Here, with the help of personal trainer Evan Williams, C.S.C.S., founder of E2G Performance in Chicago and Runner’s World run coach, Jess Movold, we break down everything you need to know about EMOMs, including what they are, their awesome benefits, and how to slot one into a routine. We also share a great beginner-friendly EMOM, straight from Coach Jess, so you can add it to your arsenal of at-home workouts.
What is an EMOM workout?
EMOM is a form of high-intensity interval training (or HIIT workout) that stands for “Every Minute On the Minute.” Here’s how it works: You pick an exercise, or series of exercises, to perform for a certain number of reps or time that’s less than 60 seconds. You then repeat that pattern every minute for a set number of minutes.
If you’re doing a rep-based EMOM, the amount of rest you get depends on how quickly you complete the prescribed rep count. Say you’re doing an EMOM of 20 push-ups for example. If it takes you 30 seconds to bust out those reps, you get to rest for another 30 seconds before dropping for another set of 20. But if those reps take you 50 seconds, you’d have only 10 seconds of downtime before starting again. Rep-based EMOMs encourage you to work at a high intensity and quick speed so you can maximize your rest time.
Time-based EMOMs are slightly more structured because your rest period stays the same no matter what. For example, if you’re doing an EMOM that involves lunging for 40 seconds, you would always get 20 seconds of rest, regardless of how many reps you’re able to complete during the 40-second work period.
There’s no set duration for an EMOM workout. It can be as short as one minute, or as long as a full workout–say, 45 minutes or more. However, most HIIT workouts only last 10 to 20 minutes, and research says you might need only four minutes to gain the benefits.
What are the benefits of EMOMs?
There are several solid reasons runners should consider adding EMOMs into their routine.
The first: Because EMOMs typically alternate between bursts of max-effort work and short periods of rest, they qualify as a form of HIIT. And regularly doing HIIT can bring loads of benefits, including improved fitness, better physiological functions, and lowered risk of cardiovascular disease, according to research.
Another perk of EMOMs: If you choose strength-specific movements for your EMOMs (think: kettlebell squats or dumbbell lunges) you can increase your strength and boost muscular endurance, says Williams. For runners, this can translate to stronger, better running, because you’ll be able to recruit more muscle fibers to power you through your run and also be able to keep running for greater periods of time without fatiguing.
Lastly, EMOMs are a really efficient form of interval training, says Williams, since they typically involve intense efforts performed in a short amount of time. That means EMOMs can deliver a great band for your exercise buck, making them an ideal choice for the busy runner who wants to get in and get out of the gym. Choose bodyweight exercises and you can do these workouts from any location, too.
What do you need to know before you do an EMOM?
If you’re new to this style of training, ease into an EMOM with basic bodyweight movements (think: squats, lunges, and mountain climbers) before ramping up the intensity, says Williams. This will help reduce your chances of injury and improve the overall effectiveness of your EMOM.
If you’re doing a rep-based EMOM, it can be tempting to push through as fast as possible to maximize your rest time. But doing so can compromise your technique and thus up your chances of injury. So while you want to work fast, you also want to focus on good form, says Williams. Once you get comfortable with EMOMs, consider adding weights to the movements to increase the strength challenge.
As for which specific exercises to slot into your EMOM, well, that’s really up to you. But if you’re looking for direct carryover into your running, it’s a good idea to focus on movements that target your lower body and core, like squats, lunges, glute bridges, and mountain climbers.
How to program an EMOM into your exercise routine
The beauty of EMOMs is that they are scalable to varying fitness levels and workout types. That means there are lots of different ways to program EMOMs into a routine.
As a general rule of thumb, Williams recommends runners incorporate EMOMs two to three times a week. You can fit them in as a quick heart-pumping finisher after a heavy weightlifting session–simply pick two movements and alternate between them for four to 16 minutes, suggests Williams.
You can also build an entire workout from EMOMs–for example, pick four to five different exercises and cycle through them, one after the next, doing each one for a number of reps in that one-minute time frame, and continuing for 45 minutes. Take one minute of additional rest after each completion of the circuit.
However you fit EMOMs into your routine, make sure you don’t do them directly before or after a long or otherwise challenging run. It’s important to give your body enough downtime in between hard bouts of exercise so that your muscles can fully recover and build back stronger for your next workout.
A 5-Minute EMOM Workout for Runners
For a quick, beginner-friendly EMOM workout, try this one created by Runner’s World Run Coach, Jess Movold. Follow along in the video above so you can master proper form and get some motivational tips from Coach Jess herself.
How to use this list: Start a timer for 5 minutes (or simply follow the video). Do 5 reps of each move, then rest for the remainder of the minute. Repeat for 4 additional minutes, adding one additional rep of each move per round.
Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart, arms by sides. Bend knees and send hips down and back to lower into a squat as arms come together in front of chest. Keep chest lifted, shoulders down, and core, quads, and glutes engaged. Go as low as you can without breaking form, then press through feet to return to standing as you lower arms back to sides. That’s 1 rep.
Start in a high plank position with feet shoulder-width apart, arms straight, shoulders stacked over wrists, and core, glutes, and legs engaged. Your body should form one long straight line from the top of head to heels. This is the starting position. Drive right knee towards right elbow, then place it back on the ground and quickly repeat on the other side. That’s 1 rep.
From your plank position, jump or walk feet up to hands. Then stand up tall, extending hips. Next, place palms on the ground and jump or walk feet back into a high plank. Pause. That’s 1 rep.