The Complete Guide to AMRAP Workouts

Fitness pros share the AMRAP meaning and its benefits. Plus, you'll find AMRAP workouts that will help you break a sweat in minimal time.

woman doing mountain climbers exercise on medicine ball with magenta and blue lights
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If you have a running list of vague fitness jargon (think: EMOM, WOD, HIIT, EPOC) and their definitions in your Notes app, it's time to jot down another befuddling acronym you'll likely see on countless workout plans. The term: AMRAP.

But what is AMRAP, exactly, and what makes it a worthy addition to your fitness regimen? To get answers to all of your burning Qs, turn to this AMRAP workout guide, which breaks down the basic AMRAP meaning and the training style's key benefits. Plus, you'll find AMRAP workouts that will help you meet any fitness goal.

What Is AMRAP?

AMRAP stands for "as many rounds as possible" or "as many reps as possible," depending on how you use it in your workout. In an AMRAP workout focused on rounds, you might select four to six exercises, a specific number of reps for each move, and a set amount of time (think: five to 20 minutes). Then, you'll complete as many rounds of those exercises as you can within that time frame, explains Melissa Kendter, an ACE-certified trainer, functional training specialist, and EvolveYou coach.

But during an AMRAP workout based on reps, you might select one exercise and a short amount of time (say, 30 seconds to two minutes), then perform as many reps of that move as possible within that period, adds Nikki Elliott, a fitness instructor at Equinox and co-founder of ELAVI, a protein snack company. After taking a short breather, you can perform a second round of that exercise, then repeat the process with a new move, she explains. That said, you'll most commonly see round-style AMRAP workouts used in fitness classes and online workouts, says Elliott.

Regardless of the type of AMRAP workout, "the goal is to make sure you're continuing to move through each exercise, having a weight that's challenging for you, and keeping good form, which is always the top priority in any workout program," says Elliott.

The Benefits of AMRAP Workouts

They're versatile.

There's no one right way to set up an AMRAP workout, so they can be tailored to help you meet any fitness goal, says Kendter. For example, you can utilize heavy weights if you're looking to make major strength gains or perform plyometric moves if you're craving a cardio-focused workout, she says. Similarly, you can train your entire body or focus on just one muscle group, adds Elliott.

AMRAP workouts don't have to be high intensity, either, says Elliott. "It can be lower intensity without any crazy, jumping, plyometric moves," she explains. "I think it's a great way to structure a low-intensity workout, to get an awesome full-body program that doesn't force you to jump off the floor or do anything that may start to cause lower back pain." And if you don't have access to all the bells and whistles, you can structure your AMRAP workout around just one piece of exercise equipment, says Michelle Razavi, a fitness and yoga instructor at Equinox and ELAVI's co-founder. "If I have a med ball or a bench, I can do three to five exercises just using that," she says. "It can also help if you're traveling or you don't have that much access to equipment at a gym."

Not to mention, they're multi-functional. AMRAP workouts can be used as a short warm-up that gets your body prepped for the real deal, a 20-minute workout that trains your entire body, or a "metabolic burst" at the end of a workout before you cool down, says Elliott. "AMRAP doesn't have a set of guidelines or rules that should be followed," she explains. "...It has a place in so many different areas and you absolutely have the freedom to incorporate it however you like."

You can go at your own pace.

Unlike HIIT workouts, AMRAP workouts don't have set-in-stone work periods and rest periods (think: 30 seconds on, 30 seconds off), so you're able to take a breather when — and for the amount of time — you need. "That's how it can be tailored to any fitness level and any person because you can go at your own pace or adjust the exercises as needed until the clock runs out," says Kendter.

That said, the clock ticking does hold you accountable, and it encourages you to keep moving rather than scroll through Instagram for five minutes in between sets. "So many people give themselves the opportunity to stop and then they take too long of a rest, and then it's harder to get back into it," says Elliott. "I think these shorter, bite-sized workouts like an AMRAP really keep you moving at a good pace and let you get a good workout in a more efficient amount of time."

They build muscular endurance.

By powering through countless reps of thrusters, mountain climbers, or push-ups during an AMRAP workout, you'll help build muscular endurance — a muscle group's ability to perform repeated contractions over a period of time, according to the American Council on Exercise. The more reps you can perform before feeling exhausted, the more muscular endurance you have, research suggests. During workouts or everyday activities (think: carrying heavy groceries up to your fifth-floor apartment), having a higher level of muscular endurance means your body won't feel as fatigued as fast and you'll be able to use less energy to carry out the task at hand, Corinne Croce, D.P.T., SoulCycle's in-house physical therapist, previously told Shape.

They serve as a benchmark.

Aside from giving you a killer workout that matches your abilities and needs, AMRAP workouts also allow you to check in on how your fitness is improving, says Kendter. If you're starting a new workout program or revving up your current one, you can start off by powering through an AMRAP workout and recording how many rounds or reps you completed, the weight you used, and how you felt afterward. Then, after eight to 12 weeks, you can complete that same AMRAP workout again and take note of how those numbers and feelings have changed, she explains.

Even if you completed fewer reps or rounds the second time around, you can still learn a thing or two from your AMRAP workout results. "Maybe the reps went down from the last time, but [try to] understand why and check in with the body," says Elliott. "Is it because you had some really intense workouts this week? Have you gotten enough sleep? It helps you also consider other factors that can impact your workout. Keeping track of those things is so important to understand how your body is responding to the factors outside the workout."

The Best AMRAP Workouts

To build stamina and put your muscles to the test, consider incorporating these AMRAP workouts into your routine. Whether you're in need of a quick-hitting warm-up or a full-body training session you can do at home, you've got options.

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