Five Easy Ways to Trigger Fat Burning Long After Your Workout is Over

Woman exercising

We should all tap into the magical benefits of being a fat-burning machine

Specific exercises can help you supercharge your fat-burning potential hours after your workout.

EPOC in a nutshell

Exercise post oxygen consumption is the ability of your body to keep burning calories even after the exercise session has ended. Our bodies need time to reduce our temperature and rate, allowing us to go back to our normal metabolic state, which is homeostasis (the body’s main aim constantly). The best way to cause the most extensive caloric burn after your exercise session is to pick anaerobic forms of exercising. Anaerobic exercise produces a greater demand on your body, increasing its need for more oxygen after a workout. This is what makes the EPOC effect. This can last for up to 24 hours or so, depending on the intensity and duration of your workout. Exercising this way enhances oxygen demand has surpassed oxygen supply, and the body frantically shuttles glucose from the muscles to use as fuel. This process is called glycolysis. Glycolysis occurs in muscle cells during high-intensity training without oxygen, producing energy very fast. This process also produces lactic acid, which is why your muscles burn after several reps. When you get to this stage of training, you know you’re triggering EPOC to occur. 

Five ways to trigger EPOC for a massive fat-burning potential

One: Train with weights

Compound, multi-joint exercises demand much more from the muscles than single jointed or machine exercises. Multi-joint exercises are squats, deadlifts, bench presses, lunges and pull-ups. Try lifting heavier loads with brief rest periods. That should get the burn happening very quickly. You can also get into this training mode by supersets or tri-sets. You constantly perform a movement, one after the other, giving your body no time to recover. Supersets are two exercises back to back. Tri-sets are three exercises back to back. When your body finally gets a few seconds of rest, you go back onto your next set. 

Two: Circuit training

This is very similar to super-setting or tri-setting. Using about 4–6 exercises back to back, with only a rest period at the end of the last exercise, places a significant demand on the body to keep pumping oxygen to fuel the effort. The great thing about circuit training is that you don’t necessarily need weights and can get a similar burn by continuous movement if you happen to be training from home. I love to do circuit training when I travel, as I’m never sure what machines or weights a gym has. I can still get a great workout without spending half my holiday in a gym. 

Three: HIIT

High-intensity interval training consists of sprints on and off for 20–30 minutes. Those sprints need to be an all-out effort if they will make a difference to your physique and your EPOC potential. Intense training is pretty taxing on the body, and the recommended amount is either 2–or three times per week. If you get sick whilst performing HIIT, stick with low impact and make lifting weights your EPOC strategy. 

Four: Do not forget that it doesn’t matter how long you exercise; the intensity will set EPOC.

So, save yourself hours of pointless workouts in the gym. More is not necessarily better. All out during strength training, HIIT and circuits mean the point where you have to stop to catch your breath. This is the KEY feature of EPOC, and it will ignite your results more so than the amount of time you’re in the gym. There is no need to train for 2 hours. IIt’ssuch a waste of your valuable life energy. 

Takeaway: Sorry cardio bunnies — steady-state cardio will never give you EPOC.

Steady-state leaves us in the fat-burning zone, which is not a bad thing at all. That particular zone burns calories used during the time you trained. There is no effect after your workout. Your body has not been pushed to its limit enough to trigger anaerobic training. These sessions are for active recovery and a means of getting your steps in or a bit of relaxation. There is still potential for burning calories and fat stores, and it’s a good idea to keep doing these in moderation. We don’t always have to aim for the tower of fat burning. A good balance is critical here. In summary, if you want to activate EPOC, you must train anaerobically as much as possible during your sessions. Have fun with it, but don’t trash your body. 

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