If you’ve done CrossFit, you may have heard the acronym AMRAP. You might have heard it associated with a workout even. That’s because it’s a highly popular way of working out amongst trainers who highly recommend AMRAP workouts. What’s so special about them? Let’s find out.
What is AMRAP?
The acronym AMRAP stands for “as many reps as possible” or “as many rounds as possible”. If you haven’t heard about AMRAP, you may have heard these two phrases many times which goes to show how popular it is. There are many ways you can go about doing an AMRAP workout.
For example, in circuit training, you have “rounds” where each round consists of a set of exercises. You could turn it into an AMRAP workout by performing as many rounds as possible. For workouts that involve repetitions for certain movements, the ‘R’ can replace rounds for reps and you can do as many reps as you can. You can combine both rounds and reps into one workout as well which many trainers go for.
For example, you have a timed circuit where you’re supposed to perform each exercise for a given set of time (Tabata). In this scenario, you would perform as many reps as you can in the given time as well as try to perform as many rounds as you physically can. AMRAP ensures that your workouts are always intense and that you’re pushing yourself.
AMRAP is great for weight loss
Like High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), AMRAP is able to burn a lot of calories in a short period of time. In order to burn the most amount of calories in the least amount of time, you must really push yourself to the limit and deplete the glycogen (carbohydrate) reserves in your body. This is what HIIT does, and AMRAP does this in another way.
HIIT focuses on your heart rate and putting high-intensity work intervals. The varying intensity and heart rates are able to burn a ton of calories. AMRAP is able to burn because it is also generally intense. That makes sense because if you’re going for as many reps or rounds as possible, you’re essentially pushing yourself to the limit. When you push yourself to failure, you have absolutely nothing left in the tank and your body has to somehow respond to your need for extra energy for that last rep; that is when a ton of calories are burnt and the foundation is laid for muscle growth.
When a muscle is brought to failure, a huge amount of stress is induced which leads to a biochemical response. The response then leads to muscle growth which means that you can perform at even higher intensity levels the next time you work out. The whole idea of building muscle revolves around challenging yourself, AMRAP is able to do just that. Why is it good for weight loss then? For all the reasons mentioned above.
AMRAP is great for muscle building, and it is able to burn a lot of calories alongside your glycogen stores. If your glycogen is depleted, then the calories being burnt are coming from fat. Therefore, for people wanting to lose weight, this is a win-win situation as they’ll be burning a lot of calories, especially fat and they’ll be building muscle at the same time.
Moreover, since AMRAP muscles make your body undergo a lot of stress, it takes the body a bit of time to recover after your workout. This results in what is known as the “afterburn effect”. The afterburn from an intense workout basically means that your body is still burning calories after your workout even at rest. The effect can last up to 48 hours long, which means that the boost to calorie burn and weight loss through the afterburn effect and hence, AMRAP is quite significant.
AMRAP workouts make it easy to track your progress
There are many people who find it hard to monitor their progress. One of the main reason why people don’t stick to a routine is due to lack of progress, or at least they think that. Muscle and strength building, weight loss and fitness, in general, is not an overnight process. It takes a lot of time and effort. You won’t be making huge progress in a short time. Therefore, people often get demotivated due to “lack of progress”.
A very popular example is when beginners are trying to lose weight. They might be losing fat, but the number on the scale doesn’t move. That’s often because the weight they lose is replaced by a gain in muscle, which is a good thing. However, since there has been both loss and gain, the scale doesn’t move and people get demotivated. One great way to see if your workouts are having a positive impact is through AMRAP.
Since the whole point of AMRAP is to work till you are physically unable to, you get a rough idea of where your point of failure is. For example, you might reach failure on the 15th rep or on the 3rd round. However, you can check again a week or two later and see whether you’ve improved or not. If you are able to do more reps or rounds or even perform those exercises with more intensity and ease, then consider that progress. Often strength gains are not reflected by the body, and AMRAP makes it easy to see if your efforts are paying off or not.
It’s easy to increase the intensity
One of the main issues for many people when they hit a plateau, is how to break it. In order to break your plateau, you need to bring changes to your workout and make them more intense. Sometimes, that’s not easy and you might get stuck at one point for a long while. However, with AMRAP, this becomes much easier and it ties into the point about progress.
Since it’s all about doing as much as you can, your capacity to do work increases when you gain strength. If you could do only 10 pushups, but after a few weeks you can do 20, then that is your maximum effort now. Keep pushing it further each week and you have a simple formula to avoid a plateau. You can also add another round of work if you can’t make progress with the reps or increase intensity when performing exercises. Anything that makes you work more will help.
AMRAP workouts can be done with bodyweight too
Perhaps the most important benefit of AMRAP is its convenience. A lot of people don’t have access to a gym or equipment. However, that does not mean they can’t be fit or make muscle gains. With AMRAP, you’ll constantly be challenging yourself. So, if you could do a few weighted pushups in the gym, do as many pushups as you can with bodyweight and you’ll feel the burn.
With bodyweight, you might need to work a bit more than in a gym, but the end result is the same. If you are able to push yourself to failure, then you did it right. This is great news for people who don’t have access to gyms or those who prefer to work out at home.
It’s easy to do even at home, just take any simple bodyweight workout, and perform it till failure. Over time once you develop strength, simply increase reps, rounds, and intensity. Then, you’ll be able to stimulate muscle growth with just your bodyweight.