Timed Sets: What they are, and why you should give them a try

Are you struggling with training motivation?

Do you find yourself not pushing as hard as you used to?

You might want to consider changing things up!

Most of the time people view changing up a program as either changing the exercises, or a huge overhaul of the entire thing.

These are neither your only options, nor required options.

A different change that we like to implement periodically to help with adding in a twist and spicing things up is to do timed sets!

Two common examples of timed sets in our programming are an EMOM set (every minute on the minute), and a 30-sec-on/30-sec-off conditioning set.

The purpose of a timed set is to target a specific energy system by controlling the entire work and rest period.

In our training programs, we use timed sets to develop different energy systems and strength qualities (power, strength, endurance, hypertrophy) independently of one another.

To use the example above, an air bike circuit 30-on/30-off set has a 1:1 work:rest ratio and therefore targets the aerobic energy system.

On the contrary, if an exercise in an EMOM has a 10-15 second work time (i.e. 5 box jumps or 8 med ball slams), and a longer rest period, it would target the anaerobic system to a higher degree.

The video below demonstrates how we approach an EMOM (every minute on the minute) set:



Shorter work periods lead to increased strength and power production, while longer work periods lead to greater aerobic adaptation. Both methods are equally important for overall fitness development.

This philosophy of targeting specific energy systems and physical qualities throughout a workout is the same method professional strength and conditioning coaches use with competitive athletes.

The manipulation of training variables allows for greater emphasis of specific goals and training modalities during each 4-week training block or series of blocks.

For example, in the next few blocks of Citizen Athletics programming we will be increasingly focusing on strength.

It’s easy to see how this kind of training approach is different than attending the same fitness class, boot camp, or spin class for months or even years.

Long term planning with a yearly training calendar can be a powerful tool for sustainable strength gains and physical adaptation.

Our Citizen Athletics programs are open for sign up year round now. If you’re interested in joining or learning more, check out our website.

Sam & Teddy

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