There’s been a whole bunch of scientific research into the afterburn effect – and the current consensus is that the best results are seen from short, high-intensity workouts. The effects of such workouts can last from 30 minutes post-exercise up to around 48 hours or longer.
The afterburn effect works in the following manner:
- High-intensity, short bursts of exercise – such as 10 sets of eight second flat out cycling for example – will raise the body’s calorie consumption post-workout in order to return itself to the pre-exercise state.
- This increased level of metabolism continues until the body is fully recovered.
- Whilst the exercise itself moves into the anaerobic stage, it’s the post-exercise recovery period that sees the body continue to burn fat.
- In general, the body takes any time from around 15 minutes through to around 48 hours to fully recover from exercise. If you can manipulate this period by the type of exercise you perform, it’s possible to literally force your body to continue using up calories post-exercise.
So – this all sounds wonderful. But how can you actually change your workouts to increase this afterburn effect?
- Firstly, you must understand that if you use higher load volumes to try and further stimulate the afterburn effect, it won’t work. All this will do is to increase the amount of calories you use during the exercise itself.
- The pure intensity of this type of workout needs fuel to work to optimum effect. Whilst you can’t, of course, stuff yourself with poor nutrition and still expect to burn fat, you do need to provide your body with the necessary energy to perform this high-intensity training. In a nutshell – nutrition is still king when it comes to the afterburn effect.
One such training method that relies on the afterburn effect is HiiT – High-Intensity Interval Training. However, there is still much that is not yet understood about the afterburn effect. Studies continue into trying to increase our knowledge. So far it’s not known what is the optimum number of sets, reps or intensity levels that are necessary to increase afterburn – or even if different body positions during these short bursts of exercise have an effect on the length of afterburn.
We can see from this chart how it affects metabolism:
But, and there’s more and more evidence stacking up to back this, the very best results are seen when high-intensity, short bursts of exercise use as many large muscle groups as possible. And adding this type of workout into your weekly routine – either on non-weight bearing days or on rest days – really does seem to aid fat loss, muscle cutting and getting ripped.