Most workouts are pretty methodical: You choose (or are given) a few select exercises—say, squats, push-ups, and lunges—with a specific number of repetitions and sets. Normally, those reps and sets are directly related to your fitness goals (more reps with lighter weights can help improve endurance; fewer reps with heavier weights can increase strength).
But some workouts—like AMRAP workouts—aren't so meticulously planned, which makes them super versatile and accessible for fitness professionals and everyday exercisers alike.
AMRAP-Workout-GettyImages-1138788398-1163928823 (the notoriously difficult, high-intensity exercise program), but in the most basic of terms, AMRAP workouts involve picking an exercise (or series of exercises), and then completing as many repetitions or rounds of that pattern as you can in a set amount of time. Typically that means you rest as little as possible.
Beyond that basic structure, AMRAPs are very open-ended and scalable to different abilities. You can do AMRAPs with just your bodyweight or add weights for more of a challenge. You can focus on cardio, strength training, mobility, or a combo of the above. You can also dial the difficulty up or down depending on which exercises you select and the amount of time you perform them for. A 20-minute AMRAP of burpees, for example, is going to be a lot more challenging than a 10-minute AMRAP of bodyweight squats.
Keep in mind: "AMRAP doesn't have to be high-intensity," Yuri Feito, PhD, MPH, ACSM-CEP, education and professional development strategist at the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), tells Health. (Note: Feito is not an ACSM spokesperson.) You can, for instance, do an AMRAP of gentle stretches as warm up or cool down to your main sweat session. What your AMRAP workout looks and feels like will all depend on your fitness level and goals.
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What are the benefits of an AMRAP workout?
AMRAP workouts, as mentioned, vary widely in intensity and length, which means their benefits vary, too.
High-intensity AMRAPs—where you're elevating your heart rate and working at max or near max effort with minimal rest—qualify as interval training, which can provide a number of serious health benefits. These benefits include increased muscle mass, improved aerobic capacity, and neuromuscular improvements, says Feito.
These high-intensity AMRAPs are also super efficient. They allow "you to really get the most out of your workout in the least amount of time as possible," Erin Derrick, ACE-certified personal trainer and founder of iAm Fit in Charlotte, North Carolina, tells Health.
On the flip side, yet another benefit to AMRAPs is that the structure allows you to work at your own pace and intensity, Feito points out. This can provide a sense of autonomy and independence that may make you more likely to stick with your workout routine in both the short and long term.
All that said, AMRAPs are just one style of interval training. And while there are legitimate benefits to interval training in general, there's no evidence that says AMRAPs are the best type of interval training, Feito points out. So if you just can't find your groove with AMRAPs, that's okay. There are plenty of other styles—like Tabata and EMOM, for example—that provide similar benefits.
Remember, when it comes to working out, the "best" exercise program for you is the one you're most likely to enjoy and do consistently.
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Who benefits most from AMRAP workouts?
AMRAPs can be a solid option for almost every type of exerciser, so long as you don't have any injuries or health conditions that impact your ability to work out. High-intensity AMRAPs may be an especially great choice for busy exercisers who are short on time and thus want a lot of bang for their exercise buck.
How to build a safe, effective AMRAP workout
Good AMRAP workouts are those that appropriately match your fitness level and goals. Here are expert tips for building a safe, effective AMRAP routine.
1. Pick easy movements you can do well
An AMRAP is not the time to try out that complicated new exercise you saw on TikTok. Instead, "start with movements that you feel comfortable" with, says Feito, and that "don't require a lot of technique." For an AMRAP that's effective and functional, Derrick suggests sticking with exercises that mimic movements you do in everyday life, like squats, deadlifts, and push-ups.
2. Focus on form
Speed is often emphasized in AMRAPs, but good technique should be your number one focus, believes Feito. If you can't maintain safe and proper technique, take a breather, switch to a different exercise that you can do proficiently, or just call it a day. Forging ahead with poor form only ups your chances of injury.
3. Find a sustainable pace
It can be tempting to go all-out when you start an AMRAP, but that approach will likely end in burnout. Instead, find a pace you can maintain the entire time so that you don't have to take breaks. "You want to be able to endure whatever duration it is," says Derrick.
4. Keep it to 30 minutes or less
Cap your AMRAP at 30 minutes or less, suggests Derrick, whose AMRAP "sweet spot" is 15 to 20 minutes. If that feels intimidating, consider stringing together several three to five minute AMRAPs.
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3 trainer-approved AMRAP workouts to try
Here are three AMRAP workouts, the first two from Derrick and the third from Feito, that you can try at home with just your bodyweight. For the cardio and strength-focused AMRAPs, be sure to do a brief three to five-minute warm-up first (think: dynamic stretches or jogging in place) so that you don't start with cold muscles.
16-minute cardio AMRAP
Do as many rounds of this circuit as possible in 16 minutes. If you need to, rest up to 1 minute in between each round. Adjust the number of reps and total time of the workout to meet your fitness level, as needed.
- 50 high knees: Stand tall with your feet hip-distance apart. Quickly drive your right knee up towards your chest, stopping when your right thigh is parallel to the floor. Lower your knee down and then immediately repeat with your left knee. That's 1 rep. Continue this pattern, alternating sides.
- 40 plank jacks: Get into a high plank with your wrists directly under shoulders, feet hip-width apart, and core, glutes, and quads braced. Your body should form one long, straight line from your head to your ankles. From here, quickly jump your feet together, then jump them back to hip-width apart. That's 1 rep. As you jump, keep the rest of your body as still as possible.
