What is EMOM Training? How to Do It and Why You Should

When you think of building endurance as a strength athlete, you might well be filled with dread. That’s understandable if you’re the kind of person who loves barbells but loathes endless hours of low-intensity treadmill work. But if jogging isn’t your speed, don’t worry — that’s not the only way to build cardiovascular and muscular endurance.

You can be both effective and time-efficient with your endurance and strength programming by using methods like EMOM (every minute, on the minute) training. To do an EMOM workout, you’ll perform a certain number of reps of an exercise at the top of every minute for a specific block of time.

Most EMOM workouts include a few exercises done in a paired fashion, with the minutes alternating which exercise you perform. The work will be intense, but the overall session won’t last very long — usually not more than 15 minutes to 20 minutes, max.

A person wearing a sports bra, grey leggings, and blue laces on their sneakers lands on a wooden plyo box as chalk sprays upward.Credit: dotshock / Shutterstock

Just because EMOMs are intense doesn’t mean they’re not scalable. You can customize your EMOM workout for your specific experience level, goals, and abilities. Because you’ll be minimizing your rest periods, EMOMs are designed to make you stronger and majorly boost your endurance.

Índice
  1. What Is an EMOM Workout?
  2. Who Should Do EMOM Workouts
    1. Athletes Who Are Short on Time
    2. CrossFit Athletes
    3. Strength Athletes
    4. Beginners and Recreational Athletes
  3. How to Program EMOM Workouts
    1. Exercise Selection
    2. Exercise Order
    3. Progression
  4. Benefits of EMOM Workouts 
    1. They’re Time-Efficient
    2. Builds Work Capacity
    3. Boosts Mental Toughness
    4. Scalable Formatting
    5. Adaptable to Most Training Goals
  5. Sample EMOM Workouts to Try
    1. Bodyweight EMOM
    2. Strength EMOM
    3. Muscle-Building EMOM
    4. Endurance EMOM
  6. Start Your Watch

What Is an EMOM Workout?

An EMOM is a workout protocol that has you perform an exercise for a certain number of reps every minute, on the minute. You can perform EMOMs with anything from heavy barbells to just your bodyweight. So, you can use this method to program for most levels of fitness, training goals, and training locations (from hotel rooms to fully-stocked gyms).

Every minute frame of your session has a programmed work amount — for example, 10 push-ups — with the remaining amount of time to be taken as rest. For example, if 10 push-ups take you 17 seconds, you’d have 43 seconds to rest until the next minute frame.

Then, you might be scheduled to complete 15 jump squats on the top of the next minute. Repeat the protocol until your workout is complete. This is a highly effective way to get in a lot of volume in a short amount of time — with very little rest. 

Who Should Do EMOM Workouts

EMOM workouts can help you build strength, endurance, and a lot of mental grit as you work through a ton of volume in a teensy amount of time. But who should actually be getting after these workouts?

Athletes Who Are Short on Time

If you haven’t got a lot of time in your schedule, EMOM workouts can help. Even if you "only" program 10 bodyweight reps per minute, a 20-minute EMOM will have you cranking out 200 reps. Say half of those reps are push-ups — that’s quite a bit of volume in relatively little time. Add weighted movements to the mix, and you’ve really got yourself a powerhouse of a workout wrapped into a small time frame. That makes EMOMs ideal for athletes who don’t have a lot of time to spare.

CrossFit Athletes

CrossFit WODs (workouts of the day) are notorious for being very fast and very furious. Integrating EMOMs into your training regimen can help give you an edge during your next WOD. How? By their nature, EMOM sessions help you move more quickly and efficiently — while maintaining solid form.

A person holds a loaded barbell in the front rack position.Credit: Mix Tape / Shutterstock

They’re also designed to help you maximize what little rest periods you have. You’ll learn to more effectively regulate your breathing, and your muscles will also develop more endurance from the high volume you’ll be working. All these factors are advantages to any CrossFitter.

Strength Athletes

Building max strength isn’t all about tossing as much weight as you can on the bar at all times. It’s also about maximizing your recovery and rest periods while building your work capacity. The more work you can comfortably put in per session, the easier you’ll find it to go harder for longer.

So even if your goal is moving the most weight you can as a powerlifter, weightlifter, or strongman athlete, using EMOM workouts as finishers to help you boost that work capacity helps you train more efficiently so you can get stronger in the long run.

