Everything You Need to Know About AMRAP Workouts

renegade row
Westend61 / Getty Images

AMRAP is an acronym popularized by CrossFit that stands for "As Many Rounds As Possible" or "As Many Reps As Possible," depending on the structure of the workout. AMRAP training protocols live and die on the basis of time—it's you against the clock, working to complete as many repetitions or rounds of exercises as possible within a set timeframe.

As such, workout possibilities are practically endless, given that exercises and the time allotted can be manipulated and changed depending on your workout goals. But given that AMRAP workouts are almost always based on some form of high-intensity interval training (HIIT) or high-intensity circuit training (HICT), there are a few things you should consider before starting a routine of your own.

AMRAP Workouts That Focus on Rounds

When the workout is built around circuits, there are certain factors to expect:

Shorter Timeframes

For instance, if you're performing only burpees during your pre-set time period, your body is going to tire out more quickly than if it were alternating between burpees, squats, and shoulder presses. Generally speaking, when focused on repetitions, you can expect the timeframe to last up to about 120 seconds, although it may be as little as 10 or 20 seconds. It's worth noting that some of the more brutal CrossFit workouts, such as Open Workout 12.1 (a 7-minute AMRAP of only burpees), can be longer.

Interval Training Protocols

Some Tabata intervals follow AMRAP protocol based on repetitions. During a Tabata, you complete eight total intervals, each consisting of 20 seconds work and 10 seconds rest. During each work interval, you complete as many reps as possible of the exercise in question. You can perform a single exercise for the entire Tabata, or you can switch exercises each work interval. (Some Tabata workouts do not follow an AMRAP format, like an isometric exercise, such as holding a plank for 20 seconds and resting for 10, or running hard for 20 seconds and going easy or rest for 10.)

The point, though, is to push yourself as hard as you can during each work period to complete as many repetitions as possible. This same concept can apply to other interval training protocols. You can change the length of the work and rest periods and the number of intervals, but if the goal is to complete as many repetitions as possible during each work period, then you're performing a form of AMRAP.

AMRAP Workouts That Focus on Repetition

When you're working on repetitions of a single exercise that are set up as an interval, here's what to expect:

Circuit Training Protocols

When the focus is on rounds, the goal is generally to complete as many rounds of several exercises as possible in a set period of time. This means you'll be performing several exercises back-to-back with as little rest as possible between exercises and rounds. In other words, the AMRAP is set up as a circuit workout. For instance, you might perform air squats, push-ups, single-leg deadlifts, and renegade rows as part of a single AMRAP.

A Set Number of Repetitions Per Exercise

Unlike AMRAPs focused on repetitions, when you focus AMRAPs on rounds, you're not performing each exercise for a certain length of time, you're performing the entire circuit for a certain length of time. This means you have to pre-determine the number of repetitions you'll perform per exercise. For instance, if your circuit includes squats, push-ups, single-leg deadlifts, and renegade rows, you might perform 15 squats, 10 push-ups, 8 single-leg deadlifts per leg, and 8 renegade rows per arm to complete a single round. Then you'd repeat that entire circuit as many times as possible within the total time allotted.

Longer Timeframes

Because you're performing rounds of exercises rather than a single exercise, it takes longer to complete a single round, so by default, the timeframe provided to complete the workout is typically longer—usually at least five minutes, and often 10, 15, or even 20 minutes. The goal is to continue cycling through the circuit as many times as you can, whether that's just once or multiple times.

Form Is More Important Than Speed

Even though the goal is to complete as many rounds or repetitions as possible, this isn't a situation where speed trumps form. You're not going to reap the benefits of the workout if you're performing sloppy reps or using incorrect form—you might instead injure yourself. This is particularly true given the high-intensity nature of AMRAP workouts. Your body is going to get tired. Your muscles are going to burn. If you compromise form when your body is tired, that's when injuries are most likely to occur.

Rest as Needed

Whether you're focusing on repetitions or rounds, you're in complete control of determining when your body needs to rest. Sure, by adding rest into your workout you'll perhaps forfeit a few reps or a round toward your total, but you'll also be able to maintain better form. If, during a 90-second burpee AMRAP, you need to take a break after performing five burpees, go ahead and take a break. Just keep it as short as possible so you can continue the workout before time runs out.

That said, sometimes our brains think we need rest when we actually can push more. The point of CrossFit AMRAP-style workouts is to perform the workout with intensity. It's important to use caution but oftentimes our bodies can handle more than we think.

Keep Exercises Simple

During AMRAPs you'll be taxing your muscles and wearing yourself out. It's best to keep exercises simple and straightforward, rather than complex, in order to maintain proper form and reduce the likelihood of injury. This is especially true if you're adding weight to each exercise.

For instance, squats, push-ups, pull-ups, rows, lunges, shoulder presses, and deadlifts are all good options. Single-arm dumbbell snatches or clean and jerks aren't as ideal for beginners. If you do decide to use more complex exercises or plyometric movements during your AMRAP, pay special attention to form and slow your pace as needed. It's better to be safe and slow than to end up injured.

Record Results

If the goal is to maximize reps or rounds, it's important to keep track of how many reps or rounds you complete in a given workout. If you don't, you'll have no way to monitor or track your changes and improvements over time.

Compete Against Yourself

AMRAP workouts are a good way to monitor changes in your own fitness level. If you perform an AMRAP workout today and you're able to complete four rounds of exercises in a 10-minute timeframe, you can try the same workout a month from now and try to accumulate five rounds of exercises in the same timeframe. If you reach your goal, you know your fitness level has improved.

The important thing to remember is that you're competing against yourself, not against anyone else. Yes, it can be helpful to see where your performance places you in relation to your peers, but ultimately it's your workout. If you push yourself and do your best, it doesn't matter whether you complete a single round or 10 rounds in a given period, or 10 repetitions or 50 repetitions in a given time period. It's you against you, and your goal should be to beat your own scores down the line, rather than worrying about anyone else's scores.

1 Source
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Mazur LJ, Yetman RJ, Risser WL. Weight-training injuries. Common injuries and preventative methods. Sports Med. 1993;16(1):57-63. doi:10.2165/00007256-199316010-00005.

By Laura Williams, MSEd, ASCM-CEP
Laura Williams is a fitness expert and advocate with certifications from the American Council on Exercise and the American College of Sports Medicine.