- 30 skaters: Stand tall with your feet hip-distance apart, arms at your sides. Bend your torso forward slightly and press through your left foot to jump your right foot to the right several inches as your left leg swings back and across to the right. Left arm swings forward and across your body and right arm swings directly behind you. Touch your left toes to the ground and pause for a moment. Then, press off your right foot to jump your left foot to the left as your right leg swings back and across to the left. Right arm swings forward and across your body, and left arm swings directly behind you. Touch your right toes to the ground and pause for a moment. That's 1 rep. Continue this pattern, alternating sides.
- 20 burpees: Stand tall with feet hip-distance apart. Bend at the waist and place your palms on the ground, then jump your feet back into a high plank position with shoulders over wrists, feet hip-distance apart, and core, quads, and glutes braced. From here, bend your elbows to perform a push-up. At the top of the push-up, jump your feet in towards your hands and then jump up, raising your hands overhead. That's 1 rep.
- 30 squat jumps: Stand tall with feet hip-distance apart. Bend your knees and push your hips back to lower into a squat, bringing your hands together in front of your chest as you lower. Pause when your knees form 90 degree angles. Then, jump up as high as you can, throwing your arms behind you for extra momentum. Land softly with bent knees and immediately sink into another squat. That's 1 rep.
- 40 sit-ups: Lie on your back with your knees bent, feet hip-width apart on the floor, and hands cupped behind your head. This is the starting position. Brace your core and push your feet into the floor as you lift your torso off the floor. As you lift up make sure your feet stay grounded and your core stays braced (don't arch or round your back). Pause when your torso is perpendicular to the ground; then reverse the movement to return to the starting position. That's 1 rep.
- 50 jumping jacks: Stand tall with your feet together. Jump your feet wide as you raise your arms out to the sides and then overhead. Without pausing, jump your feet back together as you lower your arms down to your sides. That's 1 rep.
20-Minute strength-focused AMRAP
Do each move for 8 repetitions. Then, repeat the circuit but do 12 repetitions of each move. Then, repeat the circuit with 16 repetitions of each move. Continue this pattern of adding 4 repetitions each time you repeat the circuit. Do as many rounds of the circuit as possible in 20 minutes. If you need to, rest up to 1 minute in between each round. Adjust the number of reps and total time of the workout to meet your fitness level, as needed.
- One-and-a-half squats: Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart. Bend your knees and push your hips back to lower into a squat; stop lowering when your knees form 90-degree angles. Pause, then press through your heels to stand up halfway. Pause, then lower back down to 90 degrees. Pause, then press through your heels to return to standing. That's 1 rep.
- Push-ups: Start in a high plank with your wrists directly under shoulders, feet hip-width apart, and core, glutes, and quads braced. Your body should form one long, straight line from your head to your ankles. From here, bend your elbows slightly back (not straight out to the sides) and lower down into a push-up. Pause, then press through your palms to return to high plank. That's 1 rep.
- Sumo squats: Stand tall with your feet wider than hip-distance apart, toes pointed slightly out, hands at your sides. Bend your knees and push your hips back to lower into a squat. Pause, then press through your heels to return to standing. As you stand, lower your hands to your sides. That's 1 rep.
- Commandos: Start in a high plank with your wrists directly under shoulders, feet hip-width apart, and core, glutes, and quads braced. Your body should form one long, straight line from your head to your ankles. From here, lift your right hand up and place your entire right forearm on the ground. Repeat with your left hand. Then, lift your right forearm up and place just your right hand back on the ground. Repeat with your left forearm. That's 1 rep. Make sure your hips stay as still as possible as your arms move. Alternate which arm leads with every rep.
- Walking lunges: Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart, hands on hips. Keeping your torso tall, step your right foot forward about two feet and then bend both knees to lower down into a lunge. Stop when your legs form 90-degree angles. Pause, then press through your front heel to return to standing. From here, step your left foot forward about two feet and then bend both knees to lower down into a lunge. Stop when your legs form 90-degree angles. Pause, then press through your front heel to return to standing. That's 1 rep.
- Side plank crunches: Start in a side plank with your right palm on the ground, directly under your shoulder, and left hand pointing straight up. Left foot is stacked on top of the right. Core and glutes are braced. This is the starting position. From here, drive your left elbow and left knee towards each other. Pause when they touch, then reverse the movement to return to the starting position. That's 1 rep. Make sure to work both sides evenly.
5-minute mobility AMRAP
Do as many rounds of this circuit as possible in 5 minutes.
- 4 squats: Stand tall with your feet hip-distance apart, hands at your sides. Bend your knees and push your hips back to lower into a squat as you clasp your hands together in front of your chest. Stop lowering when your knees form 90-degree angles. Pause, then press through your heels to return to standing. As you stand, lower your hands to your sides. That's 1 rep.
- 6 inchworms: Stand tall with your feet shoulder-width apart, hands at your sides. Bend down to touch the ground and walk yourself forward until your hands are directly below your shoulders in a high plank position. Pause for a moment in the plank position. (You can also do a push-up at this point if you'd like, either from your knees or toes.) From the plank position, walk your hands back towards your feet and stand up. That's 1 rep.
- 8 pigeon stretches (4 each side): Start in a high plank with hands directly under shoulders. Then, bring right knee forward toward right wrist. Lay shin flat on the floor, parallel to chest. Keep left leg extended. Hold for several breaths. Lean forward at the waist to deepen the stretch. That's 1 rep. Switch sides and repeat for 2 reps.
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