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The EPOC Effect…”The What?”

By Eric Gelder · July 21, 2011 · Category: Motivation Tags: , , , , .

A little FYI…all exercise isn’t created equal. Of course, the more you exercise, the more calories you burn and the leaner you’ll be, right?


Yes, total exercise duration plays a big role in managing weight, but I imagine you’re not reading this to just “manage” your weight. At least I don’t think you are. You have to remember that it’s not necessarily the calories that you burn “during” exercise that matters, but the impact that bout of exercise has on your metabolism for the rest of the day. Depending on the type of exercise you perform…your metabolism can stay elevated for up to 36 hours post exercise.

Now, who in their right mind would want one exercise session to keep their metabolism “jacked” for up to TWO full days? I’m guessing we all would, right!

Let me explain something real quick.

Moderate exercise has it’s place and it’s a good way to keep your heart healthy and for some, low impact activity is a good way to get exercise in each day. BUT, what I want you to understand is that it’s not the BEST way to drop ugly body fat like it’s a bad habit! If you want to “drop it like it’s hot” (Snoop D-O Double G reference), then hear me out.

Steady state exercise or moderate intensity exercise is highly adaptive. What that basically means is that your body will adapt very quickly to steady state activities, i.e. walking or other slow, longer duration activities. That’s a good thing if you’re a competitive athlete and your goal is to become very efficient at a specific activity or you just want to remain “active.”

BUT, for the rest of us looking to lose that jiggly stuff, becoming efficient at exercise is MALO.

Let me explain…

What we’re after is something called EPOC. If you’ve been attending camp for any length of time, you’ve heard me talk about it before. For those of you that are new, let me give you a sneak peak into how EPOC affects your fat loss results. You see, moderate activities tend to utilize energy ONLY when you’re performing them. Once you’re done, energy expenditure stops for the most part.

Actually, most published research shows an elevated metabolic rate from moderate (steady state) exercise can last for up to 4 hours post exercise. So, four hours max impact on caloric expenditure. Now, let’s compare that to a high intensity, interval approach similar to the workouts we perform at camp (Resistance Based Interval Training Circuits).

Research points to an elevated metabolic rate lasting up to 36+ HOURS post exercise when the exercise is performed with the heart rate elevated in the 80-90% range for short periods of time. Hmmm…4 hours of additional caloric expenditure or 36+ hours worth? I’m thinking you’d like to have your metabolism elevated for 36 hours over the 4 hours.

Am I right?

I’m pretty sure that would be an “Oh yeah baby!”

Well, the reason we conduct camp the way we do is because of this EPOC (Excess Post-exercise Oxygen Consumption) affect. Think of EPOC as your body consuming energy (calories) at an exaggerated rate even though you’re not exercising. The longer, more frequent you can affect EPOC, the faster you burn calories and the faster that wiggly-jiggly gets melted off your thighs. Make sense?

Let’s take the info I just gave you and give you an example as to why this process works….

Moderate Exercise (Steady State)

Duration: 1 hour

Calories (during exercise): 300

Calories (EPOC): 40…based on an additional 10 calories burned per hour for up to a maximum 4 hours post exercise.

Calories (Weekly): 2380…7 days x 340 calories.

Resistance Based Interval Training

Duration: 45 minutes

Calories (during exercise): 300

Calories (EPOC): 240…based on an additional 10 calories burned per hour for 24 hours post exercise.

Calories (Weekly): 3780…7 days x 540 calories.

So, in the example above, we’re assuming that exercise is performed each day of the week in both groups. Published research has shown us that EPOC is really only elevated for up to a maximum 4 hours post moderate activity. That’s compared to research that’s shown EPOC can be elevated for up to 36+ hours post High Intensity Interval Based activity.

(Side Note: To keep things simple, I used 10 calories per hour, when in actuality, the caloric vales can be quite different. The high intensity interval group would have a greater hourly caloric “burn” than that of the moderate group, but I want to illustrate the point without getting too complicated.)

As you can see, there’s a difference of 1400 weekly calories in favor of the High Intensity group even though total exercise time is almost 2 hours less over the same 7 days. Again, Hmmmmm…less time = better fat loss? Hopefully now you can see the benefits of bumping up your exertion levels when exercising. The numbers I used above are only used for illustration purposes, but I actually underestimated the values for the High Intensity group.

My point in all of this is this…moderate exercise (steady state) is nowhere near as effective for fat loss as High Intensity Resistance Based Interval Training. epoc-steady-state


If you ever had a question as to why we do what we do at camp – Hopefully this has helped provide the answer in a fairly descriptive, yet easy to understand explanation.

Your TAKE HOME point:

Adopt a “Sprinter” mentality instead of a “Marathoner” mentality.  Incorporate more “HIGH” exertion activities into your exercise program to reap the benefits of a faster metabolism….a.k.a. more FAT LOSS!

Leave a comment about the results you’ve had using Intervals.

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