Fat loss is all about caloric expenditure. We must burn more calories than we take in. While on the quest for fat loss, many people place far too much focus on how many calories they are burning during their exercise sessions. If you train in the proper way, you can actually greatly enhance the total amount of calories burned with your exercise program by taking advantage of additional calories burned after the training program is completed. This is known as Exercise Post Oxygen Consumption. Scientifically speaking, it is the recovery of metabolic rate back to pre-exercise levels and requires several minutes for light exercise, several hours for hard intervals and 12 to 24 hours or even longer of prolonged, exhaustive exercise. What this basically means is how many additional calories your body will burn after the exercise session has been completed in order to return your body to normal. If an individual is able to work out at a higher intensity, the more metabolic disturbance; the more energy your body will need to expend to bring it back down to normal. The body needs to replenish muscle glycogen contained in the muscle that's been depleted during the workout, restoring the blood lactate levels to normal and bringing down the heart rate and body temperature. This is a major source of energy expenditure, which occurs during recovery, but is directly the result of the exercise bout and is frequently ignored in most calculations of the energy expenditure of various activities. These activities that raise EPOC should be the first priority in a fat loss program.
What exercise or activities raise EPOC the most? According to study published in the Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research by Elliot and associates it is weight training. The study, "Effect of Resistance Training on Excess Post-exercise Oxygen Consumption" tested the metabolic rate of volunteers either 40 minutes of cycling (80 percent of maximal heart rate), 40 minutes of circuit training (four sets of 15 repetitions), 40 minutes of heavy resistance lifting (three sets of 3-8 repetitions) and a control. The researchers found that, "all forms of exercise increased the metabolic rate immediately after exertion. For circuit and heavy resistance lifting, the increase also was significant 30 minutes after exertion" and, had they tested the metabolic rate several hours later, they probably would have still seen an increase as well. The authors suggested that, "dynamic exertion is not required to augment post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC), and that the amount of exercising skeletal mass is an additional variable to consider when relating exercise to EPOC." Instead of focusing the workout around getting really tried, and the perceived notion of working really hard for fat loss, it may be better to first focus on weight training with proper form and making sure all muscle are incorporated into the program.
- Kyler Crouse, BS, CSCS is a personal fitness coach that works out of Sierra Athletic Club and in the homes of clients in the greater Lake Tahoe area. He graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Exercise Physiology/Minor in Nutrition and earned the most prestigious certification in the industry, the NSCA Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist. For more information please visit www.KCstrength.com