AMRAP Workouts – What the Heck? And Why?

You may or may not have heard the term “AMRAP” workout, but it’s a very effective way of exercising. If you partake in CrossFit or HIIT workouts, then you probably have done one. AMRAP stands for “As Many Reps/Rounds As Possible” – and the workout is exactly as it sounds. You are given a set amount of time (i.e. 20 minutes) and you complete as many rounds or reps of a given workout as possible. There are MANY benefits to this type of workout, and it’s one of my favorite types.

What is it?

Like a High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) workout, in AMRAP workouts you are given a set amount of time for your workout. The only difference is that with AMRAP workouts there’s no allotted “rest” time. You pace yourself and take short breaks when needed, but the primary objective is to push yourself to complete as many reps or rounds of the workout as you can. And, when you perform the workout again, you push yourself to beat your previous completed reps or rounds. CrossFit gyms use these workouts, and it pushes you to get as many or more reps in than your classmates.

Why do it?

One of the biggest benefits of these workouts is time. If you are like me, and can’t spend an hour or 2 at the gym, having a shorter set time to workout makes it easier to fit a workout in. I can break a major sweat with just a 5 minute AMRAP workout, because I’m maximizing the time I have – and usually the shorter amount of time you have, the more you’re able to push yourself. Which brings me to my next point/benefit of these workouts: maximum effort and more motivation.

In essence, you’re training your body to do more work in a set amount of time. It’s also a way to motivate you to progress with each workout. As mentioned before, you push yourself to do better with each workout, so your intensity, strength and endurance builds with each workout. The harder you train, the more fat you burn, and the fitter you get.

Ordinary endurance programs and gym workouts typically incorporate low intensity exercises that, even though performed for longer periods of time, do not put as much stress on the body. In cases of high intensity exercises like AMRAP, when compared to ordinary fitness exercises, the lungs and heart are thus more challenged to meet the demands of the body.  This forms the basis of all benefits derived from doing as many reps as possible. Doing as many reps as possible, cause sudden increased demands for oxygen in many tissues of the body, especially the skeletal muscles. In order to meet these demands the whole respiratory system, the lungs in particular, work harder than normal. When continued over a period of time, this type of increased loading causes positive changes in the work capacity of the lungs. For me, this is a huge benefit because I am limited in my cardio activities due to asthma and knee problems. But with AMRAP workouts, I can push but pace myself. Over time my endurance gets stronger, because my lungs are adapting to the demands of these workouts. And studies have shown that increased respiratory capacity not only increases the amount of work one can perform, but also is a great help in certain diseases such as asthma.

The biggest benefit for most people is the decreasing of body fat. When exercising, initially your skeletal muscle uses glycogen stores for energy. But in high intensity exercises, once your skeletal muscle can no longer utilize glycogen to keep up with the energy demand, it uses fat stores. So the harder you push yourself in a short amount of time, the quicker you start burning fat. So by doing short but intense workouts each day you will start to see your body lose fat and become more toned. With this fat burning comes added muscle and muscle strength! High intensity training puts greater loads on the skeletal muscles as compared to conventional training. This results in increases in inherent muscle tone and greater strength the muscle can produce when contracting.

Sample Workout

To get an idea of what an AMRAP workout is like, try this one out.

10 minutes AMRAP:

Kettlebell Swings – 20 reps
Burpees – 5 reps (drop down all the way or with push-up)
Front Squats – 5 reps (~75% max weight)

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10 Minute Sprint HIIT Workout

This is a quick but KILLER workout using sprint intervals. Every other round you will be sprinting on a treadmill (8.0+ MPH) for 30 seconds – in between a variety of exercises. This will elevate your heart rate tremendously and burn some major calories…in only 10 minutes! I’m not a runner, but sprinting for 30 seconds is not only doable, but more effective when combined into an high intensity workout involving weights and combination muscle utilization.

If you do not have a treadmill, perform burpees (with a jump) in place of the sprints.

I’ve found it easier to keep the treadmill running and just hop your feet out to the edges while holding onto the rails – that way you don’t waste time speeding up and slowing down the treadmill in between rounds. Set up whatever equipment is needed nearby your treadmill. Try to take a 10-15 second break between rounds. You will start with sprinting and alternate the sprints in between rep exercises. You don’t want to max out on your reps, so choose a light to moderate weight for exercises with weight involved.

