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There are some fitness fanatics committed to spending hours in the gym going all out, all the time in order to build strength and burn fat. And then there’s the rest of us looking for similar gains, but whose training time has to fit in between long work hours, family time and other obligations. The solution may be incorporating an EMOM workout to your routine. This all-purpose training protocol is less intimidating than its aggressive-sounding acronym, but a surefire method for getting maximum results in minimal time no matter your skill level.
The EMOM—or Every Minute on the Minute—simply means that at the start of every minute, you’ll work for a prescribed amount of time (30 to 40 seconds) or a set amount of reps. When you hit that mark, you rest for the remainder of the minute, then start up again once the minute is up.
They’re great for building muscle, increasing muscular endurance and of course, burning fat. A HIIT and CrossFit hybrid, the EMOM is going fatigue you as you’re burning calories (a 20-minute HIIT workout is said to burn anywhere from 150 to 400 calories). Best of all, EMOM can be programmed not just for those with time constraints, but also extended for well-conditioned athletes.
But unlike your traditional HIIT workout—an all-out session in which you’re expected to be hunched over in heaping, breath-heavy pool of sweat at the end. The goal with the EMOM isn’t working to failure—you’ll want to leave a little in the tank during each EMOM round—but to maintain as much volume as prescribed from beginning to the end.
What makes the EMOM such an effective training tool for anyone of any level, according to Christian Harris, a CrossFit athlete, and founder of training community Move Fast Lift Heavy, is that each workout can be customized to each person’s time restrictions and skill level.
“Most people have 20 to 30 minutes in their day that they can carve out to find some time for fitness,” the Reebok-sponsored athlete says.” Doing a 20-minute EMOM is gonna give you a lot of bang for your buck. So I love them from that standpoint.”
There are limitless ways to program your own EMOM-style workouts—as Harris explains in his newsletter (movefastliftheavy.com) or on his new training app (MFLHtrain.com). But for some of the important tips for getting the most EMOM gains, Harris shares his top tips to master the EMOM.
“The EMOM is a very versatile piece. It doesn’t only have to be for conditioning,” Harris says. “I actually use EMOMs for a lot of my strength work as well.”
According to Harris, what makes this type of training such an underrated and highly effective workout is that an EMOM workout can be programmed for any person of any skill level and at a time that can fit anyone’s schedule. So no more excuses.
But don’t mistake convenience as an excuse for generating less effort. Despite the short time invested during some workouts, EMOMs require you to put in the work at the top of every minute. It may not be as painfully brutal all-out assault as some HIIT-style workouts as an all-out HIIT, Harris says, but the EMOM will hold you accountable for your effort if you start to slack.
“The EMOM exposes people a little bit because the clock tells you when to go,” he says. “You can’t just rest when you want to rest. So once that minute, once that clock starts and we have to do X amount of work, we got to get it done. Once that next minute hits, you got to get it done. So it really holds you accountable for starting that work on time and keeping you on task.”
Because of the variety of exercise combinations an EMOM workout can have—from running, jumping, squatting, pushing, even climbing, the last thing anyone want to be thinking about is switching shoes between activities. According to Harris, the importance of functional footwear is essential to any types of activities you may be performing.
“Something super important for me is the right pair of shoes for this” he says. “For me, I wear the Reebok Nano X3 for all of my workouts,” he says. “It checks all the boxes, and I never need to change my shoes. It’s the one shoe that I can wear to run squat jump rope climb in.”
There are a few different types of EMOMs that can anyone can add to their routines. Harris usually mixes his EMOMs says it’s good to mix them up—some cardio types sprinkled with a strength session or two.
“I think if you can put one movement into each of those buckets you’ll have a very well balanced and program for yourself,” Harris says.
For example, for a 20 minute EMOM, you can add a treadmill run (gait), a KB snatch (hinge), burpee (conditioning push with a plyometric jump), wrapped with a goblet squat (squat). The more you spread out the movement patterns, the better for more balanced gains.
This means you’re going to do 20 to 30 seconds of work and then you’re going to rest for the remainder of the minute,” Harris says. ”We’re not going to put a number of reps on what you’re doing for today. We just want to work for this amount of time. So if I said we’re going to do as many air squats as you can in a 20 to 30 second window, you’re going to rest the remainder the minute. I want you to try to hold as close to that number as possible for the rest of the EMOM.”