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In an ideal world, I’d have 60 minutes to exercise three to five times per week. While this is often the case, there are times when I don’t have the time for this. This happened in the months leading up to my wedding, again when I moved house, and can happen when work or life gets busy for whatever reason.
This doesn’t mean I shouldn’t be able to feel the endorphins and get the health benefits of exercising. I just have to adapt what I do to make it time-efficient. This is where EMOM workouts come in. EMOM, if you don’t already know, is an acronym for “every minute on the minute.” These high-intensity workouts are fairly short (less than 30 minutes, but can be much shorter), but leave me drenched in sweat every time.
RELATED: Benefits of Cardio
I’ll start by going through exactly what EMOM workouts are, as well as why you should consider adding them to your training. Then, I’ll go through three EMOM workout variations for different fitness levels.
Medical disclaimer: This article is intended for educational and informational purposes only. It is not intended as a substitute for medical advice. For health advice, contact a licensed healthcare provider.
What Are EMOM Workouts?
With an EMOM workout, you do a predetermined number of repetitions of an exercise within 60 seconds. After you’ve hit this number, you rest for the remaining time. Then, on the minute, the next exercise begins.
For example, let’s choose two exercises—push-ups and jumping jacks. In the first minute, you would do eight push-ups within 35 seconds, and you’d rest for 25 seconds before the jumping jacks begin. You now have to do 12 jumping jacks in the second minute, which takes 40 seconds. So you’d get 20 seconds of rest time before the next exercise begins. And so on…
Although an EMOM workout could technically be just one exercise that you repeat over and over again, it’s usually a handful of different exercises which you do for a number of rounds (you’ll see examples of EMOM workouts that I’ve designed myself below). You can use your body weight, dumbbells, kettlebells, barbells, resistance bands, or simply anything you can find at home (I’m thinking cans of baked beans here!).
The goal of an EMOM workout is to be as efficient as possible while maintaining good form. The quicker you do the predetermined number of reps, the longer your rest periods are to catch your breath before you go again. If you’re too slow, well, tough. You’ll still have to start again when the minute starts. They can be as long or short as you want—I usually do EMOM workouts for around 20 minutes, but you could make this shorter or longer.
EMOM Workout Benefits
You understand what EMOM workouts are, but why should you consider adding these to your training? There are tons of benefits, including:
Improved Cardiovascular Health
The American Heart Association recommends1 at least 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes per week of vigorous aerobic activity. By regularly doing EMOM workouts, you’ll be well on your way to meeting these targets.
The benefits? Lower risk of heart disease, lower blood pressure and cholesterol, and potentially a longer lifespan. Not only this, but you may sleep better, have better lung health, and even enhance the first line of defense of the immune system2 (say goodbye to that nasty winter flu!).
Saves Time and Is Convenient
Another benefit is that you can get a great workout in a short amount of time. It can be difficult to fit a 60-minute workout into your day, especially if you have to go to the gym to do it. A 15- to 30-minute workout that you can do at home before you start work or during your lunch break is more convenient for most people.
Although much shorter than a traditional workout, interval training with this type of workout may still provide health benefits and care for cardiac diseases3.
RELATED: Benefits of HIIT Training
Works for Any Fitness Goal
You can use EMOM workouts for a variety of fitness goals, and change the exercises accordingly. To build muscle or muscular endurance, you can perform exercises such as kettlebell swings, weighted lunges, and bench presses. If you want to get your heart rate up, consider doing exercises such as burpees, crunches, and box jumps. You can even target a specific muscle group at a time (a core-strengthening EMOM workout is a common one!). The sky really is the limit when it comes to EMOM workouts.
Can Be Used With Other Training Programs
EMOM workouts can be paired with other training programs, and this is why I like them. Let’s say, like me, you prefer strength training workouts based in the gym. However, you can only get to the gym three times a week, but you want to do one or two extra workouts per week. Here, you can do full-body, cardio-based EMOM workouts at home and leave weightlifting for the gym. The same principle applies if you’re into CrossFit.
You can even use EMOM workouts to warm up or as a finisher to your regular workout. Do a 5-minute bodyweight EMOM workout to warm up before a heavy leg workout, or finish off strong at the end of chest day with a high-intensity EMOM workout.
EMOM vs AMRAP
You might think, “Isn’t this the same as an AMRAP workout?”
While there are similarities between the two, there are differences. With EMOM workouts4, you always get one minute to complete the exercise and if you finish it early, you’re forced to rest. The total length of the workout and the number of reps you’re going to do for each exercise is predetermined. The person doing the EMOM workout is able to control the pace in the way they wish, as long as they complete the set number of reps within 60 seconds.
With AMRAP workouts, even though the total length of time is predetermined, the total number of reps is not. Neither is the time to finish an exercise. It’s looser—you simply do the maximum number of repetitions or rounds you can during a total length of time. You can take breaks at any time, and the whole AMRAP workout is based on your performance capacity. You don’t need to rest if you don’t want to or you can take longer if needed. It’s a lot more versatile than an EMOM workout, but does require you to challenge yourself.
The Best EMOM Workouts
Now that you know exactly what EMOM workouts are, as well as the benefits of EMOM workouts, I’m going to go through three different workout plans. You’ll see that the exercise variation gets more difficult as you progress (either the total number of reps increases or extra resistance is added). To make it more challenging, the total number of rounds increases, too.
