Burning off what you put in is the key to dropping extra pounds. By incorporating high intensity interval training, or HIIT, into your fitness routine, you can cut down on the time you spend exercising while still getting a quality workout.

Using this 15-minute circuit with the five exercises below, you can easily burn 150 calories or more.

1. Butt kicks with arm circles

Chrysten Crockett

Start by kicking your heels, one foot at a time, up toward your butt as if you’re running in place. At the same time, place both arms out to the side and rotate them in a circular motion.

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This compound exercise will help you start to increase your heart rate while stretching out your lower body, engaging your core and getting some blood flow to your arms.

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2. Jump squats

Drop down in a squat position with your hands out in front of you. As you jump your feet together, place your hands on your hips to help you balance. Continue to jump into a squat position, getting as low to the ground as you can.

Be sure to force your weight into your heels when you squat down in order to engage the hamstrings and glutes.

3. Ski jump

Chrysten Crockett

The ski jump is a great full body exercise that keeps your heart rate up. As you jump to the left with your left foot, kick your right foot behind the left. At the same time, you’re going to reach down with your left hand to tap the floor. Repeat this motion on the right side and continue to jump left to right. By keeping your hips and back low, you will work the core and target the lower back muscles even more.

RELATED: 4 workout moves to one waist, arms, abs, booty

4. Jumping lunges

Chrysten Crockett

Begin in a lunge position by stepping back with one foot and dropping your knee toward the ground. Place your arms in a running position to give you momentum as you jump into the air. As you jump, switch legs and land with your opposite leg behind you and your knee dropped toward the ground. Continue in this jumping motion, staying low the entire time to really feel the burn.

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5. High knees

Chrysten Crockett

This move is performed exactly as it sounds! Drive your knees toward your chest. To give yourself a goal to work towards, put your hands out straight and try to tap them with your knees. This exercise will really bring up your heart rate!

For more fitness and diet advice, sign up for our One Small Thing newsletter! Get more workouts from Chrysten by following her on Instagram!

What is the after burn effect and when does it occur?

The afterburn effect, also known as excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC), refers basically to the increased quantity of calories burned after exercise. Physical activity increases muscles’ demand for oxygen (VO2), which oxidizes carbohydrates and fats, producing the energy required for movement. The demand of the human body for oxygen increases proportionately with the intensity of your workout. During intense exercise, your body needs more oxygen than breathing could provide. This gap between the demand for oxygen in the muscles, and the actual amount of oxygen delivered is called the “oxygen debt”. In order to “pay off” the oxygen debt, restore balance and “cool off”, the human body usually needs a few hours. In that time, it consumes more than 10 liters of extra oxygen, thus burning more calories post–workout.

To take advantage of this fascinating ability of the body and enjoy the reward of extra calories burned, you should make sure you train the right way.

Studies have shown that one of the main factors influencing the accelerated burning of calories after the workout is the intensity of the activity. With an increase in the exercise intensity, the magnitude and duration of EPOC increases. Low-intensity physical effort has shown the smallest effect on post-exercise calorie burning. The effect of combustion after the completion of intensive training can take up to 10 hours.

Another factor influencing the post-exercise calorie burn is training duration. The principle is simple: shorter duration of EPOC is observed after exercises with lower intensity and shorter duration, and the greatest impact of EPOC follows a long high-intensity workout. This theory applies not only to aerobic exercise, but also to resistance training.

And what effect does fitness level have on post-exercise calorie burn?

Fit people regenerate quickly after exercises, and their “oxygen debt”, heart rate and blood pressure return to normal in a relatively short time.

After training, fit people burn more calories than an untrained person, because they may train with greater intensity, for a longer time. Thus, a more athletic person might have a higher EPOC, but the duration of the post-workout energy consumption will be longer in the case of an untrained person – they need more time to restore the body to the state of rest.

Note, however, that the afterburn effect is not the Holy Grail when losing excess weight. Training of appropriate intensity and duration is essential because most calories will burn during the actual training, and the ensuing EPOC effects are just an additional perk. Given the fact that the post-exercise combustion may take up to 48 hours, we can lose weight even while sleeping. That’s worth a lot of commitment during every workout. It really pays off! If you have further questions, please contact our professionals.

