What Are Every Minute On the Minute Workouts?
Time: you don’t have a lot of it to spare, but you can’t exercise without spending it. You could rush between exercises like the Tasmanian Devil — and risk injury. You could cut your workout short — and miss out on important movements. Or you could choose a workout where working against the clock is built into the program.
That would be the every-minute-on-the-minute, or EMOM, approach. It’s a challenging, scalable, and surprisingly fun take on standard-issue strength training.
Here’s how to put EMOM workouts to work for you, whatever your goals may be.
What Are EMOM Workouts?
In an EMOM workout, you exercise in one-minute blocks. In each block, you perform a predetermined number of reps of a given move, and then rest the remainder of that minute.
This approach emphasizes work density: the amount of work you can perform in a set time period.
In a normal strength-training program, 10 reps of the squat might take you 10 seconds, or it might take you 50 seconds. But in an EMOM workout, you’re on the clock the whole time, and speed — without losing form! — is of the essence. That incentivizes moving efficiently and quickly, and guarantees that both your muscles and your cardiovascular system get a killer workout.
“I also love the EMOM approach because it’s so easy to vary the intensity,” says Jolie Kobrinsky, RKC, TRX, owner of Prime Fitness in Monterey, CA. “Everyone from an elite athlete to a senior trainee can do the same workout in the same amount of time.”
And by adjusting the load, exercises, rep patterns, and workout structure, you can adjust the EMOM approach for nearly any fitness goal, whether you’re aiming for greater strength, bigger muscles, less fat, or greater speed and athleticism.
How to Do an EMOM Workout
There are many different ways to design an EMOM workout (e.g., straight sets of the same exercise, supersets that pair different exercises, etc.), but it works particularly well for circuit training.
• Select a series of exercises, determine your rep count for each move based on your fitness goal, and decide how many times you’ll repeat the circuit (more on how to determine rep counts and circuit rounds below).
• Structure your circuit so that you alternate either upper and lower body moves (e.g., back squat and biceps curl) or moves that target muscles on the front and back of your body (e.g., dumbbell chest press and bent over row).
• Set a timer — ideally one you can set to beep at the top of each minute — and press start. (There are several interval-timer apps available in Apple’s App Store — we like SmartWOD and Interval Timer—HIIT Workouts.)
• At the top of the first minute, perform the predetermined number of reps of your first exercise. Rest for the remainder of the minute.
• At the top of the next minute, perform the predetermined number of reps for your next move, resting for the remainder of the minute.
• Repeat the process until you’ve completed all of the exercises in the circuit, and then begin the circuit again.
Angelo Poli, SPN, ISSA, owner of Whole Body Fitness in Chico, California, points out that most people start off strong in an EMOM workout, completing the work portion of each set in 20 seconds or less, thus earning a leisurely 40-second break. But as the workout goes on, fatigue accumulates, and the work-rest ratio flips: “Suddenly you’re taking 40 seconds to complete the reps, which means you only get 20 seconds of rest,” he says. “Before long, your rest periods drop to almost zero. By the end of the workout, you’re on the floor, exhausted!”
How to Make an EMOM Workout Easier (or Harder)
One of the best features of EMOM is its scalability—how easily you can adjust the intensity level to suit any exerciser. “There are four primary ways to vary intensity,” says Poli. “Increase or decrease the load, reps, exercise difficulty, or rest periods. Increasing that last one is my favorite — mostly because it makes things so diabolically difficult!”
Types of EMOM Workouts
• EMOM for Strength
If strength is your goal, choose compound (multi-joint) movements (e.g., bench press, bent over row, pull-up, lunge, squat), and do four to five rounds of your circuit using relatively heavy loads and low reps (3 to 5) for each move.
• EMOM for Athleticism
Choose full-body, explosive movements (e.g., split jump, dumbbell snatch, t-pushup, dumbbell swing), and perform 3 to 4 rounds of your circuit using of 4 to 8 reps with moderate loads for each move.
• EMOM for Fat Loss
Choose high-intensity, full-body movements (e.g., dumbbell swing, lunge to press, mountain climber, burpee) using lighter loads for higher reps (12 to 15) and more rounds (4 to 5).
• EMOM for Muscle Growth
Choose compound moves and use moderate loads and reps (3 to 4 rounds of your circuit with 8 to 12 reps per move).
Benefits of EMOM Workouts
Few workout templates are as efficient as EMOM. You have no choice but to follow the clock, eliminating wasted time between sets (or circuits) and exercises. Even if you have just 12 minutes to work out, you can put together an EMOM workout that uses every second of that time effectively.
• Cardiovascular conditioning
Most people strength train at a leisurely pace — they do a set, rest till they feel that they’re ready, and then repeat. When you’re on the clock, you don’t get the luxury of waiting until you’re ready for your next set. When it’s go time, you go. That ensures that your heart rate stays elevated the whole workout, helping you burn more calories as you challenge and increase the efficiency of your entire cardiovascular system..
•Improved work capacity
Increasing strength and power are worthy goals — and you can accomplish both with EMOM—but the EMOM approach is also a particularly effective way to increase work capacity (i.e., the amount of work you can complete in a given amount of time), which is another key aspect of fitness (and one that’s often neglected).