What would you say if I told you that you can still burn calories even when you are sitting on your couch at home? Well, it is not your couch itself that makes you burn calories, but a phenomenon call "Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption (EPOC)." In effect, these are calories that are burned after intense physical activity has ceased. Here's how it works for runners and how to get the most out of it.
What is EPOC?
EPOC is extra energy expenditure that occurs after physical activity. If you train in a strategic way, in fact, you can burn lots of calories even after training and not just during.
How it works
EPOC occurs due to the fact your body needs to engage in certain processes after exercise in order to recover. These processes are designed to:
- Re-integrate reserves of ATP, creatine and oxygen
- Remove lactic acid
- Repair muscles
All of these processes require oxygen, which is why oxygen consumption increases after training. In addition, the processes also require extra energy, and it is at this time that you burn other calories, in addition to those burned during training.
Intensity is the key
The intensity of training is very important. If you wish to activate EPOC, the best kind of training is High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). Run time, fartlek and interval training are also effective. Especially for runners, doing HIIT exercises regularly (1-3 times a week, depending on your fitness level) also improves endurance and speed. With a continuous run, you burn calories but EPOC is not as effective. It is also important to remember that in order to fully engage EPOC you must also have the correct diet and eat properly before training.
EPOC and strength training
As a running coach, I always recommend a good combination of running and strength training. Many runners do strength exercises like push-ups, dips, lunges, sit-ups, donkey kicks and step-ups because they can be done easily at home.
Even bodyweight training can be performed as HIIT or at intervals, and also has benefits for running performance. The growth of muscle mass (no girls, you will not become too muscular) and the decrease of fat in tissues awaken your metabolism and also increases BMR (the number of calories your body needs at rest).
How many extra calories will I burn?
The number of calories each person can burn thanks to EPOC differs according to individual characteristics. Research by the American Council on Exercise (ACE) has established that EPOC can increase the calories burned from a minimum of 6% to a maximum of 15%. Not bad for just sitting around, right?