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Here’s the workout breakdown, print or write it down. Below are explanations of each exercise. Sprints will be for 30 seconds at 8.0 mph or faster.

30 second sprint
Clean and Press (10 reps)
30 second sprint
Goblet Squat (12 reps)
30 second sprint
Plank Jack Push-up (10 reps)
30 second sprint
Power Row Right (12 reps)
30 second sprint
Power Row Left (12 reps)
30 second sprint
Ski Jump Planks (10 reps)
30 second sprint
Shoulder Tap Planks (20 reps)
30 second sprint
Sumo High Row (12 reps)
30 second sprints
Compound Crunch (15 reps)
30 second sprint
Squat w/ Alternate Press (10 reps/side)

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Clean and Press (10 reps) – Hold a barbell or sandbag with overhand grip in front of you. Bend knees slightly, lowering the weight to the ground. Forcefully lift the weight up to your shoulders and flip your wrists up so that your palms face up and weight is at your chest. Press the weight straight up overhead. Reverse the motion back to start and repeat.

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Goblet Squat (12 reps) – Stand in a wide stance with toes slightly turned out, holding a dumbbell on end or a kettlebell at your chest. Keeping a straight torso, squat as low as possible, bringing your butt between your feet. Squeeze your glutes as you come back to standing.
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Plank Jack Push-up (10 reps) – Start in plank with feet together. Jump feet out wide and lower down and up into a push-up. Jump feet back together and repeat.push-up-jacks

Power Row (12 reps/side) –
 Start holding a dumbbell in one hand, rested on the floor just inside the same side foot. Knees should be bent, and you are hinged forward at the waist with chest up. Drive the weight up to your side, bringing your elbow back. Lower and repeat. The next round you will repeat the same move with the opposite arm.

Ski Jump Planks (10 reps) – Come into plank. Jump your feet together and up to the left, and jump back to plank. Jump your feet to the right and back. Jump to each side equals 1 rep. Repeat alternating sides.

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Shoulder Tap Planks (20 reps) – Start in plank. Tap your right hand to left shoulder, then left hand to right shoulder. A tap to each shoulder equals 1 rep. Continue alternating quickly, making sure not to sway too much

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Sumo High Row (12 reps)
– Stand with feet in wide stance, toes pointed out, hold dummbells or a sandbag in front with palms facing body. Squat down then stand up quickly, driving dumbbells up to under chin with elbows bent out. Lower to start.sumohighrow

Compound Crunch (15 reps)
– Lie faceup with hands behind head, elbows out to sides and legs extended on the ground. Lift head and shoulder blades as you pull knees toward chest. Lower head and shoulder blades as you slowly extend legs 45 degrees off ground, keeping abs super-tight; repeat bringing knees to chest.
compound crunch
Squat w/ Alternate Press (10 reps/side)
 – Stand with feet hip width, weights up at shoulders. Squat down, rise up and twist to the left pressing the right arm up and overhead to the left. Lower weight back to shoulder then squat and repeat by twisting to the right, pressing with the left arm. Continue alternating sides.

Arms and Abs

This workout focuses on the arms, while also engaging your core for a great combination workout. For each exercise, focus on tightening your core as you are doing the exercises.

Complete 3 sets, resting 1-2 minutes in between sets.

Plank Press (10 reps/side)
Kneeling Triceps (15 reps)
Half Burpee to Upright Row (10 reps)
Walkout Plank to Push-up (10 reps)
Triceps Press + Knee Tuck  (12 reps)

Plank Press (10 reps/side) – Place dumbbells at top of mat, then get into full push-up position with arms shoulder-width apart and hands directly under shoulders; step feet out slightly wider than shoulder-width. Keeping hips level, lift right hand and pick up one dumbbell; drive right elbow backward at shoulder level, keeping arm close to side and palm facing down. Extend right arm forward (press), then reverse back to bent elbow. Repeat press motion (not lowering weight) for all reps, then repeat with the other arm. Try to keep your hips square to the ground, using your core to hold a steady plank. If you don’t have dumbbells, or this is too difficult, complete the same movement without weights.

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Kneeling Triceps (15 reps) – Begin kneeling on all fours on the ground. Position your hands directly under your shoulders, and bring your knees together under your hips. Next, bend both elbows and lower them to the floor, keeping your abs braced in tight and your back straight (Cat Bow). Press your body back up to your start position. Be careful not to rock your weight forward and back during the movement and use your arms to press yourself back up to start.

