How Long Do You Need to Break?

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When you need a break during an AMRAP (As Many Rounds As Possible - for a detailed explanation, refer to article, How Long Does Your Workout Need To Be?), how long should your break be? Keep in mind, the purpose of an AMRAP is to Run Your Gas Tank Empty and taking breaks will disrupt the “emptying” of your gas tank. You are trying to do your reps and sets as continuously as possible during the given time frame.

Here is a simple solution to your dilemma. Instead of taking a break based on time, take a break based on breaths. I recommend 1-3 deep breaths. A true deep breath should consist of approximately a 2 second inhale, pause for 1/2 second, and a 4 second exhale. Since you are so tired and gassed, the time may vary but that’s okay. The idea is to get back to your lift as soon as you can. You are noon the clock!

I have found that taking a timed break on an AMRAP really doesn't help as well as the breath. First of all, when you focus on deep breathing, you are enabling your parasympathetic system to kick in. defines the parasympathetic system as

The part of the involuntary nervous system that serves to slow the heart rate, increase intestinal and glandular activity.

Because you are performing an AMRAP, your heart feels like it will blow out of your chest, hence your need for a break. By focusing on the breathing, even if it’s only for a few seconds, you are engaging your parasympathetic system to relax the body and cause your heart rate to recover, enabling your body to get back to high performance.

What are you to do?

Focus on breathing as your recovery instead of a timed break in the midst of an AMRAP set. Not only will you get the sufficient time you need to recover, you will also be engaging your parasympathetic system allowing your heart rate to recover. This “recovery” will put you back on track to the pace you want to complete your AMRAP.

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Steven Zahn

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Steve Zahn
Experienced fitness trainer with multiple certifications helping his clients become the happiest and healthiest versions of themselves every day.