Excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC), otherwise known as afterburn, refers to the increased rate of oxygen intake that occurs after a heavy bout of exercise. In a nutshell, it’s the process that allows you to carry on burning calories after your workout is said and done. Like most things, however, there is a certain knack to it, so we’ve enlisted the help of Claire Finlay, personal trainer and founder of Transition Zone in Fulham (transitionzone.co.uk), to provide us with a comprehensive how-to
Increasing muscles mass is one of the most effective ways to amp up your off-duty fat burning. The more muscles you have, the harder your metabolism has to work in order to supply the extra muscle tissue with oxygen. And, because sustaining muscles requires a lot more calories than storing fat, this means that you’ll be burning fat much more efficiently.
Don’t overlook the impact of post-exercise nutrition on calorie burn. In addition to fuelling up prior to your workout, you should try to eat a nutritious meal or snack within two hours of completing your session. Focus on carbohydrates, high quality proteins and quality fats. Spices and herbs such as ginger, garlic and chilli can also keep you in fat-burning mode for longer.
Another great way to boost EPOC is tempo training. Like HIIT, you’ll need to ensure that you sustain an intensity of 70 to 80 percent of your max heart rate. But unlike interval training, you’ll need to keep this going for at least 30 minutes. The longer you maintain this level of cardio intensity, the more metabolically taxing it becomes, and the more energy you’ll burn post-workout!
Ensure you’re getting seven to eight hours of sleep the night before your workout to allow your body to perform at its best during high intensity exercise. You should also aim to sleep for seven to eight hours after your workout to aid the repair and restore process.
Adding two to three HIIT workouts to your weekly schedule will have you burning calories for up to 48 hours after the workout is done. Just ensure you’re working at 80 percent of your maximum heart rate to obtain the greatest afterburn effect.
Many people underestimate the power of rest and recovery. But this is the period in which your body transforms your fitness efforts into physical changes. Yoga, sports massage, foam rolling and rest days all aid circulation which boosts the repair process, ensuring that the benefits of your workouts show.
Hydrate the day before, the day of and the day after your high intensity workout to allow your body to work at maximum output and capitalise on all the benefits of EPOC. Remember dehydration slows your body down which means you won’t be able to work at your peak.