“The Afterburn Effect” – Alwyn Cosgrove

zoe smith

I just came across this blog post on one of the more popular Fitness blogs around the world by Alwyn Cosgrove, which was written years ago. However, it is quite apt considering my endless gripe with people (mostly girls) at the gym who jog (slowly) on a treadmill for 45 minutes followed by a few sit-ups, barely breaking into a sweat and that’s their workout. I literally cannot stand it and have to bite my lip so hard not to say anything else Amanda would hit me!!

For those people, please please please read this!!

“Over the past few years, research has been published showing that weight training burns more calories than we originally thought.
Why were we wrong?

Because we were using a measurement of aerobic work to determine how many calories were burned. However, anaerobic work is a different animal.

But what about EPOC?

EPOC or “excess post-exercise oxygen consumption” is defined scientifically as the “recovery of metabolic rate back to pre-exercise levels” and it’s generally used to describe the “afterburn” effect.

A very simple way of thinking about EPOC is that when you do certain types of exercise you work at a level beyond what your body is capable of handling (i.e. your body can’t keep up); it then uses the next 12, 24, or even 36 hours to ‘catch up’ metabolically. ‘Catch up’ = burning calories.

But once again, we’re using a measurement of aerobic work (oxygen consumption) to determine the post-workout caloric burn from anaerobic work.

But if we were wrong about the calories during the workout when using this measure, then this is no more accurate – we’d be wrong about the calories AFTER the workout too, as we’re using the same method of measuring caloric burn.

So what are the exact numbers for a resistance training based fat loss program? I have no idea. But my best estimates are that they are about 75% higher than we thought during the workout and probably around 50% higher post workout.

In other words, a 30 minute, 300-calorie workout with a 100 calorie “afterburn” (calculated the old way) may be more likely to be a 525 calorie workout and 150 cals from afterburn when calculated the new way — or 675 calories total.

The last question is this:

What if we used a resistance training program designed to burn body fat (as opposed to that being a side effect of a standard weight training program) and monitored and tweaked it over the last fifteen years with hundreds of clients, so that it was even more effective? (i.e. exactly what we’ve done at Results Fitness)….”

(Alwyn Cosgrove, 2006)

The annoying thing for me is that all these people I see training this way (many of my friends included) are all after one thing, weight and fat loss, yet if anything they’re hindering their own chances by excluding firstly any ‘real’ testing exercise such as HIIT, or not including any sort of weight training. The usual excuse for girls being ‘I don’t want to get bigger!!’ Just for the record, unless you take steroids or testosterone, you’re not going to end up looking like Arnold Schwarzenegger by doing weights, especially if you go the popular route that Amanda regularly takes of low weight, high reps.

If this blog screams out to you then please let it open your eyes and give you confidence to include more weight training into your program. You will notice a difference very quickly!


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