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Did you know…the “afterburn effect” keeps calories blazing long after you leave the gym?
September 7th, 2010 | Permanent Link

You know how I yell at you to push harder and work faster?

Did you know that the more intensely you work out the more calories you’ll be burning up to 36 hours after your sweat session?

See, I only yell because I care.

This phenomenon is known as the “afterburn effect”, and may be one of the most easily manipulated tools that you never knew you could use on your fitness plan.

As soon as you’re done exercising, your body is working on overdrive doing two very strenuous activities: 1) it’s trying to replace an oxygen deficit that you created while working out, and 2) it’s trying to replace all the glycogen (energy stores in your body), and working to repair your muscles that are naturally torn in the process of becoming stronger.

This time period, called Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption, or EPOC,┬ábegins roughly as soon as you drop your last barbell or do your last jump squat, and because your body is recovering from working so hard, you’ll be burning up to 50% more calories than you do during a normal day, and the effect can last up to 36-48 hours later. The closer to the end of the workout, however, the stronger the effect will be.

Does this mean that even though you’re not working out, you’re still burning tons more calories? Yes! So already, that’s pretty darn good news! But guess what! There’s more . . .

Let’s say you do, oh I don’t know, a MadAbs boot camp class from 6:30-7:45 in the evening, which uses muscle-building resistance and strength drills in combination with high-intensity cardio drills (knocking off both of the aforementioned requirements to switch on the afterburn). And let’s say you get up around 6:30 AM before work to go for 15 minutes of interval training: like 5 intense hill sprints peppered throughout an easy 15 minute jog. Even if you waited to do this short but intense bonus cardio workout until 9, 10, or 11:00 AM the next day, your body is still in the afterburn zone and will burn more calories than if you did that little 15 minute jog with no workout the night before. And on its own, a 15 minute jog won’t do a whole heck of a lot.

And I don’t know about you, but even if I jog for 6 minutes, I want it to count for something!

So remember the next time you’re lifting weights at the gym or doing a push-up party in front of your TV: if you push the intensity a little bit harder, work a little bit faster, and muscle through a little bit stronger, you’ll be reaping the calorie-burning benefit for hours to come.

Work hard and smile,

Madelyn :)

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