Ready for Part 2?

Previously, I introduced the term EPOC on a blog post here: EPOC: Hot Ticket Item In You Fat Loss Toolkit?.

Quick snapshot? EPOC stands for “excess post-exercise oxygen consumption”. This is the sustained oxygen consumption that takes place after exercise.

I promised to get back to you and take a closer look at details of some of the research on EPOC.  That way you can strategize to take advantage of this phenomenon in your own training.

International Journal of Obesity:  A Report of Two Studies

Two studies were conducted to assess the potential of an increase in exercise intensity to alter energy expenditure,  lipid metabolism (fatty acids, triglycerides, etc.) , and body fatness under conditions mimicking real life.

Specifically, the experimental protocol was designed to determine how high-intensity exercise might effect post-exercise and post-prandial (post meal) energy and lipid metabolism.   To simplify, the 352 subjects were measured for post-exercise energy expenditure via measures of oxygen consumption.

[Reference: M Yoshioka et. al. Impact of high-intensity exercise on energy expenditure, lipid oxidation and body fatness. Intl.  Journal of Obesity. (2001) V 25 N 3].

The Findings

The results of these studies point right in the direction of the value of increased exercise intensity in terms of the effect it has on:

1)  Increased energy expenditure following the exercise. This is compared to lower intensity exercise that may even have been a session that utilized more energy DURING it’s duration!  We’re talking influences on metabolic rate here.

In other words, comparing a longer, lower intensity session that burned more calories during execution than a shorter, more intense workout, the short intense workout had a greater energy demand over the course of the hours following the exercise sessions.

This means a negative energy balance, a critical consideration when seeking to reduce bodyfat stores.

2)  Leaner body composition is highly correlated with an exercise schedule that includes regular highintensity workouts.

This means that those who have some high intensity sessions in their schedule tend to be leaner, with less subcutaneous fat as well.

… also consistent with results from our most recent clinical trial that demonstrated that reduced-obese individuals who adhered to a rather high-intensity prescription were able to maintain their body weight and even accentuate fat loss.…results from our group which demonstrated that a 15-week high-intensity intermittent training protocol induced a significantly greater weight loss than a 20-week moderate intensity continuous exercise program of almost twice the energy cost.

Furthermore, the increase oxygen consumption observed after the high-intensity exercise session was also significantly greater than that promoted by the low-intensity exercise session.

Exercise Intensity and Adiposity

As you can see, this study revealed two important pieces of information that you can use when designing your own training program.

With a direct correlation between subjects who regularly took part in intense physical activities and a display of lower fat percentage and subcutaneous adiposity than subjects who never perform such activities, it follows that including bouts of intensity into your own exercise schedule might likewise prove beneficial.

What does “intensity” mean?  In the test subjects, intensity was noted as 77% of VO2 max for the high intensity group, and 38% VO2 Max for the low intensity group.  The high intensity group worked out for shorter sessions than the low intensity group, and the low intensity group exended more calories during the exercise sessions.  However, and noteably, the high intensity test subjects expended more energy overall, considering the EPOC effect!

How To Take Advantage of the EPOC Effect

First, determine that your health and fitness can tolerate exercise intensity.  In other words, if you haven’t been very active for awhile or you have other counter-indicators in terms of exericise intensity, proceed with caution and check with your health care provider. There’s my disclaimer!

But once you’re in the clear, you might consider stepping up the intensity of 2 – 3 of your workout sessions during the week.  Intensity can be increased by amount of resistance and/or speed.   Interval Training, and high intensity resistance training are good examples of of how to build some intensity into your exercise rotation.

In other words, work hard, get a little winded, and enjoy the fact that you don’t need to work out as long, just smarter!

© Lani Muelrath

P.S. How are YOU working intensity into your weekly routine?  Pop into comments  and tell me about it!

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