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The After Burn Effect of Exercise: Cardio v. Strength Training

Jun 02, 2023
Man working out with ropes

You may have heard that strength training can burn more calories than cardio.


Strength training can continue to burn calories after a workout through a process called excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC) or the "afterburn" effect. The duration and intensity of the workout influence the magnitude and duration of the calorie-burning effect. While there isn't a precise timeframe, studies suggest that the afterburn effect can last from a few hours to up to 48 hours after strength training. However, it's important to note that the calorie burn during this period may vary based on individual factors such as fitness level, muscle mass, and metabolism.

Cardio v. Strength Training:

The calorie-burning effect after strength training, known as excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC) or the afterburn effect, differs from that of cardio exercises.

During cardio exercises like running, cycling, or swimming, the primary source of energy is aerobic metabolism, which utilizes oxygen to produce energy. Cardio workouts typically burn more calories during the exercise itself due to the sustained elevated heart rate and increased oxygen consumption.

On the other hand, strength training primarily relies on anaerobic metabolism, which doesn't require as much oxygen but relies on stored energy sources like glycogen. While strength training may not burn as many calories during the actual workout compared to cardio, it can lead to an increased metabolic rate after the workout due to the need for muscle repair, recovery, and adaptation.

The afterburn effect from strength training occurs as the body works to replenish energy stores, repair damaged muscle tissue, and restore the body to its pre-exercise state. This process requires additional energy and can result in a continued calorie burn even after the workout is finished.

Use Both:

Both cardio and strength training have their unique benefits and contribute to overall calorie expenditure and weight management. Incorporating a combination of both types of exercises into a well-rounded fitness routine can yield optimal results for overall health and fitness goals.

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