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EMOM Workouts: The Complete Guide to Building Fast Muscle

EMOM workouts might be the best-kept secret in fitness. Do they add lean muscle? Yes. Improve conditioning? Yes. Can you use only bodyweight? Yes. Can you finish an entire workout in less than 15 minutes? Yes—that’s why they’re so powerful.

Over the last year, EMOM workouts have become the principal underlying philosphy in my own training. The gains (in both muscle mass and knowledge) have been spectacular…while never training more than 30 minutes a day. I’m astonished it took me 25 years to figure this out! Let’s break down this training protocol that every busy adult should have in their arsenal.

What Does EMOM Workout Mean?

Every Minute On the Minute.

Set a timer or watch the clock. Start each set at the top of the minute. When you complete your reps, rest until the next minute comes around. Complete the prescribed number of sets. Easy peasy, chicken greasy.

Why You Should Love EMOMs: Recovery

EMOM workouts are a form of interval or density training where you strive to complete more work in the same amount of time (or less) from session to session. This constraint on your rest periods may seem arbitrary, but it’s exactly what makes EMOMs so effective. You have no choice but to perform a lot of good, clean reps with a sub-maximal weight—otherwise, you couldn’t complete the EMOM.

This way, EMOM workouts make recovery easy (and you know we at Hibernate love to maximize recovery) while allowing you to set PRs nearly every session.

Note, however, that I’m not talking about the EMOM workouts commonly used in Crossfit, where you perform 3+ exercises in 10-20 minutes. Often, these include movements like burpees and are used purely for conditioning—not strength and muscle building. Unfortunately, this often turns into junk volume that destroys your ability to recover (and stay fresh and pain-free in the real world).

We’re all about fast, efficient strength that doesn’t wreck your body. That means focusing on only one movement for the duration of your EMOM.

Are EMOMs Effective for Increasing Strength and Hypertrophy?

Incredibly so. They’re the most potent method I’ve ever found for making gains in very little time.

If I’ve learned anything from years of success with Coach Dan John’s Easy Strength protocol, it’s that piling up lots of perfect reps with minimal intensity leads to steady gains. However, where Easy Strength has you spread that volume out across a week, EMOM workouts allow you to concentrate it in a single training session without pushing intensity too high.

All of the programs below work beautifully. They just do so in different ways.

EMOM Workouts Continuum Between Volume and Intensity

Are EMOM workouts going to feel brutally hard? Perhaps. Sometimes. If you want them to. But most of the time, they’ll feel like punching the clock. The first few sets will feel solid and easy. Then, you’ll have the chance to push hard and strive for just one more rep in the final minutes if you choose.

How Long Should an EMOM Workout Be?

5-10 minutes per exercise. 15-30 minutes per workout.

Of course, you can train longer if you want. But in my experience, the bread and butter gains come from staying within that 5-10 minute EMOM range. It allows you to get a strong training stimulus—in just a few minutes!—without needing 6,000 calories, a physiotherapist, and a cryo-chamber for recovery.

Programming Notation

Few people have popularized EMOM workouts as effectively as Coach Keegan Smith, whose Dense Strength system makes them the rule. I prefer to use his wonderfully elegant system of notation. For example:

  • 10D10 = 10 sets of 10 reps EMOM
  • 5D1 = 5 sets of 1 rep EMOM
  • 6D123 = 1 rep first set, 2 reps second set, 3 reps third set, 1 rep fourth set, etc.
  • 9D235 = 2 reps first set, 3 reps second set, 5 reps third set, 2 reps fourth set, etc.

EMOM Strength Standards

Years ago, the great Dan John published an article titled “Sleepless in Seattle” that changed my perspective on training irrevocably. It explained the minimum strength standards an athlete should achieve to be considered “strong enough.” If you met these standards, strength was no longer your problem. Yes, you could get stronger, but the training might actually interfere with your ability to perform on the field or in real life.

That article has since disappeared from the Internet, unfortunately, but Dan’s standards remain in a concise format here.

The idea is powerful. By having minimum standards, you always have a goal and a tool for self-diagnosis. If you can’t meet the standards, you know where to focus your training. EMOMs are no different.

Bodyweight EMOM Standards

  • Pushups: 10D10 (perfect form, chest touches ground)
  • Dips: 5D10 (deep, thumbs in armpits)
  • Pull-ups/Chin-ups: 5D5 (chest-to-bar)
  • Bodyweight Squats: 10D10 (butt-to-heels; use heel lifts if ROM is restricted)

Barbell EMOM Standards

  • Squat: 10D2 with big plates (225lb/100kg or 315lb/140kg)
  • Deadlift: 5D1 with big plates (315lb/140kg or 405lb/180kg)
  • Bench Press: 5D5 with bodyweight or 10D2 with 225lb/100kg)
  • Press: 5D5 with 135lb/60kg

These are your goals. Achieving these standards means you’re “strong enough.” It also means you “own” the weight. Lots of people will pull a 4-plate deadlift once and brag about it for the rest of their life. Pulling that weight 5 times EMOM means you’ve truly mastered the weight, and in doing so, built a capacity for strength that will stay hardwired in your body for a very long time.

