What are the benefits of AMRAP workouts? – Cleveland Clinic
Sometimes exercise can feel like a chore. It’s easy to fall into a rut, run the same route every time, or push the game on the same online workouts. It’s hard to find the time to come up with a new workout plan or commit to trying a new class.
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But when your body gets used to doing the same workout all the time, your progress usually stops. AMRAP can be a great tool to improve your workouts without necessarily taking up extra time.
AMRAP stands for “as many repetitions (or rounds) as possible”, performed in a set amount of time. By working against the clock, you naturally push yourself and increase your intensity.
“An AMRAP workout shows you what you can do and gets you out of your comfort zone,” says a sports doctor Matthew Kampert, DO. “And there are benefits to doing it appropriately and intermittently.”
Sprinkle them into your weekly fitness routine to shake things up. Your muscles and your mind will thank you. Dr. Kampert explains what AMRAP workouts look like and how you benefit from them.
What is AMRAP training?
AMRAP workouts are high-intensity timed workouts, much like high intensity interval training (HIIT). The difference is that there are no fixed breaks like in HIIT. In AMRAP, you work all the time and only rest when you really need – to reset your form or if you are too out of breath.
The three main components of your AMRAP training are:
- Time (duration of training). “When you’re doing this high-intensity workout, duration isn’t the goal,” Dr. Kampert notes. “AMRAP workouts tend to be shorter, ranging from five to 20 minutes.”
- Rounds or reps. “Rounds” means doing as many rounds of a circuit of different exercises as possible in a given amount of time. One turn could feel like five burpeesten leg lifts, 15 push-ups and 10 squats. The “reps” approach involves doing as many repetitions of an exercise as possible within a set amount of time – usually 20 seconds to two minutes. You do a circuit of different exercises, each done for that amount of time. This approach is often used in CrossFit™ workouts.
- Types of exercises. Depending on your goals and interests, the exercises in your AMRAP workout can be cardio, strength training, power moves or a shuffle. Or it can be focused on a certain area of your body, like your lower body or your core.
“I consider AMRAP to be a great tool to have in your toolbox,” says Dr. Kampert. “And you can use this tool in different ways.”
Advantages of AMRAP workouts
Adding AMRAP workouts to your fitness routine provides physical and mental health benefits.
Accommodates all fitness levels and goals
AMRAP is a workout formula that anyone can use, regardless of your current fitness level. And you can customize it to meet any type of fitness goal. It can also be done using just your body weight or whatever equipment you have.
Do you want to improve your cardio or have more endurance? Choose exercises that get your heart pumping, like jumping jacks, high knees, or running in place.
Whatever your goal, you can work at your own pace as you progress.
And if you’re new to AMRAP, start slow and focus on the Correct form for each exercise.
“Try to stick to basic movements that you’re comfortable with,” says Dr. Kampert. “Do all the moves on their own before you start timing them or using them in circuits.”
If you can’t maintain form throughout the workout, it may be a sign that you need to slow down or rest. If you are unsure of the correct form, a personal trainer or fitness professional can help you get started.
Provides an effective workout
Some days it’s not easy to fit a workout into your schedule. A major benefit of AMRAP is that you can get a full body workout in 15-20 minutes.
“To work your whole body, you’ll alternate between upper and lower body exercises,” says Dr. Kampert. “Total body workouts can be longer because you’re working all of your major muscle groups.”
If you only focus on one area of your body, you can expect your workout to be shorter (five to 10 minutes).
Improves both strength and cardio
Many of the most popular exercises in AMRAP workouts are functional exercises. This means they mimic the movements you perform in everyday life, such as bending, turning, pushing and pulling. Push-ups, squats, rows, and lunges are some examples of these types of exercises.
Functional exercises are great multitaskers because they use muscles all over your body. When you do them at high intensity for an extended period of time, you’re also working your heart muscle. This means you get the benefits of both cardiovascular exercise and strength training at the same time.
“If you’re someone whose exercise has always been strictly cardiovascular (like running, walking, or cycling), AMRAP gives you another dimension of training,” says Dr. Kampert.
High intensity helps build strength. The high number of repetitions builds muscular endurance. Put them together and over time your muscles won’t tire so quickly.
Supports your mental health
Exercise is widely recommended to combat mental health issues. It can improve self-esteem, distract and produce endorphins (hormones that reduce stress and improve mood).
But some research now shows that the higher the intensity, the better it is for your mental health.
A recent study found that HIIT and moderate-intensity interval training were beneficial in reducing anxiety, stress, and depression. But HIIT had a more significant impact on depression. More research is needed to fully understand the mental health benefits of higher intensity exercise.
Dr. Kampert believes the competitive nature of AMRAP also plays a role in improving mental health.
“I think there’s a big mental benefit to adopting an athletic mindset,” Dr. Kampert says.
Competition, even with yourself, can motivate you to pursue an exercise plan, which generally improves mental health.
Provides an objective way to measure progress
It’s easier to stick to an exercise routine when you can see results. When you have been doing the same AMRAP workout for a while, you may notice that you can complete more reps or rounds. You can also see how it starts to feel easier. These changes indicate progress and can boost your motivation.
“The concept of AMRAP provides additional motivation,” notes Dr. Kampert. “It encourages you to break your personal best instead of just completing a certain number of sets or rounds.”
Offers sport-specific training
For athletes who specialize in certain sports, such as martial arts, AMRAP can be designed to provide sport-specific cross-training.
“If you think of sports like wrestling or jujitsu, you don’t know what to expect,” says Dr. Kampert. “And you don’t know how long you’ll have to do it all.”
AMRAP can mimic the stresses your body may face during athletic competitions and improve your strength and endurance.
Are AMRAP workouts safe?
Intense exercise done correctly and safely definitely has benefits. But it also has downsides, warns Dr. Kampert.
Common concerns associated with AMRAP workouts include:
- Injury caused by fatigue: It’s common to go through fatigue during AMRAP, which can compromise your form and put you at risk of injury. Listen to your body and be aware of your form. Stop if you are in pain.
- Metabolic stress: When overworked muscles are stressed, protein can break down and, in rare cases, damage your kidneys.
- Muscle pain: Training at an intensity beyond your fitness level can leave you sore and unable to return to exercise for days. To avoid a painful recovery, warm up before exercising. Remember to start small with short intervals and simple exercises that you can do with confidence. Follow a post-workout recovery plan which includes stretching and drinking plenty of water.
“AMRAP shouldn’t be your daily workout because it puts a lot of stress on your body,” says Dr. Kampert. “But you get what you pay for, and it’s good to challenge yourself periodically.”
Before start any new fitness program, be sure to consult your health care provider. They can help determine if it’s right for you. If you’re new to working out or just getting back into exercising, consider working with a personal trainer or fitness professional. They can recommend exercises for your fitness level and help you get started in good shape.