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EPOC (Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption) &
Its Benefits in Increasing Fitness and Aiding Weight Loss
EPOC, or Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption, is a measure of increased oxygen consumption after exercise. EPOC is also accompanied by an increase in metabolism, an integral part of the weight loss process. EPOC is often referred to by sportsman and fitness enthusiasts as “oxygen debt”, “oxygen deficit” or “after-burn.”
EPOC occurs after intense training in both aerobic (cardiovascular) exercise and anaerobic exercise like weight training. After training has ceased, the body continues to require levels of oxygen higher than before the workout began, this is known as Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption (EPOC). Although there is much debate as to why the body needs this excess oxygen, it is known that the body goes through a process of restoration and into a state of homeostasis. Post exercise the body will:
Begin to replace energy stores like muscle glycogen and ATP
Re-oxygenate the blood in the body
Regulate body temperature to a normal pre exercise state
Restore breathing and heart rate levels to a pre exercise state
In addition to oxygen, the body needs energy after exercise in order to return to a state of normality, thus it is commonly advised that a post workout energy drink or protein shake is consumed to replenish the body.
EPOC is highest after high intensity training, so the more you work your body the more oxygen you will need to consume for restoration. The higher EPOC levels you experience the fitter you will become over a given period of time. The need for more oxygen signifies ‘hard work’ and longer recovery. As such, the next time exercise is undertaken the better the body will perform under the same circumstances. However, fitness can be increased by raising the intensity of the workout compared with previous sessions.
EPOC is a physiological measure of training volume. The amount of EPOC achieved during the exercise is directly proportional to the training volume and recovery required. The higher the EPOC the more calories will be burnt up during the recovery phase as the body works harder to take on more oxygen. Weight loss is therefore intensified when a person partakes in exercise requiring higher EPOC levels such as cardiovascular training or weight lifting. To continue increasing metabolism and subsequent weight loss, endurance must be increased daily or weekly.
EPOC can also be used as a measure of fitness. The less EPOC required the fitter a person is becoming. Therefore EPOC is an effective training tool for those seeking to increase fitness or lose weight. EPOC provides the following benefits:
Monitor training levels on a daily basis.
Plan different training cycles over a week, month or year.
Avoid overtraining and undertraining when training for competition.
Monitor goal setting and recovery signs.
An objective tool for communication between athlete and coach.
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