Every minute on the minute

There are many ways to take your cycling level to the next level – and not all of them involve spending more time in the saddle. A simple yet effective hack to become a better rider? Incorporate EMOM workouts into your routine.

EMOM workouts could be “very helpful,” says Katie Piersona Denver-based certified spinning instructor and certified personal trainer. They’re a great training method for improving your stamina and constantly challenging yourself, she explains. Just about any cyclist can benefit from EMOM workouts, whether you’re riding on the road or gravel or clocking centuries or 10 miles.

Here’s everything you need to know about EMOM workouts, including what they are and their benefits, as well as four EMOM workouts made specifically for cyclists.

What are EMOM workouts?

EMOM is a form of interval training that stands for “every minute to the minute”.

Here’s how it works: You choose an exercise (or group of exercises) and complete a certain number of repetitions of the exercise(s) within one minute. Then you repeat that sequence, or a variation of the sequence, every 60 seconds for a set amount of time. How much rest you get is based on when you complete the stated number of reps in that minute, explains Darci Revier, CSCS, director of education at the National Association of Exercise Trainers (NETA) and NETA-certified cycling instructor in Missouri.

For example, say you’re doing a 15-minute EMOM with 20 bodyweight squats. You would start a timer and do the 20 squats. If that takes you 40 seconds, rest for 20 seconds before repeating the pattern again for a total of 15 rounds or 15 minutes.

The format of EMOMs encourages you to work at a fast pace because the faster you complete your reps, the more rest you get. Usually, EMOMs count as high-intensity interval training (HIIT), thanks to the alternation between bursts of maximum effort and short rest periods.

Because EMOMs tend to be intense, they’re usually short workouts — think: 30 minutes or less, Revier says.

Outside of that time frame and the standard 60-second format, there are no rules to follow for EMOMs. Which exercise (or exercises) you choose and for how many reps is completely up to you. You can stick to just one move, or alternate between multiple moves every minute, such as five pushups, five squats, and five situps. You can target one muscle group or your entire body. You can use equipment or just hold your body weight. You can even do an EMOM on the bike (more on that later).

What are the benefits of EMOM workouts?

EMOM workouts may sound simple (and maybe deceptively easy), but the benefits are legit.

As we mentioned, EMOMs typically qualify as HIIT training. And there are a whole host of benefits that come from doing HIIT regularly, including improved fitness and lower heart rate variability, according to research. Other Research says it’s superior to moderate-intensity exercise for burning fat.

Plus, EMOM workouts are great for anaerobic threshold training, Revier says. That’s because the EMOM format usually doesn’t allow you to get a full recovery period after each exercise. And trying to push your body to a high level with minimal oxygen can help train and improve your anaerobic threshold. On the bike, that can translate into stronger mountaineering in an endurance event, or higher-intensity pedaling in a sprint race, she says.

In addition, EMOMs can help people new to interval training learn how to push themselves effectively and how to measure the rest they need or adjust the level of exertion if necessary. With EMOMs “you fall into a rhythm, as it were”, Revier explains. “If you push too hard and you don’t get enough rest, it will force you to slow down for the next minute.”

Finally, because EMOMs are usually high-intensity, they are a super-efficient way to exercise. These allow you to reap serious benefits in a short time, making them an ideal choice for the busy cyclist.


4 EMOM Workouts for Cyclists

Want to try EMOMs yourself? Here are four EMOM workouts designed specifically for cyclists. Revier designed the first three workouts; Pierson developed the fourth.

Workout 1: Total-Body Dumbbell EMOM

This strength-based EMOM specifically targets the back of your body as a way to counteract the imbalances typical of cycling, which benefits your anterior muscles (front of the body). You need a pair of dumbbells.

Assignments:

  1. Deadlift
  2. Renegade row
  3. bike crunch
  4. mountaineer
    1. How to do that:

      • Start your timer.
      • Do 8 to 10 reps of the deadlift. Rest for the rest of the minute.
      • Do 8 to 10 reps of the renegade row (on each arm) at the start of the second minute. Rest for the rest of the minute.
      • Do 8 to 10 reps of the bicycle crunch (on each side) at the start of the third minute. Rest for the rest of the minute.
      • Do 8 to 10 rock climbers (on each side) at the beginning of the fourth minute. Rest for the rest of the minute.
      • Repeat this 3 to 5 times, for a total of 12 to 20 minutes.

        Workout 2: Cycle EMOM

        This EMOM takes place on the bike and is aimed at long sprints. It helps train your anaerobic threshold, which, as we said, can translate into stronger mountaineering and better performance in races. Your goal is to reach the same distance and intensity level every minute.

        How to do that:

        • On an exercise bike, set your resistance to a level that’s challenging for you and choose a distance goal that can be achieved in less than a minute. A quarter of a mile is a good place to start.
        • Start pedaling and once you reach your distance goal, slow down for the rest of the minute.
        • At the beginning of the next minute, increase your resistance and sprint again until you reach the distance goal.
        • Repeat for 5 rounds total or 5 minutes total if you are a new cyclist, or keep going for 10 to 20 rounds/minutes if you are more advanced.

          Workout 3: Kettlebell Ladder EMOM

          You complete this workout as a pyramid-style repetition scheme, meaning you gradually increase the number of repetitions and then gradually decrease the number of repetitions you perform. You need a medium to heavy kettlebell.

          Assignments:

          1. kettlebell swing
          2. Upright row
          3. goblet squat
          4. Overhead press
          5. Forward double-handed row (hold the kettlebell with both hands, in a bent-forward position, palms facing you as you row)
            1. How to do that:

              • You do all five exercises every minute. Start with 2 reps of each exercise, then rest until the next minute.
              • Do 3 reps of each exercise, then rest until the next minute.
              • Do 4 reps of each exercise, then rest until the next minute.
              • Do 5 reps of each exercise, then rest until the next minute.
              • Then decrease the number of reps until you have 2 reps of each again.
              • Finish here or repeat the ladder one more time, back up and back down.

                Workout 4: Body Weight EMOM

                This EMOM workout combines cardio and strength work in the lower body. The high knees mimic the forward motion of cycling.

                Assignments:

                1. High knees
                2. Reverse Lunges
                  1. How to do that:

                    • Do 40 high knees (20 on each side) then rest the rest of the minute.
                    • Do 20 reverse lunges on your right side, then rest for the rest of the minute.
                    • Do 40 high knees (20 on each side) then rest the rest of the minute.
                    • Do 20 reverse lunges on your left side, then rest for the rest of the minute.
                    • Continue this pattern for 4 to 5 rounds or a total of 16 to 20 minutes.

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