Every minute counts. It’s a philosophy that can be applied to all areas of life—particularly to exercise and fitness. Whether you have 10 minutes or a full hour to devote to physical activity, making the most of that time is essential to achieving the results you want and staying motivated along the way.
Of course, how you choose to spend those minutes will also determine how enjoyable (or grueling) they feel. If you hate the treadmill, half an hour will feel like half a day. Similarly, doing the same exercise for an entire workout, day in and day out, could be a recipe for burnout (not to mention the fact that it's an ineffective way to work your body).
Enter the EMOM workout. Short for “Every Minute on the Minute,” EMOM essentially involves doing a fixed number of reps of one exercise for a 60-second period, then moving on to the next exercise. If the reps are completed in less than a minute, the remaining time can be used for rest.
As personal trainer Cheryl Russo explains, EMOM workouts are a form of high-intensity interval training (HIIT). “Physically, it is beneficial because, when doing a cardio EMOM, it can push you into an anaerobic state, which will improve aerobic capacity and create an EPOC effect. [EPOC can] increase metabolism and helps to burn calories for hours after the workout is complete,” she says.
Benefits of EMOM Workouts
You don’t have to think about it.
As each minute has its own assigned exercise, you simply perform the prescribed number of reps and then rest until the minute is up. It’s a great option for people who like having a structured routine and don’t want to have to come up with new moves on the fly.
You can track your weakness areas and improvements.
Paul Searles, a certified strength and conditioning coach with Sports Science Lab, points out that EMOM workouts help you pinpoint areas of aerobic weakness that may be in need of improvement.
“Let’s say it takes you about 25 seconds to complete the prescribed number of reps of that particular exercise for the first minute, then it takes you 40 seconds to complete the same number of reps of the same exercise the second minute,” he says. “That could indicate you need to work on your cardiovascular endurance.”
On the other hand, if a set of reps initially took 40 seconds and a week later only takes 35 seconds, you can tell you’re improving. This makes EMOM an effective system for tracking progress.
They are versatile.
Searles points out that the EMOM format is a rough guideline that can be applied to any type of workout. “You can work on any area of the fitness spectrum that you enjoy or need to improve upon, such as power, strength, aerobic and technical skills,” he notes.
Plus, as ACE Fitness points out, EMOM workouts are also easy to adapt to any fitness level, from beginner to advanced.
They’re ideal for busy schedules.
For those days when you can’t spend hours in the gym or fit in a full-length fitness class, you can squeeze a short yet effective EMOM workout into whatever time you have available. With so many bodyweight moves out there, you can also do it anywhere that’s convenient, from your living room to your backyard.
Tips for an Effective EMOM Workout
Watch your form.
As Searles points out, repeating the same exercises for a larger number of sets with appropriate rest allows you to push the threshold of fatigue—which is a good thing. When doing this, though, it’s important to maintain proper form to ensure that you’re activating the appropriate muscles.
“During fatigue, if you can keep good form as best as possible, it will help to decrease the likelihood of injury, prolong the ability to keep moving the right way, and prevent you from resorting to compensatory movement patterns that may eventually cause pain or injuries,” he explains.
Don’t increase the rep count too much.
While it’s fine to adjust the reps a little higher as you get stronger, you don’t want to increase them to the point that it takes the entire minute. In an EMOM workout, there should always be at least a little rest time in between sets.
Use your rest time wisely.
If you’ve completed the prescribed number of reps before the 60 seconds is up, listen to your body’s cues to determine how to best use the remaining time. If you’re feeling very fatigued or winded, take full advantage of the break to recover. But if you feel like you don’t need the full rest, incorporate some light, low-impact movement while waiting for the next set.
5-Minute Sample EMOM Workout
Searles from Sports Science Lab created this quick EMOM routine exclusively for SparkPeople.
Goblet Squats x 10
Freestanding Row x 10 (each arm)
Romanian Deadlift x 10
Pushups x 10
Shoulder Press x 10