Beginner EMOM Workout
Minute 1: 10 Air squats
Minute 2: 8 Push-ups on knees
Minute 3: 10 Lunges
Minute 4: 6 Inverted rows
Minute 5: 10 Jumping Jacks
Repeat three times for a total of 15 minutes.
Intermediate EMOM Workout
Minute 1: 10 Dumbbell squats
Minute 2: 8 Regular push-ups
Minute 3: 12 Weighted lunges
Minute 4: 6 Pull-ups
Minute 5: 15 Jumping Jacks
Repeat four times for a total of 20 minutes.
Advanced EMOM Workout
Minute 1: 15 Dumbbell squats
Minute 2: 8 Weighted push-ups
Minute 3: 12 Weighted jumping lunges
Minute 4: 6 Weighted pull-ups
Minute 5: 20 Jumping Jacks
Repeat five times for a total of 25 minutes.
Note: These workouts are just a guideline. With all of them, write down how long each exercise takes you to complete. If it takes close to the full 60 seconds, reduce the number of repetitions slightly so that you get some rest time and increase it again later on. If it takes no time at all and you feel as though the rest time is too long, add a couple more reps.
EMOM Workouts: Final Thoughts
If you’re looking to improve your cardiovascular fitness in a quick and effective way, you may want to consider adding EMOM workouts to your routine. You can even use them as a warm-up or finisher, and the exercises you do can be adapted for a variety of fitness goals.
- Warm up. Before you start an EMOM workout, warm up effectively. This will help to increase your muscle temperature for better flexibility and performance.
- Don’t neglect your form. It can be tempting to neglect your form to finish the exercise quicker, so you get a longer rest time. This isn’t the point. Bad form can lead to injuries.
- Add resistance. Once a certain exercise becomes too easy, either increase the number of reps or add some resistance to make the exercise more challenging. You’ll know when the time is right.
EMOM Workouts: Q&A
What is a good EMOM workout?
A good EMOM workout depends on the fitness level of an individual and their goals. Someone who wants to build strength may consider adding exercises like push-ups, lunges, air squats, pull-ups, deadlifts, thrusters, and more to their workout routine. Burpees, jumping jacks, sit-ups, and other exercises are great for cardio-focused workouts. If you’re new to exercise, do beginner versions of these exercises and progress with added resistance once you’re able to.
How often should you do EMOM workouts?
EMOM workouts can be done as little or as often as you like. If you’re like me and prefer doing strength-based workouts in the gym, EMOM workouts can be limited to times when you don’t have the time and ability to get to a gym. Alternatively, they can be done as a warm-up or finisher to your regular workout routine.
For others who want to make EMOM workouts their sole focus when it comes to exercise, you can do EMOM workouts three to five times per week. Just remember to take it slow if you’re new to exercise or haven’t exercised for a long time. Resting is important, too.
What is the difference between HIIT and EMOM?
When people talk about HIIT workouts, they’re usually referring to Tabata workouts. However, HIIT stands for high-intensity interval training and EMOM workouts are actually a form of HIIT. While any form of high-intensity training may help with weight loss5, the main difference between an EMOM workout and a Tabata workout is the rest time. In an EMOM workout, if you finish early, you get a longer rest time, but with a Tabata workout, the rest time is set in stone (usually 10 seconds after 20 seconds of work). Tabata workouts are usually shorter in duration compared to EMOM workouts.
What is Amrap versus EMOM?
Both EMOM and Amrap have a predetermined total level of time that you’ll be exercising. With EMOM workouts, you also have a set number of repetitions of an exercise you have to complete and you have 60 seconds to finish it. Once you’re done, you rest until the next minute starts.
With Amrap, you don’t have a set number of repetitions to do or a set rest period. You do as many reps as you like, and rest for as little or as long as you need. There’s no pressure with a clock, and the goal is to do the maximum number of reps and rounds possible. Amrap focuses on mental toughness and forces you to challenge yourself.
- American Heart Association recommendations for physical activity in adults and kids. www.heart.org. (2022, July 28). Retrieved October 4, 2023, from https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/fitness/fitness-basics/aha-recs-for-physical-activity-in-adults
- Chastin, S.F.M., Abaraogu, U., Bourgois, J.G. et al. Effects of Regular Physical Activity on the Immune System, Vaccination and Risk of Community-Acquired Infectious Disease in the General Population: Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Sports Med 51, 1673–1686 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40279-021-01466-1
- Ito S. High-intensity interval training for health benefits and care of cardiac diseases – The key to an efficient exercise protocol. World J Cardiol. 2019 Jul 26;11(7):171-188. doi: 10.4330/wjc.v11.i7.171. PMID: 31565193; PMCID: PMC6763680.
- de-Oliveira LA, Heredia-Elvar JR, Maté-Muñoz JL, García-Manso JM, Aragão-Santos JC, Da Silva-Grigoletto ME. Analysis of Pacing Strategies in AMRAP, EMOM, and FOR TIME Training Models during “Cross” Modalities. Sports (Basel). 2021 Oct 20;9(11):144. doi: 10.3390/sports9110144. PMID: 34822344; PMCID: PMC8624389.
- Boutcher SH. High-intensity intermittent exercise and fat loss. J Obes. 2011;2011:868305. doi: 10.1155/2011/868305. Epub 2010 Nov 24. PMID: 21113312; PMCID: PMC2991639.
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