EMOM Strength Workout


High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) has been a hit not just with busy clients but among all demographics because there is so much variety to play around with in terms of protocols and work-to-rest ratios. EMOM variety is the spice of HIIT.

HIIT Protocols

As discussed in 30 Minute HIIT Workout Using Tabata Protocol, HIIT was popularized with the Tabata protocol, which uses the 2:1 work-to-rest ratio. Exercisers work for 20 seconds, take 10 seconds for recovery, and repeat for 8 cycles in 4 minutes.

In AMRAP, a circuit style where rest is only taken when needed or while transitioning into the next exercise is highlighted.

In order to shake things up, sometimes I like to have clients focus on fewer exercises and/or reps, and different work-to-rest ratios by using the Every Minute On The Minute (EMOM) protocol.

What is an EMOM workout?

Typically, EMOM workouts include only a few movements, say 1-3 for example. Clients complete 1 set of 6-12 reps, and then they use the remaining seconds of the minute to recover. Once the minute is up, they repeat the set.


The faster clients complete the set, the higher their heart rate may get; thus, working closer to their VO2 max.

Notice the above statement: the higher their heart rate may get. This is, in large, due to exercise selection, of course.

Since HIIT protocols get clients to work anaerobically, it is recommended to utilize larger muscle groups with compound movements. This will ensure that clients are not only getting their heart rates up but also help increase oxygen efficiency and oxidative enzymes, improve cardiac output, and recruit more Type I and II muscle fibers. 

What is the work-to-rest ratio?

One thing that makes EMOM a great HIIT protocol is that the work-to-rest ratio is built into the set, yet the recovery time is in clients’ hands. The faster the work is completed, the longer the recovery between sets.

According to trainer Antonio Brito, “The perfect EMOM should take 30-35 seconds in the first few rounds, and the final rounds 45-50 seconds.”

How Many Rounds of EMOM Should Clients Do?

Depending on the length of the session and/or clients’ goals, EMOM sets can vary from 3 minutes up to 20.


Before we take a look at a couple of EMOM profiles, it is important to remember that clients need to have a proper dynamic warm-up that covers the kinetic chain from the ankles and feet up the spine and finishes with aerobic to anaerobic work.

EMOM Protocol 1 

*courtesy of Antonio Brito

Work time 10 minutes
Recovery time will vary
Number of exercises 2
Number of repetitions 6
Number of cycles 10
Exercises Kettlebell swings, Hand release burpees

EMOM Protocol 2

Work time 6 minutes
Recovery time will vary
Number of exercises 2
Number of repetitions 8
Number of cycles 6
Exercises Battle rope slams, box jumps

Do you use the EMOM protocol with your clients?


Theresa Perales has an MA in Spanish, and is an ESL teacher at San Diego State University (SDSU). After years of struggling with her weight, she decided to give exercise a try. A passion for health and fitness grew instantly and inspired her to become certified as a personal trainer with NFPT, and as a group fitness instructor with AFAA Group Fitness and Madd Dog Athletics® Spinning. Theresa believes that nutrition and fitness are not about aesthetics but ultimately about feeling healthy and empowered.