How to Progress Your EMOM Workouts

There are two ways to progress your EMOMs: Linear or Density Progression. The first is ideal for strength movements—weighted chinups or barbell squats, for example. The latter is ideal for high-rep bodyweight movements—like pushups, pullups, or lunges.

Linear Progression

Linear progressions tend to work better with lower-rep, higher-intensity movements. But truthfully, you can use them anytime. Whether you’re pursuing 40 pushups or 5 heavy deadlifts, linear progression EMOMs will work.

Let’s say you achieved 10D3 with bodyweight dips. Now, you can either:

  1. Add 1 rep to a single set (4, 3, 3, 3, 3, etc.)
  2. Add 1 set (11D3)
  3. Add weight (2.5-10lbs) and repeat 10D3

At times, you’ll want to mix and match these tactics, because like all linear progressions, they tend to stop working after a while. Perhaps you can achieve 4 reps for the first 5 sets, but then stall and can’t increase the reps on that 6th set. This would be a good time to add 1-2 sets of 3 reps, increasing your total volume. In time, this will provide the boost you need to keep adding reps on those middle sets.

Density Progression

  • Step 1: Test your current max
  • Step 2: Set a goal within 5 reps of current max
  • Step 3: Double this rep goal to get your target workout volume
  • Step 4: Divide by 10 to get your base-level reps for each EMOM set

For example, let’s say you tested your chin-ups and got 12 reps. Striving for 20 would be too much. You’ll stick with a short-term rep goal of 15. We double that: 30 reps. That’s how many total reps you’ll perform each session. Now, we divide that by 10 to determine how many reps you’ll do each set for your first EMOM workout: 3 reps.

That gives us 10D3 (or 10 sets of 3 EMOM).

This is your first training session, and it should be easy. After you successfully achieve this EMOM with good, clean form, then congrats. You’re ready to fight for more reps.

In the next session, you’ll keep the total volume roughly the same, but you’ll strive to complete the reps in fewer total sets: 8D4 (32 total reps).

Perhaps you don’t achieve all the reps, however. Perhaps you only get 3 reps in the last two sets. That’s great! Those last two sets are where you’ll make gains. Repeat the training session until you complete all the reps, then move on to a “denser” session: 6D5 (30 total reps).

The following chart shows how you can progress from workout to workout with density training:

Goal: 15 Reps

 Standard

Sets

Reps

Volume

Workout Time

1

10

3

30

10 minutes

2

8

4

32

8 minutes

3

6

5

30

6 minutes

4

5

6

30

5 minutes

5

4

7

28

4 minutes

6

4

8

32

4 minutes

By the time you achieve 4D8, you should be easily capable of hitting 15 reps in a single set. At that point, you’ll be ready to start over and chase 20 reps. And, I assure you, those last few 4- and 5-minute standards will really add some beef to your arms!

3 EMOM Workouts You Can Try

Workout #1: 6-Day Alternating PPL (“The Working Man”)

My personal favorite EMOM protocol, the 6-day Alternating PPL (Push, Pull, Legs) is ideal for those of us who are middle-aged or older, a little beat up, and need more recovery. It’s also perfect for anyone who’s just short on time and still wants to make steady gains.

Each day, you’ll tackle a single movement: a push, a pull, or one for lower body. This gives you a lot of flexibility in choosing your movements and your EMOMs. Bodyweight movements are perfect. Traditional barbell movements are great.

It’s also an incredible time-saver! I myself have made fantastic gains doing only a single 5- or 10-minute EMOM each day, and have run the program (if you can even call it a “program”) for 8 months without stalling.

Honestly, you don’t need to be middle-aged and beat up to use this program. It just plain works…for everybody…and is probably the most time-efficient training protocol in existence.

Example 1:

 Day 1 Day 2 Day 3 Day 4 Day 5 Day 6
Dips Pullups Front Squats Press Weighted Chinups Romanian Deadlifts
5D5 5D5 5D2 5D5 5D5 5D3

 

Example 2:

 Day 1 Day 2 Day 3 Day 4 Day 5 Day 6
Bench Press Barbell Rows Goblet Squats Decline Pushups Weighted Chinups Deadlifts
10D5 10D5 5D10 10D10 5D5 5D2

At times, you may find it’s a good idea to choose movement variations that are high- and low-intensity. For example: weighted dips and good old-fashioned pushups, or weighted chinups and TRX rows. This will help with recovery, keep things fresh, and allow you to continue making progress—adding reps, sets, or weight—from week to week, while preserving your joints.

