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HIIT Your Way to Torching Calories!
What's the afterburn effect?
You’ve probably heard about the “afterburn.” Most of the time it is explained like this; it is the continual burn of calories after a very high intensity workout: hence the afterburn.
This sounds literally too good to be true, right? Can you really keep your metabolism ramped up long after your workout is over? Let’s dive into the science to figure out the truth behind the afterburn effect.
Afterburn = EPOC
What does EPOC or EPOC training mean?
Nowadays the afterburn is referred to as Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption (EPOC). In layman’s terms, EPOC is the amount of oxygen consumed after a workout to return the body to its resting state.
It is widely accepted in exercise physiology that for every liter of oxygen consumed you burn 5 calories, so the more oxygen consumed after a workout the more calories burned (Vella & Kravitz 2004).
This metabolism increase is due to oxygen replenishment, energy re-synthesis, lactate disposal… etc (Schuenke et al 2002). As in 150 calorie burn metabolism increase. Interested? Keep reading…
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Erin and the rest of the crew helped me tone up and drop a few more lbs recently! This before pic was 60 pounds ago! Being healthy feels so much better.
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The Science Behind PulseHIIT and EPOC Training
We didn't just make this stuff up
Did you know that your post-exercise calorie burn can reach levels as high as 150+ calories? Pretty significant caloric burn while just resting after a workout (Bahr & Sejersted 1991), right?
After a great workout when the sweat is pouring, you can barely catch your breath, it’s understandable that it can take a lot of energy to return you to your normal resting state!
In fact, the afterburn effect can last minutes to hours after your workout is over. Immediately after your workout, your metabolism is at its highest because the body is trying to return your biggest physiological functions to normal rather quickly and your oxygen consumption is at its highest.
Over the next several hours your body is still consuming more oxygen and expending more energy than normal to return to equilibrium (Schuenke et al 2002).
Get this though, one study found that there was a significant increase in the metabolic rate 38 hours after an intense workout (Schuenke et al 2002) and possibly 48 hours (Vella & Kravitz 2004)!
So there is a significant calorie burn long after your workout is over. This should make your wonder, “How in the world do I ramp up this afterburn?”
Burn more calories
long after your workout is over
Intensity of Your Workout
How hard should you workout?
Here comes a no brainer, a higher intensity workout will reward us with a greater EPOC magnitude directly after a workout (especially within 20 minutes; Thornton & Potteiger 2001) and hours after the workout (Borsheim & Bahr 2003).
A study by Bahr and Sejersted (1991) found that performing an exercise at 75% VO2max (VO2 max = maximal oxygen consumption or uptake per minute; here are a couple ways to calculate your VO2 max, actual measurement requires laboratory equipment) compared to VO2max of 50% for the same amount of time elicited a larger EPOC response!
Clearly high intensity is the way to go if you want to increase EPOC (Warren et al 2009)!
Length of Your Workout
How long should you workout?
The longer you perform the exercise at a high intensity the larger the EPOC magnitude.
This can become a predicament because we all want to increase our calorie burn but many of us do not have the time. You can still get a significant EPOC effect after your workout with shorter training methods!
While the afterburn effect can be higher the longer you exercise, you can still achieve a significant caloric burn after your workout for less time (Quinn and Associates 1994).
There is a tradeoff between the time allotted to exercise and the amount of EPOC you want to achieve; it’s unique to your situation.
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Potential post workout hour calories burn
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Type of Workout
What's the best type of workout for burning fat? From bodyweight to barre to weight training...
Compared to other training methods, resistance training (like bodyweight or weight training) has been found to produce the greatest afterburn response (Elliot et al 1992; Gilette et al 1994) and is the likely the best EPOC training method.
Resistance training gets your larger muscles active, energy reserves drained, your blood pumping, and lactic acid building up which can take a long time to remove.
Not only has it been determined that resistance training is the best way to increase EPOC it has also been found that within resistance training, circuit training is the best method.
Compared to typical resistance training, circuit training significantly increases EPOC (Murphy & Schwarzkopf 1992)! This can be attributed to the intermittent nature of circuit training in which participants only rest 30 seconds or less between sets, while performing normal resistance training participants usually have longer rest periods (over 120 seconds; Murphy & Schwarzkopf 1992).
