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The Afterburn Effect

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People often ask the question,”Is it possible to lose weight only doing short, quick bursts of exercise to raise the heart rate for a few seconds?”  The answer is yes!!  Interval training has been proven time and again to be the best and most effective way to burn fat and calories.  Assuming you’re eating a clean diet, right?  (CLICK HERE to read more about Interval Training or HIIT)  When you raise and lower the heart rate or exercise your heart rate as I like to call it, then you are getting the maximum burn for an extended period of time.  Possibly 24 to 48 hours after your initial workout.  (CLICK HERE)to read more about “Exercising Your Heart rate”

What is the Afterburn Effect?

In short, the afterburn effect is calorie burn AFTER exercise.  The more intense the exercise, the greater the afterburn effect.  For example, sprinting as fast as you can for 30 seconds for 5 rounds will have a much larger afterburn effect compared to jogging for 30 minutes.

There’s been quite a bit of talk regarding the Afterburn Effect of late. You can expect to read at least an article dedicated to the topic in most fitness magazines, or find its benefits will be highlighted in someway.

It’s actually a simple strategy used to increase your metabolic rate after your workouts. So even though you’ve finished you’re session you can still expect to burn calories. Intense cardio sessions and weight training are the main techniques used to help you stay committed to your long term goals while being satisfied with your short-term results.

What is Energy Expenditure?

Energy expenditure is the total amount of calories you burn.  More specifically, energy expenditure refers to the amount of energy a person uses during all bodily activities from movement, to blood circulation, to breathing, to digestion.  When it comes to exercise, energy expenditure is the total measure of calorie burn during and after exercise.

What is Aerobic vs. Anaerobic Exercise?

Aerobic exercise is a type of activity marked by long distances and slow paces like running, or cycling.  Anaerobic exercise is marked by activities that require strength, speed, and power like weight lifting, or sprinting.  

Energy Expenditure From Exercise: 

Total energy expenditure is the sum of the following components:

1) Calories Burned During Exercise – This is the amount of calories you burn during a workout.  A metabolic chart can accurately measure you calorie burn aerobically during exercise.  This is because oxygen uptake (how much oxygen your body uses) is proportional to heat expenditure (calorie burn) for aerobic activities. This component is NOT part of the afterburn effect.

2) Calories Burned AFTER Exercise – At higher exercise intensities, oxygen uptake is NOT proportional to heat expenditure.  An oxygen debt is created, where EPOC (excess post-exercise oxygen consumption) is used to help restore the body to a resting state and adapt it to the exercise just performed, which requires energy.  This component is part of the afterburn effect.

The Afterburn Effect Can Be BIG

The afterburn effect is minimal for traditional cardio, but can be significant for strength and power related activities, specifically P90X and Insanity, just to name a few.  Many health organizations have suggested that if you wanted to burn fat, you would have to do long, slow, distance activity because that’s going to burn the most fat.  We’re starting to realize now that in fact it’s the other way around that during really brief, intense intermittent bouts of strength, speed and power-related stuff, I’m under the impression you can burn even more fat. 

High Intensity Anaerobic Exercise Burns More Fat Than Cardio

There was a study years ago, and they were doing these six-second bursts of all-out cycling.  It was 10, 15 sets of this, and they found this unheard of amount of free fatty acids that were broken down from fat stores within the muscle.  It begs the question why, during an anaerobic activity that clearly utilizes glucose as a fuel, why is so much fat being broken down?

The answer appears to be, well, the exercise component is six seconds long, and that’s using glucose, but however long the recovery component is, that’s when you’re burning fat.  If you add all these intermittent periods together…you’re primarily burning lactate and fatty acids, and that’s where the body composition stuff comes in.

If you want to lose weight, lose body fat, get ripped, I’m under that impression that intermittent bursts of high-intensity activity followed by rest periods, that’s the way to do it.”

Nutrition Is Still King For Losing Fat

“Then another thing I always tell people – I’m not a nutritionist, obviously, but I know a little bit about it – if you really were to come to me and wanted to lose weight, and we made a list of ten things, one through seven of them would be dietary, watching what you eat.  Then eight, nine and ten would be exercise.”

The bottom line, is that when you really start doing the intermittent large muscle group, high-intensity-type exercise, that’s when people start getting into these ripped, cut, nice body composition adjustments.

Points to Remember:

  • The intensity you use during the sessions will determine how much energy is expended after your workouts.
  • Higher load-volume routines will mainly count towards the caloric energy immediately used during your workouts.



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2 Responses to “The Afterburn Effect”

  1. Yuette Floris says:

    Great blog! Sorry to change the subject, but, since this is the time for New Year’s Resolutions, I’d like to find a great personal trainer in Nashville TN. Have you heard of any good ones? There’s a new gym called Next Level Fitness, but I’ve only seen a few reviews. Here’s the address of this new Nashville Personal Training Gym, 1917 Church Street Nashville, TN 37203 – (615) 329-2747. Thoughts? Thanks!

    • Coach Greene says:

      Before spending your money on a personal trainer and a gym membership, I would checkout my programs sections (at the top of the page) and take a look at the MANY in-home workouts that Beachbody offers. Each program comes with a workout, nutrition guide and a FREE beachbody coach like myself to help you get in the best shape of your life. I got better results working out for 90 days at home with P90X then the 24 years I spent working out at the gym. Worth a look.

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