Truly, this might be my favorite training protocol in existence (other than Easy Strength). It’s simple. It allows for the shortest workouts imaginable. It’s flexible. It’s no-nonsense. It maximizes recovery.

Honestly, I worry that I haven’t written enough here to convince you of how incredibly potent “The Working Man” is. Give it a try for 6 weeks. You won’t be disappointed.

Workout #2: Daily Bodyweight PPL

This program is based on the magnificent work of Kyle Boggeman (whose YouTube channel is a treasure). Each day, you’ll perform 3 different 5-minute EMOMs: a push, a pull, and one for legs.

Honestly, you don’t NEED to perform only bodyweight movements. But, I’ve found them most effective for daily training as they make recovery easier. Also, we can’t deny: they fit the spirit of Kboges’s genius.

Step 1: Choose 2 PPL variations. For example:

 Workout A

Workout B

Dips

Pushups

Pullups

Chinups

Bodyweight Squats

Walking Lunges

Step 2: Set a target EMOM goal according to the strength standards listed above.

Step 3: Tackle your first training session. If you’re not successful in achieving 5D5, keep adding reps each workout until you are. When you are successful, choose a harder bodyweight variation. For example, instead of pushups, you might move to decline or pike pushups. Instead of pullups, you might switch to chest-to-bar chinups or paused reps.

Step 4: Alternate workouts A and B for 4-7 total days per week, depending on your schedule and recovery capacity.

Be warned, however: don’t let intensity creep too high. When training daily (what KBoges brilliantly refers to as “physiological hygiene”) your gains come from steadily increasing your volume and work capacity over time. Since you won’t have 3-7 days to recover, chasing hard and heavy sets can leave your joints and connective tissue aching.

Even with only 15 minutes of training, 4 days is enough to make amazing gains! After 4-6 weeks, you’ll be ready to test your new maxes. Then, you can either keep going with the same movements, swap in new PPL variations, or add an extra day of training.

Does the Bodyweight PPL work?

Like gangbusters. For proof, look no further than Nicolas De Paoli (@themotionguy) who uses a daily PPL—7 days a week—with amazing strength movements like one-arm chins, muscle-ups, handstand pushups, and heavy weighted pistols.

Workout #3: Iron EMOMs

As I said earlier, few coaches have popularized EMOMs as effectively as Keegan Smith. His Dense Strength system is designed specifically for athletes who need strength and muscle, but who don’t want to run the injury risks that often come with powerlifting. They don’t care about their max weights as much as “owning the weights” that make them strong, fast, and mobile.

As with Keegan’s system, Iron EMOMs focus exclusively on classic barbell movements. However, because squats and deadlifts can be risky when chasing high reps with minimal rest, this program sticks with lower rep ranges at 60%-80% of your one-rep max. Good EMOMs for the squat and deadlift are:

  • 5D1
  • 5D2
  • 5D3
  • 6-9D123
  • 6-9D235

When you achieve the prescribed EMOM, add 5-10lb and tackle it again. When you begin to stall, drop back down to a lower weight and pursue more reps. For example:

Week 1

 Monday

Wednesday

Friday

Squat

Press

Deadlift

5D2 @ 225lb

5D5 @ 135lb

5D2 @ 315lb

 

Week 2

 Monday

Wednesday

Friday

Squat

Press

Deadlift

5D2 @ 235lb

5D5 @ 140lb

5D2 @ 325lb

 

Week 3

 Monday

Wednesday

Friday

Squat

Press

Deadlift

5D2 @ 245lb

5D5 @ 145lb

5D2 @ 335lb

 

Week 4

 Monday

Wednesday

Friday

Squat

Press

Deadlift

5D3 @ 225lb

5D6 @ 135lb

5D3 @ 315lb

Is This Enough Volume to Make Real Gains?

Yes, absolutely. Remember this isn’t for competitive powerlifters. It’s for busy trainees who just want to make steady, gradual progress for a long time. Either way, volume isn’t strictly necessary to get jacked. Marty Gallagher—coach to some of the strongest humans in history—has long touted the efficacy of working up to a single heavy set per week.

Progress is progress. Don’t let your ego or desire to feel pain get in the way of yours.

Maximize Your Gains with Nature’s Recovery Tools

The key to long-term success with all training—and especially with low-dose EMOM workouts—is avoiding behaviors that wreck your body’s ability to recover, adapt, and add muscle while staying lean. As always, this means:

Sleep and Diet.

