardless of your fitness level, these workouts are tough. Mixing in a few AMRAP routines into your week not only increases physical strength but also mental strength. The challenge of completing an AMRAP workout can teach you to push yourself. It also provides a sense of accomplishment, especially if you surpass your previous record. 

How to Get Started with AMRAP Workouts

Not sure how to get started with AMRAP? No problem. Here, you can find tips and guidance on how to begin incorporating AMRAP workouts into your exercise routine. 

Go Slow

All fitness levels—beginners to advanced—can benefit from easing into AMRAP workouts. This allows your body to adapt gradually without overwhelming your routine. If you have an existing routine, swap out one or two of your current sessions for AMRAP workouts. And if you’re new to exercise, schedule one of your days to be an AMRAP full-body workout, with the focus on rounds. It’s also a good idea to start with a few rounds and gradually increase the number of rounds as you get fitter. If you’re focusing on reps, consider using AMRAP as a supplement to other training methods. It can be a great way to finish off a strength training session. 

Set Goals and Track Your Progress

You’ll also want to set specific goals for your AMRAP workouts. Whether it's completing a certain number of rounds or reaching a specific rep count, having goals keeps you focused and motivated. Katie says AMRAPs are a great opportunity for a little friendly competition with yourself. Her advice? Bookmark a class with an AMRAP and see if you can meet or beat your number of rounds each month. And don’t forget to track your progress over time. Note the number of rounds or reps you complete and aim to improve with each session. Celebrate your achievements and use them as motivation.

Mix Up the Time Intervals

You can also experiment with different time intervals. While 10-20 minutes is common, you can adjust the duration based on your goals and available time. Shorter AMRAP sessions with higher intensity can be effective for quick, intense workouts.

Make AMRAPs Work for You

Most importantly, says Katie, don't be intimidated by AMRAPs. “They can be for anybody at any level because ultimately you can customize your pace and rep count,” she explains. For example, if the instructed rep count feels too high, Katie recommends picking a lower number that works for you. And don’t worry about the numbers, especially when getting started. Because even if you only finish one round in the allotted time, that’s still awesome, and it gives you something to work towards the next time you attempt it, says Katie.

Listen to Your Body

While it’s not uncommon to feel wiped out at the end of an AMRAP session, make sure to pay close attention to how your body responds to these intense workouts. If you feel fatigued or overly sore, consider adding an extra day of rest or active recovery like yoga or light walking. 

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The Best Exercises for AMRAP Workouts

The best exercises for AMRAP workouts are ones you enjoy and feel comfortable performing but also get the job done. Compound exercises work great for AMRAP workouts because they work multiple muscle groups at the same time, making them more efficient and effective for burning calories and building muscle. 

When creating an AMRAP workout, you’ll want to first consider your fitness level and any physical limitations. Starting with bodyweight exercises is a simple and safe way to try AMRAP workouts to see how your body adapts. The next step is to identify your goals. Do you want to use AMRAP to mix things up? Are you looking to boost muscular endurance? Or, do you simply need a time-efficient way to squeeze a workout into your day?  

While most exercises are doable with AMRAP workouts, some are easier to include in a routine, such as the ones listed below. You can mix and match exercises from these categories to create a well-rounded and challenging AMRAP routine. 

Bodyweight Exercises 

  • Burpees

  • Squat jumps

  • Push-ups

  • Lunges

  • Planks (side, traditional)

  • Superman 

  • Mountain climbers

  • Pull-ups

Resistance-Based Exercises

  • Kettlebell swings

  • Medicine ball slams

  • Battle rope waves

  • Thrusters

  • Renegade rows

  • Goblet squats

Cardio-Based Exercises

  • High knees

  • Jumping jacks 

  • Jump rope

  • Speed skaters

  • Plank jacks 

When it comes to a specific routine, Katie has two methods she likes for incorporating AMRAP. “I either like to do drop set AMRAPS with a focused muscle group, for example heavy chest press, medium chest fly, followed by bodyweight pushups, or I love a good compound movement AMRAP, such as lunge to curls/deadlift to bent over row/squat to presses to really get the full body burn.” Katie also loves using AMRAPS in her Row Bootcamp classes in particular when she’s looking for an efficient workout. 

Several cardio and strength classes on the Peloton App incorporate this training style into their routines. For example, the Total Strength 2 program with instructor Andy Speer features a six-minute AMRAP of single-arm presses and reverse lunges. Jess Sims is another Peloton instructor who uses AMRAP segments in her full-body strength classes. 

Potential Risks of AMRAP Training

AMRAP workouts are an excellent way to improve fitness, stave off boredom, and fit in exercise when time is tight, but they may not be the best choice for everyone. Here are some potential risks to consider before jumping into AMRAP workouts. 

Doing Too Much 

Intense AMRAP workouts can lead to significant muscle soreness, especially for beginners or people with minimal experience doing high-intensity training. But even if you’re a seasoned gym-goer, don’t be too eager with these routines. Make sure to space them out and avoid making them your daily grind. 

Incorrect Form

Another potential risk of AMRAP training? Poor form and overtraining. In the quest to complete as many rounds or reps as possible, it’s not uncommon to see people sacrifice proper form and technique, increasing the risk of injury. That’s why Katie stresses that even though you're pushing high volume in a short period of time, don't negate the importance of form. “It's better to slow your rounds down and maintain proper form than to rush through poor form,” she says.  

Choosing Unsafe Exercises

Some AMRAP exercises, especially those involving jumping and rapid movements, can place stress on the joints. People with joint issues or arthritis should select exercises carefully and modify as needed. 

If you have underlying health issues, injuries, or are new to exercise, consider consulting with a physician or another healthcare provider to help assess whether AMRAP workouts are appropriate for you.


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