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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Superset Circuit Workout

Superset workouts are designed to give you multiple workouts at once, with little rest in between. You complete each superset for a prescribed amount of rounds and complete the exercises back to back with no rest, only resting between each superset.

This workout consists of 3 supersets. You will complete each 3 times before resting and moving on to the next. This is a total body workout involving weight training, as well as some body movements. Don’t rush yourself, but don’t rest between sets.

Here is a break down of the workout, descriptions can be found below.

Superset #1
3 sets
Reverse Hook Crunch (20 reps)
Bent Over Lateral Raise (12 reps)
Elevated Plank Tricep Kickbacks (12 reps/arm)

Superset #2
3 sets
Shoulder Circle to Crunch (15 reps)
Jump Squats (20 reps)
Weighted Jabs (40 reps)
Skier Swings (20 reps)

Superset #3
3 sets
Sumo Squat Press (15 reps)
Up and Over Presses (12 reps)
Triceps Curl + Knee Tuck (12 reps)
Plank Row to Double Row (10 reps)


Reverse Hook Crunch (x20) Lay on your back with arms reached overhead or down by your sides and legs straight and extended off the ground slightly. Bend knees toward chest and lift hips off the ground and extend your legs up pushing your feet up and back. Reverse the motion and repeat.

hook crunch
(last part of crunch)


Bent Over Lateral Raise (x12) Stand with a dumbbell in each hand, knees slightly bent and hinge forward so that the weights are below your chest. In a controlled motion, raise the weights out to your sides in a wide arc without bending or extending your elbows. Raise the weights until they’re about even with your body, maintaining the bent-over position to reduce body swing, then hold the top position for a count before slowly reversing the motion back to the start.
Elevated Plank Tricep Kickback (x12/arm) Get into plank with one arm on a step/bench and grasp a dumbbell in the other hand by your side with the weight up by your rib and elbow pointing back. From here extend your arm back into a tricep kickback and then bend back to start. Keep your upper arm still and close to your body. After completing reps, switch sides. You can also do this in plank from the floor (see pic)


Shoulder Circle to Crunch (x15) Lie faceup on a mat lifting light dumbbells behind your head, palms facing the ceiling. Engage your core and lift your legs off the floor six inches, knees slightly bent. Keeping your arms straight, circle your hands toward your legs until the dumbbells touch behind your hamstrings. Simultaneously lift your head and shoulders off the floor while bending your knees slightly. Extend your legs out and your arms overhead, reversing the motion. TIP: to keep tension on the lower abs, don’t let your upper legs go past 70 degrees.
Jump Squats (x20) Stand with feet hip-width, abs engaged with arms at your sides. Squat down bringing your arms bent in front of you.Jump up as high as you can, using your arms for momentum, and land softly back down into the squat position. Pause briefly and repeat.
Jump Squat 2
Weighted Jabs (20/arm) Start with feet hip-width apart, a dumbbell in each hand. Bend knees and lean forward from hips, pulling belly in tight. Bend arms, bringing elbows close to rib cage, palms facing in. Extend right arm in front, palm down. As you draw back, repeat with the left arm. Continue alternating jabs in a quick continuous pace, each jab is 1 rep. Keep core engaged throughout.
Skier Swings (x20) Stand with a dumbbell in each hand (palms in) at your sides,hinge forward slightly with knees slightly bent. Raise both arms straight up and back behind you (skier pose). Swing both arms forward and up as you come to standing. Swing arms back down and back into skier pose, keeping back straight and chest lifted throughout.


Sumo Squat Press (x15) Stand with feet wide and toes slightly turned out. Hold a weight in both hands with your palms up (holding the ends of a dumbbell or kettlebell from under it). Squat down, and as your straighten your legs, press the weight overhead. Lower weight and return to squat.
Up and Over Presses (x12) Hold a barbell in front of your chest with palms out. Press the bar up and down behind your head, resting it on your traps. Push the bar back up and over down to your chest. Be sure to not use too heavy of a weight.
Triceps Curl + Knee Tuck (x12) Lie faceup with knees bent 90 degrees, a dumbbell in each hand, arms over shoulders, palms in. Bend elbows, bringing dumbbells behind head, as you extend your legs out in front of you. Bring your knees to your chest as you straighten your arms back to start, and repeat. You can also do this using a barbell.
Plank Row to Double Row (x10) Start in plank, holding weights, feet wide. Do a row with each arm, hop feet forward with feet together and stand part way and do a double row slightly bent forward, keeping butt back and back straight. Place weights back on ground and jump feet back to wide plank.(1 rep)
rowstart plankrowdoublerow

Lower Body Burnout

I figured I would follow-up my last workout, the Upper Body Burnout, with a lower body burnout. This will be a high intensity interval circuit with 20 rounds (do exercises 4 times through). You will be feeling this in the quads and thighs mostly.

Complete the following exercises for 45 seconds work then taking a 15 second rest.

