Workout of the Day:
Shoulder Press
and then,
Five rounds for time of:
15 Pull-Ups
50 Double-Unders

Harvey bowling with tires
Harvey bowling with tires

More Bang for your Buck
Written by Mark Riebel

In yesterday’s post, I explained that the notion of the fat-burning zone is a misunderstood concept, and that a higher intensity of exercise yields more results than a low-intensity session (when we look at it from the caloric expenditure standpoint). If fat loss is one of your goals, caloric intake and expenditure is something you should be mindful of, and burning more calories during exercise will help to increase that expenditure and subsequent weight loss. But since the majority of our workouts at Invictus fall under 20 minutes, many may think that doing longer steady-state cardio work might be the best way to really accelerate their fat loss. It is true that an hour on the treadmill may indeed burn more calories than some heavy lifting followed by “Helen,” but you will reach that conclusion only if you look at a very small piece of the whole picture.

To understand this, we need to address the concept of excess post-exercise oxygen consumption, or EPOC. Oxygen consumption serves as an approximation of your metabolic rate, and therefore how many calories you are burning in a given period of time. EPOC, then, is the effect seen following exercise in which the body is burning more oxygen (and more calories) for a period of time anywhere from a few minutes to more than a day. This results in an elevated metabolism and creates what Alwyn Cosgrove calls an ‘afterburn.’ A study performed in 2002 at Ohio University found that following heavy resistance training circuits, EPOC was significantly elevated over baseline for 38 hours.

Using this data, let’s go back to that treadmill example. Suppose the machine tells you that you burned 300 calories in your hour spent on the treadmill. EPOC occurs as a result of aerobic training as well, but the magnitude and duration of the increase is less than that seen with resistance or interval training. Now let’s say that at the same time you were on the hamster wheel, your friend did the aforementioned heavy lifting followed by Helen. It’s likely that he didn’t burn as many calories as you in his exercise session, but let’s now look at the whole picture, i.e. all of the time following the workout. If your friend worked hard enough to bump his EPOC up to where he’s burning a paltry eight additional calories per hour, 38 hours later when his oxygen consumption returns to normal, he’s burned more calories than you, and he accomplished it in a much shorter workout. And then think of how it would affect him if he went and worked out the next day too! Would EPOC go even higher? It is not certain whether EPOC is cumulative, but even without an additive affect, the benefits are easy to see. Would you rather be burning more calories in the 23 hours a day you’re not at Invictus, or just burning the same old amount as usual in the 23 hours you’re not at a traditional gym (not to mention that you’d only be running and not developing your strength, flexibility, accuracy, etc.)?

If you have a weight loss goal, don’t resist your strength work. Stick to the program and talk to your coaches about making minor modifications to your fitness and nutrition programs to help you achieve your results most efficiently.

  • Tim

    I like the article, Mark. We did a long study on EPOC and I argued pretty much the same points you.

  • AT

    Day One Fall Classic Rowing Challenge

    I chipped in 15,000 meters this morning to kick team CrossFit Invictus off to a good start. We already have just over 20,000 meters and it isn’t even 7:00 AM.

    I am including a very well put together instructional video on rowing that does a great job of dissecting the various collective movements/portions of a full rowing stroke.

    If you need any assistance getting signed up to participate in the challenge please don’t hesitate to contact me directly to sign up. I will even do it for you. Email me at [email protected] with your contact information and/or visit the link at , everyone who is going to participate needs to be signed up by September 30.

    Wouldn’t it be cool if as a team we could hit 1,000,000 meters over the next two months??

    For most of you rowing is probably not something you immediately gravitate towards and that is the exact reason you should give it a whirl. Try something new, get out of your comfort zone and apply your strength and fitness to an activity that you aren’t super familiar with. There are so many benefits to rowing that you will feel the residual benefits in your workouts and daily life.

    Keep pulling.

  • AT

    Correction…we only have one month to hit 1,000,000 meters.

  • POS

    Its a great day to row! Lets get on the rower! 3K at 5am, more to come.

  • POS

    I didn’t see that above post! You ARE an animal brother. I am upping the ante and saying that we can shoot for 2 million. Why not go big or go home.

    Everyone should realize that there are other Crossfit Affiliates that are entered in this contest and as we have learned from the Games this summer Invictus doesn’t take a back seat to anyone 🙂 This is such a great challenge that EVERYONE in the gym can contribute. I am looking forward to helping out and also trying to figure out if AT works or sleeps! (15K takes a little time and before 7am?)

  • Gerry

    Really interesting article Mark. Good stuff.

  • Mark Riebel


    I couldn’t find the Invictus team listed on the Concept 2 site, but I typed us in for the team space so hopefully I’m included. Shane was having the same problem yesterday.

    2K this morning…only 98K to go!

  • POS

    Mark and Shane,

    I believe if you go to your online Logbook up at the top where there are several menu options Logbook, Rankings, History ETC there is one for TEAMS. Click on that and you should find on the page an option to sign up for a team or become a team member. On my page it has me listed as Crossfit Invictus. Let me know if this helps you out.


  • Katie Mac

    Count me in on rowing challenge. I will do a minmum off 500 meters everytime I come to the gym.

  • POS

    For those of you who are having difficulty with joining the Invictuse Team online give this a shot

    From Concept 2 Home Page
    under Fall Rowing Challenge Sept 15-Oct 15,
    click the hotlink that says “team”.
    a link to “join a team”
    and Invictus is in the drop down menu as an open team to join.

    Don’t forget to remember to log your meters online.

  • Mark Riebel

    I hate it when I forget to remember!

  • POS

    Its ok it happens to me all the time. Sounds like a quote from Yogi Berra.

  • AT

    So there is a bit of a competitive rowing community out there…we are half way into day 1 of the competition and there are some teams that have knocked out over 900K so far…now do not be dismayed, these are “virtual clubs” that have over 225 members signed up for this event…but still. We are no slouches either, with 7 people already signed up and 5 who have rowed today we are sitting at 43,207 meters with a huge contribution by Matt Frediani of 21,204 meters (which is about 13 miles)…very nice. Keep it rolling.

  • Sean

    count me in…I’ll try and knock off some meters tomorrow morning

  • Josh E.

    I’m in. Did a 2k for warm-up today.

  • Did a 10k after a looooooooooooooong meeting.

  • It’d be so hard to convince the majority to do strength training to lose weight…

  • More than 2yrs later and I still look back at this as one of my favorite articles…

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