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4 Full Body Bodyweight AMRAP Workouts To Maintain Strength

Challenge yourself with these upper and lower body, core, and conditioning workouts.

As much as you love barbells (you and me both, my friend), it can be good to return to good old bodyweight moves. They help uncover weak links in movement integrity. Recognizing that slight leftward lean in your squat is probably the real culprit behind your plateau.

Exercising with only your bodyweight can maintain strength and stability while correcting imbalances — and integrating AMRAP (as many reps/rounds as possible) into your bodyweight training can give an extra urgency to your session. Added urgency AMRAP workouts can bring your bodyweight exercises and strength to the next level.

Why AMRAP?

Completing as many reps or rounds as possible during a given time period helps conditioning gains, muscular endurance, and build raw strength. With only bodyweight to work with, be deliberate about cultivating mental toughness and focus, as well.

On the one hand, completing as many reps or rounds as possible during a workout can take your mind out of the equation — set a stopwatch and just work, work, work. Anxiety or dysphoria or stress or whatever you’re bringing to the workout doesn’t really have too much room to take over. It’s just you, the timer, and the movements. 

On the other hand, you can’t be mindless about an AMRAP workout — it requires a focus on counting. That combination of pushing forward and working at full tilt while constantly counting can give your mind as much of a workout as your body, and all the stress-relief benefits that come with it.

Workout
Image via Shutterstock/David Pereiras

The Workouts

Don’t interpret AMRAP as license for a form meltdown. Really, the acronym should be AMRWPFAP — as many reps with perfect form as possible. But who wants to figure out how to pronounce that? Not me.

Suffice it to say, make sure your form is absolutely locked in each and every rep. The idea is not mindless speed — it is building both strength and endurance so that when repeating the same workout, you can beat your numbers by needing less rest, rather than by pumping out faster, crappier reps. If your form is breaking, you need to stop, shake it out, and reset with perfect position before diving back into it.

Workout # 1: Upper Body Emphasis (15 Minute AMRAP)

The prescribed number of reps is listed after each exercise, but of course adjust as needed. For example, if you can bang out five diamond push-ups in your sleep, double the number and keep that consistent. If you’re a diamond push-up novice, that’s awesome too! Keep the target number to two or even one rep per round — that’s absolutely fine. Use this upper body bodyweight AMRAP to meet yourself where you’re at.

Bent Over WTYs

Keep soft knees and elbows, and hinge like you’re about to do the slowest, most perfectly-formed deadlift of your life. Pause where your torso is just about parallel to the ground, or when you feel your hamstrings activate (whichever comes first — the stronger you get holding this position, the better off your hamstrings and deadlift will be). 

Maintain that soft bend in your elbows and focus on bringing your shoulder blades together behind you as you pull your arms back to form a ‘W’ shape above your torso. Focus on that contraction in your upper back and keep tightly-squeezed fists to maximize muscle tension.

Repeat the flye with no dumbbells, and this time bringing your arms out to the side like a ‘T’; then one more time, raising your arms out away from your body like a ‘Y’. Keep your back in the same neutral, deadlift-ready position the whole time. One round of a complete ‘W’, ‘T’, and ‘Y’ counts as a single rep.

Training Recommendation: 20 reps

Tripod Reaches

Like the bent over WTYs, these tripod reaches engage core, glutes, and hamstrings. Start on your butt with your knees bent and your feet on the ground, planted a smidge farther than hip width apart. Place your hands just outside your hips with your fingers facing the wall behind you.

Squeeze your glutes and press into your heels so that your hips raise toward a reverse tabletop position. With control, peel your left hand off the ground and send it up and back behind you, reaching for the far wall. Lower your hips as you lower your left arm. Reset your left hand, and when you rise into reverse tabletop again, this time reach up and back with your right arm.

Keep your hips steady throughout, making sure the mobility is coming from your thoracic spine rather than tugging through your low back and hips.

Training Recommendation: 10 reps per side

Diamond Push-ups

This one’s pretty self-explanatory — perform push-ups with your fingers framed like a diamond beneath you. Set up with your hands directly under the center of your chest and keep your elbows tucked close to your ribs as you descend. As with any push-up, keep your glutes and quads tight and your core super activated.

Training Recommendation: 5 reps

Tricep Push-ups

Tricep push-ups require your hands be a little bit wider set than diamond push-ups, but not quite as far out as regular push-ups. Granted, all of these configurations depend heavily on your body type and arm length. So as long as you’re not chicken-winging out to the side or letting your low back sag (both can get you injured!), it’s definitely alright if your version of tricep push-ups looks different than mine.

