Dad Bod

These 20-Min EMOM Workouts Will Push You To The Limit

Max out your heart rate and raise your fitness game with these every minute on the minute full body routines.

Originally Published: 
A man doing squats a gym for an EMOM workout.
Exercises and Workouts for Men To Get in Good-Enough Shape

What do you do when you can only reasonably spare 20 minutes to exercise? Is it even worth lacing up? Yes, if the workout you’re planning to do is an EMOM (every minute of the minute). If you have friends who do CrossFit, you may have heard about this style of exercise, in which you choose one or several exercises that you perform for a set number of reps every time your watch hits :00, and then take the remaining seconds of the minute for rest once you’ve completed the set. You go again once the clock resets to the top of the minute.

Sounds simple, but get ready, because EMOM workouts will have you begging for mercy by minute 16 or 17. “EMOMs are designed to increase intensity over the course of the workout,” explains Raphael Konforti, senior director of fitness at YouFit Gyms in San Diego. “As you fatigue, you will have less and less time to rest before you have to start again.”

This forces you into one of two options, Konforti explains. Either you have to get through your reps faster in order to have enough seconds left over to rest (and the faster you go, the more fatigued you get), or your reps get slower and you have less recovery time — also resulting in exhaustion.

Either way, you’re in for a tough workout — in a really good way. “In typical workouts, many people do not track how long they rest between sets, and that rest is often much longer than they think,” says Konforti. “Sometimes, you can be sitting there for up to five minutes. EMOM forces you to get a lot of work done in very little time.”

How to Fit EMOM Into Your Workout Routine

Because EMOM sessions are mostly about muscle endurance and cardio benefits, you’ll want to make sure you’re also getting in strength sessions as well. So which of your workout days should be EMOMs?

For someone working out at least five days a week, EMOM-style workouts can account for two or three of those sessions, Konforti says. If you’re hitting the gym three or fewer times a week, then making just one of those workouts EMOM will suffice.

What you’ll need: not much. “Bodyweight and functional equipment such as kettlebells or TRX are ideal,” he adds. “EMOM workouts require little set-up.” Bodyweight moves are typically more straightforward, too, says Konforti, meaning “you’re less likely to compromise your form, which could put you at risk for injury,” especially when you start getting tired.

You could technically combine your weights day with EMOM by doing, say, 20 curls every minute on the minute, Konforti says. But most trainers agree that machines and free weights are more effective for building muscle when the number of reps correlates with a consistent amount of rest between sets. “So while you can perform EMOMs with weights, weights workouts have a better return on investment when you focus specifically on strength and recovery,” he adds.

The Best EMOM Workouts to Try

There are multiple ways to put together an EMOM workout based on your goals, says Jonathan Ross, award-winning personal trainer at Aion Fitness in Annapolis, Maryland. “In general, most people do full body exercises using bodyweight or light resistance, like 15 squat jumps.” EMOM training creates a high-intensity interval training (HIIT) type of response in the body, says Ross, so choose moves that you can do quickly and efficiently. Whether you repeat a single full body move like burpees 20 times per minute or rotate between several moves with fewer reps is up to you.

Below are a few ways to break up your EMOM workout. In each case, you’ll do the prescribed moves for the number of reps listed, moving quickly from one move to the next if there are multiple. When you complete the reps, take the seconds remaining as rest, and start again at the top of each minute. You’re done when the clock hits 20:00.

And remember, even though EMOM workouts are supposed to kick your butt, don’t ruin your fitness gains by doing too much, too often. “You make progress by recovering from hard workouts,” says Ross. “Not from endlessly hammering your body with them.”

EMOM Version #1: Single Move EMOM

Choose one of the following moves. Perform your exercise every minute on the minute for 20 minutes.

  • Burpees: Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, arms at sides. Lower into a squat. Place hands on floor in front of your feet. Jump feet back so body is in an extended plank position, arms and legs straight. Perform a pushup, then jump feet forward near your hands again. Push through the ground and jump as high as you can vertically, raising arms above your head. 15 reps per minute.
  • Squat jumps: Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, arms at sides. Lower into a squat, quads parallel to floor and knees over toes. Raise arms in front of you, elbows slightly bent. Push through your heels and spring up in a vertical jump, dropping arms by your side. Land with knees softly bent and sink down into a squat again. 20 reps per minute.
  • Mountain climbers: Start in an extended plank position: arms, legs, and back straight. Make sure shoulders are over hands and fingers face forward. Bend your right knee and raise it toward your chest. When you’ve hiked it as far as you can, straighten it and switch legs, raising your left knee to chest. 20 reps on each leg per minute.

EMOM Version #2: Moves Combo

Perform these three exercises back-to-back-to-back every minute on the minute for 20 minutes.

  • 10 push-ups
  • 10 sit-ups
  • 10 squats

EMOM Version #3: Alternating Moves

Perform each exercise at the top of the minute, alternating minutes, for 20 minutes. (10 sets total for each exercise.)

  • 30 jumping jacks
  • 20 push-ups

EMOM Version #4: Upward Ladder (Advanced)

Perform each exercise every minute on the minute for 20 minutes, rotating through the list five times. For round 1, perform the number of reps suggested. For rounds 2, 3, 4, and 5, add one additional rep each round to each exercise.

  • 20 Burpees
  • 25 Push-ups
  • 30 Jumping jacks
  • 25 Squat jumps

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