Resources > The Complete Guide to EMOM WODs

The Complete Guide to EMOM WODs

You can't have CrossFit programming without EMOMs; it simply doesn't work. If you haven't done one before, you're in for a real treat! They're one of the most popular training styles and make for a pretty exciting way to program a workout.

Not only are you pushing yourself to achieve movements throughout the time cap, but you're having to pace yourself correctly to make sure you can hit each movement as every minute ticks by.

But wait, wait, wait. We're getting ahead of ourselves here! What even is an EMOM?

EMOMs: A Definition

EMOM stands for "Every Minute on the Minute," and you might see it written EMOTM by some people (though it's generally accepted that the T is dropped). So, what exactly does that mean? Well, it's a method of programming and training in CrossFit that times everything for you.

The aim is to complete a prescribed movement every minute. Usually, you're only doing one movement per minute, though there may be exceptions where you do a few more. Once that minute is over (60 seconds have passed), you start a new movement on the second minute, then a new one on the third, and so on.

An EMOM can range in length from anywhere between 10 minutes or 60 minutes (though good luck if you ever have to do a 60-minute EMOM). You can still split an EMOM into rounds as well if it helps you. Let's take a look at an example to show you:

20 Minute EMOM
Minute 1: 10 Toes to Bar
Minute 2: 15 Kettlebell Swings
Minute 3: 15 Calorie Row
Minute 4: 10 Push-Ups

So, we've got 20 minutes to do the EMOM and 4 different movements to complete. One movement occurs each minute, meaning it'll take 4 minutes to complete one "round." So, with a quick bit of maths, we can determine that there will be 5 rounds total in 20 minutes (20 divided by 4 equals 5). Of course, you only need to worry about attributing rounds to an EMOM if it helps you get through your workouts mentally! Otherwise, you can ignore this part!

The aim for most EMOMs is to complete the entire movement before the minute is up. So, if 10 Toes to Bar takes you 30 seconds, you'll have 30 seconds until the Kettlebell Swings. However, if it takes you 55 seconds to do 10 Toes to Bar, you'll have to make the most of a quick 5-second transition before moving straight on to your Kettlebell Swings (if this is the case, we recommend scaling the movement)! Your only rest comes from however many seconds you have left in the minute. Brutal.

Oh, and it's worth noting the existence of E2MOMs and E3MOMs. If you haven't already guessed, the number dictates how many minutes you have between movements. So, an E2MOM would be "Every 2 Minutes on the Minute" instead. They're often implemented for more skill-heavy workouts, heavier weighted exercises, or any WOD that uses more than one movement per section.

Resting after a tough workout

Via Unsplash

Example EMOM WODs For Different Modalities

Okay, now we've got the definitions out the way; it's time to look at a couple of EMOM WODs. We'll cover all three of the modalities with some of the best EMOMs we can think of. These ones are accessible for most people and have plenty of scaling options (it's the infamous WODs we'll get to in a little bit that'll be the scary ones!) Remember, you can find 1,000s of EMOM WODs in our online generator and mobile apps here.

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1,000s of EMOM WODs, with full definitions and scaling options. Filter based on equipment you have and skills you know. Download now for free.

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Weightlifting EMOM WODs

24-Minute EMOM:
Minute 1: 5 Squat Clean
Minute 2: 10 Power Clean
Minute 3: 10 Thrusters
Minute 4: 10 Push Press

Climbing EMOM Ladder
Minute 1: 2 Clusters
Minute 2: 4 Clusters
Minute 3: 6 Clusters
Continue adding 2 Clusters every minute until you can't perform the targeted reps in the minute cap.

16-Minute EMOM:
Minute 1: 5 Heavy Back Squats
Minute 2: 15 Jump Squats

15-Minute EMOM:
Minute 1: 10 Thrusters
Minute 2: 15 Kettlebell Swings
Minute 3: 20 Sit-Ups

25-Minute EMOM:
Minute 1: 10 Kettlebell Swings
Minute 2: 10 Power Cleans
Minute 3: 10 Push Jerk
Minute 4: 10 Burpees
Minute 5: 10 Box Jumps

Gymnastic Kettlebell WODs

10-Minute EMOM:
10 Handstand Push-Ups/Toes to Bar/Chest to Bar
EMOMs can be used to work on skills just like this. If you need to substitute the movement for a different skill you're learning instead, do so. The focus is on quality over quantity.

