What does AMRAP mean?

We’ve all been there… Warmed up, preparing to start the workout, our arms-heavy-knees-weak-mom’s spaghetti moment. Coach starts the clock and it’s ON.

75 seconds later, we realize we’ve made a terrible mistake. Now what? The stages of workout grief; the denial, the bargaining, finally the acceptance… as we stare at a barbell with a heart-rate of 300. But what if there is a better way?

When we program workouts, the goal is to have you increase your work capacity – an unsexy way of saying “move things quicker than you could move those things last time”. To do that, conditioning workouts are time and task based.

“Time” means you have a time limiter on the work being done, the every minute on the minute format is a popular iteration of this idea. In that case, every 60s, you’re moving to another movement regardless of what you’ve done.

“Task” means you have a task to complete, but the time in which that is accomplished may vary from person to person. In these cases, we likely vary the load being used to keep athletes finishing in the same general time.

Improving work capacity requires repeatability and consistency. You don’t get more efficient by doing one rep, you gain efficiency by doing lots of reps. This is the case because your muscles require volume and time to build stamina, cardio endurance, strength and flexibility while your brain requires practice to learn coordination, balance, agility and accuracy and therefore gain efficiency. Repeatability gives you increased speed and power – otherwise knows as – you guessed it, more work capacity. If you blow up after 75s, we haven’t accomplished any of those things.

And now here’s where the beloved “AMRAP” – As Many Rounds (or Reps) As Possible comes in. For any workout longer than a few minutes (let’s say 3-4), you need a plan for pacing. Otherwise, you’re not training – you’re practicing blowing up – and that is the absolute least efficient way to get better at anything.

As many rounds as possible, really means as much work as possible. That   requires a plan and pacing so that your 15 min workout is actually useful, not leaving you crawling, crying and hoping that taking your shirt off will be the answer (we’ve tried, it doesn’t..). Next time, you see an AMRAP format workout – break it down into time intervals that you can repeat. This keeps the workout useful and you’ll actually get fitter.

Oh, and you’ll hang on to mom’s spaghetti. Marshall would be proud.

Previous Post:


Next Post: