I Tried CrossFit Champ Mat Fraser’s Signature 40-Minute EMOM And It Helped Me Build Strength, Skill And Endurance In One Fell Swoop

Woman performing D-ball over shoulder outside
(Image credit: Aleksandar Jankovic / iStock / Getty Images Plus)

Mat Fraser is the fittest man in history, having won the CrossFit Games more than any other male athlete. My highest accolade to date is being the top goal-scorer for my under-12 soccer team. 

Put simply, the two of us are on very different levels. But that doesn’t mean I can’t learn a thing or two from his famously hardcore training routine. 

Fraser’s signature workout is a 40-minute EMOM—four moves, each performed every minute, on the minute for 10 rounds. 

If it’s good enough for the fittest man in history, it’s good enough for me, so I decided to give it a go. 

How To Do Mat Fraser’s 40-Minute EMOM

Every minute, on the minute, for 40 minutes:

  • Minute one: Row x 15cal
  • Minute two: Toes-to-bar x 15
  • Minute three: Air bike x 15cal
  • Minute four: D-ball over shoulder x 6 (150lb / 70kg)

In an interview with YouTube fitness content creator Zack Telander, Fraser described the EMOM above as “a typical, middle-of-the-road workout” he would use in his training. 

He says he did at least one 40-minute EMOM per week throughout his career and adjusted the intensity depending on at what point in the CrossFit season he was performing it. 

At the beginning of the season, he would incorporate shorter, higher-output efforts that left him more rest at the end of each minute. From here, he gradually increased the volume of work in each minute until he was close to “working for 40 minutes straight”, before tapering it back down right before the CrossFit Games.

My Takeaways From Mat Fraser’s 40-Minute Emom Workout

As we’ve already established, Mat Fraser and I are cut from very different cloth. And, while I’m a fixture at my local CrossFit box, I know the numbers above aren’t achievable for me.  

That’s why I scaled the workout down to 12 calories on the rower and the air bike, 10 toes-to-bar and five sandbag-over-shoulders. 

And for the first four rounds, I thought maybe I’d made a mistake. I felt good, finishing each exercise with time to take a decent breather before moving on. My toes-to-bar felt snappy and the sandbag moved smoothly. 

But this blissful start wasn’t to last. At the midpoint of the workout, my core and legs began to feel the effects of 390 reps, and my breaks at the end of each minute started to shrink. And it wasn’t just my muscles that were ready to pack it in.

“You’re only halfway, and you’re already struggling,” an unhelpful inner voice jibed. “Call it quits at the 24-minute mark and be done with it.” 

It was tempting and, while I was determined to reach the finish line, the next few rounds turned into a serious slog. My movement quality wasn’t what it had been 10 minutes before but after finishing the seventh round something funny happened. 

It was like my mind saw the light at the end of the tunnel, and a second wind helped me complete the workout without letting any of the exercises overrun their prescribed minute. 

Overall, I got lucky and picked numbers that provided a solid test for my fitness level, but Fraser says this type of workout takes some tweaking to get it right. 

“I did [40-minute EMOMs] so often, and so many times,” he tells Telander. “I did workouts that were too easy, I did EMOMs that were too hard; you have to f*** up to find out what’s right and find where those limits are.”

I’ve since made 40-minute EMOMs a weekly part of my training, experimenting with different exercises and targets in each minute. 

Admittedly, 40 minutes is a decent chunk of my total daily session to devote to a single training piece, but I’ve found the format can be adapted to help hit multiple goals. 

For example, you can make one of the minutes a higher-skill gymnastic exercise to practice technique and develop capacity in this movement. Or you could slip some bodybuilding in there to add a side-order of hypertrophy to the main course of conditioning. 

This way, the 40-minute EMOM becomes a time-savvy addition to your training, serving up skill, strength, muscle and endurance perks depending on how you structure it. 

Harry Bullmore
Staff writer

Harry covers news, reviews and features for Coach, Fit&Well and Live Science. With over a decade of training experience, he has tried everything from powerlifting to gymnastics, cardio to CrossFit, all in a bid to find fun ways of building a healthy, functional body.