Time is something most of us wish we had a lot more of, especially when it comes to squeezing a workout into our day. Between work, family, social obligations, and life in general, exercise is often the first thing to get the boot from our to-do list.
What if there was a way you could increase your heart rate, torch calories, strengthen and tone your entire body, and have fun, all in under an hour? To meet those goals, some people are into AMRAP, which means “as many rounds (or reps) as possible.”
“When doing an AMRAP workout, the goal is to do as many reps of one specific exercise — or as many rounds of a circuit — in a designated amount of time,” explains Emily McLaughlin, certified personal trainer, and nutrition specialist at 8fit.
AMRAP stands for “as many reps as possible” or “as many rounds as possible.” The “R” can change based on the structure of the workout.
When R is for rounds
For example, if you’re following a plan that lists rep ranges, like 10 squats and 20 jumping jacks, then you cycle through the exercises to do as many rounds as you can in the allotted timeframe.
When R is for repetitions
If the workout has time intervals, then you crank out as many as you can in the allotted time. For example, if it says do 60 seconds of pushups, you set a timer and repeat as many as you can in 1 minute.
The goal of AMRAP
The goal of this type of training is to maximize your time by increasing the intensity of the workout. You cycle through the moves with speed and focus, but also paying attention to form.
The flexibility of AMRAP
You may recognize the acronym from CrossFit since their workouts focus on the number of reps or rounds you can get done during a prescribed time.
AMRAP workouts use body weight, kettlebells, dumbbells, and other equipment as resistance. That’s what makes this type of structure so appealing — the possibilities are endless.
For the workouts described below, the “R” refers to rounds. So, you’ll perform as many rounds as possible by following the prescribed rep scheme for each circuit.
Focus on form
If you’re wondering if this type of workout will work for you, McLaughlin says as long as you can execute the exercise with proper form, give an AMRAP workout a go. The key is to move as fast as you can but stay focused on form.
“Frequently, when we’re focused on time, we forget things like keeping the core engaged, keeping the chest open, or watching our posture,” she says.
When you’re crunched on time (and who isn’t!), McLaughlin likes to run through this 20-minute AMRAP workout.
Set a timer for 20 minutes and do the following movements in order. When there’s 1 minute left, hold a plank.
- 30 marches in place or high knees
- 25 jumping jacks
- 20 squats
- 15 crunches
- 10 glute bridges
- 5 pushups
- Final minute plank: Drop down and hold a plank position for as long as you can or until the time is up.
- Stand with your feet hip-width apart, arms by your sides.
- Begin the motion by lifting one foot off the floor, bringing your knee to your chest. For a low-impact exercise, use this movement to march in place. For a higher energy exercise, jump back and forth from each foot, lifting each knee as high as possible.
- Keep a running pace and land softly on the floor.
- Stand with your feet together and arms at your sides, gaze looking straight ahead.
- Jump your feet out while bringing your arms overhead.
- Reverse the movement back to the starting position.
- Stand with your feet hip-width apart, arms at your sides, and gaze forward. Toes should be slightly turned out.
- Squat down like you’re sitting in a chair. Arms can rise up in front of you.
- Squat down so your thighs are parallel with the floor. Pause at the bottom.
- Reverse the movement by driving the weight into heels to stand back up to the starting position.
- Lie on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor, hands placed behind your head.
- Press your lower back into the floor while rolling shoulders up and forward.
- Shoulder blades lift about 4 inches off the floor. Contract your abs at the top.
- Slowly lower your torso back down to the floor.
- Lie on your back, knees bent, feet flat on the floor, and arms resting on the floor by your sides.
- Engage your core and glutes, press weight into your heels, and raise your bottom off the floor until your body forms a straight line from shoulders to knees.
- Squeeze your glutes and hold for a few seconds.
- Reverse the movement by lowering your hips back down to the floor.
- Get in a pushup position with arms extended, hands flat on the floor. Your body should be a straight line from head to feet.
- Lower your body without resting your chest on the floor.
- Pause and push up to the starting position.
- Get in a plank position (pushup position) with hands flat on the floor, arms extended, and body in a straight line from head to feet.
- Engage your core and hold this pose for the recommended amount of time.
