Post-exercise oxygen consumption is an increase in your body's oxygen intake following a vigorous workout that provides your body the oxygen it needs to restore its processes to a normal resting state. As you exercise, your heart rate, breathing and body temperature go up. After you finish exercising, EPOC restores your heart rate and breathing to normal, lowers your body temperature, re-oxygenates your blood and replenishes the energy you used up working out. You can increase your EPOC by increasing the intensity, duration and variety of your workout.
Breathe deeply and slowly immediately following your workout. Short, rapid breaths get relatively little oxygen to your lungs. Focus on taking deep breaths from your abdomen rather than your chest, and inhale for three to five seconds. This will increase the amount of oxygen your body has to work with.
Do interval training, in which you mix up your workout routine with a variety of high and low intensity exercises. Your body can quickly get used to performing the same exercise at the same speed for a long period of time, but when you combine different exercises into the same routine your system must work considerably harder, and that leads to longer EPOC times. For example, rather than walk on a treadmill for an hour, warm up on the treadmill for twenty minutes before moving on to a high-impact aerobic exercise such as jumping jacks or jogging up an incline.
Increase the intensity of your exercise program. This can be done in a number of ways, from increasing the speed on your treadmill as you jog, to increasing the weight as you bench press, to resting for just one minute between exercise sets instead of three. By increasing the intensity of your workout, you force your body to use up and replace larger amounts of oxygen, which then makes the EPOC take that much longer.
Increase the duration of your exercise. Working out for an hour will require more oxygen than working out for twenty or thirty minutes, as long as you maintain or increase the intensity level of your workouts.
Tips & Warnings
- Increasing the intensity and duration of your workouts may not be for you if you suffer from high blood pressure or respiratory or circulatory problems. Consult with your doctor or physical therapist before starting any new exercise regimen.
- FitDay.com: Understanding Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption
- DrLenKravitz.com: Resistance Training and EPOC
- DrLenKravitz.com: Exercise After-Burn: Research Update
- National Strength and Conditioning Association: Hot Topic: The Role of Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption (EPOC) in Weight Loss Programs
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