If you could, you’d spend hour after hour in the gym each day. But between family, work, friends, and sleeping every once in a while, you may just not be able to dedicate all that time to iron. If you’re worried that you need big chunks of time to maintain your gains, well… you don’t.
To save time in the gym while still going after your goals, you can opt to integrate EMOM workouts into your program. That stands for every minute, on the minute. You’ll be performing a given exercise at the start of each minute for however long you want the workout to last.
Only got 10 minutes? Break down those hundred push-ups you wanted to do today into sets of 10 reps. Every time the clock hits a fresh minute, you’ll bang out your next set. If you have more time, space, and equipment, you can make your EMOM workouts a bit longer and more complex. You can even load up a pretty heavy barbell and chase some big strength gains. Whatever you’re after in the gym, EMOM programming can help you get there.
Best EMOM Workouts
- EMOM Workout for Strength
- EMOM Workout for Endurance
- EMOM Workout for Muscle
- EMOM Workout for Unilateral Strength
- EMOM Workout for Functional Fitness
What are EMOM Workouts?
Spell out the acronym, and EMOM workouts reveal their true nature. Every minute on the minute, you’ll do an exercise for a prescribed number of reps. If your workout plan calls for 15 kettlebell swings and 10 kettlebell clean & presses, you’ll perform 15 swings to start your workout. Rest until the start of the next minute, then perform your clean & press reps. Again, rest until the next minute begins — perform your 15 swings. Repeat this cycle until you hit your desired number of minutes.
You’ll want to become as efficient as you can with your movements so that you can rest longer between exercises. You want your form to be excellent throughout. But you also want to get those 15 push-ups done as soon as possible so you can rest before the minute hits and you start your 25 bodyweight squats. In that way, EMOM workouts will help your body learn to shift between going hard, resting, and going very hard again. That’ll come in handy on the platform when you need to get after another heavy set.
Because they’re designed to limit your rest periods and perform exercise after exercise, you generally won’t lift very heavy weights during EMOM workouts. That doesn’t mean that EMOM workouts in general won’t help you get stronger. They might not be focused on lifting anywhere near your absolute max, but developing power, muscle, and stamina will all contribute to making you stronger.
However, performing multiple exercises with only moderately heavy weights isn’t the only way to use this type of training. You can also use an EMOM session to train a single lift to pile on the reps in a way that’s bound to catch up with you.
Performing a single with your three- or five-rep max might feel pretty easy at first. But if you perform a rep every minute on the minute for 20 minutes, you’re going to start feeling the effects — and get a lot stronger in the process. Instead of stringing multiple reps together per set with longer rest periods in between, you’ll be performing heavy singles every minute. This will amp up your volume with an intense weight during a limited amount of time. It won’t seem like much when you first start, but after 10 minutes or so go by, you’ll be feeling it.
Perform a single rep with your three- or five-rep max every minute, on the minute, for 15 to 20 minutes.
EMOM workouts might not sound so tough at first. Finish your exercise and then rest all the way up until the next minute… how much endurance could that build? Well, a lot. Your first set of push-ups might only take 20 seconds, giving you a forty second rest. But as you get fatigued — and as you use your entire body to work through different movements — your work time will increase and your rest times decrease.
By midway through, you’ll be tapping into mental and physical reserves that will have you pushing the limits of your endurance. The good news is that when you push those limits responsibly, you’ll expand them and be able to come back harder next time.
Because this workout is focused on building your endurance, you’ll alternate between upper body and lower body moves. This way, you’ll work your whole body overall while not burning out your muscles too quickly to get an effective workout. The trick is finding a balance between pushing your limits to build up your endurance and blowing past those limits too early on in your session. If you need to adjust the rep scheme to accomplish that balance, don’t hesitate to do so.
Perform one exercise at the top of each minute for a total of 24 minutes.
Note: You might be tempted to skimp on your form to pump out those reps faster, but do your best to complete each rep to full depth.
You might associate building muscle with the slow, determined movements of a bodybuilder. And while that’s definitely an effective way to form those teardrop quads and sleeve-ripping tris, so is approaching failure like you will with EMOM workouts.
You’ll be racking up some major volume and accumulating a serious amount of muscle damage by the way you’ll push through exhaustion toward failure. That can lead to some big muscle growth, especially if you choose weighted movements that will challenge your entire body.
You’ll be hitting your whole body with this muscle-builder. Because the thruster is two movements in one — a front squat with a push press — you’re getting a lot of bang for your buck with this combination. And even though the kettlebell push-up is technically unweighted, holding the kettlebell handles will force your stabilizers to work a lot harder. This push-up variation also allows you to sink into a deeper range of motion, which is key to building big muscles.
Perform one exercise at the top of each minute for a total of 18 minutes.
- Double Kettlebell Thruster x 12
- Double Kettlebell Row x 15
- Double Kettlebell Push-Up x 15
Note: It might be tempting to choose close to your 12-rep max for your kettlebell thrusters, but go lighter. You’re going to have to sustain that weight through six rounds.
Training goals don’t have to just be about brute strength or growing your muscles. You can also program workouts — indeed, entire training cycles — around reducing any weaknesses that may be preventing you from reaching your full potential. Sometimes, the thing that’s keeping you stuck in that strength plateau is an imbalance of strength, size, or technique between the different sides of your body.
For example, if you’re right-handed, you might find that your right arm and leg tend to take over in your lifts. That’s not optimal if you’re trying to build symmetrical muscles. It’s also not the best situation if you want to lift as heavy as possible while avoiding injury. Whenever you have imbalances in strength or technique, your body will compensate to move the weight — even if that compensation increases your risk of injury. The more balanced your strength is from side-to-side, the more likely you are to lift safely and efficiently. Not to mention, you’ll be able to move a lot more weight.
