An EMOM workout is an effective way to get a lot of training done in a short space of time. This militaristic exercise methodology brings discipline and structure to a training session. By doing so productivity and work rate go through the roof.
Once you set that 1-minute repeat countdown timer there’s no stopping until you’ve completed the full session. And even if you are on your last legs, when that buzzer sounds, you’re straight back into the next minute.
It’s this rigid process that makes an EMOM workout such a powerful and potent form of fitness training. For however long your EMOM workout lasts – 10-minutes or an hour – you are constantly keeping pace with the clock.
And time is of the essence. For the harder you work the more rest you get within the minute. But the harder you work the more rest you need!
Each EMOM workout below will bring structure, discipline, and a whole of physical fitness to your training regime. But if you’re new to EMOM workouts, and you’ve got some questions about this contemporary form of training, the following FAQ will both answer those questions while also providing you with an outline of how to structure your own EMOM workouts.
EMOM Frequently Asked Questions
What does EMOM mean?
An acronym for ‘every minute on the minute’, EMOM workouts challenge you to complete a specific number of repetitions of an exercise within 60-seconds.
What is the purpose of EMOM?
As we outline in our other article – EMOM Training | The Complete Guide – EMOM workouts dramatically improve focus while also increasing output and exercise volume. Because they are strictly timebound, EMOM workouts reduce the time being wasted between sets.
Remembering back to your last gym session, if it was a ‘conventional’ workout you would have completed a number of reps for a number of sets for a number of exercises. That is the standard formula. And while there’s nothing necessarily wrong with this type of training, the lack of time pressure leads to a lot of time being wasted between sets.
With EMOM workouts, once you have completed the set number of reps, the remaining time is for rest. But the movement that buzzer goes off you must get straight back into your next set. In an EMOM workout, time truly is of the essence.
What are the benefits of an EMOM workout?
There are many benefits to EMOM training. But, keeping with the ethos of EMOM, I’ll sum up the benefits in a quick list.
10 benefits of EMOM workouts
They are super time-efficient
They're adaptable to most forms of training – strength, muscular endurance, cardio
They force you to challenge yourself
They can help build strength and all-round fitness
They make tracking progress easy
They bring structure to your workouts
They increase training discipline
They improve training productivity
They enhance focus and motivation
They can even be integrated into sports
How do EMOM work?
EMOM workouts are super simple to design. Firstly, you need to select an exercise (or multiple exercises). The exercise could be resistance, bodyweight, or cardiovascular. Let’s say that you decided to focus your EMOM workout on deadlifts.
Once you’ve decided on your exercise of choice, you now need to settle on a weight and target rep count. This is where you must be a little bit careful. If you get carried away and select too high a weight or rep target (or both!), it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to complete the reps with sufficient time on the clock to recover.
Aim for a 50/50 Work/Rest ratio
It’s for this reason why it is best to set a weight and rep count that can be completed in around 30-seconds. This is certainly important throughout the early stages of the EMOM workout. By setting the intensity too high too early you will unlikely make it to the final minute.
However, as you progress into the final minutes, you can reduce the rest period by increasing the reps and weights. This will increase the intensity thus making the workout more challenging.
After you’ve settled on the exercise, the weight and rep target, all that’s left is to decide how many minutes you are going for. Good EMOM workout times can range from 10-minutes up to 1-hour. Though it’s not set in stone, EMOM times typically increase in 10-minute increments: 10-minutes, 20-minutes, 30-minutes, and so on.
Can EMOMs build muscle?
Yes, EMOM workouts can build muscle – but only if you select the right resistance exercises and appropriate weight. For example, if your EMOM workout was comprised of bodyweight exercises and cardio sprints, then they wouldn’t build bigger muscles.
To build bigger muscles you would have to focus your EMOM workouts on heavy strength exercises, such as deadlifts, bench press, squats, bent-over rows, cleans, standing shoulder press.
The 4 EMOM workouts that follow include a mix of muscle building and fitness developing exercises.
4 EMOM workouts
EMOM Workout #1: Bodyweight
The first workout is ideal for beginners and those new to EMOM training. Here you will be tackling four 5-minute EMOM workouts. Each workout focuses on a different bodyweight exercise. Because there is no additional resistance involved (other than your bodyweight of course) and the exercises are simple, you should aim for a higher rep target.
Suggested rep targets accompany each exercise.
