EPOC (Post-exercise Oxygen Consumption) sounds complicated, but read on… it’s actually your friend. EPOC may be better known as the reason behind the so-called “after burn” associated with exercise.
The harder you work and more calories you burn during exercise, the greater number of calories your body will continue to burn after the workout is over. Yes – your body, as it recovers from exercise, continues to burn a higher amount of calories than normal… even for up to 48 hours post workout!
After a workout, and your heart rate and breathing have returned to normal, oxygen consumption within the body remains elevated. This is the definition of EPOC. Your body systems that were all hyped-up during your workout (cardiovascualar, metabolic, circulatory, respiratory) do not instantly return to steady state when the workout is over. This delayed response allows the elevated oxygen levels to produce energy to restore the body’s homeostatic conditions (tissue resynthesis, thermoregulation, etc). The longer and more intense the workout, the longer the recovery, the better the after burn.
Bottom Line: We’re all busy and don’t have enough time to burn as many calories as we want to. So, set yourself up for success and take advantage of your EPOC. That means, during your next workout, go as hard as you can (safely of course!) in the time that you have. Then let your body take it from there. Maximizing your calorie burn during your workout maximizes your burn during recovery. This holds true for any intense workout, strength or cardio.