EMOM article and long EMOMs

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  • #28502

    Hi there, my first post here! I have a question about the EMOM article.

    In the past I have done longer EMOMs as an aerobic workout; in the article only shorter EMOMs are mentioned. Is there any reason to not do a longer EMOM?

    I’m equal parts mountain runner and crossfit/gym-rat, and sometimes like to think I’m getting away with a zone-1/some-visits-to-zone2 aerobic workout over an hour, using rowing, cleans of all sorts, dl/wall-ball combo, short Cindy (3 pull-ups/5 push-ups/7 air-squats) and other combos where I stay in the right zone, get some rest and go for maybe 45 minutes to an hour.

    I find this works great for a day when I need to get in some skill work and the daily WOD isn’t interesting because of the intensity level. More than anything, since I try and balance these disciplines I often miss out on some movement when out on the mountains and need to get some things in or my old body stops doing them (hello gymnastics…).

    Is there any harm to this approach? My N=1 experiment suggests that ‘no’, but maybe I don’t know :).

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    Anonymous on #28518

    BACKGROUND: Heart rate does not quantify the actual load. It quantifies the total stress on the individual. The longer the work period, the more closely heart rate quantifies the load. The shorter the work period, the less it quantifies the load.

    So for EMOM training, although your heart rate monitor may say that you’re in Zone 2 the whole time, I suspect very little of the workout was in Zone 2. You were either way above, or way below, and the average of the work/rest periods creates a stress load equivalent to what an extended period in Zone 2 would be like.

    Same level of stress on the body. Very different levels of stress on the muscles.

    In other words, 45′ of EMOM in the gym will not help your running as much as 45′ on the trail. Or vice versa. I don’t think there’s any harm to it, as long as you think of the two activities as distinct.

    Does that make sense?

    mike.p on #28531

    Hey Scott,

    thanks for that! The first paragraph is some nice info and the third is what I suspected. While I was breathing and in zone 1/2 for a light set of 100 8kg kb snatches the other day, my shoulders are kinda angry with me today.

    Totally makes sense, and yeah, I am cursed by enjoying both things. I am (slowly) trying to move all the pieces in the right direction while sometimes focussing on running, and other times focussing on strength or just plain CrossFit. Right now it is running and so these lighter, less intense EMOMs rather than a deep intense WOD allow me to stay sharp skill wise (or work on things like bracing, which was the objective during the KB snatches) and save the intensity for some intervals or a hill run…

    Anonymous on #28532


    Thanks for the read and the questions. Scott nailed it on the head when considering the nuances of Zone Training in a timed environment. I’ll take it a step further from a tactical perspective and hopefully provide some solutions to your training question.

    Some science:
    While HR Zones have been shown to be an effective measure of training intensity when looking at cyclical work (i.e running, rowing, cycling), the Zone model is considerably less effective when applied to what I would call “mixed modal” work (i.e. wall balls, pull ups, barbell work, etc.). To understand why, we have to look at the physiology of oxygen and the muscles. When you begin any activity, oxygen saturation immediately increases in the working muscle to account for the demand of the activity. This physiological response happens much faster than what is reflected by an increased heart rate (i.e. cardiac lag), meaning that although you hold yourself in an “aerobic” zone on the HR monitor, your muscles may actually be experiencing an “anaerobic” environment due to various physiological limitations unique to your own body.

    I took you on that long scientific journey as a way of echoing Scott’s point, which is that just by “staying” in an aerobic zone doesn’t mean you’re getting a 1:1 translation to any and all aerobic activities. To the contrary, you may very well be creating a totally different adaptation without realizing it based on your own physiology.

    A better solution might be to set up something like this:

    40 min EMOM, rotating through the following:
    Min 1) :30s Run
    Min 2) :30s Row
    Min 3) :30s Bike
    Min 4) :30s Versaclimber

    Your goal with each one of those like modalities (to guarantee an aerobic response) would be to hit the same output in whatever metric you’re using the measure. For the run, it may be meters just as for the bike and row erg it may be calories. Regardless of the metric, you want to maintain sustainability for that modality, meaning that if you hit 200m on the first :30s run your goal is to hit 200m for every subsequent run within that EMOM.

    Using a similar approach for mixed modal work is excellent…for improving the aerobic nature of mixed modal work. You may experience some carryover to the mountains, but not as much as you would if you chose cyclical/sport-specific modalities instead.

    Does that help?

    cam.kelley04 on #28910

    Just as a followup reader, Thanks Drew for that breakdown.

    I struggle to with trying to make things I like, work. I’m just now developing my training plan in accordance with TFTNA while still doing some more gym lifts on other days from the general strength. That makes sense.


    mike.p on #28913

    Hi Drew,

    Thanks for the detailed reply! Sorry I took so long to get back here, had the tab open but life has been hectic.

    I have felt what you explain in that first paragraph for sure; the cardiac lag is something I have witnessed in CrossFit seeing less experienced CrossFitters gun through round 1 and/or 2 but then are surprised to find themselves gassed after 1-2 minutes in later rounds. (I suppose that’s not all cardiac lag but that’s another also interesting tangent 🙂

    So this is cool, I can see two cases 1. where I want to the aerobic nature of mixed modal work, which I definitely do, and then of course 2. something more specific to running and trail running.

    Thanks a lot for the great explanation, this is exactly the info I was looking for, to be honest. Especially improving the aerobic nature of mixed modal work, which is something I haven’t seen much of in the programming at the gyms close to me.

    mike.p on #28917

    So many edits, sorry about that. One more:

    “So this is cool, I can see two cases 1. where I want to the improve the aerobic nature of mixed modal work,”

    Anonymous on #28949


    Turning mixed modal work aerobic is one of the harder concepts to grasp in my opinion, because through exposure to this type of training we often just assume that it’s meant to be high intensity.

    It’s best to reframe your approach and think of the goal as “sustainabilty” versus just being physiologically “aerobic.” I can get waaaaay into the weeds here, so it’s probably best to put everything into a blog article and get into it there. Stay tuned!

    mike.p on #28968

    Thanks Drew, I’m really happy to get into the weeds so looking forward to it! For the moment I’m using the EMOMs as a way to get in some skill work but at low intensities, so for example yesterday doing some (5) hang power cleans between 30-40% RM, “small” strict Cindy, working in some steps ups with weight and just greasing the wheel, as they say.

    So without the proper knowledge, my goal is to keep the skills in touch (and sharpen some aspects) and keep the CF desire at bay while more focussed on running right now. It will be cool to be able to put more structure and meaning to it!

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