More Useful Stuff
It stands for ‘Every Minute on the Minute’—and it’s one of the best training formulas for getting lean
I’ve been working out since I was 14 years old, and I’ve been a fitness professional since 2005. At the age of 33, I have almost 20 years of training experience under my belt, and I’ve officially been in the business for a decade.
You would think that my training style has gotten more complex over the years with all the learning, and trial and error.
But it’s actually just the opposite.
My routines and prescriptions keep getting simpler and simpler. Some of my best workouts often feature only a single move and use very straightforward set, rep, and rest structures.
What’s my main philosophy for how most busy people should train? Maximise every minute of your training session.
That means you are doing something each minute to get better. This increases the density of your training session—or how much work you get done in the same period of time or less.
And if being lean and losing fat is your goal (which it is for the vast majority of people), then density is your most important training variable.
Enter the body-changing power of EMOM workouts. EMOM means “every minute on the minute” and has been popularized in CrossFit circles.
For example, if it’s prescribed to do 10 squats EMOM, you start the clock and do 10 squats and then rest for the remainder of that minute. Then, you do another 10 reps at the top of the next minute, and so on.
By doing something at the top of every minute and then resting the remainder of that minute, you have a very simple structure with which to manage fatigue and implement progressive overload.
Everyone completes a certain number of reps at a different speed based on fitness level, limb length, and body proportions. And EMOM allows you to do quality work at your own pace while establishing a clean training skeleton to work within.
What many people don’t realize is that EMOM is basically a version of EDT (Escalating Density Training). EDT was popularized by a top strength coach named Charles Staley. Staley’s system had you perform submaximal reps with a certain load or exercise variation as continuously as possible for blocks of time typically ranging from 5 to 30 minutes.
For example, you’d do as many sets of 5 bench presses and 5 squats as you can in 15 minutes using a load that’s approximately a 10RM (repetition maximum) for each move.
This system seeks to avoid muscular failure and better manage fatigue. This in turn allows you to do more total quality reps each workout.
And by auto-regulating your rest and transition periods, you can completely customize a training session to your individual needs. To make gains, you just need to use heavier loads or get more total reps or rounds from session to session. It’s simple, but super effective!
I personally find EMOM workouts to be unmatched for rapid fat-loss training—especially when you’re lower on energy and calories. It allows you to keep using heavy loads for a higher volume to help maintain muscle mass and metabolism. But you can also use them to build muscle and strength.
Below is an outline of the best ways to implement EMOM protocols into your training.
EMOM singles with a 3RM to 5RM
Use a load that represents a 3RM to 5RM. Then do a perfect single rep EMOM. Repeat for 10 to 30 minutes based on your goals, fitness level, and whatever else you have planned within that training session. Look to add 2.5 to 5 pounds each week or session.
I personally love this protocol for deadlifts and front squats because both moves require a perfect setup for proper and safe execution. Doing up to 20 total sets allows you to train the setup portion of the lift 20 times—which is way more than the what you’d get from the classic 3 to 5 work sets.
Plus, deadlifts can really tear up your hands and front squats are uncomfortable to perform no matter how good you get. Some more are just better a rep at a time.
EMOM doubles and triples with a 4RM to 6RM
This is similar to the previous format, but you’re doing sets of 2 to 3 reps with a slighter lighter load. This is still great for strength and power development, and because it uses multiple reps, there’s a nice little cumulative fatigue that happens over the course of the session.
You’ll train your alacate and phosphagen energy system with intense work periods of 10 to 15 seconds. And you’re aerobic system needs to be strong enough to help you recover with what will be progressively shorter rest periods as you fatigue.
EMOM for hypertrophy
To build muscle, the classic recommendation is to do sets of 8 to 12 reps. So to EMOM-ify it, you’ll use a load that represents an 8RM to 12RM and then do straight sets of 4 to 6 reps EMOM.
You may not be able to maintain sets of 4 to 6 all the way through the session but that’s your ultimate goal. Once you can do that, bump up the load.
You can also keep using the same load, but try to accumulate more total reps. Keep these between 5 and 15 minutes total.
Select a load or move you can do at least 10 reps with. The first minute, do a single rep. The next minute, do 2 reps. Keep adding a rep to the total EMOM until you can no longer complete the set, and then terminate the session.
This works great for move like pushups, pullups, and burpees. The earlier low-rep sets are a built-in warmup, but you also accumulate volume over the session to promote muscle growth. Try to climb to a higher ladder each session.
EMOM max out
Set the clock for 10 to 20 minutes. Do a set EMOM, slowly building up to the heaviest weight you can handle. Stop just before technical failure.
This is a great way to safely use some heavy loads when you’re short on time.
EMOM volume accumulation and skill acquisition
The best way to get better at a skill is to accumulate a ton of reps at it. Most experts say that it takes 10,000 reps to reach mastery.
Plus, there are some moves that are best trained by never going to failure. I love using this protocol for bodyweight moves like pullups and single-leg squats.
Do reps EMOM that are about 25-to-50 percent of the rep total you can do in a single all-out set. Go for as long as you can while maintaining that rep total and try to bump it up from session to session.
EOMOM (yes, I added an ‘O’)
If you’re looking to really train maximum power and strength, then follow the protocol outlined in numbers 1 and 2—but only do a set every other minute on the minute or on the even minutes (for instance, 2, 4, 6, etc.).
This extra rest will prevent any metabolic fatigue and allow you to really dig into the power of your central nervous system. Try to do some non-competitive fillers between sets like mobility work or low-level bodyweight moves so you’re not just sitting on your ass (unless you’re a competitive powerlifter or weightlifter).
Short on time and want more rest between sets? Try pairing two exercises that work different parts of your body.
Do the first exercise the first minute, and then do the second move the second minute. Keep repeating that format for the full 10-to-30 minute block.
Classic non-competitive supersets include upper-lower body, push-pull, and unilateral pairings. These are great for fat loss.
EMOM supersets- contrast Training
Contrast training takes advantage of the neural boost from the post-potentiation effect.
Studies show that if you follow a heavy strength exercise with a light or unloaded power exercise for similar movement patterns or muscle groups, overall force production will increase.
It’s why pushups feel easier after heavy bench presses or why you feel like the flash when running on a flat surface right after you ran uphill or against resistance.
For example, you do 1 heavy deadlift in minute 1 and then follow that with 1 max-effort long jump in minute 2. Both moves work the posterior chain and involve a hip-hinge pattern. So you excite your nervous system with the deadlifts and then your hips explode during the unloaded long jump.
Just make sure the loaded movement isn’t an all-out max because you don’t want to fry your CNS. I recommend using a load that’s about 80 percent of your 1RM.
Singles aren’t the only option with this protocol. You can also do sets of 1 to 5 reps for the strength move, and sets of 5 to 10 reps for the power move to get the same effect and add in more of a conditioning component.
EMOM MetCon circuits
Pick 3 or more exercises that work your whole body. Then complete one move EMOM. Every minute, you’ll do a new exercise. This is a really fun way to fry fat—and you’ll never get bored since the workout possibilities are endless.
This is one of my favorite EMOM circuits.
The Craziest Cardio Workout Ever
Minute 1. Sled push, 20 to 25 yards
Minute 2. Kettlebell swing, 10 reps
Minute 3. Skater jump, 20 seconds
Minute 4. Battle rope wave, 20 seconds
Minute 5. Sumo burpee, 10 reps
Minute 6. Dumbbell farmer’s walk, 20 to 25 yard