Why the EMOM?

Why the EMOM?
-by Clark Hibbs

I was chatting with one of our newer members the other day about the workouts we do at the gym (also known as “the programming”).

We went through the usual questions and the usual functional fitness spiels… 

“Our goal is to use movements that are going to have a better transfer into your everyday life!” 

“We want to build your capacity to be able to handle anything that life throws at you!” 

“We strive to challenge you so that whatever your goals may be, we can help you reach them!” 

Everything was going great. Then she said the following thing… 

“I notice we do a lot of those ‘EMOM’ things here. I don’t really know why we would want to do that. Why do we do that?” 

Ah yes! My favorite question! “Why do we do that?” 


The EMOM is a really cool tool that we use at CrossFit Yellow Rose for a variety of reasons, but we can easily base those reasons into 2 camps. Camp 1 being classroom logistics, and camp 2 being exercise benefits (no particular order of importance there).

Let’s start with Camp 2, just because I felt like throwing you a curve ball. Can’t always expect to start with camp 1! 

Benefits of EMOMs for your exercise.

I just looked back at the past 8 weeks of programming at Yellow Rose, and sure enough, there was at least 1 EMOM every week. One week we even had 3 of them! 

We don’t just program them because we’re lazy or un-creative. Far from it. We actually program a lot of EMOMs because we want you to see the results that a wide variety of movements, rep ranges, and total weekly volume can give you! 

When we write an EMOM, you will 99% of the time see a number with a divisible number of exercises. For example.. 

EMOM 18 – Alternating
A) 5-7 strict pull ups
B) 5-7 strict handstand push ups or heavy dumbbell press
C) 3 squat cleans (165/115)
*Dang this looks like a good one*

See that? 3 different exercises broken up into 18 minutes… or basically, 6 sets of each exercise.

When you look at an EMOM like this, you now that  you’re going to do pull ups, then handstand push ups, then squat cleans, and then you go back to the top of the EMOM until you complete 6 rounds of this (18 minutes worth). Having this format helps keep up pace between exercises so you don’t dilly dally between movements. When you keep up the pace, a few things happen:

  • Increased sustained heart rate (less rest time) 
    • 7 strict pull ups might take you anywhere from 10-20 seconds. That means you’ll have 40-50 seconds of rest. Couple that with other movements, and you’re essentially moving for 18 minutes straight without reaching that  “completely exhausted” feeling like you normally do during conditioning! 
  • Ability to stay focused and on task (rather than jumping on your phone between sets) 
    • It’s true. Ever been to a regular gym before? It’s hilarious (read, sad) to see how many reps of scrolling Facebook and Instagram get done rather than sets of physical exertion. EMOMs keep you focused and on task!
  • Ability to rest one movements while still getting in other work
    • Even though you’re moving for 18 minutes straight, it can feel a lot easier on each movement when they’re broken up like this. After you do your pull ups, your upper body pulling muscles will be fatigued… but don’t worry, you aren’t going to use any upper body pulling muscles for handstand push ups or squat cleans. So while you aren’t technically “resting,” you are giving your strict pull ups a rest. That means you can come back to them with some relative freshness without sacrificing any time. 
  • Ability to hit a variety of movements in a short amount of time 
    • Pull ups? Yep. HSPU? Yep. Squat cleans? Aww yeahhhhh. Want to keep going? You can do it. Add whatever complimentary movement pattern you think will pair well, and then make sure the numbers of movements is divisible by the time duration. The possibilities for EMOMs are endless! 

Basically, EMOMs are efficient. VERY efficient.

So, while we *could* program a workout that has a bit more of a traditional look like this…

  • 6 x 7 strict pull ups 
  • 6 x 7 strict handstand push ups 
  • 6 x 3 squat cleans (165/115) 

…having it set in this EMOM fashion is going to be more beneficial to what we’re trying to accomplish here at CrossFit from an exercise standpoint. They also help us run classes more efficiently, which brings us back to camp 1! 

Benefits of EMOMs for the Gym Class Logistics

We’ve touched on before in this blog why we have time caps in workouts, and the same basic principles stay true for the EMOM.

Whenever we write an EMOM with a set number of minutes, we know how to properly build a class around that section. Look at the traditional workout above again… those 3 exercises each getting 6 sets a piece with more than likely 1-2 minutes of rest in between each one is going to take a helluva lot longer than 18 minutes. 

When we have a predictable time frame, we can make sure every other aspect of class can get the proper attention and time it deserves.

Basically, EMOMs are extremely efficient both for you fitness, and for us Coaches to run effective classes for you. Effective classes being classes that start and end on time, have little to zero down time, provide you with a fun and engaging workouts, and provide you with the results you’re looking for.

The EMOM is an extremely effective and efficient tool, and if I was a better writer, I could have made the majority of the words in this sentence begin with “e.” 

Missed opportunity there, but at least you learned a bit more about EMOMs, ehh? 



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