20-Minute EMOM:
Minute 1: 45 sec Plank Hold
Minute 2: 45 sec Wall Sit
Minute 3: Max Handstand Hold (against a wall)
Minute 4: Rest

Death By Pull-Ups EMOM:
Minute 1: 1 Pull Up
Minute 2: 2 Pull-Ups
Minute 3: 3 Pull-Ups
Keeping adding 1 rep each minute. The first few minutes should be comfortable and easy, but "Death By..." EMOMs get super hard, super quick!

16-Minute Ab Burner EMOM:
Minute 1: 15 Hollow Rocks
Minute 2: 15 Ab-Mat Sit-Ups

26-Minute EMOM:
Minute 1: 10 Jumping Lunges (total)
Minute 2: 6 Bar-Facing Burpees

Monostructural (Cardio) Kettlebell WODs

20-Minute EMOM:
Minute 1: 15/12 Calorie Row
Minute 2: 10 Pull-Ups

15-Minute EMOM:
Minute 1: Max Shuttle Runs in 45 Seconds
Minute 2: Max Row Calories in 45 Seconds
Minute 3: Max Burpees in 45 Seconds

Climbing EMOM Ladder:
Minute 1: 6 Calorie Row
Minute 2: 8 Calorie Row
Minute 3: 10 Calorie Row
Keep adding 2 calories every minute until you can no longer hit the targeted calories in the time cap.

Helen EMOM Style:
12-Minute EMOM
Minute 1: 150m Sprint
Minute 2: 12 Kettlebell Swings
Minute 3: 9 Pull-Ups

16-Minute EMOM:
Min 1: 15/12 Calorie Assault Bike
Min 2: 15 Ab-Mat Sit-Ups
Min 3: 15/12 Calorie Row
Min 4: 15 Jumping Squats

Lying on the floor post-EMOM

Via Unsplash

(in)Famous EMOM WODs

Alright, hopefully, you've got a much better idea of how EMOM WODs should look. But we obviously aren't just going to leave you with the basics. There are so many EMOMs in the world of CrossFit, and some have earned a pretty infamous reputation based on how painful they are! Don't get us wrong, they're fantastic to try out and incredibly fulfilling when you complete them, but that doesn't make them any easier!

Chelsea:
30-Minute EMOM:
Every Minute: 5 Pull-Ups, 10 Push-Ups, 15 Air Squats

Yes, you read that right. Three movements every single minute. Chelsea is one of the many benchmark WODs of CrossFit named after a girl (which are notorious for being the hardest ones). It's a gruelling experience to go through the Chelsea WOD, but if you can make the full 30 minutes, you're built of some tough stuff!

View a video of Chelsea in action.

Mikko's Triangle
39-Minute EMOM
Minute 1: Row
Minute 2: SkiErg
Minute 3: Assault Bike
Minute 4: Rest
Pick a number of calories to complete every minute before starting the workout and stick to that throughout.

Mikko's Triangle is one of those WODs that's excellent at building a substantial "engine." Your cardiovascular endurance will see tremendous improvements if you can make it through. Our advice is to stick to a reasonable amount of calories that you can hold on to. Good luck!

View a video of Mikko's Triangle in action.

Macho Man
EMOM For As Long As Possible
Every Minute: 3 Power Cleans, 3 Front Squats, 3 Jerks

If you thought having three movements in one minute was bad enough, wait until you hear the weight. Macho Man is supposed to be completed with a 185 lbs (85kg) barbell for men and a 135 lbs (60kg) barbell for women. It's heavy. And it hurts. If you can make it any further than the tenth minute, you should be proud of yourself!

View a video of Macho Man in action.

One Of Mat Fraser's Hardest Workouts (Yes, he named it that).
20-Minute EMOM
Odd Minutes: 24 Calorie Assault Bike
Even Minutes: 18 GHD Sit-Ups

If the Fittest Man on Earth for five consecutive years tells you a workout is hard, you know it's going to be almost impossible. Still, if you want to give this one a try, then go for it! We recommend scaling the targeted calories and reps back to make the movements slightly more accessible if you need to, though!