If you can extend your exercise session to 30 minutes, consider this AMRAP from McLaughlin.
Set a timer for 30 minutes. For this workout, you’ll need a resistance band.
Complete the following sequence of exercises in order, doing as many rounds as possible until the time is up. Keep the timer close for your 1-minute planks and feel free to leave the band on the entire time.
- 5 banded lateral walk (4 steps right, 4 steps left is 1 rep)
- 10 banded jump squats
- 15 banded glute bridge (pulse out)
- 20 crunches
- 25 burpees
- 1-minute plank
Banded lateral walk
- Stand with band tight above your knees, feet hip-width apart.
- Come into a squat position with thighs parallel to the floor.
- Step to the right with your right foot, then follow with your left foot.
- For 1 repetition, do 4 steps to the right, then 4 steps to the left to return to starting position.
Banded jump squats
- Stand up straight with band tight around thighs, shoulders above hips, feet hip-width apart.
- Squat like you’re sitting in a chair, paying attention that your knees are behind your toes at all times.
- Jump up explosively, then land gently to reverse the movement to the starting position.
Banded glute bridge with pulse
- Lie on your back with band tight around your thighs, bend knees, and keep feet flat on the floor.
- Press your weight into your heels to raise hips.
- Lift your hips until your body forms a straight line from your shoulders, hips, to knees. Squeeze your glutes at the top.
- In the top position, separate and pulse your knees out as far as possible, then bring them back in line with your hips.
- Lie on your back, bend your knees, keep your feet flat on the floor, and place hands behind your head.
- Begin crunch by pressing your lower back into the floor while rolling shoulders up and forward.
- Raise your upper body off the floor, keeping your gaze upward.
- Slowly lower your torso back down.
- Begin standing, then squat down and place your hands on the floor outside your feet.
- Keeping your hands planted, jump your feet behind you and land with straight legs.
- Lower until your chest touches the floor, elbows tight to your body.
- Briefly keep your hands on the floor and use your hips to pop feet back into a squat.
- Explode up into a jump and land on your feet as softly as possible.
- Get in a plank position (pushup position), hands flat on the floor, arms extended, and body in a straight line from head to feet.
- Engage your core and hold this pose for the recommended amount of time.
On days when you do have time to devote a full hour to exercise, David Freeman, a personal trainer and the national manager of Life Time’s Alpha Training program says to give this high-intensity Alpha Strong Grinder workout a try.
Start with a 1-mile run. This is considered a warmup, so don’t go full out. Then, perform the exercises listed below in AMRAP format for 11 minutes. Do this 5 times total, with a 1-minute rest between rounds.
Do as many rounds as possible in 11 minutes. Rest 1 minute and repeat 5 times.
- 25 burpees
- 25 goblet squats: Pick a weight that challenges you to complete the set with little to no rest.
- 25 goblet hold walking lunges
- 100 singles – jump rope
- row (1600 m)
- Stand with feet shoulder-width apart.
- Bend your knees and place your hands on the ground. Hands should be shoulder-width apart.
- Kick your legs back until you’re in a plank position. Then, jump your feet back to the original position and jump upward while raising your hands towards the sky.
- Stand in a squat position.
- Hold a kettlebell or dumbbell right under your chin. Keep your arms close to your chest, elbows pointing down.
- Lower your body to a squat. Pause at the bottom and press back to the top.
Goblet hold walking lunges
- Hold a kettlebell or dumbbell close to your body and under your chin. Make sure the weight is light enough so you don’t bend at the waist.
- Begin standing with feet together. Take a step out with your right foot to do a walking lunge. Both knees should be bent at 90 degrees or what’s comfortable for you.
- Rise to standing, bringing your left foot forward to meet your right foot — your weight should shift onto your right foot as you do this. Step forward with your left foot to go into the next lunge.
- Continue across the floor with walking lunges, alternating right and left sides.
Short on space? Do these lunges in place by returning your right leg to the starting position and step with your left foot.
Singles – jump rope
- Stand, holding a jump rope.
- Begin the exercise by moving the rope overhead while jumping.
- One rep is considered a single jump rope.
Get on a rowing machine and row 1600 meters at a pace that’s comfortable for you.