Toning, Fat Burning, and the Afterburn

I am sure you have heard all these phrases but what do they really mean? Lets begin with the “afterburn” which is formally referred to as EPOC (exercise post oxygen consumption). Why the heck does this matter? It matters because it is the machine that keeps burning calories up to 24 hours, post workout. Technically speaking, EPOC is the measurable increased rate of oxygen intake following strenuous exercise or activity to help erase the body’s “oxygen deficit.” Once you workout, oxygen is used to help restore the body to a resting state.

So why is there all this talk about lifting, lifting, lifting? Lifting weights increases the lean muscle mass you have on your body. For every additional pound of muscle you have on your body, you will burn up to an additional 50 calories per day. Add 10 pounds of muscle to your frame and you can burn an additional 500 calories per day, 3500 calories a week, equating to about 1 lb of fat loss. Weight training will speed up your fat/weight loss efforts and ensure that when you do lose, it is fat, not muscle. You will work hard to earn that muscle, so make that muscle  work for you! Burning calories at rest? I like it. (side note: while cardiovascular exercise will burn a significant amount of calories it’s EPOC effects are not the same).

But, I don’t want to be bulky. I want to be toned!  I hear this ALL the time. Do you know what toned is? Toned arms, legs and buns are more muscle and less fat. And how do you get more muscle? You lift weights. (Seriously, don’t be afraid to lift heavier weights, don’t be afraid to challenge yourself. The benefits go way beyond looking good in a bathing suit. You build strength and increase bone density…hello osteoporosis prevention). “Toning” is a fancy way of saying that you have visible muscle definition, less fat and are lean enough to show off all that muscle you worked so hard for. Yay more muscle and less fat. So how do you get rid of the fat? Burn it?

“Burn the fat”, “fat blasting”, “fat burning” are all great phrases to get your attention.  What happens when you are in the “fat burning” zone? You are essentially utilizing  your energy stores differently. You are using more fat for fuel, then carbohydrates. Key word being utilizing, not burning. Let’s take two examples. You do cardio for 30 minutes at a moderate intensity. Yes, you are using more fat than carbohydrates. Now say you do a 30 minute, high intensity workout, you may utilize slightly less fat and more carbs, but your calorie burn will be higher, and if that 30 minutes is an intense weight training session, you will be working towards building that lean muscle and using even more calories at rest. We use fat all day, every day, as we go about our busy lives. Get use to thinking about the fact that when we workout we are using stored energy.


I am all out of time for today, but will give you some muscle building tips in another blog. For now I will leave you with this quick 30 minute workout. Have a great day and happy lifting.

Perform 1A and 1B for 3 sets alternating. Repeat for 2 and 3.

1A 10 Dumbbell Squat to Press

1B  10Dumbbell Row

2A 10 DB Bench Press

2B 10 DB Step Up

3A 30 seconds plank

3B  30 Reverse Crunch

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