There are some fitness enthusiasts who work out in the gym for hours, constantly doing their best to build strength and burn fat. And then there's the rest of us who seek similar benefits, but who need to balance study time with long hours, family time, and other commitments. The solution might be to incorporate EMOM training into your routine. This all-purpose training protocol is less intimidating than its aggressive-sounding acronym, but a surefire way to get maximum results in the shortest amount of time, no matter your skill level.
The EMOM - or "every minute on the minute" - simply means that you complete a prescribed amount of time (30 to 40 seconds) or a set number of repetitions at the beginning of each minute. When you reach that mark, rest for the rest of the minute and then start again once the minute is up.
They are great for building muscle, increasing muscle endurance and of course burning fat. A hybrid of HIIT and CrossFit, EMOM tires you out while you burn calories (a 20-minute HIIT workout is said to burn between 150 and 400 calories). The best part is that EMOM can not only be programmed for those who are short on time, but can also be extended for well-conditioned athletes.
But unlike your traditional HIIT workout — a full-on workout that ends with you hunched over in a huge, breathy pool of sweat. The goal of the EMOM isn't to work to failure—you should be leaving something in the tank on each round of EMOM—but to maintain as much volume as prescribed from start to finish.
According to Christian Harris, a CrossFit athlete and founder of the Move Fast Lift Heavy training community, EMOM is such an effective exercise tool for all ability levels because each workout can be customized to suit each person's time constraints and ability level.
“Most people have 20 to 30 minutes a day that they can devote to fitness,” says the Reebok-sponsored athlete. If you do a 20 minute EMOM you get a lot for your money. From that point of view, I love her.”
There are limitless ways to program your own EMOM-style workouts—as Harris explains in his newsletter (movefastliftheavy.com) or in his new workout app (MFLHtrain.com). But for some of the essential tips to get the biggest EMOM wins, Harris shares his top tips for mastering the EMOM.
“The EMOM is a very versatile piece. It doesn't have to be just for conditioning,” says Harris. "Actually, I also use EMOMs for a lot of my strength exercises."
EMOM workouts - the good and the brutal
What makes this type of training such an underestimated and extremely effective workout, according to Harris, is that an EMOM workout can be programmed for anyone, at any ability level, and at a time that fits into each individual's schedule. So no more excuses.
But don't confuse convenience with an excuse for less hassle. Despite the short time invested in some workouts, EMOMs require you to perform at your best every minute. It might not be as painfully brutal a full-on attack as some HIIT workouts like a full HIIT, Harris says, but the EMOM holds you accountable for your effort when you start slacking off.
"The EMOM unmasks people a bit because the clock tells you when to go," he says. “You can't just rest when you want to rest. So as soon as that minute starts, as soon as the clock starts and we have X work to do, we have to get it done. As soon as the next minute comes, you have to get it done. So it is your responsibility to start work on time and keep you on task.”
Before you start, get the right shoes
Because of the variety of exercise combinations that an EMOM workout can include—from running, jumping, squatting, pushing, to climbing—the last thing on anyone's mind is switching shoes between activities. According to Harris, the importance of functional footwear is essential for any type of activity.
"Something super important to me is having the right pair of shoes for it," he says. "I wear the Reebok Nano X3 to all my workouts," he says. “It ticks all the boxes and I never have to change my shoes. It's the only shoe I can wear while squatting while jumping rope.”
Types of EMOM workouts
There are different types of EMOMs that anyone can add to their routines. Harris usually mixes his EMOMs, he says, mixing them up — some cardio guys mix them in with a strength-training session or two.
- cardio and endurance. According to Harris, these are more traditional metabolic conditioning, or HIIT, workouts that help improve your conditioning and help. Here you select a range of exercises (5 to 6 is optimal, says Harris), preferably mixed in with weights (e.g. dumbbell press, row) and some cardio training (e.g. skierg, rowing machine, assault bike) . Usually with a formula of 40 seconds work and 20 seconds rest. You can limit the reps for weights to around 8-12 reps (or 40 seconds if you want to save time). Rest for the prescribed time and then head back out for the next round.
