Torch More Calories Post-Workout: Mastering the Afterburn Effect

Did you know that after completing an intense workout, your muscle cells keep working hard to burn fat? This magical process is known as the “afterburn effect.” Your metabolism revs up and expedites weight loss during this post-workout rest period. Pretty cool, right? We’re here to let you know how you can harness the afterburn effect and supercharge your weight-loss efforts.

The actual scientific term for the afterburn is excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC). “Following an intense workout, the body continues to expend energy at higher rates as it returns to its baseline resting state,” explains Sydney Yeomans, NASM-CPT and director of fitness for BODY20.

Yeomans compares EPOC to the engine of a car. After the car runs for a long distance, its engine stays warm for a while after. “In the context of human metabolism, consider muscles as the ‘fat-burning engine.’ Just as an engine takes time to cool post-drive, your metabolism and muscles need time to return to pre-exercise levels,” Yeomans says. Hence, after your workout is a very productive calorie-burning time that you totally want to take advantage of.

Since you’re putting effort into working out anyway, let’s discuss how you can maximize your calorie burn with the afterburn effect.

How can you use the afterburn effect to speed up weight loss?

The best way to reap the rewards of the afterburn effect is to focus on increasing the intensity of your workouts more so than its duration. A prime example is performing high-intensity interval training (HIIT), which involves short bursts of intense exercise paired with lower-intensity recovery exercises or rest periods. Research indicates that HIIT can lead to weight loss and substantially reduce abdominal fat.

After your HIIT workout, your body will require more oxygen, which is when the afterburn effect kicks into high gear. Now, let’s get back to the car engine comparison.

Yeomans tells us, “[If] one drove a short distance at high speeds, the engine would heat up faster and take longer to cool than if one drove a more extended distance at a slower pace. This analogy [also] holds for our metabolic ‘engine,’ explaining why HIIT, with its high-intensity bursts, often results in prolonged EPOC.”

Another excellent way to harness the afterburn effect is by engaging in a regular strength training routine. This involves working with your body weight, resistance bands, or weights like dumbbells or kettlebells. Research shows that strength or resistance training is beneficial for building and maintaining muscle mass, which in turn helps boost your resting metabolic rate even after the workout is complete.

Although HIIT or strength training will give you the biggest bang for your buck, if walking is more your speed, consider picking up the pace and jogging lightly or power walking.

Alexa Mellardo

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Read More