EMOM workout: what it is and how to get started

Wondering what an EMOM workout is? Here's everything you need to know and how to up your fitness game

Woman doing EMOM workout
(Image credit: Getty)

You may have heard the term EMOM workout and wondered what on earth it means. 

EMOM is normally associated with crossfit and it stands for Every Minute On The Minute and is essentially a type of workout programming. For optimum results, try an EMOM whilst wearing a pair of the best cross training shoes.

But how does an EMOM actually work?

Ryan Lucas-Lowther is a coach at Fortitude Fitness London. He explains that in a particular minute you are to complete a certain number of reps of a move. If you finish the reps earlier than that 60-second window, you can relax until the next minute starts.

So, the quicker and the harder you work, the more rest time you’ll be allocated as you’ll have more time left in the minute.

Ryan adds that EMOM workouts are extremely popular in functional fitness.

"They can help you find a base in your fitness levels, and help you to continually improve."

Plus, research has proven how exercise can lower the risk of death from a number of diseases such as cardiovascular disease, so ensuring that you include plenty of movement within your lifestyle, is an easy way to stay healthy.

So what does an EMOM involve and how can you try your own?

What is an EMOM workout?

An EMOM workout can be programmed to be fairly simple, but more complicated versions can also be created.

It can also include more than one move. You may be required to complete, for example, 10 reps of a move and 10 reps of another move, in the given minute. Or, it may be that you are expected to complete a set number of reps in one minute, then a different set of reps in the next minute.

You may also see the word E2MOM. This means that you have two minutes to complete the given reps of a given move. This number can also vary. 

When it comes to the moves used in an EMOM workout, well the world is your oyster. Any move can be included in an EMOM workout, whether it be a high-intensity bodyweight move, a weighty endurance move, or a slow, heavy move.

Adding weights to your moves creates more of a challenge, and more often than not, EMOM workouts will include weights.  

For heavier weights, the number of reps required in each 60-second window might be less as the weight is offering up far more of a challenge. However, lighter weights can often mean that more reps are achievable. 

Ryan does add though that it’s important to maintain good form throughout, to avoid injury. Working through reps speedily can mean that form is neglected, which can lead to pain. So scale the EMOM workout back if you think it might cause a problem. You can always work your way up.

The status of the athlete does play a part in deciding how to program an EMOM workout. A beginner will want to allow for more rest time at the end of each minute, so may not want to choose a rep count that’s too difficult.

The length of the EMOM workout is another variable, and the chosen length will vary depending on your fitness goal. 

Crossfit athlete Aimee Cringle says that EMOMs are highly versatile as ‘they allow you to clearly define work performed and time allowed to do it in’. 

‘An EMOM can be for any length of time but normally they last between 7 to 15 minutes for skill-based work and anything up to 40 mins for an engine/cardio focus.’

A longer EMOM can be great for building up endurance; the amount of time you can continue to work for without stopping.

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(Image credit: Getty Images)

Why are EMOM workouts effective?

There are a number of benefits to including EMOM workouts in your exercise regime. Not only can they help boost your fitness but they also provide a number of other positives.

1. EMOM benefits: great for everyone 

Ryan says that the beauty of EMOMs is the fact that they can be scaled to suit the person and their fitness levels.

‘If it’s too challenging for you, scale the reps down to something that matches your fitness levels. However, if you are at an advanced level, you can increase the reps. The fitter you get, the more you should increase the reps to help challenge yourself to get even fitter.’

You may often find EMOMs within exercise classes, however, there may be more than one option depending on your fitness level. This means no one feels excluded from the workout.

Plus, you can work your way up to an advanced level over time.

2. EMOM benefits: identifies any weaknesses 

It might not sound too alluring to have your weaknesses pointed out to you, however, it’s a sure-fire way to help you improve. 

Ryan explains that EMOM training helps ‘identify what movements are your weakness under fatigue and how many reps you can complete in that minute window.’

By then working on your weaknesses, you can build up your fitness, as well as your EMOM workouts. 