Lidia Zamyłko
Regional Business Studio Manager, Fitness Instructor
Holmes Place Poland

How to Keep Burning Calories When Your Workout Is Over

While virtually all activity, from yoga to sleeping, requires energy, studies suggest vigorous exercise is especially effective at burning calories. Seems obvious, right? The harder you work, the more you burn. But it’s not just during exercise, it’s for hours after it’s concluded. And that’s where things get interesting.

The Need-to-Know

The so-called “afterburn effect” is more officially known as excess post-exercise oxygen consumption or simply, EPOC. And it isn’t new in the world of fitness.Several studies suggest there’s a strong correlation between the number of calories burned post exercise and the activity’s intensity.A 45-minute vigorous exercise bout increases metabolic rate for 14 hours. Knab AM, Shanely RA, Corbin KD. Medicine and science in sports and exercise, 2012, Mar.;43(9):1530-0315. Simply put: The more intense the exercise, the more oxygen your body consumes afterward.

In one study, participants who cycled vigorously for 45 minutes burned roughly 190 calories more in the 14 hours after exercise than on days when they didn’t work out at all.A 45-minute vigorous exercise bout increases metabolic rate for 14 hours. Knab AM, Shanely RA, Corbin KD. Medicine and science in sports and exercise, 2012, Mar.;43(9):1530-0315. In another study conducted with those who had metabolic syndrome, EPOC also had significant positive effects—meaning this type of training could be especially useful in combating certain health issues, like obesity and diabetes.High- and moderate-intensity aerobic exercise and excess post-exercise oxygen consumption in men with metabolic syndrome. Larsen I, Welde B, Martins C. Scandinavian journal of medicine & science in sports, 2013, Oct.;24(3):1600-0838.

And while one study showed that your afterburn will increase significantly with duration (i.e. the longer and more intense your workout, the more you’ll burn), you don’t necessarily have to work out for a long time to stimulate the effect.Effect of exercise intensity on post-exercise oxygen consumption and heart rate recovery. Mann TN, Webster C, Lamberts RP. European journal of applied physiology, 2014, May.;114(9):1439-6327. Postexercise oxygen consumption in trained females: effect of exercise duration. Quinn TJ, Vroman NB, Kertzer R. Medicine and science in sports and exercise, 1994, Nov.;26(7):0195-9131.

That’s where short, high-intensity workouts come in to play. Training protocols like Tabata, where 20 seconds of all-out effort is followed by 10 seconds of rest, are one way to trigger the afterburn; other high-intensity interval workouts (or HIIT routines), such as density set training, the Little Method, or 10-20-30 training, can also get you there. The key with any of these programs is that you need to be working hard. We’re talking exercise performed at 70 to 85 percent of an individual’s max heart rate.

And you don’t need to stick to traditional cardio in order to achieve an EPOC effect. Several studies have shown that weight training with various types of equipment can also elicit elevated EPOC—and may even be more effective than cardio training in certain scenarios.Effect of weight training exercise and treadmill exercise on post-exercise oxygen consumption. Burleson MA, O’Bryant HS, Stone MH. Medicine and science in sports and exercise, 1998, Jun.;30(4):0195-9131. Effect of acute resistance exercise on postexercise oxygen consumption and resting metabolic rate in young women. Osterberg KL, Melby CL. International journal of sport nutrition and exercise metabolism, 2000, Aug.;10(1):1526-484X.

If you’re new to this type of intense training, try a work-to-rest ratio of 1:2, says Matt Miller, trainer and Greatist expert. For instance: 60 seconds of work, followed by two minutes of rest. Miller suggested a workout structured like this: a five-minute warm-up, 60 seconds of fast running, and two-minute recovery walk; repeated six to eight times; followed by a five-minute cool-down. That adds up to about 30 minutes in total.

Bonus: If you have a ‘cheat meal,’ post-tough workout would be the time to have it. “After intense exercise—like sprinting—skeletal muscle is low on glycogen,” says Jason Edmonds, a biologist and Greatist expert. “Glycogen is what muscles use as fuel during exertion. Consequently, a sugary or starchy treat is more likely to be used to restore that glycogen deposit, instead of being stored as fat.”

But there is one catch: The more fit you are, the more efficient your body becomes at getting you back to a resting metabolism, and the less of an EPOC influence you may feel, according to one study. In other words, highly trained athletes might not reap the same afterburn that overweight individuals do.

