Otherwise know as Excess Post-exercise Oxygen Consumption, or EPOC, the after burn effect is an increase in metabolic function following strenuous exercise.
This includes all types of exercise, but it is the way that we perform the workout that is going to kick our EPOC into overdrive so that we burn off extra calories for the rest of the day and even while we sleep!
The afterburn effect is not a new discovery - it is simply raising your metabolism to burn more calories over the course of the day. However, only recently has it been recognised as one of the most effective ways to lose weight.
So, how can you max out your afterburner to make sure you are burning as many calories as possible? It is actually very simple and is all to do with the intensity level that you workout at.
You've probably heard of weight loss programs like P90X and RUSHFIT from Georges St-Pierre and seen all of the testimonials to go with them.
Well many of these programmes are based around high intensity training and the afterburn effect, which is why they can be so effective for losing weight and burning excess fat in the right hands.
Here's a video below of Mike Chang discussing the afterburn effect:
This is a great way to do it, but you can have even more impressive results if you throw a bit of cardio into the mix as well. Thankfully, you don't need to spend an hour or two on the treadmill or cross trainer to achieve the best results. In fact it is actually better to spend less time on the treadmill and to focus on the levels of intensity that you are running at. To maximise the afterburn effect you need to concentrate on High Intensity Interval Training, or HIIT.
HIIT is when you perform a short burst of exercise at full intensity followed by a short rest period. After the rest period, you will perform another sprint followed by a rest period, and continue the cycle. The amount of time you should be sprinting and resting for is up for debate but a 1:1 ratio (30s sprint followed by a 30s rest) or 2:1 ratio (30s sprint:15s rest) is a good place to start. A complete HIIT workout can last anywhere from 10 to 20 minutes.
Don't think that you need to do loads of running to be able to perform HIIT. Almost any type of cardio exercise can be adapted to interval training. Anything from boxing to rowing to swimming to rope jumping. Be creative!
Surprisingly little has been fully understood with regards to the most effective way to maximise your afterburn effect. One of the problems being the amount of possible variables. For example intensity level, set length, rest period length, total workout time all play apart as well as each individual person's body composition and resting metabolisms.
An number of studies have compared the effectiveness of high intensity interval training when compared with endurance training. One experiment showed that 2.5 hours of interval training produced the same effect on the muscles as 10.5 hours of endurance training, with comparable endurance performance increases. Another showed an increase metabolic rate for up to 24 hours post exercise but also a potential increase in maximal oxygen consumption when compared with traditional endurance workouts. Interestingly it has also been shown that high intensity training can also be used to improve an athletes performance and push them past a dreaded plateau much more effectively than long aerobic training. One study in particular showed that a rower was able to see a 2 percent improvement in rowing time over 2000m after only 7 interval training sessions spread over 4 weeks.
Although we all want to get ripped and look great, these types of workout have also shown promise for improving ones general health. Recent studies have showin significant increases in insulin levels of young men after fifteen weeks of regular interval training as well as reduced body fat meaning HIIT could be a potential method to prevent diabetes in those susceptible. Likewise, other study also concluded that these training methods could also be used for improving the risk factors for cardiovascular disease.
While these types of workout are great for kicking your metabolism into overdrive, it will be for nothing if you keep wolfing down the pizza and soft drinks. The saying "abs aren't made in the gym, they're made in the kitchen" exists for a reason - because it's true! So this means you should be concentrating on what you put into your body as much, if not more, than your workouts. This means LOTS of fruit and vegetables - brocoli, beans, spinach, and plenty of lean protein - egg whites, chicken, salmon and tuna are all great sources of these. Brown rice is a great source of carbohydrates.
Fruit makes a fantastic replacement for snacks so make sure you keep your house nicely stocked up. Then instead of diving for the bag of crisps or the chocolate when you get the munchies, try an apple or a juicy orange instead. Your body will thank you later.
Not only will eating a lot of these foods and sticking to a fat loss diet help you get nice and lean, but you'll also feel much healthier. There are plenty of effective weight loss plans out there, but I'd recommend learning which foods you should and shouldn't eat and creating your own plan accordingly. That way you will enjoy the diet instead of resenting it.
Now you know the basics of the afterburn effect check out some more training methods to help get you into shape.