The term EPOC stands for Excess Post-exercise Oxygen consumption. Essentially this refers to the extra energy that is burnt after a training session.
EPOC sounds impressive and is thrown around commonly by HIIT advocates. HIIT, by the way, stands for High Intensity Interval Training. I am a huge fan of HIIT for conditioning because it encourages massive elevation in heart rate, blood flow and beneficial hormones in a very short period of time.
However, I can’t stand it when so called experts exaggerate and/or misrepresent the current scientific evidence of EPOC on fat loss. Whilst it’s true that HIIT training can create a >200% increase in EPOC than moderate aerobic exercise, in terms of caloric expenditure, you’re still only talking about less than 50kcal difference.
Congratulations…………… you just burnt an extra 50kcal (maybe!).
That is not much in the terms of energy expenditure over the day.
Take home point – just because you threw in some bike sprints, don’t go and have that café latte afterwards if it’s not in your fitness plan and goals.
So should you be doing High Intensity Interval Training or moderate aerobic exercise at all? The answer of course is – IT DEPENDS! If you’re at a point where you are performing those types of sessions just so you can drink that latte, my advice – it’s time to get real.
If you’re goal is to become leaner, concentrate your efforts on maintaining or building muscles using progressive resistance training and appropriate nutrition (ladies – this includes you too!). The benefit of the HIIT training is really that you can increase your conditioning in a shorter period of time – which in turn should help you perform better within your training. Further evidence on HIIT shows that it provides a greater improvement in aerobic and cardiac capacity then moderate endurance training too.
Lastly, in my experience there are two other benefits of HIIT that I have experienced with clients that I would like to share
1. A real sense of achievement. HIIT is hard and doing it properly requires an enormous amount of effort. Think of this as mindset fuel!
2. It requires you to move fast and use your lungs – creating a respiratory and circulatory demand that develops overall health
Coach Ben ‘HIITman’ Cant