The Takeaway

Vigorous exercise keeps the body burning calories for hours after the workout is through. And there are other benefits of HIIT training: You may find you lose weight faster, build muscle quicker, and increase aerobic capacity. Give HIIT a try in order to stimulate EPOC. But keep in mind: You shouldn’t engage in this style of training more than about two to three times per week on non-consecutive days.

Originally published March 2012. Updated January 2016.

The Afterburn Effect: Understanding the Science of EPOC

This article was contributed by Spinning® and Jennifer Ward, RD, LDN, CLC, CPT.

Most instructors and riders are aware of the high caloric burn that takes place during high-intensity cardiovascular training, such as a Spinning® class. However, less commonly known is the fact that a small tweak to the intensity or structure of your workouts can elevate the phenomenon known as excessive post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC) for hours after your workouts are over. That extra burn can translate into more total calories burned, additional weight loss benefits and an enhanced performance during each session!

EPOC (the Afterburn Effect) Defined

EPOC refers to the elevation in metabolism (rate that calories are burned) after an exercise session ends. The increased metabolism is linked to increased consumption of oxygen, which is required to help the body restore and return to its pre-exercise state. Contributing factors to a higher EPOC include:

  • The re-synthesis of lactate to glycogen (stored carbohydrate in the muscles and liver)
  • Re-oxygenation of the myoglobin and hemoglobin
  • Increased ventilation
  • Elevated heart rate
  • Elevated neurotransmitters/hormones adrenaline and noradrenaline related to the central nervous system
  • Higher core temperature

Enhancing EPOC can come from the implementation of certain eating strategies and the way in which one’s training is performed. This section will review key elements that should be applied to get the most out of EPOC.

Eating or Fasting

In 2011, a study conducted by Paoli A., et.al, published in the Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, looked at the effect of eating before early morning exercise sessions and after (Paoli, et al., 2011). The results showed that eating before early morning exercise sessions elevated both metabolism and fat utilisation for 24 hours afterwards. It’s important to know in the study that the subjects ate the same food and the same number of calories. The only difference was the timing of the first meal.


If you are not an early-morning eater or are short on time, consider eating just one food or a homemade smoothie before your early morning workouts. Eat a real breakfast afterward, or soon afterwards, because the body is best at using the food consumed within 30–60 minutes to replenish depleted glycogen (the stored form of carbohydrate) and to stop the post workout breakdown of muscle.

Higher Intensity = Higher EPOC

The intensity of exercise appears to be the most significant factor in boosting post-exercise metabolism. A 2014 study (conducted by Mann et al.) that examined the recovery rate of male and female runners after running at 60%, 70% and 80% of their VO2max revealed that the highest intensity workout produced the greatest afterburn (Mann, et al., 2014).


For those that are currently doing mostly aerobic, steady-state workouts, adding 1–2 strategically spaced high intensity training sessions per week (greater than 80–85% of the maximum heart rate) can be a catalyst for better results. Remember that going into high intensity sessions well-rested will lead to the highest quality workout.

Benefits of Intervals Versus Steady-State Exercise

Mixing bouts of intense work with bouts of recovery can:

  • Add variety
  • Increase the power/watts generated during an interval in comparison to high-intensity steady-state work
  • Contribute to maintenance of better form
  • Maximally improve performance
  • Further elevate EPOC

As an added bonus, high intensity interval training (HIIT) sessions can produce the results listed above within a shorter training session in comparison to lower intensity, steady-state rides. In addition to putting the body in an anaerobic state, there are also coordination benefits and additional muscle fibre recruitment that is created from a rapid ramping up of the heart rate and power output.


There are many ways to do intervals. Relating HIIT to Spinning, which is a cardiovascular workout, with the intent of complete recovery (bringing the heart rate to the recovery range and remaining there long enough to produce a consistent power output from interval to interval), follow the guidelines below:

HIIT Heart Rate Range: > 80–85%MHR

Recovery Heart Rate: 60% MHR

Remember to lead your riders through a longer warm-up and cool-down during high intensity sessions. Aim for 20–30 minutes total of interval time (including the recovery portion).

