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After Burn: Trend or Scientific Principle?

after burn

Up and trending fitness boutiques and chains are beginning to recognize a shift in the fitness industry — consumers no longer care about being a VIP, receiving special privileges and recognition for being an “elite” member of their gym. The new shift in the industry is lending itself to science and whoever has the verified eating regimen or workout routine that is going to guarantee lasting success. As conversations build around heart rate zones, metabolism and ketosis, facilities’ marketing strategies try to prove their protocols are smarter than everyone else’s.

One principle currently trending is “after burn” — the idea that if you push your client to cardio extremes they will continue burning a high number of calories over the next 24 hours. The math seems almost too good to be true — is it really possible to quantify the calories burned after a workout?

The principle behind calories burned after a workout is “excess post-exercise oxygen consumption” (EPOC) — sometimes called after-burn. The physiology is based in the science that oxygen is required for oxidation of fuel. In the most simplistic terms, during high intensity exercise, the workload being exerted can exceed the body’s ability to deliver oxygen, thereby creating an “energy debt,” which will be paid back over the following few hours. But exactly how many calories will be burned in those few hours?

Dr. Joe Orr, PhD, MS, MEM, considered this question of “post-exercise” oxygen consumption and determined there must be a correlation with an individual’s oxygen consumption capability as measured by a VO2 Max Test. A VO2 Max Test measures oxygen consumption via a mask while a person increases their work load from a gentle walk to a maximum effort.

He collected data on hundreds of subjects to determine a correlation does exist. Through his research, he was able to determine EPOC is highly dependent on the duration and intensity of a workout — specifically, a workout needs to be 30 percent of VO2 Max for at least 20 minutes.

This information is exciting! We no longer are subject to guessing how many calories are burned after clients leave the facility. But sometimes science cuts both ways — because EPOC results are underwhelming, rarely much more than 100 to 200 extra calories following an hour-long workout.

So, after burn, or EPOC, is proven to be a trend based on sound scientific principles. But is it truly a smarter way to get results with your clients? That’s up to you to decide.


Julie Kofoed, BSN, is the vice president of marketing for KORR Medical Technologies. For more information email jkofoed@korr.com or visit korr.com.

Julie Kofoed

Julie Kofoed is the VP of Marketing at KORR Medical Technologies. She has experience in the healthcare industry as a registered nurse for over 25 years and has spent the past 15 years specializing in metabolic health and wellness

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