Death By... EMOMs
EMOM For As Long As Possible
Minute 1: 1 Rep Of Chosen Movement
Minute 2: 2 Reps Of Chosen Movement
Continue adding 1 rep every minute until you can no longer complete the movement in 1 minute.

You can do a "Death By..." EMOM for just about any movement in CrossFit, which makes them one of the most versatile WOD choices out there. However, don't assume it will be easy, even if you pick a movement that you're comfortable with! Sure, minutes one to five will feel like a breeze, but when you start racking up those reps, you're going to notice pretty quickly why these words are (in)famous.

View a video of Death by Burpees in action.

Benefits of EMOM WODs

If you haven't guessed already, we're pretty fond of EMOM WODs. Actually, it's more than that. We'd go so far as to say we love them. They're one of the best programming tools you can use in CrossFit, and they do a pretty good job of keeping you accountable while you train. But what exactly are the benefits that come with them, and what makes them as popular as they are?

Pacing

It shouldn't be too surprising that pacing is one of the most significant benefits of an EMOM WOD. Pacing a workout is the key to success in CrossFit, and an EMOM forces you to do so. If you're not pacing right, there are two problems you can face. First, you'll finish too early in the first few minutes and be too gassed to finish the rest. Second, you'll finish too slowly each minute and eventually miss the minute cap and fail the WOD!

The pacing tips you can learn from completing an EMOM translate to all other workouts in CrossFit. Make sure you learn from them!

Focus

Another great benefit of EMOMs is the fact it allows you to focus on the task at hand. They're actually perfect if you want to just crack on with one movement for the next thirty to forty seconds and not worry about too much else. When you're racing the clock every minute, the intrusive thoughts telling you to stop often don't have time to manifest, which is excellent if you need that little extra push!

Practice

One of the best ways to utilise EMOMs is to practice skills or work on strength. If you set an EMOM up to work on a skill (let's use Toes to Bar as an example), you will see improvements quickly. Let's say that every minute, we want to complete 10 Toes to Bar. We want to try and do them all unbroken, too. Setting an EMOM up to keep you going is a great way to practice this skill, especially when you don't have to worry about other movements creeping up and potentially knackering you out.

Accountability

We all know how important it is to have a coach present to keep you accountable. But even if you don't have a coach, an EMOM works just as well. You'll find it's much harder to slack with an EMOM when you're tasked with cracking on with the next movement after that sixty-second window has passed! You'll just feel bad if you choose to avoid it, whereas something like an AMRAP might allow you to get away with more rest than you really needed.

Progression

It's also worth noting how essential EMOMs can be for overall progression. We mentioned skills and practice earlier, but even stripping it back down to something simpler is a helpful guideline for progress. Imagine if you started CrossFit and only managed 8 Burpees a minute for a 10-minute EMOM. Now, imagine you try that exact same EMOM again after working hard for a few months. All of a sudden, you can sustain 14 Burpees a minute for the 10 minutes. If that's not a valuable measurement of progress, we don't know what is!

Barbell overhead

Via Unsplash

Drawbacks of EMOM WODs

If you're on the fence about whether to use your own EMOM WODs, then you'll probably want to hear about the drawbacks of them, too. As much as we love them, it wouldn't be fair if we only sing their praises. These drawbacks are picky, though, as we couldn't think of too many ourselves, but they're still there for your perusal!

Competitiveness

One of the most obvious things you notice when you first do EMOMs (especially in a class setting) is the lack of competitiveness that comes with them. Sure, if you do something that says "max calories in a minute", then you can compete with your buddies to see who racks up the most calories. However, if it's a standard number like 10 Calories or 15 Wall Balls, no one is really finishing ahead of anyone else by any significant margin. If you're into the competitive side of CrossFit, EMOMs aren't always the most enjoyable WODs!

