What is Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption?

If you haven’t heard of Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption (EPOC) or you have but you’re not really sure why it’s important this is for you!

What happens to a grill once you turn it on and the fire is going? It gets hot, right? What happens when you shut it off? Is it cold? No, it takes time to cool down and the longer it was on or the higher the flame, the longer it takes to cool down. This is what happens to your body after intense exercise; and is called EPOC.

Research has found that aerobic cycling, circuit weight training, and heavy resistance exercise produced the biggest EPOC results. Heavy resistance exercises did not show as large of EPOC results.

When you are done exercising, especially after an intense workout, your body is working on returning its oxygen to its “normal state”. This is why you will continue to burn more calories and fat even though you’re no longer exercising.

The following points are what is going on in your body right after an intense** workout.

  1. Your body is using protein to start to rebuild muscle. Why you are performing resistance training your body is breaking down muscle – the protein rebuilds it.
  2. It will restore its temperature. Regulating your body’s temperature is important to internal body function.
  3. Resistance training with short intervals is optimal for those looking to benefit from EPOC.  Additionally, alternating between a lower body movement and an upper body movement will force the heart to work harder to increase the oxygen uptake and overall calorie burn during and after the workout.
  4. HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) is the best form of cardio.  You can change up the intervals to continually shock your body. Some examples include; sprinting for 20-30 seconds then receiver for 30-60 seconds and repeat. You may also perform burpees on the minute (5-15) every minute for 10-20 minutes.       This can be done with sit-ups, jumping jacks, and ball slams.

You can hopefully see why it’s important to exercise and put forth some effort.  Before starting any program make sure you get a doctor’s clearance. Once you have this, start off slowly and build up to intense workouts.

Also, keep in mind, rest and proper nutrition are crucial to obtain your fitness goals. I suggest you take at least one day off a week of intense exercise, incorporate stretching, foam rolling and/or yoga on a daily basis.  Work on eating a diet that fuels you with foods that make you feel good, strong, mindful, 85-90% of the time and then have fun the rest of the time!

**For this purpose, intense is defined as either lifting weights that are 80-90% of one’s 1RM or as reaching cardio 80-95% of your max heart rate.  On a scale of 1-10 you want to be pushing yourself at an 8 or 9.

About the Author

Scott Keppel is the owner of Scott’s Training Systems, a world-class coaching facility in Chandler, Arizona. He is a nationally certified trainer through NASM and ISSA. His mission is to empower women of all ages and fitness levels. For more information head to scottstrainingsystems.com or check him out on Instagram at @stsnation.

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