Don’t know what an EMOM workout is? It’s time to try


Head of Compliance and Training at the Australian Institute of Fitness, Kate Kraschnefski on the ultimate short-but-effective workout for summer. 

The change of seasons is a great time to review your fitness goals, and summer often kicks us into gear. If you have hit a plateau with your results, ensuring you have enough opportunities to challenge yourself within your program is key to making fitness gains or improving body composition.

If you are looking for a way to spice up your workout, trying or adding an EMOM could be just the ticket.

EMOM stands for “Every Minute, On the Minute” and is one of the pacing style workouts made famous by Crossfit and other metabolic conditioning training methodologies.

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What is an EMOM?

The aim of an EMOM is to do an exercise or a series of exercises every minute on the minute, for a set period of time or until quality form and technique can not be maintained.

A period of rest is also factored into each minute that can be manipulated to optimise the workout. It’s all about finding the sweet spot of pace. You need to complete the repetitions fast enough to get sufficient rest to repeat the performance, but not so fast that your moves are ineffective.

EMOMs are essentially an interval style training approach that engages time in a unique way. Other variables of the workout can be designed to support your goals, such as load and exercise selection.

Like interval training, it can bring many advantages, depending on how the workout is structured. For example, you can do a heavy lift of one exercise for 10 minutes if strength or power is your goal. Or if your goal is to increase endurance, you can select more conditioning style exercises like kettlebell swings or burpees.

The pacing component of EMOM’s is really important. Like with all interval approaches, the rest phase is just as important as the work phase, so optimising the time you have to recover directly informs the quality of your movements.

EMOM’s are also great if you are looking for a way to benchmark your performance and get clear measurables on how your fitness is improving. For example if your EMOM is built around doing 20 jump squats, you will see your rest period increase as you make fitness gains. Or if you are doing weighted exercises, you may start to be able to complete your EMOM successfully using heavier loads.

EMOM workouts help your body learn to recover more quickly and work harder. Over time this will build your fitness capacity, including how quickly you and your heart rate are able to come back to baseline after strenuous workouts.

There are many ways to structure an EMOM, and here are some tips

Select your exercises carefully

Your aim is to perform quality movements for the entire workout, at the desired intensity, so select exercises that are not too complex.

As you fatigue, form or complex movements can be compromised, so go for exercises you can execute consistently well, but are still physically challenging, to get the most out of your EMOM.

Decide on your duration

EMOMs are typically 10-20 minutes in length, but can be longer or shorter. If you are just using an EMOM as a metabolic finisher at the end of a workout, choose a shorter duration with challenging rest periods.

If you are using an EMOM to support strength gains, you may be looking more towards the 10-15 minute duration, with longer rest periods.

Decide on your reps

You can either do the same amount of reps for each minute, or you can progress reps incrementally each time the clock ticks over to the next minute.

Always warm up

EMOM’s are all about intensity and effort, and you want to be working hard from rep one. So make sure your body is warm and you have prepared the joints you will be working with some dynamic stretches and mobility sequences.

Form and technique reign supreme

Even though you have a time goal, you should end your EMOM if you are unable to hit the rep goal within the minute with great form and technique.

If this happens, don’t see this as failure. It just means that you are pushing your limits which is a good thing. You can try less weight or reps next time you attempt the session, if you want to still reach the time goal.

Record your workout

Include the weights you used and how many minutes you completed. Use this as a benchmark and progressively overload by adding weight, reps or overall duration when you are ready to level up.

Consider how the EMOM complements your broader regime

EMOM’s and other high intensity workouts should be programmed selectively. Ensure your overall approach has balance, incorporating the three s’s of fitness holistically: strength, stamina and suppleness. Talk to a qualified PT if you need some help.

Don’t forget a timer!

You’ll need a stopwatch with a good view to keep an eye on the clock as you train.

Here are three EMOMs I road tested this month

#1 EMOM was great to get a full body workout and a cardio buzz

Every minute on the minute for 20 minutes:

  • 12 alternating one-handed kettlebell swings
  • 12 incline pushups

#2 I did this EMOM at the end of my upper body workout, to really fatigue my shoulders

Do a barbell push press, every minute on the minute, adding two reps every round.

Perform for 12 minutes or until excellent form can not be maintained.

#3 This EMOM is circuit style and awesome for all round conditioning as it hits both strength and cardio

Do four rounds of the following:

  • Minute 1 – 5 barbell deadlifts
  • Minute 2 – Assault bike 45 seconds
  • Minute 3 – 10 cable squat to rows
  • Minute 4 – 5 10 med ball over the shoulder toss (alternating shoulder)

The best part about EMOM’s is the variety. You can really get creative with them. If you need extra help, you can search online or there are some awesome apps such as “WOD Generator” that will set your EMOM up for you based on the amount of time and equipment you have.

Kate Kraschnefski is the Head of Compliance & Training at the Australian Institute of Fitness. She has a Bachelor of Applied Science and a Certificate IV in Fitness and has been a personal trainer and group exercise instructor since 2004.

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