4 sets (20 rounds)
45 seconds work, 15 seconds rest

Kettlebell Pendulum Swing
Side Pulse Lunges
Push Kick Left
Push Kick Right
Genghis Khan Burpee

Kettlebell Pendulum Swing This exercise reinforces the loading of the butt and legs and the activation of the lats. start in your swing stance, using a heavy kettlebell. A heavier kettlebell is easier to use during the pendulum than a lighter bell, the more weight the more it counterbalances your hips. Grab the kettlebell with 2-hands and swing the kettlebell explosively between your legs as you’re hinged forward at the hips (like a traditional KB swing). Swing the weight back forward in a floating motion (using your lats, not your arms to swing it forward), as the kettlebell swings to the front stay low and sit back and down (instead of standing up). Tighten your glutes, your shoulders down (do not shrug) and your back straight in a hinged forward-like squat. Now use your arms to swing the weight back between your legs as your weight shifts back forward. Repeat staying low with a neutral spine. If you lose neutral spine, lower your weight.
Side Pulse Lunges Lunge to the side, butt back bringing arms to chest and pulse twice into the side lunge. Bring feet back together, arms down and repeat on opposite side. (alternate sides)


Push Kick (left/right) Stand with feet hip-width apart, elbows bent, hands in loose fists by chest. Bend right knee 90 degrees as you bring it up in front of you at hip level. Press right heel forward, foot flexed, as you lean torso back slightly until right leg is completely extended at hip level. Bend right knee to 90 degrees again as you straighten up posture. Repeat push kick without lowering right leg to ground. After time/reps, switch legs.

front kick

Genghis Khan Burpee This is like a traditional burpee, but instead of standing up or jumping at the end you come half way up into a squat. Place your hands down in front of your feet, hop back into plank and then hop feet back forward, landing on the soles of your feet, knees bent about 90 degrees. Bring just your upper body up, hinging at the hips as you remain in a squat (make sure your squat has good form, knees behind toes). Place hands back down and repeat.

You can also do this holding a bosu ball or ugi ball to add weight, lifting it up above your head as you come up into the squat and balancing on it as you jump your feet back into plank.


Upper Body Burnout

This is an upper body workout, including the triceps, chest and shoulders. You will work your core as well, so be sure to focus on tightening your abs when performing these moves.

Set an interval timer for 45 seconds work, 15 seconds rest.
Complete 3x (18 rounds)

Pike Push-up + Dive Bomber
Tricep Dips
Elevated Plank Left Tricep Kickback
Elevated Plank Right Tricep Kickback
Turkish Get-up Left 
Turkish Get-up Right

Pike Push-up + Dive Bomber Start in pike position with hips towards the ceiling, arms and feet flat on the ground. Maintain pike position as you bend arms as you lower your head toward the ground. Push up and then perform a dive bomber. Repeat sequence.
Tricep Dips Hands on a edge of a bench/step, or using a dip station or equalizer bars.
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Elevated Plank Tricep Kickback (left/right) Get into plank with one arm on a step/bench and grasp a dumbbell in the other hand by your side with the weight up by your rib and elbow pointing back. From here extend your arm back into a tricep kickback and then bend back to start. Keep your upper arm still and close to your body. After time switch sides. You can also do this with your hand on the ground.
Turkish Get- up (left/right) Lie faceup with legs flat, left arm raised toward ceiling holding a kettlebell or dumbbell. With left arm raised throughout, sit up, leaning on right hand and right knee to come to standing planting the left leg on the ground first. Reverse motion back to laying down. Complete time then switch arms.

Combination Dumbbell Workout

This workout uses dumbbells in a combination of moves that will work your entire body….we will hit abs, legs, arms and even your delts and back. You should be able to use the same set of dumbbells for all moves, but adjust weight accordingly if needed.

You will do 2 sets of the following workout, resting 2 minutes between sets. Move from each exercise within a set with no rest, but take your time while performing each move, to insure that you’re doing them correctly.

2 sets

Rotated Row – 10 reps/side
Elevated Plank Lateral Raise – 10 reps/arm
Crunch and Tap – 20 reps
Squat & Raise to Upright Row – 12 reps
Weighted Rotations – 12 reps


Rotated Row (left/right) Start in a shallow squat, hinged forward and holding a weight in each hand, arms extended down. Pull your right elbow back, squeezing your right shoulder blade toward your spine while you twist to the right while remaining hinged at the hips. Straighten arm to start and repeat. Complete reps, then repeat on other side.
Elevated Plank Lateral Raise (left/right) Get into plank with one arm on a step/bench and grasp a dumbbell in the other hand by your side, palm facing in and feet wide. Keeping your entire body rigid, raise your arm up and out to your side by contracting your delt muscle, until your arm is at shoulder level and parallel to the ground. Hold for a moment before slowly lowering to the start. Be sure to keep your hips and shoulders square. Complete reps then repeat on the other side.
Crunch and Tap Lay on your back holding a dumbbell with both hands above your chest, legs lifted with knees above your hips bent 90 degrees. Holding the weight still, crunch up. Lower shoulders down then tap your toes to the ground, keeping your knees bent (1 rep). Come back to start position and repeat.
Squat & Raise to Upright Row Stand with your feet slightly wider than hip width, holding dumbbells in front of your thighs, palms facing your body. Lower into a squat until your thighs are parallel to the floor while lifting your arms forward up to shoulder height. Lower your arms as you return to standing, then lift your elbows out to the sides, bringing the weights to your chest. Simultaneously, rise onto the balls of your feet, flexing your calves. Return to standing, lowering arms to front of thighs. Works: deltoids, upper back, core, legs, calves.


