Fat Loss and the “After burn”
If you have ever heard of Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption (EPOC), you are probably already in the know of this little training secret. If not, this post is for you. If you’ve ever tried to lose weight – either significant amounts or just simply slimming down after a delicious holiday – this “after-burn” idea is crucial.
EPOC describes the method with which your body continues to burn calories for 16-24 hours post-workout. During an intense workout, lactic acid begins to build in muscles and your oxygen stores are depleted, so in order to rebuild oxygen stores after a difficult workout, your body has to work even harder to make up for the deficit. The harder you work, the more work your body has to put in afterwards. Oxygen is necessary for a variety of biochemical processes your body goes through after a workout to replenish stores and restore the body to it’s resting state. Oxygen is used to replenish energy stores, restore hormone levels, flush lactic acid, and more.
EPOC means greater fuel usage. Fat stores breaking down and release of free fatty acids accompany exercise, and in the recovery period after an intense workout, oxidation of free fatty acids to be used as fuel is increased, meaning your body is burning more fat as fuel post-workout. So this means, by completing that HIIT workout you just did, you are now have the excellent benefit of continuing to burn fat for another 16-24 hours thanks to EPOC.
The right kind of exercise
Higher intensity exercise will give you a better after burn. Especially interval training in which you flow through a series of low intensity and high intensity exercises, increasing and decreasing your heart rate. A more intense workout will give a better EPOC result than a lower intensity “steady state” workout. The same applies to challenging resistance workouts and metabolic resistance training circuits in which you move through resistance exercises continuously, keeping your heart rate elevated. This also means that you can potentially get more out of a short intense workout than a long and steady treadmill walk.
BUT, intense workouts are not meant to be done everyday. Steady state cardio and lower-intensity resistance workouts are both part of a highly effective and well designed training plan. Your plan should be a combination of both to get the best of both worlds and develop muscular strength and endurance in a safe, effective way. Not sure how to design this kind of plan? Here is a beginner’s option.
Long Lasting Effects
The advantage of including high intensity workouts in your weekly plans is that your body will adapt to build cardiovascular endurance over time. Greater EPOC with higher intensity exercise will help to increase your VO2 max, so over time, your body will learn how use oxygen more efficiently for energy – meaning better endurance and strength so you can workout harder and longer. We can all benefit from this!