Training Recommendation: 10 reps

[Related: 3 most common push-up mistakes (with CrossFit athlete Meg Reardon]

Wide Grip Push-ups

Depending on the volume and form of push-ups you’re used to doing, your upper body might be a bit shaky by now, and that’s okay. Remember again that your perfect form might look different from the dude down the block, and that’s alright — just don’t allow your elbows to flop out to the sides just because your hand position is outside your shoulders. If you need to drop to your knees to continue with perfect form, do so — as long as your form is good, any modifications you need are valid.

Training Recommendation: 15 reps

Complete all the prescribed number of reps (adjusted as needed at the top of the workout) to complete one round. Try to complete — you guessed it — as many rounds as possible in fifteen minutes.

Workout # 2: Lower Body Emphasis (20 Minute AMRAP)

Just because this bodyweight workout targets your lower body specifically doesn’t mean you should let your upper body go slack. You might be doing just that accidentally — if you’re not actively maintaining tension throughout your body during a movement, you’re going to leak force.

If you’re doing lower body bodyweight work for time, you might focus more on counting rather than maintaining core and upper body tension. If the choice is between quality reps and more reps, please — for the love of maintaining your strength and preventing injuries — go with quality reps.

[Related: How to use “muscle irradiation” to create tension for stronger lifts]

Quad Press

Start on all fours, in tabletop position. Scoot your knees closer up toward your chest, bringing your feet and knees out slightly wider than your body. Shuffle around to find balance as needed — your exact position will be determined by your body type, so go by feel here.

Raise your knees off the ground (perhaps flaring slightly out to the sides), keeping your weight balanced between your planted toes and your planted palms. When you’ve found a balanced position, bend your elbows like you were doing a push-up and sink your thighs closer to the ground. This might bring your chest down into your thighs.

Pressing with your quad and triceps at the same time, rise back up like your quads are helping you with your push-up. Try to keep the weight well-balanced between your hands and your feet. When you’ve found the position that works best for your body, you’re likely to feel this in your quads and your triceps.

Training Recommendation: 20 reps

Lateral Squat
Image via Shutterstock/Dmytro Zinkevych

Lateral Shuffle Squat

Assume a sumo stance. Depending on your limb length and ankle flexibility, your toes may be turned just a bit outward with your feet wider than your hips. Whatever your stance, make sure that when you sink into a lateral lunge, your knee tracks over your toes and you’re sitting back into your hips as opposed to collapsing forward and putting all that force on your bent knee.

Keep your feet in the same position throughout the movement — it’ll save you time from having to reposition between reps — and shuffle into lateral lunges, as deep as you can go with a proud chest.

Training Recommendation: 15 reps per side

Airplanes

Set up in a regular deadlifting stance. Slowly transfer all your weight into your left leg. Hinge forward at the hips — just like you would with a deadlift — and let your right leg drift back behind you. Keep your left knee soft and your hips squared. As you sink deeper into your hinge, draw your arms back into a ‘T’, squeezing your shoulder blades together and keeping your neck neutral. Keep your movements slow and steady — yes, you want to rack up the rounds, but it’s more important to keep your form, especially with your hamstrings involved.

Training Recommendation: 15 reps per side

Jump Squats

With your jump squats, always make sure you’re squatting low and landing softly. Use your arms to help you with momentum and ensure that your core stays engaged. Imagine you live above someone and you’re trying to be a good neighbor. If you can’t land softly in a controlled fashion, skip the jump and complete your reps by sinking down very slowly into a deep squat, then exploding up so fast you come up onto your tip toes.

Training Recommendation: 10 reps

Overhead Air Squats

You might be sick of air squats, but by holding your arms overhead — with tight fists held slightly out to the sides as though you were holding a barbell — you’ll maximize core and lat engagement. Make sure not to tilt too far forward and keep both heels firmly on the ground. Play around with a wider stance if your shoulders and/or ankles aren’t super flexible, but make sure your mechanics stay solid throughout (and work on your mobility!).

Training Recommendation: 15 reps

Overhead Pulse Squats

Keep your arms overhead but this time, stay near the bottom of your squat. Pulse between the range of your deepest squat and your halfway mark. Challenge yourself to stay low the entire set. Maintain a tall chest and make sure you’re sinking back into your hips instead of collapsing forward into your knees.

Training Recommendation: 20 reps

Workout # 3: Core Emphasis (15 Minute AMRAP)

When paying proper attention to form, pretty much all workouts will engage your core. But even if you’re loading a barbell for deadlifts and squats to your heart’s content, it’s still a good idea to give your core some love. It’ll improve your movement patterns, posture, and strength levels, plus it’ll give your limbs something of a recovery break. 

