August 25, 2023
Did you know that you can actually burn more calories doing shorter workouts compared to longer workouts??!! It's called the “Afterburn Effect”? Intrigued? Read on!
Put simply, the “Afterburn Effect” is the additional calories you can continue to burn once you've stopped working out. In more technical terms, this is called Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption (EPOC). Let’s break this fancy term down for you.
Exercise is a stress on the body. While it is a good stressor, exercise still creates damage. For example, you create micro-tears in your muscles every time you lift weights. Your body requires extra energy to repair your muscles and lay down the building blocks needed for your muscles to become bigger and stronger afterwards. This is part of the reason behind the afterburn effect. During exercise, your body also produces something called lactic acid. You know that burn you feel in your legs while sprinting up a hill? That’s lactic acid in action. The process of bringing your organs, heart and hormones back to a resting state after a workout requires additional oxygen and fuel. It is this recovery process that creates the extra calorie burn after a workout.
So, how many extra calories do you actually burn? Just like every other biological process in the body, the afterburn effect is highly individual and depends on a number of factors. This includes your gender, age, body composition, current level of fitness, training duration and intensity. It’s not a sexy answer, but that’s biology for you!
While most forms of exercise have an afterburn effect, some forms of exercise are best for maximizing this calorie burn. Generally, more intense forms of exercise have a bigger afterburn effect compared to steady-state and less intense forms of exercise. This means that you will burn more calories after a workout that includes short and intense bursts of strength, resistance, cardio and power exercises.
Here’s how you can maximize the afterburn effect:
Intensity, intensity, INTENSITY!
No matter what form of exercise you do, the key to maximizing the afterburn effect is going HARD. Ideally, you should be working at 70 to 85 percent of your maximum heart rate. In other words, you should be breathing hard, your muscles should be burning and you should not be able to sustain a conversation.
Combine Strength + Cardio + Plyometrics
Maxing out on either strength, cardio or plyometric workouts all trigger the afterburn effect on their own. But combining all of them into one circuit will give you the biggest bang for your buck. A few lunges here, some burpees over there, throw in some hill sprints for good measure, repeat 4-5 times and you’ve got yourself a workout that will leave you gassed!
Don’t Rest For Too Long
Shorter rest periods place a greater demand on your body and can result in a larger afterburn effect. Your rest period should just be sufficient to allow you to recover enough so that you can go all out in your next sprint cycle. A 2:1 work-to-rest ratio is a good guideline.
Focus On Compound Movements
Compound movements engage more than one muscle group simultaneously. Due to this, these exercises create a larger afterburn effect. Goblet squats, thrusters, pull-ups and dumbbell cleans are some of our favourite compound exercises. Sprinkle these into your next workout to create a larger afterburn effect and torch a few extra calories!
You don’t have to slave away at the gym for hours to get a good workout. You just have to be efficient and focus on the right movements. If you need some inspiration, check out our free workout library. These workouts use all the principles discussed in this post and were designed to torch calories and optimize the afterburn effect. You will be burning calories long after your workout and will feel so good! Try these workouts for free today!
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