How long does your gym workout take? Are you in and out within 20, 30 or 45 minutes, feeling exhilerated about the effort you've just put in. Or are you crusing along for an hour or two watching your favourite T.V programme while hopping between the X- Trainer, Bike and Treadmill?
If you are the former, fantastic, you are giving your body a metabolic fat burning boost that your body will constantly adapt and respond to. If you are the latter, unfortunately your not doing yourself any favours if you are looking to achieve for example a long term weight loss goal. While its true you may have a greater calorie expenditure, these calories used will not necessarily give you the after burn effect, otherwise known as 'EPOC' or 'Excess Post Oxygen Consumption' your looking for to continue burning for potentially hours after you've fininshed your workout.
EPOC is the work your body continues to do post workout. During this time your body is processing oxygen at a much higher rate as it rebuilds and repairs itself in order to return to its pre-exercise state. It is dependant on the intensity of the workout and the individual, but the afterburn affect could cause your metabolic rate to be increased for a further 16 to 24 hours or more!
Generally speaking the more intense the workout, the more energy is expended to recover. It has been shown that activities of high intensity both aerobic and anaerobic such as high intensity interval training (HIIT), and strengthening and resistance training cause the greatest EPOC effect.
Long slow steady state cardio on the other hand has the least effect on EPOC so if you are a 'super long steady state cardio player' you may want to rethink your game plan!
See my next post for a High Intensity EPOC Workout!