Adding EPOC Training to Your Cardio Sessions

This post is brought to you by Ron Merryman, Youfit’s very own Executive Director of Fitness.

Don’t like cardio? Me either. Exploring ways to make our cardio sessions exciting just doesn’t seem to be something we spend a lot of time doing. While we have no issues exploring the sexy new way to deadlift or squat, when it comes to cardio, we dread jumping on the treadmill or elliptical. We typically blast our music in hopes to get it done and over with as quickly as possible. What if I told you there was a way to make your cardio sessions EPOC and in half the time? Would you reconsider your strategy?

First off, let’s tackle the famous question: why do cardio at all? Well, there are plenty of benefits to doing cardio. Weight loss, improved endurance, stronger hearts and reduced risk factors for chronic disease. After all, 68% of American Adults are overweight, making weight loss the clear cut goal of most exercisers. Now that we have identified that, let’s just cut to the chase.  

What is EPOC? It stands for Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption and actually isn’t a totally new revelation. Many fitness organizations have built their fitness models based on EPOC and several of our YouGX classes, such as cycle, take EPOC into account. Calorie expenditure is related to the amount of oxygen consumed during exercise. The more oxygen you consume, the more calories you spend. EPOC says that we need to increase our oxygen consumption during and after exercise. Our bodies use oxygen to create energy for movement. The more demanding the movement, the higher the demand will be to create energy. If you work hard enough, you can spend more energy than you have available. This puts the body into overdrive. It starts to collect new oxygen to refuel energy systems.  

Interval training is one of the best ways to get in an EPOC workout. Interval training is a method of cardio that challenges your body for a short period of time followed by a rest interval and then repeats. For example, increase the speed of your run on a treadmill for 30-60 seconds. Once your heart rate reaches its anaerobic threshold, recover with a heart rate around 60-70% of your max heart rate (Max Heart Rate = 220 – your age). Anaerobic threshold is the point at which your body cannot consume enough energy to keep up with your energy needs. It’s also the point where you can’t have a conversation anymore.  

Interval training is no joke. If you’re a beginner, try one to three intervals and allow your heart rate to return to the 60% range before the next interval. Beginners may only be able to perform one to three intervals in a 20-minute session. Over time, you will be able to squeeze more intervals into this 20-minute time frame, which means your aerobic systems and recovery times have improved. These adaptations will help you with other workouts too. If you strength train, take group classes or like regular cardio sessions, you’ll notice an increase in performance thanks to interval training. And you’ll consume more oxygen after exercising, increase caloric expenditure and over time, lose fat.

EPOC cardio sessions aren’t for everyone. Before trying it, talk to one of our YouCoaches to see where you stand in terms of your posture and movement. The demands on the body when working at a heart rate over 80% can be physiologically challenging. A YouCoach can also assist you with determining your Max Heart Rate and establish your heart rate zones for you. If you’re looking for another change, try incorporating more EPOC training for fat loss and increased performance.

-Professor Ron Merryman
Director of Education, Youfit