The phrases EPOC and EPOC Training get thrown around a lot these days. A lot of people have heard about EPOC but are unaware what the term really means.
Let me clarify.
When we begin to exercise, our body decides which energy system to use depending on the intensity of the exercise. At the start of exercise, depending on the difference between the demands before exercise and during exercise, there is usually a short delay in meeting necessary oxygen demands. This is why a warm-up is so crucial!
As we progress our activity, the oxygen demands are eventually met (the time is dependent on intensity).
When we stop exercising and the need for a higher supply of energy is reduced, the body continues to take in extra oxygen – more than would ordinarily be consumed at rest in the same time period.
This excess oxygen is what we refer to as EPOC or Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption. This oxygen is used for recovery processes that bring the body back to steady state. We’ll get into how this all relates to EPOC Training in a second.
We often refer to EPOC as oxygen deficit. The duration and intensity of the exercise performed determines how long this recovery period will last. Light to moderate activity causes a very mild stimulus to the body and thus requires a short and typically unnoticeable recovery period. On the other hand, high-intensity exercise can result in recovery periods that can last hours or even days.
EPOC has many responsibilities but all you need to know is that it’s used for recovery and replenishment of your energy systems.
So why is this important for you?
After exercise, the body continues to expend energy to assist with the recovery of the energy systems. Thus, the longer the recovery period, the longer your body continues to expend energy.
So how can you take advantage of EPOC and incorporate EPOC Training into your routine?
It’s very simple. By incorporating some high-intensity workouts in your weekly routine, you will not only burn more calories during the workout, but you will burn additional calories during the recovery period.
Higher intensity = larger oxygen deficit/longer recovery period = more post-workout calories burned.
You don’t want to go overboard here. Simply aim for a workout in the 85-90% of your heart rate max once a week and your goal will be accomplished. Activities such as sprinting and circuit/interval training do wonders in terms of EPOC Training. Do anything that will make your heart work hard to pump oxygen-rich blood through your body.
Hopefully this has helped you understand the concepts of EPOC and EPOC Training.