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Make Big Gains with EMOM Training

Are you finding it hard to replicate the meteoric rise in your bench, squat, or deadlift? Take charge of your lifeless program with an adjustment to load, sets, reps, and rest periods. EMOM training and some subtle variations might be just what you need to up the ante, build endurance, and fix weaknesses when you inevitably hit that plateau.

We’ve talked a little in the past about stale training. We’ve come to a bit of an overcorrection in society. While people are finally starting to realize that real sustainable progress in strength and conditioning takes time, now people are sticking with the same tired basic program for far too long. Don’t get me wrong… There is no advocate for strength and conditioning ADD here, but people are doing the same things over and over again expecting different results. Isn’t that the definition of insanity?

I’m a huge advocate for specificity in training. If you want to get better at something, you CANNOT train for everything. That said, you always want to build your house on the best foundation possible. This is where everyone can use a little General Physical Preparedness (GPP). GPP is a broad strokes, generalized style of program designed to lay the foundation for those of us (all of us), who lack conditioning in some areas.

This is where EMOM Training comes into play. EMOM stands for “Every Minute On The Minute”… meaning you load the bar with a reasonable weight, start a timer, and begin a new set every minute with your rest periods beginning at the completion of the last set and ending when the new minute roles around. I’ll just go ahead and let the cat out of the bag and tell you that you don’t have to stop and start at the minute mark. As long as you use the same marker for each new set you can go every 30 seconds, 45 seconds, etc. If you’re feeling really ambitious, you can try your hand at EMOM supersets and complexes. As long as the rest time is low and the load is manageable for the number of sets you hope to conquer, the combinations are almost endless.

Here’s a couple ways to go about it:

Exercise A) Bench Press – 15 sets of 4 (15×5), new set every 30 seconds
Exercise B) Pull-Ups – 15 sets of 5, new set every 30 seconds

Here we altered the traditional EMOM to shorten the rest periods. This small adjustment will help improve local muscular endurance by allowing less recovery time and forcing the muscles to adapt to stress under fatigue.Pick any push/ pull combo and focus on completing all sets and reps of Exercise A before proceeding to Exercise B.


Exercise A1) Goblet Squats – 12 sets of 5
Exercise A2) Stability Ball Leg Curls – 12 sets of 6, new set every minute

Here we chose antagonistic lower body muscle groups and plugged them into a superset. Tempo is not a concern here so you’ll need to perform quick reps with good form to be able to reward yourself with any rest. If your lower body isn’t screaming after this, you either choose too light of a dumbbell for the squats or you let your hips sag during the leg curls.


So how are you supposed to know which exercises, loads, rest times, and type of set to use? Now is the time to look inward. Conduct an honest needs-analysis of yourself and cross-reference that with your goal(s). Let’s take the deadlift for example. If you’re trying to build a bigger deadlift but don’t have the steam to get out of the hole on the last rep, you’re going to want construct your scheme with some more quad dominant exercises. If sticking the lift is your biggest problem, choose exercises that feature more hip extension movements and muscle groups (hamstrings, glutes, etc).

And yes, you can go full-on EMOM with core training as well. Oftentimes each of the aforementioned deadlift problems stem from trying to pull a heavy bar with a slinky for a torso. You might have a strong midsection but if you don’t have any core endurance, all of that goes out the window once the last rep comes around. Just make sure to save the core work for the end of the workout so you don’t detract from the main focus of the workout.

Aaron Runner, MS, CSCS

Author: Aaron Runner, MS, CSCS

Aaron Runner is the Owner of Full-Stride Performance in Roswell, GA and a former NCAA Strength & Conditioning Coach.

Aaron Runner, MS, CSCS

Aaron Runner, MS, CSCS View All

Aaron Runner is the Owner of Full-Stride Performance in Roswell, GA and a former NCAA Strength & Conditioning Coach.

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