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If you wanted to shake up your training, EMOM (‘Every Minute On The Minute’) could be just what you’re looking for: it’ll push you to work harder, can be adapted to suit your fitness level and can be incorporated into your current plan.
The interval workout involves performing a certain number or sequence of exercises - such as ten burpees followed six kettlebell swings - within a minute. Once you’ve completed your target, you’re rewarded with rest, but only until the next minute begins when you have to start over.
As you can probably guess, the faster you complete the set, the more time you have to rest until the next minute starts. So if the exercise is to complete 15 burpees and you do those in 30 seconds, you have 30 seconds to rest. If you take your time and do them in 50 seconds, you have 10 seconds to rest before you have to get up and go again.
“It’s a good way of pushing people to maintain pace,” says PT Sharon Morrow. “This is because if you repeat the process, slow down and get tired, you lose the recovery period, therefore motivation to stay quick is essential.” Got it.
The workout has been popularised by Crossfit - a fitness workout popular across the globe, with an annual competition The Crossfit Games, and a handful of documentaries on Netflix - but EMOM is nothing new. “It’s had a resurgence in the last five years thanks to HIIT-style circuit training in general becoming the new and trendy way to exercise,” adds Pagan. “But as a structure for training it has been around for many years in the Olympic training circles.”
Don’t be put off if you’re new to working out, because EMOM can be adapted depending on your fitness level. In fact, PT George Pagan says EMOM is perfect for beginners as they can make it more difficult - such by increasing the amount of reps or type of exercise - as they get more used to working out.
Why is EMOM training good for us?
The two biggest benefits EMOM can bring to someone’s training is an increase in work capacity - the ability to do more sets/reps in a given time - and an emphasis on resting. Pagan says rest is often an overlooked aspect of training, because in the moment it feels like you’re wasting your time and often everyone wants to feel like they did as much work as they possibly could. But really, we should be acknowledging that rest is needed to give us the energy to complete the next set to the best of our ability. “With the appeal of using circuit training growing so is the desire to feel completely exhausted at the end of each training session,” he says. “In reality that is not always the best approach to take.”
Additionally, all EMOM circuits mean you can condense a lot of work down into a very short workout, which is a dream for those who don’t have much time.
How do we do it?
You can do EMOM training by yourself in the gym or at home. Gym classes might adopt the method, but you don’t have to be paying for a class to try it out. In its most simplest form, choose any exercise to do (burpees, sit-ups, press-ups, mountain climbers), choose the number of reps you intend to do per minute, then get going. Once you’ve got that nailed, you can start to make things a little harder.
Morrow suggests another slightly more complicated format is to do three exercises back-to-back for six reps each. So, for example, in one minute you would do:
- six reps of kettlebell swings
- six squats
- six burpees
- Rest until the minute is over. Repeat.
To mix things up a bit, Morrow suggests another way of doing EMOM is to build up reps as the timer beeps. For example:
:: one kettlebell swing and one burpee for the first minute
:: two kettlebells swings and two burpees for the second minute
:: three kettlebell swings and three burpees for the third minute
Morrow normally sets the timer for 10 minutes, so her clients will do 10 rounds of three exercises. Pagan says people often do EMOM for 10-15 minutes, too.
To help keep track, download a free app that has an EMOM timer on it (one of these is GymBoss). This way you can press start, begin your sequence, and be alerted by a “beep” after each minute.