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AMRAP, EMOM, WOD, TABATA – what does it all mean?

Are CrossFit concepts and workout timer abbreviations leaving you baffled? We look at the ins and outs of the workout clock to help you train more efficiently.

We’ve probably all been at a point in our lives where we’ve been baffled by abbreviations. But one place you don’t want to be lost is when you’re stuck at the back of a fitness class, peering on to see AMRAP, EMOM, WOD, or Tabata scribbled on the workout board next to a countdown timer, wondering what you should do next.

Even if you haven’t encountered these terms in your gym session or workouts so far, many people swear by these concepts to improve physical strength, fitness, agility, balance, flexibility and much more [1]. So, what do they all mean?

What is AMRAP?

AMRAP means as many rounds or reps as possible, depending on the workout you’re doing. To do AMRAP, you go through as many rounds of a given workout sequence or circuit in a set amount of time. The best thing? You can decide on the exercises and the time, making this a very versatile workout.

You can do an AMRAP workout with just about any type of exercise, meaning it’s easy to adjust your workout to your needs. If you choose a consistent routine, you’ll be able to see progress. It also makes this a great type of workout to do with friends. Who doesn’t love a bit of healthy competition?

Examples of AMRAP exercises:

  • Swimming
  • Running
  • Box jumps
  • Sit-ups
  • Push-ups
  • Squats

It’s not just the type of AMRAP exercises you can do that make this a very versatile workout; you are also in control of the time. You decide how long the AMRAP workout lasts, whether you’ve got two minutes or 45 minutes – and the energy to go with it!

What does EMOM mean?

EMOM stands for every minute on the minute. Men’s Health described EMOM as one of the best formulas for getting lean [2]. Doing an exercise, like ten sit-ups, at the top of every minute and then resting for the remainder means this workout structure can help manage fatigue and implement progressive overload.

Examples of EMOM workouts 

 Every minute on the minute 12-minute workout:

  • Minute one – 15 bicycle crunches  
  • Minute two – eight-ten bodyweight squats
  • Minute three – ten push-ups
  • Minute four – 12-star jumps
  • Minutes five – 12– repeat  

WOD: workout of the day

WOD can describe any of the other three terms – AMRAP, EMOM or Tabata. You’ll probably be familiar with a WOD if you’ve ever been to a CrossFit class or follow someone like @wodwellCF on Instagram.

Workouts of the day are generally timed and recorded. That means they can be a reference point for you to use either on a worldwide scale or to track your progress.

What is the best WOD to do at home?

Here’s three WODs you can do at home:

  • Full body sprint – seven rounds of ten push-ups, ten air squats and run 200m.
  • Bodyweight WOD– eight rounds of ten push-ups, ten air squats and ten burpees.
  • Interval cardio – ten rounds of sprint 100m then walk 100m.

What is a Tabata workout?

Tabata is a high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workout that Dr Izumi Tabata created in 1996 [3].

Tabata aims to get the most out of an exercise, or exercises, in a short amount of time - meaning it’s often an intense option of HIIT. Tabata workouts last four minutes made up of 20-second sprints. So, you do eight rounds of 20 seconds of strenuous exercise, followed by ten seconds of rest.

What’s the difference between HIIT and Tabata?

HIIT is an umbrella term. It covers all types of workouts that involve a period of work followed by a rest period – aka interval training. Tabata is one specific type of interval training [4]. The difference with Tabata is that it is more specific in its interval timing than other HIIT workouts and has a shorter recovery period. So, you generally do Tabata at a higher intensity than a traditional workout.

Examples of Tabata:

Take a mix of workouts and do each one for eight rounds of 20 seconds exercise, followed by ten seconds of rest: 

  • Sit-ups
  • Plank
  • Burpees
  • Squats
  • Mountain climbers
  • Lunges

Are HIIT workouts and CrossFit safe?

One concept that I’m always talking to my students about as a yoga instructor is the idea of Svadhyaya or self-study. If you’ve ever been to a yoga class, you may have been encouraged to listen to your body or only go as far as is comfortable for you. These phrases help us be more aware of what brings us harm or comfort in class - and life. One benefit of this awareness in class is to minimise physical injury.

 HIIT and CrossFit are high-intensity forms of exercise, so they may not be the right choice for everyone. For instance, if you have a health condition, injury or have limited bodily awareness. According to Healthline [5], some common CrossFit injuries can include: 

  • Lower back pain
  • Rotator cuff tendonitis
  • Achilles’ tendonitis
  • Knee injuries
  • Tennis elbow

Getting started with HIIT or CrossFit

If you’re a complete beginner, try to find an experienced professional to guide you through the exercises. 

It’s also helpful if you’re aware of any pre-existing health or medical conditions that may impact your training, such as low or high blood pressure, a nutritional deficiency or problems with your kidney, liver, or thyroid function.

A general health blood test like an Advanced Well Man Blood Test or Advanced Well Woman Blood Test looks at a range of different biomarkers from diabetes risk and cholesterol levels to levels of key nutrients. This insight can help you to see if you’re well enough to train.

 A few other tips for getting started:

  • Take it slow and listen to your body.
  • If you’re unsure, work with a trained instructor.
  • Tell your instructor about any health conditions or injuries.
  • Make sure you train in supportive trainers.
  • Keep a log of your time, reps, and weights to track your progress.
  • Monitor your BMI, body measurements or blood health to see how your training is affecting your overall health.

Related blood tests

  • Advanced Well Man Blood Test - Our advanced health check for men includes tests for liver health, diabetes, and cholesterol as well as testosterone and vitamins for energy and wellbeing.
  • Advanced Well Woman Blood Test - Our advanced health check for women includes tests for thyroid function, female hormones as well as vitamins and minerals for energy and long-term health.
  • Sports Hormone Blood Test - Our best-selling sports profile for strength trainers consisting of key performance hormones as well as tests for general health and fitness.

References 

  1. https://www.menshealth.com/fitness/a19547990/why-you-need-emom-workouts/https://www.healthline.com/health/exercise-fitness/tabata-vs-hiit
  2. https://www.bodybuilding.com/content/the-real-tabata-a-brutal-circuit-from-the-protocols-inventor.html
  3. https://www.healthline.com/health/exercise-fitness/crossfit-benefits#risks
  4. https://wodfever.com/blogs/new-posts/20-crossfit-workouts-you-can-do-at-home