If your sleep quality is low, your body won’t grow. It’s as simple as that. Don’t stay awake all night scrolling TikTok, sleeping like a gremlin, then blame your weakness and injuries on a workout program.

If your food quality is low, you’re fighting with one hand tied behind your back. The standard Western diet means high inflammation, insulin resistance, low-grade IBS, and a long slow descent toward chronic disease. If you’re consuming McDonald’s, Wheaties, and booze, don’t blame your tendinitis on a workout program.

Luckily, these are easy problems to solve.

Sleep Standards

  • Lights out 30 minutes before bed
  • No screen time 60 minutes before bed
  • And if you want an extra boost, get your basic sleep nutrition with Hibernate

Dietary Standards

  • No seed oils
  • No processed sugar
  • No grains

High-quality sleep maximizes immunity and recovery. A zero-inflammation diet means that recovery goes entirely toward your gains. With these puzzle pieces in place, it’s amazing what your body can accomplish with a minimalist workout program.

Conclusion on EMOM Workouts

Really, I believe EMOMs are the greatest secret in the world of muscle and fitness. How else can you get jacked while training only 5-15 minutes a day?

Reach those standards. If nothing else, simply achieving:

  • 5D10 dips
  • 5D5 chest-to-bar pullups, and
  • 10D2 squats with 225lb

…will guarantee that you’re lean, muscular, healthy, and ready for anything life throws your way. All it takes is a little bit of time, consistency, and a willingness to own your own body and the iron in your hands.

Which EMOM workouts are you going to use to set PRs this year?


melatonin-supplement-for-sleep-90-capsules-hibernate-systems
Hibernate Sleep Support: Melatonin Microdose Supplement
Hibernate Sleep Support: Melatonin Microdose Supplement
Hibernate Sleep Support: Melatonin Microdose Supplement
Hibernate Sleep Support: Melatonin Microdose Supplement
Hibernate Sleep Support: Melatonin Microdose Supplement
Hibernate Sleep Support: Melatonin Microdose Supplement

Hibernate Sleep Support: Melatonin Microdose Supplement

"this stuff really works! i've tried a couple of other products, but hibernate is by far the best sleep aid i've tried and i plan on using it for years to come." -- Alan G.
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Get the sleep you deserve. Hibernate's optimized blend of minerals, nutrients, and microdosed melatonin supplies everything your body needs to "manufacture" deep, healthy, natural sleep:

  • Stabilize slow-wave sleep cycles
  • Decrease time to fall asleep
  • Boost GABA function
  • Improve immune function
  • Support mental clarity throughout the day

Rather than mimicking or blocking chemical processes in the brain, Hibernate supplies optimized doses of four key nutrients which are often found deficient in men as they age:

* Zinc Orotate

* Magnesium Citrate

* Vitamin D3

* Micro-Dosed Melatonin

These ingredients (typically inhibited by lifestyle stressors or depleted after intense training sessions) help initiate the cascade of events that lead to deep, recuperative sleep, boost hormone levels, and allow men to wake up ready to attack the day.*

World's Best Night's Sleep Plan
1. Take 3 tiny Hibernate capsules 1-2 hours before bed
2. Dim the lights
3. Let the hormonal sleep cascade work its magic
4. Wake up feeling like a champion

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Charles (New York, US)
Much better sleep

I tried Hibernate for 30 days prior to leaving this review. I used to take 10mg of Melatonin each night, so when I wouldn't take it I wouldn't be able to sleep through the night. Since taking hibernate I've been able to sleep all the way through most nights and feel much better in the morning.

A
Adam Forgues (Worcester, US)
Great Sleep "Night and Day difference"

My first morning after using Hibernate was noticeably different. I felt energized, rested, and ready to tackle the day.

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Brian Mong (Columbus, US)
Falling asleep faster

Great product, great customer service, find myself not tossing and turning as much and falling asleep faster.

M
Matthew Bowling (Arlington, US)
Noticeable difference in how I feel in the morning.

When I use hibernate, I feel ready for the day when I wake up. Much less likely to awake in the middle of the night, feel groggy, or hit the snooze button.

Highly recommended - I have taken it nearly daily for 3 months!

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Thomas Peterson (Sacramento, US)
Great sleep!

I use Hibernate for sleeping with my busy work schedule. It helps me stay asleep at night and provides me with energy for my next days work.

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Andreas D. (Sunnyvale, US)
Quality supplement and works as intended

Micro dosing melatonin is a sensible idea and the additional Magnesium, Vitamin D3 and Zinc complement the melatonin well for a relaxed, deep sleep.