Short answer to the second part of the question: By working out hard with high intensity before you rest.
We get to the first part of the question in a minute.
Our bodies use energy, i.e burn calories all the time. Your body burns calories even now as you are doing nothing else but sitting and reading this post.
You can increase the calorie expenditure by standing up and starting to move. You increase it even more when you work out.
But you can keep burning calories even after you have finished your exercise.
Yes, that's right: Your can keep your body in calorie burning mode even when you are taking a shower and eating your post workout meal. This process is called afterburn or excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC).
How Does Afterburn Happen?
There are two types of calorie expenditure: The one that happens during the workout and the one that happens after you have completed the workout (hence afterburn).
The more intense the exercise, the more oxygen your body is consuming post exercise, making the afterburn greater. For example, running for an hour in a slow pace makes fairly moderate or even low intensity exercise. You do spend calories during the run, but the burning process stops pretty much as soon as you finish the workout.
High Intensity Workouts on the other hand are more strenuous, making you work fast and push hard. This type of workouts are usually shorter in time lasting anywhere between 5-45 minutes. The afterburn effect occurring after this type of workout is remarkably higher than after low impact workouts like slow paced long run.
High Intensity Workouts and Metabolic Rate
High Intensity Workouts raise your metabolic rate, in other words, the amount of energy your body is using while resting. They boost your metabolism which results in burning more energy post-exercise when you are lying on your couch.
People's most common goal (by far) when starting a workout program is to lose weight and/or fat. If this is your goal too, you may want to add High Intensity Workouts into your routine. While I do love long runs and walks and find them very meditative, I believe that if you want to change your body, you should make time for High Intensity Training as well.
Here's an example. If you work out four days a week and if your workouts are only steady state low impact trainings like slow runs or bicycle rides, your metabolic rate will not increase remarkably and the afterburn is minimal.
By replacing two of your low impact workouts with High Intensity Workouts and adding some bodyweight work or weight lifting into the mix, you also boost your metabolic rate. You also increase your body's calorie expenditure when you are resting. The afterburn is much greater compared to a slow pace cardio workout.
Why Else Would You Do High Intensity Workouts?
There are even more reasons why I think High Intensity Workouts are awesome:
- They are interesting. Because you keep the intensity high, you will work as hard and as fast as possible and just have no time to get bored.
- They offer a lot of variety. You can use bodyweight, kettlebells, medicine balls, jump ropes, barbells, dumbbells, battle ropes…anything. The options are endless.
- They save your time. You can do a great workout literally in minutes. Don't believe me? Do as many Burpees or Wall Ball Shots as you can in seven minutes.
- They burn great amount of fat and calories during and after the workout.
- If your goal is to change your body composition (decrease the amount of fat and increase the muscle mass in your body), High Intensity Workouts are the way to go.
- They really push your limits. You will learn a lot about yourself when you do High Intensity Workouts. No low pace low intensity workout will test your willpower like that.
- They are very empowering. When you think that you are not able to do seven minute burpee challenge, but you do give it a try and finish, you will be proud of yourself. The feeling is awesome and carries over to other aspects of your life too.
My Transition from Only Running to High Intensity Workouts
My personal transition from only running to incorporating bodyweight and weight training to my workouts was slow at the beginning. I thought I won't get the feeling of real workout from lifting and doing bodyweight work. I also thought that I won't feel exhausted and won't burn as many calories as I did by running.
Well, there are many ways of doing strength work. What I thought strength work is was long hours of tedious reps and long sets in a sweaty gym.
That wasn't appealing to me.
I could run for two hours and not get bored, but doing 5 sets of 15 biceps curls was and still is the dullest thing I can think of.
It wasn't until I got interested in High Intensity Workouts and CrossFit when I realized that strength and conditioning workouts can be very interesting and extremely demanding. High Intensity and CrossFit workouts had nothing to do with above described 5 sets of 15 reps biceps curls that bored me to death.
I started adding the elements of the two to my own workouts and have been doing them ever since.
What Does a High Intensity, Great Afterburn Workout Look Like?
Most of the workouts here on my site are High Intensity Workouts. They are the fastest, simplest and the least time consuming way to get in shape.
You can do a great High Intensity Workout with bodyweight only or minimal equipment. Here are some of my favorite ones.
Sprinting Workout: You need nothing more but a pair of fast legs!
Do It At Home: Boost that metabolism with this short Bodyweight Workout.
Or go to a nearby park for the following short fat burner:
Enjoy the afterburn after doing this medicine ball workout.
For more High Intensity Workouts, head over to my workouts page.
Afterburn is the calorie and fat expenditure that occurs after a high intensity workout. While your body is in a burning mode while you are working out, you may even prolong it so that it continues for hours after you have finished. The most efficient way to boost the afterburn is to do High Intensity Workouts.
There is no need to do High Intensity Workouts every day. Feel free to enjoy long cardio or heavy strength training and remember to take rest day(s). However, if you want to see changes in your physique faster by burning more fat and saving time at the same time, you should add couple of High Intesity Workouts into your weekly workout schedule.
What type of exercise have you found most beneficial for you?
Do you do High Intensity Workouts? Any favorites?