All About EMOMs – Why We Use Them & How to Do Them
Written by Nichole Kribs & Cat Blatner

EMOM” is an acronym that stands for Every Minute On the Minute. For example, the EMOM in 5 minutes of: 5 thrusters and 5 pull-ups means you have 5 minutes of work and at the start of each minute you attempt to complete 5 thrusters and then 5 pull-ups. If you finish within the minute, you rest until the start of the next minute and repeat the work. The faster you get your work for the minute done, the more rest you get. There are endless variations and purposes for EMOMs and below are some of our favorites.

Why Program EMOMs?

EMOMs are a great skill building format for CrossFit athletes. For example, most likely you will not learn how to handstand walk in the middle of a CrossFit-style workout. You will have a much greater success rate if you attempt to handstand walk 1-2 times every minute for 10 minutes. Learning new skills cannot be done properly in a fatigued state. It is ideal to practice skills in isolation before combining them into workouts.

As a coach, programming EMOMs is great because it allows total control of the athlete’s work, rest and fatigue. If a five round workout for time is programmed and your athlete isn’t proficient in one of the movements, it may take a very long time to complete the task. Intensity may be lost and the actual stimulus may not coincide with the desired stimulus. With an EMOM, the stimulus can be controlled and linear progressions can be maintained and furthered.

Time. If you tend to take your sweet time between exercises or sets, EMOMs will help expedite your time in the gym and increase your work capacity. By letting the clock decide when you work and rest you will be much fitter. If you are feeling lazy in the gym, just pick a few exercises and use an EMOM format for a warm-up. It works great!

Building Volume with EMOMs

EMOM’s provide an awesome opportunity for athletes to build volume safely. With this structure athletes can bank some good volume without redlining. We generally like athletes to start with shorter time domain EMOMs to get used to the volume.


Once we feel confident that the athlete has safely adapted to the increase in volume, we will start to change the stimulus from just an EMOM to an EMOM + for time. With this format an athlete accumulates volume in the EMOM and then, after already banking a significant amount of reps/cals, needs to then switch gears to a ‘for time’ format. This will not only test their ability to accumulate volume but now can they do this while maintaining speed. So the intention shifts from JUST building volume to now improving their speed/intensity with higher volume workouts.


This format benefits all athletes and will especially help athletes who feel like they don’t have that ‘head down and grind’ gear. The EMOM provides a structure so the athlete just has to complete what they are assigned. It takes the variable of effort out so every minute is mostly a test of discipline. The limited amount of rounds that are for time are to allow for that hard push.

Conditioning EMOMs

If you follow any of the Invictus online programs then you know exactly what we are referring to. The dreaded 30-minute EMOMs (every minute on the minute) that crush souls and make grown men flop on the floor at the 30-minute mark like they are dead, twitchy creatures that just completed an extended battle for their life. Sound dramatic? Well, you should see the aftermath.

You might ask…How does one push to that point? How can they look that miserable, be in so much physical pain and exhaustion but still push through?

Well, that is all in how you attack it. EMOMs are super mental but with a calm and collected mind you can make it through even the worst of CJ’s torture.

How to Attack an EMOM

One Minute at a Time

If you are counting down the entire EMOM then you will just overwhelm yourself. Take each minute as it comes, focus on the movements and how much rest you get in that minute. For example, instead of thinking, “Ugh, I have 25 more minutes left!!” Try to tell yourself, “Ok, this minute all I have to do is 12 burpees and I can rest a bit.”

Be Your Own Cheerleader

As we said before, EMOMs are very mental to say the least. If you are constantly thinking about how hard it is or anticipating the challenge ahead, you will only demotivate yourself. Keep a positive mind and your body will follow with a boosted performance. Never allow self doubt or self destructive comments enter your mind. Ignore all negativity and replace those thoughts with encouraging reinforcement.

Find Your Resting Minute

Now, every workout is different, but often times you can find a minute that acts as your ‘resting minute’. Using a workout that consisted of the following movements as an example:

Min 1: 45 seconds of rowing

Min 2: 20 KBS

Min 3: 15 Burpees

Min 4: 12 Heavy Lunges

Min 5: 5 Strict Pull-Ups

Now, this workout is fairly simple to dissect. Looking at it you can see very clearly which station will be your ‘rest’ and that will likely be the pull-up station. Knowing you have a minute where you can allow your heart rate to come down is very motivating as you completed each round. This also means you must make the most of this minute. If you hunch over breathing heavy or sit down and think about how terrible this workout feels, you won’t allow yourself to rest in this minute. After finishing your 5 pull-ups, stand tall and take big deep breaths with slow and steady exhales. As the next round approaches, walk calmly over to your erg to strap your feet in and prepare for your next round.

Know When to Push and Know When to Glide

Sometimes it is very important to push the pace on whatever task you have been given in order to fit all of the work into a minute and sometimes it’s better to work at a steady pace so you don’t spike your heart rate. Let’s take the above workout for example again. You know you must push the pace of the row because that is the point of that entire minute is max calories in 45 seconds. Because you know my heart will be racing when I come off of the erg, it will be important to go at a steady pace on the kettlebell swings. This will act as your “gliding” minute where you are not sprinting through the movement but just working at a moderate pace. You know that your next minute is burpees and you will need to move through those pretty quickly in order to give yourself time to transition to your lunge. The lunge station will be very challenging because of the weight but because the rep count is fairly low you know that you can breathe and move at a steady pace to finish the allotted reps in the one minute time period with plenty of rest before going into your “rest minute.”

The longer you do CrossFit, the more you will learn that mental fortitude is such an acquired skill. It takes lots of practice to lose self doubt and attack challenges with confidence and determination. Whether you are attacking a horrible metcon that just doesn’t seem to end or a challenge in your life, it is always important to focus on what you can control. Ease your mind by focusing on small goals throughout the workout and never try to bite off more than you can chew. A strong mind along with a solid attack plan can make all of the difference!

Also Check Out…

Breaking The Mental Barrier 

Breaking It Down: How To Get Thru A Long Grueling Workout 

How To Approach A Workout


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Miki Shelton
Miki Shelton
December 17, 2022 7:42 am

Great article, Nichole and Cat!

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