Exercise after-burn or excess postexercise oxygen consumption (EPOC), is the number of calories expended (above resting values) after an exercise bout. EPOC represents the oxygen consumption the body uses to return to its pre-exercise state. The physiological mechanisms responsible for increased metabolism following exercise include oxygen replenishment; phosphagen (ATP-PC) resynthesis; lactate removal; and increased ventilation, blood circulation and body temperature.
The body generally takes anywhere from 15 minutes to 48 hours to fully recover to a resting state. Studies have found that the magnitude and duration of EPOC depend on the intensity and duration of exercise. Other influencing factors include training status and gender.
Tips to Enhance EPOC
There are 5 Ways to Increase EPOC:
- Increase the intensity.
Workouts done at a higher intensity means your body gets its energy from anerobic energy stores. Since the body uses oxygen after exercise to return to baseline, the body will have to work even harder to do this since during the workout it bypassed aerobic stores (ATP as energy) to an anaerobic state. HIIT has actually been shown to be the most effective way to increase EPOC.
- Hit the weights.
Studies show that strength training – especially with heavier weights and compound movements – requires a higher EPOC effect. A higher-intensity program has been found to elicit a greater EPOC response than a lower-intensity program when total work is kept constant.
- Decrease rest periods in weight training.
With decreased rest between sets, the body becomes more anaerobic, requiring more energy pathways and thusly, stimulating a higher EPOC effect after exercise. Circuit resistance training elicits the greater EPOC response.
- Incorporate alternating upper & lower-body exercises into your workout.
Oxygen + energy is carried by blood, and a working muscle requires oxygen to carry the ATP to that working muscle to fuel it. Switching from upper to lower body movements shunts the blood to different etremeties of the body, which is yet another way to place demand for ATP from anaerobic tracks.
- Longer doesn’t necessarily mean more after burn.
EPOC is increased when we exercise at higher intensity because we become more anaerobic. When we exercise at longer durations, chances are we’re using more aerobic pathways than anaerobic, meaning our body won’t require as much EPOC to return to homeostasis after exercise.
Exercise Program Suggestions to Maximize EPOC
Tempo Training: Continuous aerobic exercise at a high intensity (70%-85% VO2max) for 30-60 minutes (Smith & McNaughton 2993).
Long, Slow Distance Training: Continuous aerobic exercise at a moderate intensity (6070%-% VO2max) for 60-80 minutes (Gore & Withers 1990).
Split Training: Two to four high-intensity exercise bouts (70%-85% VO2max) for a period of 15-25 minutes, separated by at least 5 minutes or up to 6 hours (Kaminsky, Padjen & LaHam-Saeger 1990).
Continuous Interval Training: Altenrating 3-minute bouts of low-intensity (30%-40% VO2max) and high-intensity (80%-90% VO2max) exercise for a period of 30-60 minutes (Kaminsky & Whaley 1993).
Supramaximal Interval Training: 15-20 supramaximal exercise bouts (105%-110% VO2max) for a period of 1 minute, with 2- to 5-minute rest periods (Laforgia et al. 1997).
Heavy Resistance Training: 2-4 sets, 8-10 exercises, 3-8 reps at 80%-90% 1RM, 2- to 3-minute rest periods (Elliot et al. 1992).
Circuit Resistance Training: 2-3 circuits, 6-10 exercises, 10-12 reps at 50% 1RM, 30-second rest periods (Murphy & Schwarzkopf 1992).