Precise Programming

If you're new to programming workouts and want to try making an EMOM yourself, you need to be precise with what you do. If you don't know how long a specific movement takes you to complete, then you might set yourself up a WOD that's either too hard or too easy, and that's never fun. Let's say you want to do a quick 8-minute Wall Ball EMOM. You set it to 5 Wall Balls every minute and quickly realise that's nowhere near enough. Then you try again and set it to 30. Sure, you might hit that number in the first minute, but you'll get very little rest and will quickly drop off the required pace. You've got to be spot on if you want to program an effective EMOM.

Fatigue

Following the point above, if you program an EMOM to be too demanding, you might be too fatigued for some of the movements that pop up later. While this isn't the worst thing in the world and can appear in just about any WOD in CrossFit, it's important to know that it's risky in an EMOM. If you train under fatigue, you're constantly at risk of an injury arising, so you'll need to make sure you're spot on with your form throughout the WOD!

Loading a barbell

Via Unsplash

Popularity In CrossFit Programming

We thought we'd dive deep into the CrossFit.com Mainsite WODs to determine how many EMOMs have been programmed per year. There's an average of 4.6 EMOM workouts programmed each year:

Chart showing how often EMOM WODs appear on CrossFit.com

Fun fact: Death By Pull-Ups is the most popular choice of EMOM programmed on the Mainsite! However, the numbers are a little unexpected. There haven’t been a whole lot of EMOM WODs, and you can see the general downward trend for them as well over the years.

Obviously, programming an EMOM for the CrossFit Games won't work all that well (they're not that competitive like we mentioned above). However, they have appeared twice before in the Open. Though, it's worth noting that both WODs were the same (they must have really enjoyed it the first time around!)

Open Workout 14.2 and 15.2:
Every 3 minutes for as long as possible complete:

From 0:00-3:00
2 rounds of:
10 overhead squats (95 / 65 lbs)
10 chest-to-bar Pull-ups

From 3:00-6:00
2 rounds of:
12 overhead squats (95 / 65 lbs)
12 chest-to-bar Pull-ups

From 6:00-9:00
2 rounds of:
14 overhead squats (95 / 65 lbs)
14 chest-to-bar Pull-ups

Keep following the same pattern until you fail to complete both rounds.

Score is total reps. Scaled version use 65 / 45 lb and the first round begins with 6 reps of each exercise, incrementing by 2 reps every 3 minutes.

How To Program Your Own EMOM Workout

It's time to put it all together and start making our own EMOMs! They're actually one of our favourite styles of workouts to make (it helps that they're relatively easy, too, since you only need one or two movements per minute that repeat themselves).

There are plenty of things we could tell you that would make a good EMOM or a bad EMOM, but I think the most important thing to remember is to include diversity. Unless you're making a skill or strength-based EMOM and only focusing on one movement, we encourage you to have some variety in what you choose.

Let's say on minute 1, you've got Jump Squats. That's an excellent way to blast the legs, and that should cover our leg development. Now, in minute 2, you choose between Lunges or Push Press. What would you choose? Sure, if you want a leg-heavy day, then Lunges would be the obvious choice, but that isn't what CrossFit is about! We want to work opposing and complementary muscle groups all the time, so the Push Press is the better choice, with a heavier focus on our shoulders and upper body muscles!

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So, that's our advice. If you're looking to create your own EMOMs, include one movement for each major muscle group or movement pattern (push/pull) at first. When you get more experienced, you can get more adventurous and maybe include a real burn-out WOD for your shoulders, but that comes later!

Some of the most popular choices for EMOMs include gymnastic or bodyweight exercises, too, like:

  • Wall Balls
  • Burpees (if you do them over a bar, they're even better!)
  • Pull-Ups
  • Push-Ups
  • Air Squats

Summary

That's pretty much all we can say about EMOMs! They're by far one of the most versatile styles of WOD out there and are really excellent if you're looking to broaden your understanding of CrossFit programming. We encourage you to look through some of our own EMOM WODs and generate some that might appeal to you. You can use the generated WODs as a baseline for your own workout, or you can just try and complete one and let us know how you do!

Generate 1,000s of EMOM WODs

1,000s of EMOM WODs, with full definitions and scaling options. Filter based on equipment you have and skills you know. Download now for free.

Rated 4.7/5 based on 1685 ratings

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