EPOC, Your New Workout Best Friend

July 22, 2012

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Ready to meet your new best friend for maximizing training and recovery? EPOC, or excess post-exercise oxygen consumption, is not just some cryptic acronym. It’s the physiological response your body produces after a high-resistance or intense interval training session. Basically EPOC refers to any extra oxygen consumption after exercise and is a key tool to getting benefits from your workouts after they end.

So why the big hype about EPOC? Any tough workout induces tiny tears in your muscle tissues. To avoid muscle soreness and inflammation, your body must repair itself. Enter EPOC. You require energy to heal the muscle damage in your legs, chest and back, and you acquire it from the air you breathe after exercise. This means that your body continues to burn calories after your workout, which results in higher amounts of muscle gain and bursts of metabolism.

To achieve these positive effects, one needs to consider factors like age, genetics and exercise intensity levels. Studies have shown that to maximize post-oxygen consumption, workouts need to consist of highly intense circuits—high volume weight training or interval drills, at or above 70 percent of your VO2 max.

So why is interval/high-intensity training better? This type of training triggers your body to build muscle when you are resting. This takes energy, which increases your metabolism. Although study results vary concerning the after-burn effect of specific exercises, think of it like this:  running at 7 mph for 30 minutes burns approximately 300 calories. That's all you get. By doing a circuit with Lunges, Squats, Bench Press, Pull-Ups and Jumping Jacks, you burn 300 calories in less time, and continue to burn more afterwards as your body repairs your large muscle groups.

To boost results, here are a few workout recommendations. Your body is most likely bored with your current routine, so change it up. On non-consecutive days, change the FITT (Frequency, Intensity, Time and Type) of your workouts. Here are some sample routines that exemplify this idea. These should take between 30 and 45 minutes. Always take rest when needed.

Bodyweight Workout (Repeat 3x)

  1. 10 Burpees
  2. Mountain Climbers for 30 seconds
  3. 10 maximal vertical jumps
  4. Max Push-Ups
  5. Max Pull-Ups

Elliptical Workout (Repeat 10x)

  1. 60 seconds at resistance level 1 (low-speed)
  2. 15 seconds at resistance level 5 or 6 (max speed)

Track Workout (Repeat 1-2 Miles)

  1. Sprint at max 100m then walk or jog 100m
  2. After each quarter-mile, max out on Push-Ups and hold a Plank for one minute.

Chris Hitchko
- Chris Hitchko, CSCS, owns ShowUp Fitness, a personal training facility with locations in Santa Monica and the San Francisco Bay area. He is also an...
Chris Hitchko
- Chris Hitchko, CSCS, owns ShowUp Fitness, a personal training facility with locations in Santa Monica and the San Francisco Bay area. He is also an...
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