By Aparna Mele

If you step into a functional fitness gym, you might see workouts of the day labelled EMOM. No, this doesn’t refer to an electronic mother! EMOM (which stands for every minute on the minute) is a type of interval workout where the goal is to perform a specific task at the start of every minute, repeating the same number of reps every minute, and resting for the same amount of time as the workout progresses.  This rep scheme challenges you to stay strong even as your body starts to tire from your workout.

  • Pacing: EMOMs remove much of the thinking from a workout; the clock decides when you’ll be working and when you’ll be resting, balancing work and rest appropriately. Every minute you’ll also be able to see if you’ve done the prescribed work in a faster or slower pace.
  • Progression: EMOMs are a great tool for measuring progressions from week to week, as you work on increasing the number of reps you do every minute or increasing the total length of the workout.
  • Versatility: EMOMs can be programmed to train anything: power, the aerobic or anaerobic systems, mechanics or skills. A cardiovascular focused EMOM could include body weight movements (burpees, broad jumps, pushups, mountain climbers, pull-ups) and machines like the rower or air bike. A strength-based EMOM might involve a weighted movement , using 70-85% of your one rep max, and completing 2 to 5 reps every minute, allowing you to keep the load heavy while still giving you enough time to recover before the next set. You can include more than one movement or alternate movement, and there is no time limit or time max for EMOMs.
  • Rest Periods: Well-programmed EMOMs should have built in rest periods. Unlike a normal WOD, these rest periods allow you to analyze your performance after each minute. How did you feel? How was your technique? Did your pace slow significantly? After analyzing each set, EMOMs allow you to redo the work at the start of the new minute.

EMOMs are different than a Tabata style workout (which involves four minutes of 20 seconds of work followed by 10 seconds of rest) because people usually complete fewer and fewer less reps as the workout continues. With EMOMs, you have to complete the same number of reps each time. The timer and rep-goal combination encourages you to actually work harder. EMOMs are also different than AMRAP-style workouts (as many rounds as possible) because EMOMs have built in rest. With EMOM, rest periods rely on how quickly you complete an exercise.

EMOM workouts use the promise of rest to motivate you to push harder. The quicker you work through each set of reps in an EMOM workout, the more time you have allotted to rest before the next move. For many people, more recovery time is great motivation to push harder and work out more intensely. The benefits of working at a higher intensity include all the benefits of HIIT (high intensity interval training), such as increased cardiovascular and muscular endurance, and increased calorie burn in a shorter amount of time. These workouts are also mentally challenging because your goal should be to finish every round in the same amount of time despite fatigue.  So, if you finish the first set in 30 seconds, you should be aiming for consistency and finish the subsequent minutes in the same amount of time. That internal competition makes the EMOM very effective. That said, the truth is that you almost always will get slower as the workout goes on—when the rest periods are so short, you can’t fully recover, so the fatigue adds up and you eventually have to slow down. But by challenging yourself to try to stick to the same amount of work time every interval, you are training your body to better handle the fatigue, which improves your endurance over time.

To do an EMOM workout, select a movement, a time and rep count that you will complete every minute. If finish those reps in 25 seconds, you have 35 seconds to rest. Then, at the top of the next minute, you’ll start the movement again. If the movement takes you longer, you rest less, and if they take you less time, you get to rest more. Pick a movement and weight that you can do consistently and with proper form.  With 2 move EMOMs, you might consider doing opposing muscle groups, such as a push movement on odd minutes (pushup, shoulder press, bench press) and a pull movement on even minutes (pull-up, bar muscle ups, bent over rows, rope climbs). Or pair a hinge movement like deadlifts, good mornings, or kettlebell swings, with a squat movement (air squat, box jump, wall balls). This will ensure symmetry and good movement mechanics.

Be a boss at the gym—-try an EMOM and elevate your fitness gains!

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