What is EMOM and why should you add it to your fitness routine?

An EMOM routine allows you to mix and match exercises like push ups with squats or burpees.  (Pexels/ Mike González)
An EMOM routine allows you to mix and match exercises like push ups with squats or burpees. (Pexels/ Mike González)


An EMOM workout is scalable, flexible and allows you to pack in a lot in as little as 15 minutes

If there’s a workout formula that’s scalable in terms of difficulty, time, equipment and gives one the freedom to add multiple exercises in an effective way to get fit, then it is ‘every minute, on the minute’. Also known as EMOM across gyms which have a slight CrossFit connection, this system needs one to choose between at least one exercise (from a selection) for a set number of reps at the beginning of every minute, using the remainder of the minute as rest-time. Start again at the beginning of the next minute, until you’re done with the total pre-decided time. This would ideally be 15-20 minutes.

Also read: Why you need to befriend the barbell at the gym

A simple example would be doing 10 pushups every minute – for 15 minutes. Say you do them in just 20 seconds in the first minute, the remainder 40 seconds are your rest time. Repeat. You can add another exercise in every alternate minute and play around with the circuit. A barbend.com article says that the only limitation with EMOM training is “creativity." The piece, titled What is EMOM training? How to do it and why you should, adds that “you can customise your EMOM workout for your specific experience level, goals, and abilities. Because you’ll be minimising your rest periods, EMOMs are designed to make you stronger and majorly boost your endurance."

This means that by tweaking the number of minutes and the intensity of the exercise and loads, you can also determine whether you are doing a cardio-based EMOM, or something to build strength and muscle. A tip would be to choose exercises for which you have a sound technique. Chasing a higher rest time with a faster set can also lead to injuries, ideally, you would rather have 5 fewer seconds to rest than pull a muscle and miss a few days in your routine.


Let’s start with beginner workouts. Start modest: 10 pushups followed by five squats every alternate minute for 16 minutes (an even number so that the workout ends with the squats). Add a third exercise to the mix in the week after. Maybe three burpees after the squats and the time increases to 18 minutes. Add a bike to the sequence or as a replacement exercise the next time you try something. “A cardio-focused EMOM could include body-weight movements (burpees, broad jumps, push-ups, mountain climbers and pull-ups) and machines like the rower or air bike. For instance, you might aim for 10 to 15 push-ups or 8 to 18 calories on the air bike," says a piece on fitking.in, titled What are EMOM workouts and what makes them so great?

The article suggests a combination that might help one choose the exercises: Do opposite muscle groups which means a push exercise and a pull exercise. The other duo is a hinge movement and a squat movement. So, a deadlift or kettlebell swings would go well with squats.

There's a very basic 12-minute EMOM session on the Sarah Grace Fitness channel on YouTube that doesn't require any equipment but tests your lower body and endurance. In it, Grace suggests doing 20 alternate lunges and 10 burpees, which can be scaled. But even something as simple as that would put you through 120 alternate lunges and 60 burpees in just 12 minutes.

Here's the link to the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KmpXm4UnR9A

The biggest advantage of EMOMs is the amount of volume one can pack into a workout in a short amount of time. A muscle-building EMOM can be done using just one piece of equipment as well. YouTube fitness channel JTM FIT has a really good kettlebell-only 20-minute EMOM with five reps each of four exercises in a loop: hang snatch, front squat, hang clean, and push press. The video is a great example of how to design a workout keeping muscle-building as the main goal. If you have multiple kettlebells available, then adding a progressive overload to the mix won’t be a bad idea.

Watch the JTM FIT video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=utSCbbLTD80. The channel also has a 12-minute EMOM if you want a tester of what a kettlebell workout looks like.

A full-body EMOM could include as many as five exercises. YouTube channel Fearless Motivation Fitness has a follow-along video of what a typical intermediate CrossFit EMOM would look like. The exercises tell a story: this workout will hit your back, shoulders, core, and test your coordination as well. A recommendation for beginners would be to try half the number of reps suggested in the video to test your levels first. The exercises included are renegade rows, push presses, bent over rows, Russian twists and DB snatches.

The full-body EMOM by Fearless Motivation Fitness: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A6hGk50dl5o

Irrespective of how much time you spend at a gym, making EMOMs a part of your routine shouldn't be too difficult. I have started adding an 8-10 minute EMOM in between my regular routine to freshen it up. It’s fun, it’s easy to set up, and it’s effective.

Pulasta Dhar is a football commentator, podcaster and writer.

Also read: Yoga, CrossFit or Zumba? Here’s how to pick a workout style that's right for you






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