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Half Burpee to Upright Row (10 reps) – Have weight in front of you on the ground (sandbag, barbell, or 2 dumbbells). Drop down to and jump feet back to plank then hop feet back forward (half burpee). Grab the weight upon standing in an overhand grip and raise it up to your chest. Lower and drop back to the floor and repeat. For an added challenge, hold the dumbbells throughout (see pic).

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Walkout Plank to Push-up (10 reps) – Start standing. Lower your hands to the floor as close to your feet as possible and walk your hands out until you are in plank position. Lower down into a push-up (drop to your knees first, if needed). Push back up to plank and walk your hands back toward your feet and come back up to standing. Repeat. Keep your legs straight and abs engaged throughout.

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Triceps Press + Knee Tuck  (12 reps)
– Lie faceup with knees bent 90 degrees and feet off the ground, holding a dumbbell in each hand with arms extended up over shoulders, palms in. Bend elbows, bringing dumbbells behind head, as you extend your legs out in front of you, keeping them elevated. Bring your knees to your chest as you straighten your arms back to start, and repeat. You can also do this using a barbell.

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Does Your Health and Wellness Need a Revamp?

I’m hosting an event this Monday on the products I use that have improved my energy and workout performance, have helped me to gain lean muscle, and have actually changed my life. It has been an amazing vehicle for reaching goals for so many people on so many levels.

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If you want to know more about the products that have transformed the lives of THOUSANDS of people please email me. My email is attached to the flyer,  as well as some other info.

My Biggest Pet Peeve Workout Myth: “You Shouldn’t Exercise at Night, it Will Ruin Your Sleep”

I am definitely not a morning workout person. My friends think I’m a little crazy when I post my 1 am workouts, and I always here, “I heard you shouldn’t workout at night because it will keep you up and make you not sleep as well.” Well, I will tell you, I have never had a bad night’s sleep after a workout – in fact I sleep like a baby. I find that I have a less effective workout if I force myself out of bed earlier than I have to so I can get a workout in. So, my theory is, workout when it works best for you. If you are going to half-ass a workout because you’re sleep-deprived from forcing yourself to get to the gym at 6am, does that really seem logical? Hey, if you can easily get up and get a workout in before work, kudos to you! That’s what works best for you. But if you need to have some hours in your day before you have the energy to hit the weights or go for a run, don’t think it’s ever too late in the day to workout. I work until 1am and I will hit up 24 Hour Fitness after or get a workout in when I get home – because that’s what I find works best for me. I’m on my feet all day, so doing a strenuous workout before work could make me a little sluggish. I’ve done some research on the matter and wanted to debunk this silly myth. tiredcat Most of my research proved almost the opposite of the myth – that late-night exercising can actually IMPROVE sleep quality. From my experience, and the many articles I’ve read, exercise not only makes you tired and ready for bed, but it can actually help you sleep better. In fact, it’s been shown that those who exercise late-night sleep better than those who do not exercise. The 2013 Sleep in America Poll found that people who exercise at any time of day report sleeping better and feeling more rested than those who don’t exercise. It also finds people who exercise in the last four hours before bedtime report sleeping just as well as those exercising earlier in the day. More than half of vigorous and moderate exercisers reported sleeping better on days they exercised, even if it was close to bedtime. In the poll of 1,000 people, just 3% of late-day exercisers said they slept worse. A whopping 83% of vigorous exercisers reported very or fairly good sleep quality, versus only 56% of non-exercisers.* According to the National Institute of Health article Effects of vigorous late-night exercise on sleep quality and cardiac autonomic activity, while sleep hygiene recommendations are that intensive exercising is not suggested within the last 3 hours before bedtime, this recommendation has not been adequately tested experimentally. Therefore, the effects of vigorous late-night exercise on sleep were examined by measuring polysomnographic, actigraphic and subjective sleep quality, as well as cardiac autonomic activity. The results showed effects on cardiac autonomic control with increased heart rate in the first 3 hours of sleep on exercise days, but concluded that vigorous late-night exercise does not disturb sleep quality. Regular physical activity has consistently been associated with better sleep in survey studies, and modest positive effects on sleep have also been reported after acute exercise. The mechanisms behind the beneficial effects have been suggested to be related to the energy conservation, tissue restitution and temperature downregulation theories of sleep (Driver and Taylor, 2000; Dworak et al., 2007). The mostly accepted hypothesis is that exercise-induced body heating may activate both temperature downregulation and sleep through the anterior hypothalamus-preoptic area in the brain (McGinty and Szymusiak, 1990). Modern neuroscientific theories suggest that brain energy metabolism and specific neurotransmitter systems may play a crucial role in homeostatic sleep regulation. In addition, exercise may ease anxiety and stress.** So exercise regulates sleep and alleviates stress and anxiety? Sounds like a win-win-win to me! The following chart is from an article I read from the Huffington Post. It states that people who identify as exercisers reported better sleep than those who consider themselves non-exercisers, according to a new National Sleep Foundation survey, even when both groups get the same amount of sleep.*** While results vary slightly from other articles and studies I’ve read, it gives a good visual of how well exercise in the late hours improves sleep quality overall.   sleepgraph

