On the quest for fat loss, many people place too much emphasis on how many calories they are burning during their workout. While this is important, you can actually enhance the total amount of calories burned with your exercise program by taking advantage of EPOC, or the additional calories burned after the workout
EPOC (Exercise Post Oxygen Consumption) scientifically speaking is the “recovery of metabolic rate back to pre-exercise levels” and “can require several minutes for light exercise and several hours for hard intervals and up to 12 to 24 hours or even longer for prolonged, exhaustive exercise.” What this basically means is how many additional calories your body will burn after the workout 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 (energy) contained in the muscle that’s been depleted during the workout, restoring the blood lactate levels to normal and bring 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 workout and is frequently ignored in most calculations of the energy expenditure of various activities. Adding activities that raise EPOC to your workout should be the first priority in a fat loss program.
What exercise or activities raise EPOC the most? According to a 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 after either 40 minutes of cycling (80 percent of maximal heart rate), 40 minutes of circuit training (15 repetitions x 4 sets), 40 minutes of heavy resistance lifting (3-8 repetitions x 3 sets) and a control group that did nothing.
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”. Had they tested the metabolic rate several hours later they probably would have still seen an increase as well. Working hard plus lifting weights will increase fat burring long after the workout ends.
Great exercises to raise your EPOC include push-ups, pull-up, deadlifts, sprints and kettlebell swings. All of these exercises incorporates the whole body and allows for a good amount of resistance or speed. After a 10 -15 warm up start each workout with a total body exercise like exercises mentioned earlier. Placing a total body exercise in the beginning allows you to put a lot of effort in and this will rev up your metabolism for hours if not longer. Always consult your doctor prior to starting any exercise program and if you are unsure how to perform any exercise seek the advice of fitness professional.
Kyler Crouse, BS, CSCS, FMS is a personal trainer and strength coach who trains at Sierra Athletic Club and in the homes of clients in the greater Lake Tahoe area. Crouse specializes in performance enhancement and injury prevention. Visit www.KCstrength.com for more information.