When You Eat Matters as Much as What You Eat

In 2013, a study done at Tel Aviv University with nearly 100 women studied the effect of differences of caloric intake at meal times and weight loss. The group was split in half and, for 12 weeks, one group ate 200 calories at breakfast, 500 calories at lunch and 700 calories at dinner, which is more reflective of the standard American eating pattern. The other group did the reverse; consuming 700 calories at breakfast, 500 at lunch and 200 at dinner. Keep in mind that the caloric intake and the foods consumed were the same for both groups. By the end of the study, the big dinner eaters lost an average of seven pounds, while the big breakfast eaters lost an average of 18. One of the explanations was the fact that eating big in the morning had a positive effect on insulin levels, which contributed to burning calories more efficiently all day.


This study is fascinating. It reveals that when you eat can completely change what your body does with the food you eat. Do what you can to scale your eating up earlier in the day and down later in the day. Even going from a “breakfast skipper” to eating meals of a more even caloric content can better your odds of seeing results. Eating more often and earlier in the day will improve metabolism every day, not only on training days.

All riders are seeking the best results possible for the effort that they are putting into their workouts. Simply eating before early morning workouts and incorporating one to two structured HIIT sessions per week are two strategies that can be used to increase EPOC so that elevation in metabolism and fat burning continues long after a workout ends. As optimal results are best achieved when exercise and nutrition are addressed simultaneously; scaling the caloric intake up earlier in the day and reducing it later in the day, and every day, can produce additional changes in hormones, hunger and satiety levels and increase the rate calories are burned so that every participant sees their efforts to improve exercise and diet come to fruition.

Daniela Jakubowicz, Maayan Barnea, Julio Wainstein, Oren Froy. High Caloric intake at breakfast vs. dinner differentially influences weight loss of overweight and obese women. Obesity, 2013; DOI: 10.1002/oby.20460.

Paoli, A., et al. 2011. Exercising fasting or fed to enhance fat loss? Influence of food intake on respiratory ratio and excess postexercise oxygen consumption after a bout of endurance training. International Journal of Sports Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, 21 (1), 48-54.

Paoli, A., et al. 2012. High-intensity interval resistance training (HIRT) influences resting energy expenditure and respiratory ratio in non-dieting individuals. Journal of Translational Medicine, 10, 237.

Is the Running Afterburn Effect Real? Find Out the Truth!

What if I told you that you could burn calories while sitting on your couch? Well, you can! Of course, it’s not only sitting on the couch that makes the magic happen — it’s the running afterburn effect. Have you heard of it before? Here’s how the afterburn effect for runners works and what you have to do in order to reap the biggest benefits.

What is the Afterburn Effect?

First things first, what is the afterburn effect in general? The afterburn effect is simply additional energy expenditure that occurs after exercise. Meaning that if you train strategically, you can burn even more calories after you have already completed your workout.

How it works: The impact for runners

The technical term is “excess post-exercise oxygen consumption,” or EPOC, which gives you a hint to what’s going on. After running, your body must put checkmarks next to a couple of things to recover and return to a resting state:

✔ replenishment of ATP, creatine and oxygen stores

✔ removal of lactic acid

✔reparation of the muscles and much more

All these processes require oxygen, which is why oxygen consumption rises after exercise. This requires extra energy; therefore, additional calories will be burned on top of the ones you have already torched during your workout.

Intensity is key

The intensity is very important when it comes to EPOC. The best way to benefit from the running afterburn effect is through HIIT training. Additionally, tempo runs, fartleks, and interval workouts are excellent ways of creating a running afterburn effect.

Especially for runners, HIIT-style exercise performed on a regular basis (1-3 x per week, depending on your fitness level) makes you faster and stronger. Of course, a steady run also burns calories, but the running afterburn effect isn’t as significant as it would be after a HIIT or interval training, for example. And it must be mentioned that consuming the proper fuel before you train (i.e. a protein shake with a banana) will help you last longer and give it your all during intense exercise.

What about strength training?

As a running coach, I always recommend a well-balanced combination of both running and strength training for best results. A lot of runners I work with generally like to perform bodyweight exercises like push-ups, dips, lunges, sit-ups, donkey kicks and step-ups because they can easily be done at home after the run.