- Power Based: Since your goal is to increase strength, this type of EMOM training requires less volume at times (an exercise or two). An example Harris uses is a squat or power clean. Take a percentage of your 1RM (usually around 70% to 80%) and do one rep each round. One that won't take you more than a minute's break. “Use a percentage that I'm confident I can reach each and every one
- EMOM Spinoff: Although EMOM training is by definition every minute, Harris says there are a few similar offshoots that fall under the EMOM umbrella. One of these is a cluster round, in which you complete a group of exercises and perform a prescribed number of repetitions (or watts in some cardio exercises). For example, one of Harris' workouts includes a combination of 500m cycling, 20 GHD sit-ups, followed by three rope climbs, each bout lasting 2-3 minutes. The faster you get through it, the more rest you'll get at the end of each round.
Tips to maximize your EMOM training
- Keep it balanced:If you want a very balanced EMOM, Harris says keep in mind using a full range of movement patterns for each routine. This means that instead of overloading just one body part, you need to think about mixing up movement patterns. This includes the following:
- Press: Think of any type of pressing or sled pushing
- Pull: On the contrary, think rows, pulldowns and deadlifts.
- squatting: It's pretty obvious that most exercises will do - from goblets squats to back squats.
- Hinge: Think deadlifts, RDLs, good mornings, a squat movement that shifts weight to midfoot to heel, pushes hips back, and keeps spine in a neutral position.
- lunge: A lunge is a single-leg exercise in which one leg steps forward and bends towards the floor while keeping the chest up and back straight and the back leg stationary.
- Gait: A gait is a walk, jog, or sprint. Crawling, climbing and even jumping are also considered gaits.
- Twist: Two types - rotary and anti-rotational. These rotational movements actually require a rotational movement throughout the body, and in anti-rotation exercises you prevent the body from rotating.
"I think if you can build movement into each of those areas, you have a very balanced and balanced program," says Harris.
For example, for a 20-minute EMOM, you might add a treadmill run (gait), a KB snatch (hinge), a burpee (conditioning push with a plyometric jump), and a goblet squat (squat). The more you spread out the movement patterns, the more balanced the gains will be.
EMOM Training Tips for Beginners by Christian Harris
- For beginners, aim for time, not reps: If you're just starting out, Harris recommends one time per rep. However, he emphasizes that there should be a little rest when doing an EMOM - don't turn your EMOM into an AMRAP (as many reps as possible).
That means you work 20 to 30 seconds and then rest for the rest of the minute," says Harris. "We're not going to give you many reruns of what you're doing today. We just want to work that long. So if I say we do as many squats as we can in a 20-30 second window, give yourself a rest for the rest of the minute. I want you to try to stay as close to that number as possible for the rest of EMOM.”
- When using a commercial gym, try to use minimal equipment: Sometimes a sprawling gym can wreak havoc when you have to hop from the treadmill to the squat rack and back to the rowing machine. A quick and easy fix, Harris says, is to bring a dumbbell or kettlebell or two to the conditioning machine for the strength portion of your EMOM. This should save you travel time. Or you can also use your body weight for push-ups, box jumps, etc. The possibilities are endless, but it's best to keep your gear close by and avoid unnecessary travel time.
- Keep the number of repetitions consistent: It's common to fly out of the gates and put in a great first lap, only to find yourself stuttering towards the end of practice. This could sabotage your EMOM the longer you continue. Maintain an intense but manageable pace, Harris says. The intensity should vary depending on the length of your EMOM. If it's a 20-minute EMOM, Harris recommends increasing the intensity a bit. As your EMOM gets longer, you may need to reduce the intensity a bit to finish strong - the goal is to keep your reps in the same range on each round. If you can get 10 reps on the first round, keep them for the duration. For example, skipping 4 reps is a sign that you should reduce the reps a bit. Mastering the EMOM takes experience, he says.
"Think of it as a 400-meter sprint versus a 5K run," he explains. “You will be able to sustain a higher performance in the 400m than in the 5K.