Beginners and Recreational Athletes

Not an advanced athlete? Not a problem. You can customize your EMOM workouts to fit your experience level, skills, and goals. If an EMOM protocol prescribes 15 push-ups at the top of minute one and 20 jump squats at the top of minute two, you can scale the push-ups to be on your knees and the jump squats to regular bodyweight squats. You can also lower the rep scheme to something that suits your level and — if desired — work up from there.

How to Program EMOM Workouts

When you first start out doing EMOMs, make sure everything is scaled to exercises and minute-by-minute rep schemes that you can comfortably perform. The volume is going to add up quickly — and so is your fatigue.

So, especially if you’re new to this kind of endurance-based strength training, take it slow. You can use this protocol as a workout in and of itself, or — once you’re more experienced — you can take an EMOM onto the end of your session as a finisher.

Exercise Selection

You can perform EMOM workouts with your bodyweight, with kettlebells, dumbbells, plyo boxes, battle ropes, or barbells — pretty much anything you can think of. That said, no matter your experience level, make sure you’re choosing exercises that you can pull off with excellent form.

A person wearing a black t-shirt and purple leggings prepares to perform a back squat with a barbell loaded with green plates.Credit: Reshetnikov_art / Shutterstock

An EMOM session is not the moment to experiment with a new exercise and try to lock in your technique for the first time. With the clock running and the pressure on — especially if you want to rest at all — it’s better to choose exercises for which you have confident form.

Exercise Order

How you order those exercises depends on your goals. Are you trying to burn out your legs? Then pairing air squats and jumping lunges on alternating minutes is a good idea — if masochistic. If you’re aiming to develop more full-body qualities or to maximize your overall volume, try alternating muscle groups from minute-to-minute.

That could look like performing push-ups during minute one, box jumps during minute two, forearm push-ups during minute three, and lateral lunges during minute four — then repeat.

Progression

As you progress with your EMOM training, you can scale them to become more difficult. That might mean performing more reps or increasing your weight. A 10-minute kettlebell swing EMOM might look like 10 reps at the top of every minute for a total of 100 reps.

As you progress, you can increase the weight and use the same rep scheme. Or, you can keep the weight the same and up your number to 15 reps each minute. Make sure you’re only progressing one variable at a time to allow your body to adapt and recover properly.

Benefits of EMOM Workouts 

EMOMs are not only effective at building muscle, strength, fitness, and work capacity. They can also be a boon to nearly every aspect of your training. At a certain point, the only limitation with EMOM training is your creativity.

They’re Time-Efficient

EMOM workouts are one of the most efficient ways to add quality training volume into a session. The work and rest periods are systematically programmed to force lifters to stay moving and not lose time in-between sets. That means you can get a tremendous amount of work done in a short period of time. When you’ve only got 30 minutes for the gym, EMOMs can be a gains-saver.

Builds Work Capacity

Work capacity is your ability to do a certain amount of work in a given period of time. The higher your work capacity, the better you can recover to continue producing that same amount of work. In short, you might be able to perform the eight quality reps per set — but your work capacity might not be very high if you need five whole minutes to recover.

The more effectively you can recover between sets, the higher your work capacity — and the more work you can safely get done during your training session. Over time, this means more training volume and overloading stimuli, which translates into more strength, endurance, and muscle-building potential.

Boosts Mental Toughness

If you’ve ever done a tough EMOM, you know the feeling. It’s that sensation of victory as you complete that minute’s number of reps, only to realize you only have 15 seconds of rest before you start again at zero.

A person with short hair wears a sports bra while performing ring push-ups.Credit: Vladimir Sukhachev / Shutterstock

The kind of mental determination it takes to finish an intense EMOM session can help forge you into a much stronger lifter. If you know you can push yourself to the limit with box jumps and push-ups, you’re more likely to believe in your ability to crush that next one-rep max.

Scalable Formatting

It’s fairly simple to scale EMOM workouts to best suit your needs. Reduce the prescribed rep count if it feels like it’s too much for you. Perform a modified version of the exercise if you can’t do the full version (knee push-ups instead of the full push-up or reverse lunges instead of jumping lunges, for example). The same way in reverse, you can add more weight or more reps to any minute’s prescription to make it more challenging.