5 x 1-minute press-ups (20 to 40reps)
5 x 1-minute squat jumps (20 to 30reps)
5 x 1-minute pull-ups (5 to 12reps)
5 x 1-minute burpees (10 to 25reps)
EMOM Workout #2: 20-Minute Whole-body Fitness
The objective of this EMOM workout is to provide you with a whole-body training session. This workout includes resistance, body weight, and cardiovascular exercises. So, while developing muscular strength and endurance, you’ll also improve your cardio fitness as well.
5 x 1-minute bastods (10 to 20reps)
5 x 1-minute rowing (100 to 200-metres)
5 x 1-minute kettlebell swings (10 to 20reps)
5 x 1-minute hang cleans into overhead press (6 to 12reps)
Try these 10 Killer Kettlebell Exercises!
EMOM Workout #3: 30-Minute Complete Strength Builder
This workout is organised around the clean and press exercise. Instead of completing the exercise in its full form, it has been broken down into its constituent parts. You will spend 6-minutes on each part with the option of piecing the parts back together and going for an additional 6-minutes for the full exercise.
Aim for a target of between 8 to 12 repetitions. Of course, the weight you select will largely determine your rep target. It is good EMOM practice to increase the load when you progress into the latter part of the workout. So you could, as an idea, aim for 12 lighter weight reps for the first 4-minutes then increase the weight and reduce the reps for the final 2-minutes of each set.
6 x 1-minute deadlifts
6 x 1-minute hang cleans
6 x 1-minute front squats
6 x 1-minute standing shoulder press
6 x 1-minute complete clean and press
EMOM Workout #4: 20-minute kettlebell clean and press
Following the theme of workout 3, we’re going to split the kettlebell clean and press into two parts each forming its own EMOM workout. Again, there is the option of increasing the duration and intensity of this workout by piecing the two parts back into one complete movement.
Also, if you’re feeling up to the challenge, you can slip a 10-minute kettlebell thruster (of goblet squat) EMOM between the clean and press. By doing so you’d turn this session into a monstrous workout.
10 x 1-minute clean (8reps (4reps on each arm))
10 x 1-minute thruster (8reps) (optional)
10 x 1-minute press (8reps (4reps on each arm))
10 x 1-minute clean and press (6reps (3reps on each arm)) (optional)
The Final Minute
If this article has done its job, you should by now have all the knowledge necessary to design and implement your own EMOM workouts. In addition, you’ve got 4 whole-body EMOM workouts to have a go at.
Before we part ways, I wanted to share with you a few more EMOM training ideas. After you’ve mastered the basics you can use the ideas in your EMOM workouts to increase training intensity.
EMOM workout ideas
You don’t have to stick to the same repetition target. For example, let’s say you’re going to work through a 10-minute deadlift EMOM. Initially, you set the rep target at 6. Instead of sticking to that target, consider incrementally increasing the rep count by 1 repetition every minute. This technique both significantly increases volume – especially if you’re EMOMing for 20-plus-minutes – and intensity.
It’s a self-imposed rule of mine that when I enter the last minute I do not stop until the timer sounds. I set myself the challenge of doubling the standard rep target over the final minute. This is the EMOM equivalent of a sprint finish.
Remember, it’s not a written rule that you have to stick with the same weight throughout your EMOM workout. It is good training practice to change up gears throughout any workout by either a) increasing reps, or b) increasing weight. By adding more weight to your resistance exercises you will force the muscle to work harder which in turn will encourage strength gains. Just remember, if you do decide to increase weight, take small jumps as opposed to large leaps.
Enjoyed these workouts? Have they left you hungry for more? The Hungry4Fitness Book of Circuits Vol. 1. contains 50 tried and tested circuits and workouts for all levels and abilities.
Circuit training is one of the best forms of physical exercise for maintaining and increasing overall fitness. A well-designed circuit will provide a great cardiovascular workout, strengthening the heart and lungs in the process, whilst also improving muscle endurance and developing functional strength. This unique combination, of fat burning and muscle building, which singular exercises, such as running, cycling, swimming, or weights cannot give, will help to sculpt a lean defined physique.
(As we are very interested in user experience here at Hungry4Fitness, we would be very grateful if you could take a few seconds out of your day to leave a comment. Thanks in advance!)
Adam Priest, former Royal Marines Commando, is a personal trainer, lecturer, boxing and Thai boxing enthusiast.