You can definitely perform HIIT and interval training with bodyweight exercises like the ones mentioned and gain the benefits of the afterburn effect as well. However, the increase in muscle tissue and decrease in fat tissue that accompanies regular strength training deserves more attention. Increasing your muscle mass (no ladies, that doesn’t mean getting super big!) is going to boost your metabolism and increase your BMR (the number of calories your body burns at rest).

Running afterburn effect: How significant is it??

Now back to the main question: Is the running afterburn effect a noteworthy phenomenon? Yes. But the reality is that the calories burned during exercise are the most important factor in fat loss and are always higher than the calories burned after your workout. The exact number of calories burned will, of course, vary from person to person, but research from the American Council on Exercise (ACE) notes that EPOC can increase calorie burn by 6-15%.


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In the realm of fitness buzzwords and jargon, the term “afterburn effect” has been tossed around so much, it’s hard to know what it really means. Essentially, the premise of afterburn is that after specific workouts that push your body to the max your body responds by burning calories even after the workout is over. Some people say that your body can continue to burn calories up to 24 hours after an especially hard workout. Sounds like a pretty sweet deal, right?

With more and more research coming out about the afterburn effect, we can really get a clear idea of how many calories we actually burn post-workout and what this means for our health. So is afterburn just a trendy myth hocked to get you to go to grueling workout classes? Or is it actually a useful and scientifically proven method to help you burn more calories outside the gym? Read more to find out the truth behind afterburn.

What Is The Theory of The Afterburn Effect?

Just like creatin goes with bodybuilding and yoga comes with stretchy pants, the afterburn effect goes with HIIT style workouts (AKA high-intensity interval training). HIIT workouts are essentially small reps of exercises performed at your maximum capacity for short periods of time. So, for example, instead of going for a 40-minute jog a HIIT style workout would be a 15-minute sprint.

Because high-intensity training places greater demands on your body, it has to work harder to recover – to metabolize lactic acid, bring your core body temperature down, slow down your breathing, replenish muscle glycogen stores, etc. These all burn calories! Whereas when you exercise at a moderate intensity your body recovers relatively quickly. So, what afterburn or it’s more scientific name Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption (EPOC) refers to is the fact that you continue to use oxygen and burn calories at a higher rate after you finish a high-intensity workout.

Essentially, afterburn is a state in which your body is trying to actively recover from very intense exercise such as HIIT workouts and through that recovery process, you burn extra calories. Ta-da! You basically have a degree in kinesiology now.

Certain types of HIIT workouts, like Tabata, where 20 seconds of all-out effort is followed by 10 seconds of rest, are one way to trigger the afterburn. Other HIIT routines, such as density set training or the 5×5 workout can also set your body into EPOC. The key with any of these programs is that you need to be working hard. We’re talking exercise performed at 70 to 85 percent of an individual’s max heart rate. And you don’t need to stick to traditional cardio in order to achieve an EPOC effect. Several studies have shown that weight training with various types of equipment can also elicit elevated EPOC.

How Many Calories Does The Afterburn Effect Really Use?

So, is the afterburn effect real? Yes, research can say with a fair amount of certainty that the afterburn effect is, in fact, a real thing your body does under the right circumstance. In one study, participants who cycled vigorously for 45 minutes burned roughly 190 calories more after exercise than on days when they didn’t work out at all. Another study conducted with those who had metabolic syndrome saw that EPOC also had significant positive effects in regulating their body’s consumption of calories. Meaning this type of training could be especially useful in combating certain health issues, like obesity and diabetes.

So if afterburn helps burn extra calories, can it also help you lose fat faster? Well, that’s where things become a little less definitive. This is because the ability of HIIT to “put you in fat-burning mode, rev up your metabolism and torch calories for 24 hours after exercise” is not as great as was once believed.

In one study on the subject, researchers from Colorado State University looked at the number of calories burned both during and after a bout of HIIT. The study’s subjects performed a HIIT workout that involved pedaling as fast as possible on a stationary bike for 30 seconds. The average increase in energy expenditure for the HIIT exercise was 225 calories. And that’s not just the calories burned after the workout. It’s the calories burned both during and after exercise.

In short, HIIT had no impact on resting metabolism when it was measured 23 hours after exercise. All of the calories burned came during and immediately (2-3 hours) after the workout itself. So, it might be a safer bet to assume that your body is not actively burning a higher amount of calories after a HIIT workout. Also, the extra calories that you may burn are in a more conservative margin than a lot of afterburn believers think.

