What is the Exercise Afterburn
Ooooh, Feel the Burn! The Afterburn. No, we’re not talking about lactic acid burn. This one is much more pleasant.
It’s a term we hear often today with the constant volley of workout videos and training techniques that tout benefits of the afterburn to keep you burning calories even after you stop that exercise.
But what is the “exercise afterburn”? Well, smart people in white coats call it Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption, or EPOC, so we know it’s real if they named it, right?
Let’s get to know it.
The Exercise After Burn
What this lil’ phrase references is the calories burned after an exercise due to excess oxygen consumption. As we mentioned in our cardio blog, oxygen is required to burn off calories. When the body uses more oxygen than it does in its resting state, it burns additional calories.
While your bod is working on returning you to ‘normal’ it goes through several other physiological processes such as replenishment of oxygen stores, resynthesis, lactate removal and the like. It’s like a housekeeper cleaning a hotel room after a wicked party—it’s busy and burning calories while cleaning up (and likely taking your name in vain.)
So how does it work?
The amount of the increased oxygen consumption combined with the duration of EPOC is directly related to the intensity and duration of exercise. In other words, the harder and longer you work out, the longer you’ll benefit from the afterburn.
Recovery from working out can take anywhere from 15 minutes to 48 hours. Yeah, if you’re taking 2 days to recover—your sauce ain’t weak.
Cardio or Weights for the Best Afterburn?
Because cardio uses the aerobic system and the aerobic system is fueled by oxygen—this type of activity is required to light the after burn.
*commence cardio-loathing groans now*
Lifting and strength training are anaerobic, meaning oxygen is not the primary fuel source necessary to carry out the task.
Therefore, if you complete moderate to high intensity cardio you begin setting up the stage for EPOC. EPOC will increase as intensity and duration increase, which means you’re burning more calories during and after training.
So now that you know you gotta do cardio, let’s get down and dirty with some deets.
Exercise Duration Impacts the Afterburn
It doesn’t take a genius to know that the longer you work out, the more calories you burn, but in the case of EPOC, it really matters.
In one study the following caloric burn and after burn were noted:
- 30 minutes = 33 additional after burn calories over 128 minutes.
- 45 minutes = 74.5 additional after burn calories over 204 minutes.
- 60 minutes = 156 additional after burn calories over 455 minutes.
Just 15 extra minutes more than doubled the additional after burn calories, and 30 extra minutes multiplied the calories burned by nearly FIVE times the 30 minute bout.
This could easily be attributed to the fact that the aerobic system doesn’t start to kick in until 10 minutes into consistent aerobic activity.
Therefore, if you do the math, the 30 minute exercise was really only 20 minutes fueled by the aerobic system. We’d say if you’re looking to boost your after burn, it’s a good guide to target 40-60 minute cardio sessions to get more fuel for the burn and more calories for your cardio.
If you want to know which cardio exercises burn the most calories—look no further. We did a lil blog on that too. Just click here. You’re welcome.
There you have it. Now that your brain is buffed up—work on those muscles. Learn about supplementing with all natural BCAAs and amino acids to build muscles even when you’re not working out. Kinda like the afterburn takes care of calories even when you’re not working out. Connecting the dots? You’re a genius.