Let's Talk EPOC
Written by Jen Jones, Sep. 16, 2018
Similar to how a car’s engine remains warm after being turned off, once a workout is over and you’re back in your daily routine, your body’s metabolism can continue to burn more calories than when at complete rest. This physiological effect is called excess post-exercise oxygen consumption, or EPOC. Also known as oxygen debt, EPOC is the amount of oxygen required to restore your body to its normal, resting level of metabolic function. It also explains how your body can continue to burn calories long after you’ve finished your workout.
So, why do we experience this effect? After a bout of exercise, our body has to restore itself to homeostasis, or its resting state. This recovery process requires energy, which is why we see an increase in calories expended post-exercise compared to pre-exercise. Research indicates that the following occurs during EPOC: replenishment of energy resources, re-oxygenation of blood and restoration of circulatory hormones, decrease in body temperature, and return to normal breathing rate and heart rate.
According to studies, high-intensity cardiorespiratory and resistance exercise seem to elicit the greatest EPOC response. A general rule of thumb is that the higher the intensity (and the more the exercise disrupts our homeostasis), the greater the magnitude and duration of EPOC following exercise. 9Round’s PULSE heart rate tracking technology makes it easy for us to gauge the intensity of our workouts and exercise in the YELLOW and RED zones have the greatest effect on EPOC.
If you’re wondering how much EPOC increases your caloric expenditure, there’s no cut-and-dry answer. Research has yielded mixed results on the overall effect of EPOC following a single bout of exercise, as many factors contribute to this elevated caloric expenditure (think: mode of exercise, intensity & duration of exercise, exerciser fitness level, gender, research methodology, etc.). In general, most research showed an additional energy expenditure of 50 – 200 calories due to EPOC following resistance training and interval training.
Even though we may not be expending a large number of calories following a single exercise session, additional calories expended due to EPOC may add up over time to contribute to our fitness goals. For example, if you did three 9Round workouts a week that had an average EPOC effect of 100 calories per workout, you’d be burning an extra 300 calories beyond what you burned during your workouts. We call that a win!