Let me introduce you to EPOC – Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption – this is the process that burns through extra calories as a result of your exercise session. Many people focus on the calories they burn during a workout but your body continues to burn calories long after you leave the gym.
Regular readers will know there are plenty of reasons to love exercise, but if you’re looking to burn fat then thinking about EPOC can keep you motivated during a session. The equation is simple; the harder you work out, the more energy your body needs to recover and that means you’re burning more calories.
It’s easier to approach a workout when you know what you want to achieve and a basic knowledge of your body lets you understand how best to reach your goals. Different training methods will give you different results. If you want to burn fat then you need to tailor your workout in a different way than if you want to build flexibility, for example.
If you want to benefit from EPOC fat burning then you need to put the effort in first. Much as all of us would love to blast through calories while sitting at our desks – I’m sorry to say that just isn’t going to happen. And, one of the reasons you may not of heard of EPOC before is because only certain types of exercise trigger it.
Your body burns calories when it is recovering and a hard and fast session will require more recovery than a softer, less intense workout. Recovery is the catch all term for all the processes your body implements after a workout such as; replenishing energy supplies, sending new glycogen to your muscles, converting lactic acid back into pyruvic acid, etc. This internal process requires fuel and your body’s preferred fuel choice is your stored excess fat.
What type of exercise gives the most EPOC fat burning benefits?
Your body needs to recover after all types of exercise but you really need anaerobic and aerobic exercise to benefit from EPOC. You will need to tune into your body to understand what is most effective for you but these are my five favorite exercise types that promote EPOC fat burning.
1. HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training)
HIIT is known to burn a lot of calories in a short amount of time; the intense nature of this workout will have your body recovering throughout the day.
A good static cycling class provides an aerobic zone workout combined with spurts of fast anaerobic work. Spinning classes are low impact and you can control the intensity of your personal workout
3. Weight Training
Lifting weights and strength training puts stress on your muscles, especially when lifting to gain muscle using slow and controlled movements. Your body will require energy to repair itself after a hard weights session.
A typical sprinting session is anaerobic and high in intensity. This is (obviously) my all-time favorite session for feeling the after burn.
5. Aerobics class
An intense dance class or step class that is moderate in intensity but high in impact and lasts for about an hour will burn a lot of calories during the class and will help you burn through even more calories once you’re back at home. Try and find a class that involves jumping, kicking, and anything that makes you lift both feet off the ground.
With so many workout options, try to include a high intensity session a few times a week. Make sure you plan rest days and, as always, listen to your own body. It’s fine to push yourself but never go to the point of pain.
I stand by my philosophy that slow and steady wins the race when it comes to getting fit and healthy, but if you’re looking to burn excess calories than you can use EPOC to your advantage. And, now that you know about EPOC calorie burning, you’ll be able to rest easy after your gym session knowing that your body is still burning through extra fat stores!
Written by Samantha Clayton, AFAA, ISSA. Samantha is Director of Fitness Education at Herbalife.