AMRAP, EMOM, and Tabatas… Oh My! An Introduction To Popular Circuit Training Workouts

two men and a women completing circuit training workouts in our fitness studio

Circuit training workouts are having a comeback. And for good reason! These full-body, high-intensity workout sessions can help you build endurance, get stronger, and improve your cardio function. Plus, they’re usually packaged into efficient training sessions, sometimes as short as just four minutes.

But suppose you’re new to circuit training. In that case, it can be tough to understand what everybody’s talking about when they start comparing AMRAP to EMOM or discussing the pros and cons of Tabatas. Don’t worry. We’re here to break down these popular circuit training workouts and explain the format of each.

As Many Rounds As Possible (AMRAP)

During AMRAP training, you try to do as many reps as possible within a set amount of time. It becomes circuit training when you cycle through different exercises, resting as little as possible between movements. This workout style requires you to work super hard for the entire workout. But many find that the time limit helps because you know it won’t last forever. 

Keeping a few favorite AMRAP routines up your sleeve is also a great way to track your improvements. For example, the first time you try a particular circuit, you might only complete three rounds. But the next time you try, if you’ve been training consistently, you might get through four! AMRAPs are an excellent way to track your progress (or identify plateaus). 

Need some inspiration? Check out these 7 AMRAP workouts from 12 Minute Athlete for various cardio and strength training circuits. 

Every Minute On the Minute (EMOM)

During an EMOM workout, you perform a specific task at the start of every minute for a set amount of time. Once you complete your reps for that minute, you rest for the remaining time. Sounds easy, right? This type of circuit training challenges your endurance, especially as you begin to fatigue. As you get tired, you’ll take longer to complete your sets. And the longer it takes to complete your reps, the less recovery time you have before the next set.

Like AMRAP workouts, most EMOM workouts last anywhere from 12 to 30 minutes. This is also an endlessly flexible circuit training format. You can do one full-body exercise, like burpees, EMOM for 12 minutes. Or you can rotate through a variety of exercises at the top of every minute. You can even try an EMOM ladder: do one rep in minute one, two reps in minute two, and so on until you can no longer complete the reps within your 1-minute window (warning: this adds up quickly!). 

If you’re new to EMOM circuit training workouts, this beginner’s workout is a great place to start. 


Looking to minimize your time spent exercising and maximize your results? Look no further. Tabata is a HIIT workout that packs a serious punch into just four minutes of exercise. Tabata training works in 20-second intervals of high-intensity exercise, followed by 10 seconds of rest. You repeat that eight times for a total of four minutes. 

Despite the relatively short “working” window of just 20 seconds, many consider Tabatas an incredibly challenging workout. As exercise physiologist Katie Lawton, MEd, notes for an interview with Healthline, “These are going to feel like very long minutes… There is a lot of effort packed into a short time – and you’re going to feel it.”

Want to up the ante? Try to maintain the same number of reps per 20 second set throughout the entire training session. 

Let us take the guesswork out of circuit training.

Sure, it’s helpful to know the lingo when learning about HIIT and circuit training workouts. But if you’re not quite ready to start putting together you’re own AMRAP training programs, don’t worry. Our group exercise classes employ a lot of the same principles. So join us for a class today to experience the benefits of circuit training!