How Long Does The Afterburn Effect Last Post Workout?

Some research shows that the afterburn effect after a HIIT workout lasts for up to 24 hours. However, studies done using a metabolic chamber (a more accurate way of estimating post-exercise calorie expenditure) show that the afterburn effect lasts for just 2-3 hours.

In fact, most of the calories burned after exercise, even HIIT exercise, seem to come in the first hour. For instance, researchers from Arizona State University compared three different workouts performed on an exercise bike. Here’s what each workout looked like:

  1. HIIT (four 4-minute intervals at 95% peak heart rate, separated by 3 minutes of active recovery)
  2. Sprint interval training (six 30-second sprints separated by 4 minutes of active recovery)
  3. Steady-state cardio (30 minutes at 80% peak heart rate)

They found that energy expenditure in the three hours period after exercise was greater with sprint interval training (110 calories) compared to steady-state cardio (64 calories) and HIIT (83 calories).

However, most (around 70%) of those calories were burned in the first hour after exercise. By the third hour, the difference in post-exercise energy expenditure between the different workouts was less than five calories.

So, interval training did have a bigger afterburn effect than steady-state cardio. The workouts were also 5-7 minutes shorter. However, when you add up the total number of calories burned both during and after exercise, it was the steady-state workouts that delivered the best results.

Final Word On Afterburn

While the afterburn effect has been shown to actually exist, and it is most clearly triggered after a HIIT workout, the effects of afterburn don’t last as long as a lot of people wish they would. While a HIIT workout is a really time-efficient way to squeeze in a workout if you are looking to torch some extra calories, longer and moderate forms cardio are one of the best ways to do it.

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Bonus Calories or Fitness Myth? The Truth About Afterburn

What is afterburn?
The afterburn effect has been intensely debated in the fitness and medical communities for over a century, with countless studies attempting to measure and explain the phenomenon. Afterburn, or excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC), refers to the period of increased oxygen uptake following exercise. It may last for hours or even longer than a day, depending on the type of exercise performed. During that time, one’s metabolism is believed to speed up, causing additional calories to burn. But some lingering questions have long teased scientists: exactly how many calories are we talking about? And can those bonus points contribute to weight loss?

Expert opinions vary since study results have conflicted due to factors like the weight, gender and training levels of participants. However, most reliable studies agree on one key point: there’s a relationship between exercise intensity and the amount of afterburn that people tend to experience. After a certain intensity level is reached, that relationship turns into a direct correlation, meaning the harder you work, the more you burn.

How do you know if you’ve reached the right level of intensity?
Research suggests that the target intensity level is around 50-70% of a person’s VO2max, or the maximum amount of oxygen used by an athlete while performing an activity. At around 70% VO2max, it’s generally too difficult to both breathe and carry on a conversation at the same time. That level of exertion is supported by the work of researchers from Appalachian State University and UNC Chapel Hill. Their methods, which account for many of the weaknesses of prior studies, also helped to shed new light on the age-old question of calorie burning potential.

Their study took place in a controlled environment called a metabolic chamber, or a room that automatically monitors the calories burned by those inside. Young male participants were asked to spend two 24-hour days in the chamber. On the first day, they performed the bare minimum of activities of daily living to measure their calorie expenditure at baseline. On the second day, they repeated their routine, but added a 45-minute session on a stationary bike. They cycled at about 70% VO2max and initially burned around 519 calories. Then, remarkably, over the next 14 hours, they continued to burn an additional 190 calories!

Planning your next workout
Numerous additional studies emphasize the importance of intensity level when aiming to increase afterburn. For example, other research demonstrates that it has a greater impact on calorie usage than the duration of a workout. In fact, one study attributed five times more EPOC to intensity level than both workout duration and total work performed. This is consistent with evidence showing longer afterburn periods following interval training. These rules apply to resistance training (i.e. dumbbells, weight machines, rock climbing) as well — the higher the difficulty level, the greater the amount of afterburn.

So when it comes to planning your next cardio session, consider alternating between intense sprints and short bursts of moderate-intensity running, rather than jogging at a consistent pace over a longer period of time.

