This position is sign that EPOC is taking effect.
(In part 5 on this continuing series how mental toughness training can be used to improved your aesthetics, I went over how heavy training is the most effective method to packing on slabs of muscle. Lifting big loads stimulate the anabolic hormones in your system, while training with puny ounces does nothing to get your body to generate these hormones. Also, strength training can have a cardio effect on your body to help burn the the spare tire off you belly. The key to shedding fat in your body is raising your resting metabolic rate. Today, I will get into the science behind this concept.)
I ended the last article on this series with the following profound statement – To lose weight, you don’t want to burn fat during a workout, but after a workout is done.
I probably confused a lot of you with this statement as I didn’t follow through on it. But, as counterproductive as this sentence is, it is true. Most people thinking burning fat during a training session is the most effective way to lose excess fat in their body. It is not. What you want to do instead is to burn carbs during a WOD and to burn fat after you are done with your training.
I know most of you are skeptical in my proclaim that burning fat while working out isn’t the best solution to lose fat in your body. It just don’t make sense and doesn’t sounds intuitively correct. Let me get into the science behind this reasoning. Once I can spell it out to you in simply layman’s terms, you’ll understand this difficult concept that the masses don’t get or perhaps, never been explained to them. As I said in previous posts, it is important that you understand the science behind what you are dong. If you do, you are more like to follow through on them.
Those days of blind assumption are finally over. Now let’s go to science class.
The Power of EPOC
Let me backtrack for a minute and simplify the scientific approach on the best way to burn fat. The key to losing the fat in your body is to raise your resting metabolic rate. Your resting metabolism rate is how much energy your burn while you are resting. So if you want to use up more calories in your body, you must elevate your metabolism rate. What then will raise your metabolic rate?
The best way to elevate your metabolism is by doing high intensity workouts. When you do high intensity training, you burn stored carbs (glycogen or sugar) for fuel and not fat, like how you do during low intensity (think slow steady cardio work). I’ll be the first to admit that it sounds illogical but if your goal is to lose fat, you never want to burn fat for a source of energy. You want to target the stored carbs (glycogen or sugar) in your body instead. The best way to use up your stored carbs is by doing high intensity movements.
For example, let’s look at how a high intensity, full-body movement like sprints and how running at full speed effects your metabolism. Quick sprints are anaerobic movements which means you can do them “without oxygen” and is fueled by the stored carbs in your body. Long distance running, on the other hand, is an aerobic activity which you use “with oxygen” and is expended with the fat in your system. I want to be clear with this point – with high intensity training you burn stored carbs while with low intensity training you burn fat. It is crucial that you understand the difference between the two energy sources.
Now when you walk up your sprint starting position, your body is burning fat. Again, fat is the dominating source of fuel for all low intensity daily activities like walking, sleeping, etc. However, when you go all-out with your sprint, your body must now shift it source of energy. Instead of burning fat, your body will now burn stored carbs because of the high intensity and full-body movement of the sprinting. If you repeat the sprints often, you will use up all the stored carbs you have in your system because the body can only store a limited amount of glycogen. In terms of trying to burn fat, this is great thing (I will get to this later). As a result of the hard running and intense muscle contraction, your body goes through a physiologically change and more importantly, the hard work will elevate your resting metabolism rate.
When your metabolism rises, your heart rate begins to soar. It begins pounding harder than normal. You are struggling for air as you try to catch your breath. This excessive huffing and puffing will cause you to use up much of the oxygen in your lungs. Your body will now need more oxygen to calm your breathing down and to reach back to homeostasis levels.
Having a elevated metabolism may sound a bit unpleasant, but this is where the magic happens. This gasping for more air is how you will put your body in a fat burning mode. The scientific term for the extra oxygen that your body needs to restore itself is called EPOC or excess post-workout oxygen consumption.
This recovery period to get back the extra amounts of oxygen that you lost during the intense movement and to lower your metabolism back to normal levels is not an easy process. In fact, it requires your body to do a lot of work. We all know what happens when your body has to go to work – it burns tons and tons of calories. In simplest terms, your body must expend a lot of calories from the high metabolism rate that you are currently in to return back to its normal rate.This process doesn’t happen immediately either.
Since you used up the stored carbs in your system from the intensity of the sprinting, your body will now have to look for a new energy source for fuel. That’s right, your fat. Lots of fat like the stored jiggly stuff that you are having a hard time getting rid of. In fact, your body can burn the fat reserves in your body at an accelerated rate for up to 48 hours without working out. That;s how long it can takes for an elevated metabolism to drop back to its normal state again. This is the EPOC taking effect while it aggressively slashes away at your tummy lard while you are doing a low level activity like watching TV.
I know this sounds too good to be true, but the wonderful benefits of EPOC is all based on scientific research and not bro-science. Again, the key is not to burn fat during a WOD, but after the workout is done when EPOC is going wild and cutting away at the massive amounts of fat in your body. The science overwhelming suggest that getting EPOC to work in your favor by doing full-body, high intensity workout is the most effective way to lose that extra blubber that’s hanging from your arms. By doing so, you essentially put your body in a powerful fat burning furnace for up to two days and you don’t have to a damn thing but sit on your lazy ass while EPOC does it’s fat burning magic.
Of course, I don’t recommend doing nothing for two days, but that’s just how effective this EPOC phenomenal is.
(To be continued)
Today’s strength day WOD –
3 sets of 6 reps
2. Push press
3. Front squats
4. Dumbbell incline press
5. Hip thrusts – Here’s a great tutorial on how to do these. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hCm-70-9_XE)
Continue today’s theme of how intensity will generate the EPOC effect. Noticed how I slightly change the rep scheme today. Instead of 5 sets of 5, I changed it to 3 sets of 6 reps. In other words, go a little lighter today, but do more volume or total reps. Although, its only one extra rep, the additional rep will have a profound effect on your cardio system.
You can do two simple things today to increase the intensity of today’s WOD. First of all, aim for speed and explosiveness with each movement. That doesn’t mean you should sacrifice good form for each exercise. Keep the integrity going for each movement, but try to lift the load as fast as you can with the best form and full range of motion. If you catch yourself with improper mechanics, slow down and readjust. Also, remember that it’s the intent of how fast you are moving the load that is important and not the literal speed of the movement. By working explosively, you will recruit more muscles and add that extra twist of intensity that you will be seeking out for today.
The second thing you can do today to ramp up the intensity of the WOD is to shorten your recovery period. I usually recommend you take as much time as possible between sets on strength days so you completely recover. But, today’s strength WOD is a combination of both strength and cardio work. Try to rest no more than 90 seconds between sets. If you are really feeling like an animal today, aim for 60 seconds.
By increasing the speed of the movement while decreasing your rest, you will bring a level of intensity to this WOD that will reassure you of getting a strong hormonal response of testosterone and HGH in your system. Also, by working faster with a more vigorous energy, you will raise your metabolism and get the powerful EPOC effect where you will put your body in a fat burning mode for 48 hours.
One final note – just because you are doing less weight with today’s WOD, don’t underestimate it. Today’s strength-cardio WOD is excellent for mental toughness development as it will back you in the corner with thoughts of quitting. You’ll probably hate the extra huffing and puffing you have to do while having to lift something fucken heavy, but that’s a good thing because finishing this WOD will strengthen your perseverance skills. Just be prepared and forewarned.
More strength-cardio work is on its way.
Get ready to get muscular and tough.
Scaled back versions of this WOD –
1. Doing on two sets with 4 reps.
2. Rest as long as needed between sets.
Acceptable substitutes –
1. You can use dumbbells or a barbell for the push press and the bench press. Also, you can either do incline or flat bench bench presses.