Less rest means the body stays highly strung and doesn’t give it a chance to return to its normal resting state, keeping our physiological processes in overdrive.
Putting Science Into Action
What's the best workout for results?
Unless you have a significant amount of time on your hands, we need an effective way to ramp up the afterburn to get us burning calories possibly 38 hours post-workout (Schuenke et al 2002) in a timely manner. From the majority of the scientific research on the subject, we can conclude at least four key variables that you need to implement in your EPOC increasing workout:
- Perform exercise at a high intensity (70 – 75% or your VO2max or 85% of our 8 rep max)
- Perform for roughly 30 minutes
- Perform resistance/circuit training
We need to stay at a relatively high intensity (70 – 75% VO2 max [Kaminsky et al 1990] for an extended period of time (~30 minutes) to get a significant afterburn effect for our time input.
Granted, it’s hard to determine your VO2max during a workout. You can use this calculator to specify your target VO2max which will tell you the corresponding heart rate to maintain (age dependent) during your exercise routine (it’s not 100% perfect but it’s a good number to shoot for; Swain et al 1994).
By incrementally increasing your EPOC, you will start to see results as the total calorie burn starts to add up. In essence you will have stuck the mother-load in terms of metabolic performance.
That is exactly what PulseHIIT is about
Boosting your metabolism before and after your workout with fun EPOC training.
The Science Behind PulseHIIT
- Bahr R, Sejersted OM (1991) Effect of intensity of exercise on excess postexercise oxygen consumption. Metabolism 40: 836–41.
- Borsheim E, Bahr R (2003) Effect of exercise intensity, duration and mode on post-exercise oxygen consumption. Sports Med 33: 1037-1060.
- Elliot DL, Goldberg L, Kuehl KS (1992) Effect of resistance training on excess post-exercise oxygen consumption. J Appl Sport Sci Res 6: 77-81.
- Gilette CA, Bullough RC, Melby C (1994) Postexercise energy expenditure in response to acute aerobic or resistive exercise. Internat J Sports Med 4: 347-360.
- Kaminsky LA, Padjen S, LaHam-Saeger J (1990) Effect of split exercise sessions on excess postexercise oxygen consumption. Brit J Sports Med 24: 95-98.
- Laforgia J, Withers RT, Shipp NJ, Gore CJ (1997) Comparison of energy expenditure elevations after submaximal and supramaximal running. J App Physiol 82: 661-666.
- Malatesta D, Werlen C, Bulfaro S, Chenevière X, Borrani F (2009) Effect of high-intensity interval exercise on lipid oxidation during postexercise recovery. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise 41:364-374.
- Murphy E, Schwarzkopf R (1992) Effects of standard set and circuit weight training on excess postexercise oxygen consumption. J Appl Sport Sci Res 6: 88-91.
- Quinn TJ, Vroman NB, Kertzer R (1994) Postexercise oxygen consumption in trained females: Effect of exercise duration. Med Sci Spots Exer 26: 908-913.
- Schuenke MD, Mikat RP, McBride JM (2002) Effect of an acute period of resistance exercise on excess post-exercise oxygen consumption: Implications for body mass management. Eur J Appl Physiol 86: 411-417.
- Scott CB, Kemp RB (2005) Direct and indirect calorimetry of lactate oxidation: implications for whole-body expenditure. J Sports Sci 23: 15-19.
- Swain DP, Abernathy KS, Smith CS, Lee SJ, Bunn SA (1994) Target heart rates for the development of cardiorespiratory fitness. Med Sci Sports Exerc 26: 112–116.
- Thornton MK, Potteiger JA (2001) Effects of resistance exercise bouts of different intensities but equal work on EPOC. Med Sci Sports Exer 34: 715-722.
- Vella CA, Kravitz L (2004) Exercise after-burn: A research update. IDEA Fit J 1.5: 42-47.
- Warren A, Howden EJ, Williams AD, Fell JW, Johnson NA (2009) Postexercise fat oxidation: effect of exercise duration, intensity, and modality. International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism 19:607-623.