5 Workouts That Give You the Afterburn Effect

When you feel like you’re really pushing during a tough workout session, burning through energy and melting calories, give yourself an extra pat on the back. Why? Because your hard work doesn’t stop when you do.

During intense exercise, your metabolic rate increases. When you stop, it doesn’t go back to “resting” immediately, but remains elevated for a short time. This causes an increase in calorie burn, even after you’ve stretched, showered, and eaten your post-workout snack.

The additional energy expenditure that occurs after your workout is known as the afterburn effect.

Try one of the five workouts below to trigger the afterburn effect.

What’s the afterburn effect?

The afterburn effect’s scientific name is excess post-exercise oxygen consumption, or EPOC. EPOC, also known as oxygen debt, is the amount of oxygen required to return the body to its resting state.

This resting state includes:

  • restoring oxygen levels
  • removing lactic acid
  • repairing muscle and restoring levels of ATP (a molecule that provides the body with energy for processes like exercise)

Studies indicate that EPOC is highest right after a workout, but continues for a longer period of time. One study in particular demonstrated that elevated levels could persist for up to 38 hours.

Research has shown that the more intense your workout, the more expenditure it will take to return your body to its resting state. This means greater EPOC. While the duration of your workout session will also increase EPOC if the intensity level is high enough, duration alone does not have a significant impact on EPOC.

The key to inducing significant EPOC is to partake in high-intensity interval training, or HIIT. These short rounds of intense work are broken up with equally short recovery periods. Recovery is used to replenish the ATP that your body depleted during the active interval.

HIIT sessions stimulate a higher EPOC because you consume more oxygen during them. This creates a larger deficit to replace post-workout.

Workouts that give you the afterburn effect

1. Cycling

Cycling combines lower body resistance training with cardiovascular endurance work.

Try this interval routine to help induce the afterburn effect.

Minutes 0-10: Warm up on a flat road, slowly increasing pace.

10-12: Increase resistance and stand, riding at 75 percent effort.

12-14: Lower resistance and sit, riding at 60 percent effort.

14-18: In a seated position, sprint all out for 30 seconds on, 30 seconds off.

18-19: Recover on a flat road.

20-23: Increase then maintain resistance, alternating between standing for 30 seconds and sitting for 30 seconds, riding at 75 percent effort.

23-25: Lower resistance and sprint all out, 30 seconds on, 30 seconds off in a seated position.

25-30: Cool down.

2. Sprint intervals

Whether you love running or hate it, sprint intervals have been shown to help burn body fat at an increased rate. They also increase muscular strength and cardiovascular endurance. A sprint workout is a productive way to trigger EPOC.

Try this heart-pumping routine for a quick and effective workout.

  1. Start with a 5-minute jogging warmup.
  2. Sprint all out for 30 seconds.
  3. Recover by jogging slowly or walking for 60-90 seconds.
  4. Repeat steps 1-3 for 20 minutes.

3. Plyometrics

Plyometrics are dynamic jumping moves that increase your power. You’ll exert a lot of effort during short intervals by explosively contracting and stretching your muscles. Plyometrics aren’t for beginners, or for anyone with an injury. Their high-impact nature could cause injury, or make one worse.

Try this routine, repeating 3 times.

  1. 20 box jumps
  2. 20 burpees
  3. 20 jump squats
  4. 30 mountain climbers
  5. 20 frog jumps
  6. 30 plank jacks
  7. 30 lateral skater jumps

4. Strength Circuit Training

Using compound movements, and/or super setting exercises, is shown to result in a larger EPOC effect. Specifically, heavy training loads and shorter recovery intervals between exercises places greater demand on your body to replace energy during exercise.

Try this workout: Pick a challenging weight and complete each exercise back-to-back with no rest. Rest 2 minutes after the circuit. Repeat the circuit 3 times.

  1. 15 squats
  2. 15 dumbbell shoulder presses
  3. 15 deadlifts
  4. 15 dumbbell rows
  5. 20 reverse crunches
  6. 15 pushups
  7. 20 bicycle crunches

5. Swimming

Swimming is an incredibly effective, low-impact, total body workout. It builds endurance, strength, and coordination. It can easily create an effective HIIT routine.

Try this workout for larger EPOC.

