The Mystery of EPOC (Afterburn)



Have you heard about it and ever wondered WHAT exactly it is?


It may have been worded differently to you in a workout environment and referred to as AFTERBURN.


With all things mentioned to us as tips for working out and getting fit, it’s important to dive into them to learn the WHY behind the WHAT!


Per Wikipedia, EPOC is defined as: “Excess post-exercise oxygen consumption; a measurably increased rate of oxygen intake following strenuous activity intended to erase the body’s “oxygen deficit.”


A.K.A. “After Burn.” It’s what I explain to students and clients as the benefit of doing High Intensity Interval Training [HIIT training] compared to steady state training during their workouts. Not only can you do a shorter workout, but you work harder and can burn more calories and fat within the time you DO workout! Talk about EFFICIENCY!


Here’s the WHY:


When we do any sort of exercise, we want to look at how long it takes us to physiologically get our bodies back to their resting state. We start with our warmup to get the body ready for exercise, and then gradually increase the work load while exercising. In steady-state exercise, we tend to work up to a threshold of exertion to then stay there at a constant rate before slowly tapering off. Our oxygen needs have increased and then taper off as well. The body isn’t necessarily “confused” and burns calories and fat with the oxygen used DURING the workout. On the other hand, with HIIT training, it takes our body longer to shift into the different reaction times per interval. Throughout the course of a high intensity workout, oxygen deficits are greater, and the body takes longer to shift back to its resting state upon completion.




In terms that are easier to understand: You confused the HECK out of your body, so since it’ll take longer for your body to get back to ‘normal’ – to return to homeostasis –  your metabolic system has to work harder and burns more!


The goal for most is to work SAFELY at that higher threshold. So, if you’re doing a HIIT workout of any kind, you want to practice maintaining proper form as you increase your speed and understand your body’s emergency signals when increasing intensity. Use your rate of perceived exertion and know you’re working as hard as you can, but not going to pass out – in essence.


For me, this is why I enjoy HIIT training and workouts that fit the new term, VIIT training – Variable Intensity Interval Training. I’ve said it before, but CONFUSING YOUR BODY is the key to seeing returns on results and breaks in plateaus.



How do you vary the intensity with your workouts?
How can you keep this EPOC mentality in mind when getting your sweat on?

HI! I'M KAT - I am a pug-mom, wife, NASM Certified Personal Trainer, & Fitness Coach focusing on living the fit life while tackling work, coaching others - doing it all! My blog is to hold me accountable for all the goals I plan on accomplishing and also a way for me to try to inspire others through my own experiences - if I can do it ANYONE can! Fitness is a huge part of my life as well as travel and seeing all that life has to be lived! PAY IT FORWARD!

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  • Reply
    January 26, 2015, 7:29 am

    Never heard of Epoc! Thanks for the info Kat!
    Mindy @ Road Runner Girl recently posted…The Weekly Chase #107!My Profile

    • Reply
      January 27, 2015, 9:26 am

      Anything I can do to help build the knowledge mama! xo

  • Reply
    January 27, 2015, 3:21 am

    I MISS YOU! We need to catch up! And I cannot believe you will be in LA soon!
    GiGi Eats recently posted…Food Porn Alert: GiGi Eats Down UnderMy Profile

    • Reply
      January 27, 2015, 9:26 am

      I miss you too girlie! YES I’ll be there in about a month !

  • Reply
    January 27, 2015, 6:07 am

    ((Ive never heard of it either!!!))
    Carla recently posted…I walked my half-marathon!My Profile

    • Reply
      January 27, 2015, 9:26 am

      Wow – I am happy to bring the rapper name of EPOC to the party!

  • Reply
    January 27, 2015, 10:03 am

    I had no idea! Thank you for clearing things up– so interesting.

  • Reply
    January 27, 2015, 1:12 pm

    Super interesting – I need to start incorporating more hiit exercise into my life. I an a long distance runner so I tend to rely on a nice easy pace. After reading this I’m inspired to get on the interval train!

    • Reply
      January 29, 2015, 1:21 pm

      It’s definitely a way to stay ‘unbored’ and get results at the same time that last beyond the workout!

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