This workout is primarily aimed at developing unilateral arm and leg strength. You’ll combat your side dominance while exposing and addressing any weaknesses that you might not notice when working with a barbell. Because of the weight distribution, you’ll need to work extra hard to keep your torso balanced and rigid. This means that your core will be working overtime, as an added bonus.
Perform one exercise at the top of each minute for a total of 24 minutes.
- Single-Arm Kettlebell Swing x 15 (right arm)
- Lateral Step-Up x 10 (right leg)
- Single-Arm Kettlebell Swing x 15 (left arm)
- Lateral Step-Up x 10 (left leg)
- Unilateral Kettlebell Thruster x 10 (right side)
- Unilateral Kettlebell Thruster x 10 (left side)
Note: Let your weaker side dictate your weight selection. If your right arm can’t handle as much weight as your left arm, use a weight that’s doable for your right while you work on evening out your strength.
Sure, it might be excitingly flashy to be able to deadlift 500 pounds. But that doesn’t need to be your main aim. Sometimes, you just want to get better at loading the car with groceries and hauling them upstairs in one trip. Enter functional fitness — exercises and programming with a focus on training to get better at day-to-day activities.
You’ll be working to make your body stronger and more durable throughout your everyday life. Because of this emphasis, you’ll be working on improving your conditioning, coordination, and strength all at the same time.
In this workout, you’ll ramp up your heart rate and focus on foundational strength- and endurance-building moves like jumping lunges, push-ups, and pike walkouts. With these moves, you’ll get more coordinated, better conditioned, and stronger all at the same time. Tossing in lateral bounds will help with your agility, balance, and lateral movements — something you definitely need when navigating busy streets or bustling toddlers.
Perform one exercise at the top of each minute for a total of 20 minutes.
- Jumping Lunge x 10 per side
- Forearm Push-Up x 8 per side
- Pike Walkout x 6
- Lateral Bound x 10 per side
- Push-Up x 12
Note: Scale your number of reps as needed, depending on the number of push-ups and jumping lunges you can comfortably perform during regular workouts.
Benefits of EMOM Workouts
Whether your style is hoisting heavy barbells or slamming battle ropes, you can customize EMOM workouts to suit your own needs and likes in the gym. Here’s how you can use them to your training advantage.
If you love long training sessions, EMOM workouts might not be your first choice. But some days, you just won’t have the time to dedicate to your fully fleshed out routine. When you’re going through a busy period at home or at work, you might need to keep your sessions under thirty minutes long. Because they keep you resting minimally and working at a high intensity, EMOM workouts deliver hard-hitting workouts without all the extra time.
Better Conditioning and Endurance
Very strong athletes may struggle a lot with EMOM workouts. You don’t only need muscular strength — you need a lot of endurance and a high work capacity to successfully pull them off. Starting slow and building your way up into more complex EMOM sessions will help you develop much more endurance. You’ll have to, in order to fight your way through each minute’s work requirements. You’ll also get more well-conditioned, because EMOM workouts will train your heart and lungs to handle a lot of work in a small amount of time with little rest.
Even when you’re operating at peak movement efficiency, there’s a limit to how quickly you can get through your moves. Fifteen dumbbell thrusters will take as long as it takes — if you’re squatting to full depth and pressing up to full lockout, you’ll eventually hit a ceiling on how many seconds it takes you. As a result, EMOM workouts can help you learn to use your rest time as efficiently as possible. You’ll learn to take slow, deep breaths to optimize your recovery during EMOM workouts.
This skill — as well as your body’s increased cardio capacity — will translate into more efficient recovery during heavy lifting sessions. The better you recover, the more easily you can increase the weights to get a whole lot stronger.
Athletes who love barbells and hate conditioning training might want to shy away from EMOM workouts. But that’s the beauty of them. Not ready to push yourself all the way out of your comfort zone? You can still design an EMOM session you’ll enjoy. And if you just want to jump around and make your program more playful, grab a plyo box or a tire and have some fun.
Who Should Do EMOM Workouts
EMOM training provides a lot of benefits for lifters with a huge variety of goals. However, you don’t want to jump right into them with no experience. Take into account where you are in your training journey and your comfort level with the exercises you’ve programmed into your session.
You might be able to squat more than twice your bodyweight. But can you sustain intense work with minimal rest over many minutes at a time? Even the strongest of athletes, pound-for-pound, may well struggle with EMOM workouts because of the intense conditioning demands. You’ll have very short rest periods in the midst of a lot of work.
So even if you’re very strong, make sure you build up slowly to EMOM workouts if you don’t have a lot of conditioning experience. Start with shorter workouts — five to 10 minutes — and keep your rep schemes low and weights relatively light until your body gets used to the experience.
By their nature, EMOM workouts are meant to push you to your limits. Once you get far enough along in a well-programmed EMOM session, your muscles will likely be reduced to jelly. When that happens, it’ll be extremely tempting to use sloppy form to eke out your prescribed number of reps.
While there’s a time and a place for cheating your form, EMOM workouts aren’t necessarily it. The more consistent you are with your form, the less likely you are to get hurt during an EMOM workout. Make sure you’re only doing EMOM sessions with exercises that you’ve mastered. The weights you use should be challenging. They should also be manageable enough for you to avoid injury if your form slips up.
On the Minute
Pressed for time but want to push your training to the max? No matter what training goals you have, EMOM workouts can keep you on the right track. Every minute, on the minute, you’ll subject your body to a new exercise — or more reps of the same exercise. Doing all that with minimal rest isn’t just going to get you strong (though it’ll do that, too). It’ll also help you build the endurance and work capacity you need to last that much longer — and lift that much heavier— on the platform.
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