If you’re growing tired of guided home workouts via Zoom and are in search of an expert-approved strategy for improving your fitness quickly, then look no further than AMRAP. It’s a technique that has been around for aeons in fitness circles, but thanks to lockdown has caught the attention of those less well-versed in all things exercise-related. AMRAP is an acronym for “As Many Reps As Possible”.
What is AMRAP?
“The goal of AMRAP workouts is to complete a list of moves as many times as you can in a set amount of time,” explains personal trainer Hannah Lewin. Whether squat jumps, lunges or push ups, they tend to comprise bodyweight exercises (as a starting point, but you can start to incorporate weights later down the line), but it is not the same as HIIT. “They are structured differently to HIIT, which has very strict work and rest periods,” Lewin explains. “AMRAP workouts create metabolic overload, pushing the body’s limits in terms of how it uses available energy.”
What does a typical AMRAP workout look like?
The good thing about AMRAP is that you can choose the exercises you do based on what you enjoy doing, or weaknesses and injuries you may have. But a good example of an AMRAP workout might be to do 20 squats, 10 burpees, 10 push ups, 10 V-ups and 10 squat jumps in 12 minutes – completing as many rounds as you can in the allotted time. It might sound short, but trust us, it’s intense, and many experts create a longer workout by putting three different sets of AMRAP sequences (12 minutes each, for example) together.
If you do opt for a single 12-minute sequence, you’ve got to go hard. “For the shorter style, where it is likely fatigue levels are higher than with a longer main workout, the aim is to work for more intense, shorter periods in the max heart rate zone, to really develop fitness quickly.”
As well as reducing or increasing the amount of time you’re working against, you can also modify the exercise themselves (by adding or removing weights), or add plyometric elements. “Personally, I believe that less technical or complex moves work best for this kind of exercise, as it gives you the best chance to incorporate a high amount of reps,” explains Lewin. “Compound exercises that work multiple muscle groups at the same time but can be easily adapted as your fitness improves are ideal.” That could be making the jump from squats to squat jumps, kneeling push ups to full push ups, and step backs to full burpees.
How can incorporating the AMRAP technique benefit your exercise regime?
Well, first thing’s first, it never hurts to add a little challenge into your exercise regime. Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned pro, doing AMRAP is all relative to your own ability – the challenge lies in how many you can do as you improve, so try and count how many rounds you manage to do in the time period. Lewin agrees: “It offers an immediate goal to reach and a sense of achievement which can be so helpful in boosting people’s confidence, which in turn keeps people motivated. I also think AMRAP is a brilliant tool for showing everyone that they are nearly always stronger and more powerful than they think – they can always go further than they think they can!”
Can AMRAP work for beginners?
Although higher in intensity than some other methods of exercise, Lewin believes that incorporating AMRAP into a beginner’s exercise routine can pay dividends. “If we consider working fundamental exercises, like squats and push ups, into AMRAP sequences, we can revisit every few weeks to see a brilliant, tangible marker of progress,” she says. “I find with clients that non-aesthetic achievements are always the most powerful motivator, and it’s far less reductive than using something like weight loss as a mark of progress.”
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