Fat loss is all about caloric expenditure. We must burn more calories than we take in. While on the quest for fat loss, many people place far too much focus on how many calories they are burning during their exercise sessions. If you train in the proper way, you can actually greatly enhance the total amount of calories burned with your exercise program by taking advantage additional calories burned after the training program is completed. This is known as EPOC (Exercise Post Oxygen Consumption) scientifically speaking it is the "recovery of metabolic rate back to pre-exercise levels" and "can require several minutes for light exercise and several hours for hard intervals and up to 12 to 24 hours or even longer for prolonged, exhaustive exercise”. What this basically means is how many additional calories your body will burn after the exercise session has been completed in order to return your body to normal. If an individual is able to work out at a higher intensity, the more metabolic disturbance; the more energy your body will need to expend to bring it back down to normal.
The body needs to replenish muscle glycogen contained in the muscle that's been depleted during the workout, restoring the blood lactate levels to normal and bring down the heart rate and body temperature. This is a major source of energy expenditure, which occurs during recovery, but is directly the result of the exercise bout and is frequently ignored in most calculations of the energy expenditure of various activities. Including activities that raise EPOC should be the first priority in a fat loss program.
What exercise or activities raise EPOC the most? According to study published in the Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research by Elliot and associates it is weight training. The study, “Effect of Resistance Training on Excess Post-exercise Oxygen Consumption” tested the metabolic rate of volunteers either 40 minutes of cycling (80 percent of maximal heart rate), 40 minutes of circuit training (15 repetitions x 4 sets), 40 minutes of heavy resistance lifting (3-8 repetitions x 3 sets) and a control. The researchers found that, “all forms of exercise increased the metabolic rate immediately after exertion. For circuit and heavy resistance lifting, the increase also was significant 30 minutes after exertion”. And had they tested the metabolic rate several hours later they probably would have still seen an increase as well.
The authors suggested that, “dynamic exertion is not required to augment post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC), and that the amount of exercising skeletal mass is an additional variable to consider when relating exercise to EPOC”. Instead of focusing the workout around getting really tried and the perceived notion of working really hard, for fat loss it may be better to first focus on weight training with proper form and making sure all muscle are incorporated into the program.