Weighted Rotations Stand holding dumbbell at chest with both hands, feet together. Twist 90 degrees to the right, then 180 degrees to face left. Keep your abs tight and move fast. Bring to center. (1 rep). Next rep you will turn left from center, 180 degrees to face right and then back to center. Alternate the side you start with. Be sure to use your abs to twist, and keep your hips forward.

Quick Cardio HIIT Training

This is a HIIT workout that will allow you to get some cardio in by really elevating your heart rate! While HIIT workouts are a great cardio workout regardless, this one has more cardio-specific moves…with a little bit of weight involved.

Like other HIIT workouts, you will have a set amount of time for work, followed by a short rest. Since this is a cardio workout, pace yourself but also push yourself. Make the most of the 45 second work time.

45 sec work – 15 sec rest
3 sets/18 rounds

Deadlift Burpees
Bench Top Toe Touches
Jump Squats

Left Arm Kettlebell Swings
Right Arm Kettlebell Swings
High Knees + Get-ups


Deadlift Burpees Stand holding barbell/sandbag or a DB in each hand, palms facing your body. Bend forward hinging at the hips into a deadlift, lowering the weight with straight arms. Continue bending forward and lower the weights to the ground, in the same orientation as you were holding them and set them on the ground by your feet. Jump feet back and come into plank and perform a push-up (optional). Jump feet back forward, grab your weight as you come up, hinging up at the waist to standing. Repeat.
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Bench Top Toe Touches Stand behind a bench or box. Touch right toes up onto bench with knee bent 90 degrees, then switch feet quickly as you tap your left toe to the top of the bench. Repeat quickly alternating. Keep your back tall and core tight.
Jump Squats Stand with feet hip-width, abs engaged with arms at your sides. Squat down bringing your arms bent in front of you.Jump up as high as you can, using your arms for momentum, and land softly back down into the squat position. Pause briefly and repeat.
One Arm Kettlebell Swings (left/right) Stand feet wider than shoulder width. Swing kettlebell down with one arm between legs, bending knees. Swing up and power through your heels, bringing the weight up. Swing back down and repeat. Complete time then repeat on the other arm. (i also use my sandbag for an extra challenge)
High Knees and Get Ups Start standing. Do 5 high knees, then drop down to your stomach, hands up by shoulders. Push back up to standing and repeat.
High-knees-jpg(high knees)

Abs and Legs: 2 part HIIT Workout

This is a 2 part workout with 2 separate HIIT circuits. The first is a lower body workout, while the second is a core workout. Take only a 1-2 minute break between the 2 circuits, or just enough time to reset your interval timer.

Circuit 1: 45 seconds work/15 seconds rest
3 sets (15 rounds)

Left Cross Seated Squat
Right Cross Seated Squat

Sumo Squat Torso Twist
Sumo Squat Jumps
Jumping Kettlebell Swing

Circuit 2: 30 seconds work/10 seconds rest
3 sets (15 rounds)

Scissor Bike Crunch
Left Side Plank Pulse
Right Side Plank Pulse
Left Leg Push-up w/ Knee Drive
Right Leg Push-up w/ Knee Drive


Circuit 1

Crossed Seated Squat (left/right) Sit on chair/bench, with left foot on floor and right ankle on left knee. Lean into left foot and stand up, squeezing glutes. Sit back down, keeping right ankle on left knee the entire time. Complete time then switch sides. If crossing your leg is uncomfortable, do the seated squat with your leg elevated and extended out in front of you.
Sumo Squat Torso Twist Stand in sumo squat with legs wide and feet turned out, and arms bent 90 degrees up in front of face. Holding arms up and remaining in a squat, twist torso left and right. Be sure to keep your hips forward and feet planted. To add a challenge, hold a weight or medicine ball with both hands in front of your face.
Sumo Jump Squats Stand with feet wide and toes turned out slightly. Squat down and come up into a hop, landing back into a squat. Weight can be added.
Jumping Kettlebell Swing Stand with feet on opposite sides of step (straddling) holding KB in both hands between legs. Lower into a squat and jump both feet together on the step while raising arms straight out in front. Jump back to start while bringing the KB back down. You can also do this without a step, using the same motions.

Circuit 2

Bike Crunch
Traditional bike crunch but legs are straight and scissoring.

Scissor crunch sit up

Side Plank Pulse (left/right) Come into side plank you your forearm with your elbow in line with your shoulder, feet stacked. Pulse your hip upward and back to neutral in a pulsing motion. Don’t let hips drop down below neutral. This will be a small pulsing movement. Complete time for each side.
One Leg Pushup with Knee Drive (left/right) Begin in pushup position with hands on bench, left leg lifted slightly, toes pointed. Lower into pushup, and as arms extend, bend left knee into chest, bracing abs in tighter. Return to start, keeping leg elevated. Complete time then switch legs.