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(Image credit: Getty Images)

3. EMOM benefits: helpful for weight loss

EMOM workouts are intense and can be classed as a HIIT workout, which stands for High-Intensity Interval Training. HIIT workouts have been found to aid weight loss, and in particular, weight loss around our stomach area. 

One study explains how the effect of aerobic exercise on body fat is ‘negligible’, whilst other types of exercise such as HIIT training, can actually alter body composition.

The below is an example of an EMOM that will keep your heart rate elevated and could help contribute to weight loss.

4. EMOM benefits: you'll learn to pace yourself

Despite the fact you have to work at an intense level, you also can’t work to the point of maximum fatigue, as every minute you need to complete the same or a different set of reps. 

It might not be ideal to go so hard and get all the movements done in the first 20 seconds of your minute, as despite the longer rest, you might have driven yourself to failure. 

Whereas, you won’t want to go so slowly that you only leave yourself a 5 second rest period before the next minute, as this may not be enough of a recovery period.

5. EMOM benefits: help fitness endurance

Aimee says that EMOM workouts can help target endurance as they keep you working at your maximum effort in order to finish the number of reps within a minute.

Thanks to the 60-second time cap, you’re ‘forced’ to keep working in order to complete the reps.

Your endurance level is essentially how hard you can keep working for a given period of time. 

A study has found that endurance training has several benefits on health including improvement in metabolism and a lower rise of cardiovascular illness.

EMOM workout examples to try at home

Ready to try an EMOM workout for yourself? The good thing is, you don’t always need gym equipment to get a good EMOM programmed. Ryan has created these three EMOMs, suitable for beginner through to advanced.

Beginner EMOM

This is a 28 Minute EMOM, which is 7 rounds.

Minute 1) 8 burpees

HOW TO: Start standing, lower into a squat, hands on the floor, step your legs back, touch your chest to the floor, bring your feet back into the squat and then stand tall again.

Minute 2) 10 Air Squats 

HOW TO: Start with feet hip-width apart, hands out in front of you, toes slightly pointed out, squat down to just below parallel, drive back up, pushing up through your heels.

Minute 3) 12 sit ups 

HOW TO: Lay down on the floor, legs bent so feet are flat on the floor. Use your abs to crunch up to your sit up, and take hands to your toes, either side of your legs.

Minute 4) Rest

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Intermediate EMOM

This one is a 32-minute EMOM, which is eight rounds. 

Minute 1) 20 Jumping Lunges 

HOW TO: Lunge one leg in front, one behind. Bring the knee of the leg that’s at the back, to the floor. Then using power from the lower body and momentum from the arms, to jump up, swap legs, and drop back into a lunge with the opposite leg in front. 

Minute 2) 40 high knees 

HOW TO: Stand up tall, hands out in front of you, bring one leg up at a time, and make sure when the knee comes up, that it touches the hand in front of you.

Minute 3) 14 burpees

Minute 4) Rest

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Advanced EMOM

This is the longest EMOM as it goes on for 40 minutes. In total, it amounts to 10 rounds. 

Minute 1) 15 Burpees 

Minute 2) 20 sit ups 

Minute 3) 30 Jumping Lunges

Minute 4) 100 Air Squats and 20 squat jumps.

HOW TO: For a squat jump, as you rise from a squat, jump up using power from the legs.

Lucy Gornall
Lucy Gornall

Lucy is Head of Wellness at Pure Sport and was formerly Health and Fitness Editor at various women's magazines, including Woman&Home Feel Good You. She has previously written for titles including Now, Look and Cosmopolitan. She lives and breathes all things fitness; she works out every morning, and mixes it up with runs, weights, boxing and endless box jumps. She is also a Level 3 personal trainer and teaches classes at various London studios, primarily Digme Fitness. Lucy is pre- and post-natal trained and helps new mums get back into fitness after the birth of their baby. Lucy claims that good sleep, plenty of food and a healthy gut (seriously, it's an obsession) are the key to maintaining energy and exercising efficiently. Saying this, she's partial to the odd Negroni on the dance floor with her friends.