There is a thing in the fitness world, a great thing, called EPOC: Excess Post-exercise Oxygen Consumption. The beauty of this body mechanism is that following high intensity workouts, it requires that your body continues to take in more oxygen than normal, keeping your calorie burning efforts elevated.
Research has found that following a workout, your caloric expenditure can be drastically affected, based on the intensity of the workout itself. The higher the intensity, the higher the post-exercise caloric burn. With this mechanism, intensity trumps duration. So if you check your calorie burn following a 20 minute HIIT session and are disappointed that it didn’t reach the same burn of a 60 minute lower intensity session, don’t worry! Following that 20 minute HIIT your body will be working hard to reach normal oxygen consumption levels and return the body and the muscles to a resting state that you will be burning extra calories, even into the next day!
But how? EPOC is a process that restores the body back to its resting state by balancing hormones, replenishing your fuel stores, repairing cellular breakdown, and dissolving the lactic acid built up during exercise. And while all of these processes are working hard at the same time, your metabolism will stay elevated
Higher metabolism=higher caloric burn
No for real, but how? How is it burning that much more? The body burns 5 calories consuming 1 liter of oxygen. On average, a person could consume 10-25L of extra oxygen following exercise, think about that! That is 50-125 extra calories immediately following exercise.
How to make the most out of your EPOC:
Circuit training and/or heavy resistance training with short rest intervals are some of the most effective at elevated oxygen consumption. The most effective? HIIT (high intensity interval training) by adding 6-15% extra energy expenditure to the workout
So get out there! Try out some HIIT training, alternate these high intensity days with lower intensity to prevent over training, and always, always remember the effect of your workout on your body in the hours after!