And How Heart Zones is Different
It’s not a secret that the EPOC method of exercise and training is a hotly debated topic within the industry. Popularized by OrangeTheory Fitness, EPOC exercise is used as a weight loss training method and leads people to believe they can burn off extra calories for 36 hours after exercising in the Orange Zones. However, that is not entirely true and there is legitimate research to refute it. If you’ve been leveraging EPOC in your own training, there are some things you should know. But first, what exactly is EPOC and how can we work toward more effective training? Let’s dive in.
Simply put, once a workout is over and you go about your day, your body’s metabolism can continue to burn more calories compared to when you’re at complete rest. This effect is called excess post-exercise oxygen consumption, or EPOC. Also referred to as oxygen debt, EPOC is the amount of oxygen that’s needed to restore your body to homeostasis. Your metabolism is another important factor to consider while discussing EPOC exercise. It’s the system that converts nutrients into adenosine triphosphate (ATP) which fuels muscular activity. ATP is made either by oxygen using the aerobic pathways, or without oxygen using anaerobic pathways. When you begin a workout, your body uses the anaerobic energy and stored ATP to fuel activity—that’s why warming up is important as it takes time to efficiently use aerobic metabolism and produce the ATP needed for a workout. Exercise that focuses on the anaerobic energy pathways can increase the need for oxygen and enhance the EPOC effect. Overall, EPOC exercise is founded on a few key beliefs held by its advocates:
- It consumes more oxygen, therefore it burns more calories
- Circuit training and heavy weight training with short intervals increases the EPOC effect
- HIIT is the most effective way to stimulate EPOC
- EPOC relies on intensity, not duration
Now that we have established a baseline of what EPOC is and how it “works,” let’s dig deeper. According to research by Dr. Carl Foster and his team, for EPOC exercise to deliver meaningful weight loss results, it needs to be a considerable contribution to energy expenditure (EE) during an exercise bout. However, their research also shows that EPOC makes a relatively small contribution to the overall EE of an exercise bout for most types of training like interval and resistance training. So in summary, EPOC does not live up to its own test. If you’re interested in learning more about the science behind this conclusion, please read Foster’s entire piece here.
While EPOC has its place in improving fitness overall, Heart Zones knows that the science for delivering real results just isn’t there. Any “get fit fast” trend likely isn’t a sustainable way to train and build a healthy, active lifestyle. We want to encourage Smart Fitness that personalizes your workouts according to individual zones, giving you the tools to train smarter, not harder—and we encourage you to second guess EPOC advocates who push a fast track to fitness. Discover our research-backed, patented zone and threshold based methodologies to learn more about how you can transform your fitness routine and see lasting results.