(Green: very good – Red: fairly good – Purple: fairly bad – Blue: very bad)***

So to wrap this up, the only downfall or negative effect I found on late-night workouts was on sleep hygiene (eww!) With increased heart rate, you increase body temperature – and therefore perspire a bit! (Maybe – I never wake up in sweat-soaked sheets.) According the the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, vigorous late-night activity may produce increased arousal and lead to inadequate sleep hygiene. Physiological activation during sleep after a day including strenuous physical activity were reported, however no negative effects on sleep quality were observed.** So even though you may sweat a little more in your sleep when exercising within the few hours before bed, your overall sleep quality will not be negatively affected – if anything, it may improve…You just may need to wash your sheets more often 🙂 2014-09-26 02.38.37  This is Gigi. She gets tired just watching me workout.

References:

*  USA Today: http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/03/04/sleep-survey-exercise-insomnia/1955117/

** National Institutes of Health: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20673290

*** Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/04/sleep-exercise-sleep-in-america_n_2784457.html

Badunkafit.com and Badunkafit Facebook page!

Hey guys! My blog now has it’s own website: badunkafit.com! You will still have access to all of my previous blogs/workouts – the only thing that’s changed is the web address! (the old web address automatically goes to the new website) Thanks to the many followers of my blog and on Pinterest, i’m humbled by your interest in my workouts and advice!! If you’d like to follow me on Pinterest my account name is badunkafit.

I’ve also created a Badunkafit Facebook page – to broaden my social media base and make it more convenient for all of you Facebook users. All of my blogs will automatically be published on the facebook page, but older  blogs will not. However, I will feature previous blogs on there as well (mostly my faves, and my most viewed) It’s still a work in progress but it’s getting there – just need some more followers!So click on the link above and LIKE my page! Or search for Badunkafit and look for the pic below 🙂

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Thanks again to all my followers for your support – it drives me and keeps me motivated! Feel free to message me on facebook with any questions or workout/blog requests!

 

WHO is Badunkafit? The Story Behind My Passion and Motivation

In honor of surpassing my 100th post on my blog, I decided to give a little insight into who I am, and how I became the person I am today. It’s basically a classic tale of triumph over tragedy – turning a terrible situation into a good one and bettering myself and others.

Few people truly understand how fragile life is, and how fast it can all be changed or taken away. I am one of those people. When I was 17-years old, I experienced a life-altering, life-changing, and almost life-ending trauma that would put me on the path I am on today. I’m fortunate that I had the strength and determination to overcome  and persevere, instead of wallowing in sorrow and self pity.

Below are x-rays of my femurs – after they were crushed between 2 cars. Now, to help you understand the severity of such an injury (the orthopedic injuries alone) I will tell you that the femur is the longest, strongest, and hardest bone to break in the body. The healing process of such a break is long, painful and takes a huge toll on the body.

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Left femur fracture (left) and right femur fracture (right)

On top of my obvious broken bones, I also had vascular injury to the femoral artery in my right leg, as well as compartment syndrome and nerve damage. The injury to my right leg was so severe, and I had lost so much blood, that I nearly had to lose my right leg in order to save my life.  I had a definite angel on my shoulder, because the doctors were able to save my leg at the last moment. That was only the beginning of what would be a long and tremendously painful recovery.  I was in the hospital for 3.5 weeks and underwent 5 surgeries before I was able to go home – but even then I was mostly confined to a hospital bed and wheelchair for months.

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ICU – 1.5 weeks post accident
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First time in wheel chair and post closure of fasciotomies. 2.5 weeks post accident.

