How to Use EMOM Workouts for Strength and Conditioning Training

Want to get stronger? EMOM workouts are a great way to build pure strength and condition you to improve muscular endurance. Add them into your strength work now.

Any decent strength and conditioning program will improve your lifts in the core barbell movements such as the squat, bench press, overhead press and deadlift. As an athlete, it’s important to build both raw strength at low repetitions, and muscular endurance with lower weights through sets of higher repetitions. It can be difficult to mix both together. There is where EMOM workouts come into play as a dynamic solution to compliment and align the two.


In order to become an accomplished all-round Crossfitter, or athlete in general, you need to have a solid base in the compound barbell lifts (listed above). Even if you’re not aiming to compete at powerlifting, or build significant amounts of muscle, it’s essential that you have a decent strength base in these lifts. The strength you develop will transfer over to all other exercises that you do.

deadlifts by mikko salo and annie thorisdottir strength and conditioning

Deadlifts are essential for strength

© CrossFit Inc


The most common and effective way to get stronger at these lifts is by performing low reps of sets of heavy weights in some kind of linear progression. Put simply, linear progression is where you increase the weight you lift in small increments every week until you can no longer complete all your reps on that weight. For most beginners, this is the fastest and most effective way of increasing your barbell lifts. The rep ranges (depending on your program) generally vary from 1-5 with 5 sets of 5 reps being a common example (think also of Mark Rippetoe’s Starting Strength Program for example, structured into 3 sets of 5 reps).

Whilst this is a great way to increase your strength and I highly recommend it, it does not necessarily transfer over into endurance for when you need to hit high reps during a WOD. Furthermore, when the lift is very heavy, it can be difficult to lift it with the velocity needed for explosive power. If you only lift heavy, it may make it harder to develop the explosive power and speed that is needed for ALL compound lifts.

This is where the EMOM (every minute on the minute) workout structure can play an important part. EMOM is where you complete a lift every minute on the minute for a set time, usually with a set weight. The reps, weight and time vary from EMOM to EMOM.

mat fraser squat clean in crossfit workout strength and conditioning

Squats, the king of strength exercises

© Pinimg

The EMOM is a dynamic effort lift and is extremely effective at building both strength and endurance, and will sure to become one of the more challenging types of lifting you do.


In order to benefit most from EMOM training in a strength cycle, it’s best done after you do your low repetition, high weight strength work. Drop the weight to 60% of your max of the day (the maximum weight you hit during that workout) and do 4 reps every minute for 10 minutes.

It is vital that you focus on form and speed. This is a dynamic lift and is meant to be done explosively. This should be difficult however you should not be failing on EMOMs. If you’re failing, then drop the weight until you can manage all 10 sets in good form.

As you get stronger, you can change the times and weight of your EMOMs. Try the following:

  • 4 reps every minute for 10 minutes at 60%.
  • 3 reps every minute for 12 minutes at 70%.
  • 2 reps every minute for 15 minutes at 80%.

Whilst you have probably encountered the EMOM before in WODs with a variety of exercises, reps and sometimes different exercises on odd and even minutes, this EMOM is to be used after your strength session on the same exercise. It works as a supplement to complement your strength training and build endurance, speed and explosive power.

female crossfitter squatting strength and conditioning

Squatting creates a powerful foundation for building strength


As with any strength and conditioning cycle, it’s good to take a deload week. When you take a deload week is very individual. Some athletes can go 12 weeks straight without one, whereas other lifters may want to have one every four weeks. Your body will normally tell you when it’s time.

A deload weeks gives your body time to both recover, and build new muscle in order to ensure that when you come back, you come back stronger and fitter than before. It’s essential that you don’t completely stop lifting during your deload week. It’s best to do the same workouts you have been doing within your programming, however at 50-60% of the weight.


It’s important to build a strong base in the main barbell lifts in order to become an all-round athlete. One way of complementing the standard progressive overload model is to add in an EMOM after the strength session to build speed, power, explosiveness and strength endurance. You must however ensure that you give your body some recovery time every few weeks, else you will not progress as well as you could, and you will not maximise your strength gains.