Be cautious not to increase the intensity of your workout on a whim because the first round or two feel easy, though. The volume will catch up to you on its own — and, if it turns out that the workout really was too easy, enjoy crushing it and scale it up next time.

Adaptable to Most Training Goals

Whether you’re trying to boost your endurance, build your max strength, or work on any goal in between, you can use EMOMs to help you do just that. Use lighter weights and higher rep schemes to get after endurance-based goals. Use heavier weights and much lower rep schemes — as low as one back squat on top of every minute — to build up your strength (while piling on high-quality volume).

Sample EMOM Workouts to Try

You can modify pretty much any EMOM to suit your needs. That said, it can be helpful to have a base to build off of. With that in mind, check out these sample EMOMs.

Bodyweight EMOM

This one is a basic 18-minute EMOM integrating three bodyweight movements. Accompanied with the movements are regressions and progressions. The goal here is to provide quality training stimulus and volume, with short rest periods. Depending on your experience level, this kind of EMOM can target your strength, muscular endurance, or both. Repeat the circuit for six rounds.

Perform one exercise at the top of each minute for a total of 18 minutes.

To scale any of these moves, increase or decrease the rep count as needed. If you need to further scale the push-ups, you can perform them from your knees or at an incline. Squat back onto a chair if that’s more accessible to you. You can also perform plank taps instead of full plank jacks if need be.

Strength EMOM

Although EMOMs are so often associated with bodyweight workouts, you can still grab a barbell and move some moderately heavy weight. With this workout scheme, you’ll be able to accumulate a level of volume that would be a lot harder to access in a traditional rep scheme. 

Since you’ll be working with heavier weights, you’ll perform singles every other minute, on the minute. On alternate minutes, you’ll perform triples of another big strength move — make sure it’s emphasizing a different body part — to really make it a total-body challenge.

Perform one exercise at the top of each minute for a total of 24 minutes.

The volume will sneak up on you, so don’t be tempted to go higher than the prescription if it’s your first rodeo. You might even feel fine for the first 10 minutes, but you’re likely to start really feeling it on the back end of the workout. If you need to modify the pull-ups, do unweighted or even banded pull-ups. You can also sub the move out entirely for inverted rows if necessary.

Muscle-Building EMOM

For experienced athletes, approaching failure can help provide the training stimulus you need to pack on extra muscle. And for lifters at all levels, EMOM workouts provide an excellent way to pack in a lot of volume in a short amount of time. When athletes want to get jacked but are operating on a busy schedule, tossing in EMOMs can help them get there.

Perform one exercise at the top of each minute for a total of 18 minutes.

To maximize your recovery, you’ll be looking to build muscle across your entire body here. You can also approach hypertrophy EMOMs by stacking leg exercise upon leg exercise, but know that your fatigue will build up much more quickly. So, you’ll have to use less weight and fewer reps per minute.

There’s nothing inherently better or worse with either method, but this sample EMOM goes the full-body route so you can heft a little more weight.

Endurance EMOM

Pretty much any EMOM will build endurance. You’ll be racking on a ton of volume very quickly. So, you’ll have no choice but to get better at enduring. But certain EMOMs are specifically designed to bring your endurance to the absolute max.

This EMOM is a little unusual in that it contains a timed component in one of the minutes. You’ll be performing battle rope waves for 20 seconds during minute three. That means that, no matter how efficient you are with reps, you’ll be putting in a full twenty seconds of intense work.

Perform one exercise at the top of each minute for a total of 24 minutes.

  • Jump Squat x 20
  • Push-Up x 12
  • Battle Rope Wave x 20 seconds
  • V-Up x 15

If you’re just starting out, you might want to shave this time back to 15 or even 10 seconds. As you build more endurance, you can scale this workout by adding a few seconds to your battle rope waves. Meet yourself where you’re at and make sure you’re progressing responsibly.

Start Your Watch

Short on time but set on crushing your goals? Adding EMOMs to your program helps beef up your endurance and muscle-building potential. They can also set you up for solid strength gains. Even if you do have plenty of time, EMOMs make great add-ons as finishers.

They may seem easy at first, but going hard every minute on the minute might be just the intensity booster that you need. With EMOMs, you can bust through training plateaus and hit that next level of fitness.

Featured Image: dotshock / Shutterstock

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