I Tried This 20-Minute EMOM Finisher And It Put My Fitness To The Test

Author performs the medicine ball slam in an empty gym
(Image credit: Alice Porter / Future)

Almost all of my strength sessions end with finishers. As much as I enjoy lifting weights, I love the endorphins I get from raising my heart rate with a conditioning workout. If I can do both in the same session I leave the gym feeling confident that I’ve challenged myself.

Following a full-body session that involved heavy thrusters and some CrossFit gymnastics skills work, I decided to try a new finisher from personal trainer Ali Kabba.

Take a look at Kabba’s Instagram Reel where he demonstrates each of the exercises.

It’s a 20-minute EMOM workout made up of four exercises. EMOM stands for every minute on the minute, so you perform the reps of one exercise in a minute, resting for the remainder of the minute, then moving on to the next exercise.

The quicker you complete the reps, the more rest you’ll have. For example, if you can complete the 15 kettlebell swings in 30 seconds, you have 30 seconds to rest.

Keep cycling through the exercises until the 20 minutes is up. Typically, the first few rounds feel easy, but as the minutes go by the short rest periods add up and your heart rate stays high.

You need a few pieces of equipment for this routine: a kettlebell, a medicine ball and a rowing machine, although you could opt for a different form of cardio such as the air bike or treadmill.

This is a workout that is designed to improve your cardio fitness, but I also wanted to develop my strength, so I chose fairly challenging weights: 35lbs/16kg for the kettlebell swings and 44lbs/20kg for the medicine ball slams.

I pushed myself moderately hard during the first round, then tried to match my time for the next five rounds.

The time I took to complete each exercise varied quite dramatically. For example, I was usually able to do 15 kettlebell swings in under 30 seconds, but completing 15 calories on the rower took me around 50 seconds. It would have been a good idea to try each exercise first and adjust the reps or calories accordingly, making sure I had more than 10 seconds of rest at the end of the first round. 

However, this was a fun and challenging workout, and I’ll definitely add it to my repertoire of finishers. I’ll just target 12 calories on the rower next time.

Alice Porter

Alice Porter is a journalist who covers health, fitness and wellbeing, among other topics, for titles including Stylist, Fit & Well, Glamour, Cosmopolitan, Grazia, VICE and Refinery29. When she’s not writing about these topics, you can probably find her at her local CrossFit box.