Seven Surprising Facts About EPOC

Discover the Seven Surprising Facts About Excess Post-exercise Oxygen Consumption (EPOC)!

EPOC, or Excess Post-exercise Oxygen Consumption, is the recovery phase right after intense exercise where your body looks to compensate for the “oxygen debt” that went into the physical activity. During this period, you still burn calories even way after the completion of the activity and require a lot more oxygen compared to your pre-exercise state as your body tries to achieve homeostasis or equilibrium (In this case, that being normal metabolic function when at rest). So why should you care about EPOC? Well, our personal trainer San Diego substantiates that the EPOC effect of a workout determines how many calories you stand to burn, hence it will inform your fitness plan. With that out of the way, here are some important yet surprising facts you should know about EPOC. 

1. EPOC can last for up to 48 hours or longer

Your body is like a car engine. Even way after you switch it off, it will continue to stay warm long after. EPOC works much the same way, helping your body to achieve balance long after you’re done with your workout. The duration of this phase however remains a gray area. 

While the evidence available is far from conclusive, the science seems to suggest that Excess Post-exercise Oxygen ConsumptionEPOC can span up to 48 hours, depending on several factors which we’ll touch on momentarily. In fact, some ambitious studies have even suggested your body could be in EPOC for up to 3 days. Nonetheless, the average EPOC typically lasts for 12-24 hours or although it could also be much shorter in other people. 

2. EPOC is influenced more by intensity than the duration

Researchers seem to believe that the intensity of your workout has a greater effect on EPOC compared to its duration. That’s not to say that the length of the workout period should be discounted entirely because the longer you continue to work out at high intensity then the greater the EPOC effect will be.

So how does exercise intensity affect EPOC? If you’re searching for a “Personal trainer near me”, you’ll find Iron Orr Fitness in San Diego and they have the following to say:

  • EPOC exhibits a linear relationship with exercise intensity
  • In other words, its magnitude & duration (EPOC) is directly proportional to the intensity of the workout
  • The more intense an activity is, the more oxygen and energy it consumes, hence the longer the EPOC duration.

3. Resistance training increases EPOC more than cardio

Resistance personal training is the way to go if you’d like to get a move on your EPOC. Comprehensive research has shown that heavy resistance exercises can produce a more powerful afterburn effect compared to aerobic training. 

For instance, researchers recently compared a 20-minute steady-state run and a quick 4-minute HIIT exercise. It emerged that the latter realized a bigger EPOC response in comparison to the steady-state run workout, which, while it lasted much longer, was at a much lower intensity overall and didn’t take up as much energy and oxygen. This is generally in line with the fact that you burn a lot more calories with HIIT, hence your body needs to elicit a bigger EPOC response to make up for the larger energy and oxygen deficits. 

4. Oxygen and energy are restored during EPOC 

You may notice that your breathing rate increases tremendously after exercise and gradually declines thereafter. Normal ventilation recuperation is but one of the many EPOC responses that your body initiates during this time, with others including: 

  • Cooling down as your body seeks to reattain core body temperature
  • Muscle glycogen restoration also occurs during EPOC as your body seeks to replenish the phosphagen system (i.e. your energy source during working out
  • Blood re-oxygenation also kicks into full gear to compensate for the increased oxygen consumption due to an accelerated rate of metabolism during exercise 
  • Other circulatory hormones that peak with exercise also return to normalcy in the aftermath 

To learn more about how your body reacts to EPOC, our personal fitness trainer is on hand to answer your questions so reach out now. 

5. Researchers were onto EPOC in 1922!

You may – like many understandably- believe that EPOC is a present-age concept. But it’s nothing new, as researchers started investigating EPOC in the early 1900s! Back in the day, scientists had the calorimeter. For fear of needing out, we’ll just say this technology allowed them to measure how many calories your body was burning.

It was nothing more than speculation regarding what happens to your body after you work out, but over a century of science has proven that they were in the ballpark. While we’re far from knowing what really goes on during EPOC, it’s safe to say our great-great-(great?) grand folks were onto something.

6. Interval training has bigger EPOC responses 

What has the bigger EPOC effect? Training continuously for the entirety of a single session or split it up? Research by our personal trainers near me seems to suggest that splitting up your workout can keep EPOC going for longer. 

We’ll illustrate this with an example. Think of EPOC like a fire that needs replenishing, and exercise as the wood that feeds it. If you constantly place a few pieces of wood into this flame, it would burn for longer compared to if you placed all your wood into the fire all at once, right? It works much the same way with EPOC. Even splitting your workout sessions into halves can have a  significantly higher afterburn effect. 

7. Caffeine intake and time of day may influence EPOC

Part of the reason why research on EPOC continues to be inconclusive is that several factors affect the duration and magnitude of EPOC, and they vary from one person to the next. Some of these factors include: 

  • Food consumption
  • Stress 
  • Lifestyle activeness
  • Caffeine intake and much more
  • Age

Of course, all these variables mean people burn different amounts of calories even when performing a similar amount and intensity of exercise. That inevitably means that all these factors also have a part to play in determining EPOC responses. 

Let’s get you the perfect EPOC workout plan

Now you know all about EPOC and why it matters, you may be curious to find out what exercises have the most powerful EPOC effects. Wonder no more. Let our San Diego fitness suggest the best EPOC HIIT workouts for beginners that will help you burn calories as if your life depended on it (and it does.) Become a master of the afterburn effect and reap the benefits of your workout long after it’s ended. Schedule a consultation with us today to discover suitable EPOC training workouts or discuss our super-friendly personal trainer prices.

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