Benching, squatting, curling, and other weight lifting moves are known to get the muscles burning, but what if those same moves could keep torching calories beyond the gym as well? Studies have shown intense cardiovascular work (like biking and running) can create a post-workout “afterburn” effect, accounting for up to 200 additional calories burned and an elevated metabolism lasting up to 14 hours after exerciseA 45-Minute Vigorous Exercise Bout Increases Metabolic Rate for 14 Hours. Knab, A.M., Shanely, R.A., Corbin, K., et al. Human Performance Laboratory, Kannapolis, NC. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 2011 Feb 8 [Epub ahead of print].. Awesome for those zipping along on the treadmill, sure. But can hitting the weights prompt a similar effect even after the dumbbells are racked?
Burn Notice — Why It Matters
The concept of burning calories after intense exercise is known as “excess post-exercise oxygen consumption” (or EPOC for short). At the onset of vigorous cardiovascular exercise (read: killing it), the body accumulates an “oxygen debt,” forcing it to work overtime — even after leaving the gym — to repay that debt. Working overtime ramps up metabolism as the body tries to get back to an even playing ground. That means more calories burned while slugging a post-workout shake or kicking up those feet on the couch (yeaahhh).
Hesitant to go heavy? Consider this: When comparing heavy lifting to lightening the load, research suggests that going the heavy route may just pay off. In fact, two sets of eight reps at 85 percent could mean increased metabolism levels for up to two hours post-workout, significantly larger calorie burns than lighter-lifting comradesEffects of resistance exercise bouts of different intensities but equal work on EPOC. Thornton MK, Potteiger JA. School of Nursing, Georgia Southern University, Statesboro, GA. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 2002 Apr;34(4):715-22..
Keep in mind that fitness level may play a role as well. Trained subjects that have been participating in a lifting routine for at least four to six months will recover from workouts faster (thus burn less post-workout) than gym newbiesExcess postexercise oxygen consumption and recovery rate in trained and untrained subjects. Short KR, Sedlock DA. Exercise Physiology Laboratory, Department of Health, Kinesiology, and Leisure Studies, Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana. Journal of Applied Physiology, 1997 Jul;83(1):153-9. . (When trying something new, be sure to put safety first of course, and enlist a spotter, too.)