Lateral Kickthroughs

Start in a tabletop position. Cycle through a couple breaths’ worth of cat-cows, exploring your thoracic spine’s range of motion. Settle with your back in a neutral position, with your hands remaining under your shoulders and your knees under your hips. Lift your knees very slightly off the ground — think less than an inch — and pull your attention to your left hand and right toes.

Focus on driving them both into the ground as you simultaneously peel your right hand and left foot off the ground. Rotate your body up so your chest is facing the ceiling, drawing your right hand up toward your face like you’re drawing an arrow, and kicking your left leg through to your left side. Straighten your leg and point your toe, keeping your hips off the ground. Draw back to starting position and switch sides.

Training Recommendation: 5 reps per side

Plank Reach-Unders

Get into a full plank position. With control, peel your left hand off the ground and raise your hips toward the ceiling (like you were switching into a down dog, but with a little less height). Reach your left arm under your body toward the right side of the room. Pause for a moment at your maximum range of motion (do not involve your lower back in the twist) and return to plank position before switching sides.

Training Recommendation: 15 reps per side

Plank Saws

This time, start in a forearm plank. Keeping your glutes and quads tight with your elbows under your shoulders, draw yourself forward like — you guessed it — a saw, so that your shoulders approach or even pass your hands. Keep your hips in line the entire time, and try to make sure all of your movement is horizontal, not vertical.

Training Recommendation: 20 reps

Plank Jacks

Choose your fighter — forearm plank or full plank. If you live upstairs and above neighbors, you might want to fight with a full plank to cushion your foot falls as noiselessly as possible. Either way, start with your feet close together or even touching. Avoid raising your hips as much as possible as you hop your feet out wide to the sides, just like you would if you were standing up and doing jumping jacks. If you can’t jump out, stepping one foot out at a time is perfectly fine — just make sure you keep it even on both sides.

Training Recommendation: 20 reps

Workout # 4: Conditioning Emphasis (20 Minutes)

Plyometrics are great choices for so many workouts, but they’re especially handy when trying to get in cardio work without going on a run. You can still get solid conditioning in if you can’t jump in your movements, though — modifications are listed below. There are ways to exercise explosively without putting added pressure on your joints.

Clapping Push-ups

Clapping push-ups, explosive push-ups — why-the-hell-am-I-doing-this-to-myself push-ups — whatever you want to call them, make sure you’re not letting your low back sag while you’re getting your explosiveness on. If you can’t get a clap in, just let your hands leave the ground briefly. There’s no shame in performing these explosive push-ups from your knees — they’ll still give you great strength benefits and leave you breathless.

Training Recommendation: 5 reps

Jumping Lunges

Dive through alternating reverse lunges, but instead of stepping into each rep, jump or hop. You can reset in the middle if you need to, or you can just jump from one lunge right into the next. You can also sink very slowly into each lunge and then explode up. Whatever your method, keep your reps even on both sides.

Training Recommendation: 10 reps per side

Plank Shoulder Taps

Get into a full plank position with your hands under your shoulders. Without moving your hips, slowly tap your right hand to your left shoulder. Reset, and repeat the movement with your left hand to your right shoulder. These are meant to give you a bit of a breathing break, but the isometric work will keep your heart rate plenty occupied.

Training Recommendation: 10 reps per side

Mountain Climbers

Try to transition directly from plank shoulder taps into these classic bad boys. If jumping isn’t your thing, really focus on drawing each knee under and across your body with each rep, making sure the movement is coming more from your core than it is from your legs.

Even if you’re maintaining a rapid pace, try to challenge yourself by squaring your shoulders as directly over your hands as possible — it’ll keep your core maximally engaged and maintain a stricter tension throughout your whole body.

Training Recommendation: 15 reps per side

Lateral Bounds

Set up with your feet roughly under your hips. Sink your weight into your right foot and use that energy to explode out to the left. Land as softly as you can on your left foot, keeping a slight hinge in your hips and a soft bend in your knee. Let the momentum carry your right foot slightly behind your left leg as you transition to bounding back to your right side. Use your arms to assist in momentum-building, and keep your chest tall throughout.

Training Recommendation: 10 reps per side

AMRAP It Out

Remember two things above all else: form is more important than your numbers; and make sure to bookend each workout with a warmup and cooldown. You’ll maximize your benefits and minimize your injury risk, all the while maintaining (and possibly even building) strength with nothing but your bodyweight.

Feature image via Shutterstock/Dmytro Zinkevych.

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