  1. 5-minute warmup
  2. 50-meter freestyle sprint
  3. 25-meter recovery
  4. 50-meter backstroke sprint
  5. 25-meter recovery
  6. 50-meter breaststroke sprint
  7. 25-meter recovery
  8. 50-meter freestyle sprint
  9. 25-meter recovery
  10. 5-minute cool down

The takeaway

A variety of HIIT workouts trigger a significant afterburn effect. Cap HIIT sessions at 30 minutes per session. Don’t complete more than three sessions per week to allow your body adequate recovery time.

Whether you have never done a High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) routine before and you want more from your workouts, or you are a pro at interval training and are looking for a new challenge, you have found your next workout.
This HIIT routine starts with a quick 5 minute warm up then dives into a Tabata style interval routine that uses only two exercises to burn a massive amount of calories; then we follow that up with a short 5 minute cool down and stretch.
If this sounds too simple then you have never done a HIIT training routine before. This workout will get you so worn out that you wont be able to tell your elbow from your ankle.
Once you are done with this brutal workout your first thought may be to never do a HIIT workout again but once you realize that you just burned more calories in around 20 minutes than most people burn in 60 minutes of cardio you will be coming back for more.
Though High Intensity Interval Training comes in many different styles, ranging in work to rest ratios from 1:2, 1:3, 2:1 or 1:1 and time per cycle ranging from minutes to seconds, in this routine you will utilizes a style known as Tabata that has a 2:1 ratio of 20 seconds of work followed by 10 seconds of rest.
These cycles are repeated for one minute per exercise, alternating back and forth for a total of 4 minutes before you get a long, active rest break of 2 minutes. Then you repeat the full 4 minute cycle over again before moving on to your cool down.
Tabata is a common interval training style and is one of our favorites for burning a lot of calories in a short period of time, without completely exhausting your body.
To get an even higher calorie burn out of this workout we selected two exercises that target the biggest muscles in your body, those of your legs.
The Squat Jumps primarily focus on the large leg muscles in the thigh, butt, and lower leg, but they also target the muscles in the core for stability while jumping. Those large leg muscles, however, are the primary heavy hitter when it comes to calorie burn.
The Burpee is a sick exercise that takes you from a plank or push up to a standing position with an optional jump. This exercise uses the large leg and butt muscles as well as the chest and core, just to name a few. Utilizing all of the muscles causes this motion to be a monster of a calorie burner.
Because these routines are so intense you will want to start slow and only use them once to twice a week. After your body starts to build up more aerobic and anaerobic endurance, start to add one more HIIT routine per week until you get to four to five max per week.
With the increased intensity comes increased wear and tear on your muscles, tendons, and ligaments, so make sure you take time to fully recover every week. We suggest taking at least one day per week completely off and possibly even two; however, you can do very low intensity and light impact training on those days if you are not sore.
In the full twenty minutes of this routine, a person could burn between 9-13 calories a minutes. During the actual HIIT part of the workout, a person likely burns more along the lines of 12-16 calories a minute.
Aside from the calories burned while you are actually working out, it’s important to remember one of the biggest benefits of a high intensity interval workout like this one; long after you are finished working out, your caloric burn remains higher as your metabolism tries to restore your body to its normal physical and chemical resting state after the “disturbance” that you cause in your system’s preferred balance.

Calculate how many calories you have burned (roughly) during your bodyweight workout. Include rest time.

Your Weight:

Training Time in Minutes:


Note: this calculator will help you get a rough estimate but how many calories you burn will also depend on your age and muscle mass. The younger you are, the more you’ll burn and the more muscle mass you carry, and with bodyweight training you’ll very quickly raise the number naturally, the more calories your body requires for living the more you burn even when you are not exercising.

HIIT workouts will also have a different effect, they will not just burn extra calories during the workout itself, they will get your body working even after you have completed your session burning extra, on average twice as much as you would normally just going about your business. The reason for that lies in the microtears and structural changes that your muscles undergo every time you train hard. After the workout is over your muscles continue to remake themselves, vibrating at microcellular level. This raises your metabolic rate well above your normal resting state. This also helps explain why a very fit person doing the same workout as a not so fit person will actually burn fewer calories through it (which is why fit people constantly have to raise the bar).

This calculator will help you log something in in case you are tracking yours and you need to have a number in mind.

Calories burned during hiit

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