I had a rod placed in my left femur, and had to have an external fixator device on my right leg since there was so much other damage. The right leg was crushed and this fixator was the only option the surgeons had – and it made life and recovery VERY difficult. It was heavy, uncomfortable, and painful (as you can see from the photos above). I had 4 pins that were drilled into my leg, with this apparatus just chillin’ on the outside of my leg. Not fun and not pretty! I had to deal with that thing for over 6 months.

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Left femur with internal rod placement.
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Right femur with external fixation and obvious fracture.
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Fixator from right femur after surgical removal.

The picture below is of the scars I have today from that contraption…my niece and nephew call them my holes, haha! And these are just some of the many scars, on my right leg alone.

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Now keep in mind – I was an athlete, a team captain, and a very active teenager. Being confined to a wheelchair and spending my spare time in pain and trying to recover, was more than just a physical obstacle.  I had physical therapy 3+ times a week, and had a completely different lifestyle than any other high school senior I knew. Through it all, I missed very little school and managed to still support my sports teams, even though I had to do so from the sidelines. Miraculously, I didn’t fall into depression and self pity – I was just grateful to be alive and still have my legs. Although uncertain whether I would walk normal again, if at all, I didn’t care. I celebrated the little victories and used the second chance I’d been given to make the most of the life I had – and this ultimately is one of the reasons I made such an incredible recovery. My athletic ability and competitive nature probably helped tremendously – but the support of my amazing family and a physical therapist that made me cry pretty much everyday played a huge role in my success.  I could never thank them or be grateful enough! I met my ultimate goal – which was to walk across the stage at my high school graduation. Not only did I do that, but I graduated 6th in my senior class.

I still get choked up today, and as I write this, seeing where I was and where I am now. I was at my lowest point – helpless, hopeless, uncertain of my future – and now I’m happy healthy and standing confidently on my own 2 feet (literally!) I still suffer emotionally though, I’m not going to lie. Post traumatic stress disorder is very real, and I have it, despite my positive outlook. I relive that day and the months that followed quite often, and it can definitely overcome your mentally especially when you’re going through another difficult time. Unfortunately I remember everything – but had I passed out or lost consciousness, I wouldn’t be here today.

Physically, I can’t complain. Although I have a lot of arthritis and scar tissue (especially in my right leg) and have undergone 10 surgeries (if I’m counting correctly), I have nearly full function. I have a lot of issues with the right leg, due to the fact that it didn’t heal completely normal because of the extent of injury and limited options for fracture repair, as well as a vascular bypass graft that I will have forever. I had injury to my hamstring unknown at the time as well, which also causes me a lot of pain and swelling at times. But, my leg is STRONG and I am able to keep it strong. I work with my setbacks, instead of letting them stop me. My recovery process and experience with physical therapy is what has given me a passion for physical fitness, especially weight training. My focus and determination has carried me through and beyond my recovery and into a lifestyle. I want to help and inspire people, and use that to keep myself motivated. When times get tough, I just look back at these x-rays and tell myself that if I can get through that, then I can get through anything!

Life is a gift, and I want to use the time I have to help others. My experience has taught me the value of life, family and support. Today I am not only a fitness blogger, I am also a healthcare professional, volunteer in animal rescue and a blood donor. I found a passion for helping shelter animals find homes – and give them love and hope. My compassion for life has given me a gift to bond with animals in their hopeless and helpless times, and it gives me overwhelming joy. I donate blood regularly because I know now that I wouldn’t be alive today, had it not been for 10 people who decided to go donate. Especially being in the clinical laboratory field and having worked in a blood bank, I know the dire need for blood donors and the shortage of blood products. Not just for trauma victims, but for cancer patients, patients with blood disorders and many others.

I don’t share my story often, and most people who know me today have no idea the struggles I’ve been through. I walk normal, and I’m as laid back as they come. People actually wonder why I’m so easy going – this experience is a big reason why. I don’t sweat the small stuff, and I value the important things in life – not petty drama :). I’ve learned the value of forgiving as well. The person responsible for my accident is a dear friend, and the whole experience just made us closer.

If I touch just one person with this blog, then I’m happy. I tell my story not for praise or validation, but for inspiration and hope. No matter your struggles, being inspired by just one story or one life can make a difference. Use the hard times to overcome and make a positive situation out of a negative one. While I wouldn’t wish my situation on anyone, I hope that my story alone will help illustrate the fragility of life. And although it took nearly dying to see and understand this, I’m blessed to have that understanding and I hope that message gets across. We’re only given one life, so we might as well make the best of it!