As you may have seen, I was interviewed by Women’s Running Editor in Chief Jessie Sebor about the elusive and much talked about concept of “afterburn” or the body’s continuation to burn calories long after a workout session has ended.


FYI – that is NOT me in the photos of the workouts. I wish I had an entire photo shoot with Women’s Running, but I’ll keep dreaming on that one.

It’s something that many athletes do, perhaps without realizing it, and more for the benefit of grinding out late miles on tired legs. No matter the reason for getting an afterburn, it’s a great way to add a little variation to your workouts and to keep them exciting as we enter yet another year of having fitness fads, diets, and training contraptions shoved at us from every direction.

One of the best parts of creating a little afterburn is there is no extra equipment needed, just you, your mind and body. Are you ready to start a fire under your ass?

What is Afterburn?

As I describe it in the magazine, it’s excess post-oxygen consumption, or the calories burned as your body recovers from a workout. The longer you burn depends on the intensity level.

Basically, when you exercise your heart rate increases, your glycogen decreases and there’s an elevation in stress hormones (in a good way!). After your workout, your body needs to work it’s way back to normal levels and that’s where the burn comes in.


You can do more then you think. If you want true afterburn you need to GO FOR IT at the end of your workout. You will be tired. Your lungs and legs and arms and eyelids may be burning but that’s when you dig deep and get just a little more, a little extra. If you demand it of yourself and push to your absolute edge, knowing you will be able to back off, that will make all the difference.

If nothing changes, nothing changes.

Intensity is what creates so many horrible race photos (see below). Your goal is to – – > #GetRacePhotoFace

Burning up toward the finish. Yikes!

Burning up toward the finish. Yikes!

Afterburn Workouts

Technically they are not workouts but just intense add-ons or ways to end your workout. Here are some of my favorites:

Fast Finish: You can do this after a run of any distance and it’s exactly what it says – finish your run fast! For example, if you head out on a 3 miler, do the last mile, half mile, quarter mile or 1 minute as fast as you can or at 5K race pace. The distance and duration are up to you, just be sure to keep adding to one or the other as you progress.

When you stop hating it, it’s time to go longer or faster.

Strength Work: Immediately following a run, do some strength intervals – 30 seconds each, 3 times:

Plank rows with weights

Single leg squat and bicep curl


Tricep extensions

Russian twists

Overhead presses

I pick things up and put them down!

I pick things up and put them down!

No weights? Ok, do this:

Cardio Work: That’s right – more cardio but this is strength work using your body as the weight:

Burpees (with or without weights)

Squat jumps

Lunge jumps

Mountain Climbers

Leg Lowers (abs)

Skaters or Lateral Jumps

Best for Last

Remember when I talked about how intense exercise depletes those glycogen stores? Well, probably one of the very best times to eat a little something sweet is right after a hard effort, followed by an afterburn. The sugar in say a few gummies or a square of dark chocolate will be burned up and used to replenish those stores almost immediately.

A few handfuls of Monster Mix (found at Target of course) does the trick every time.

A few handfuls of Monster Mix (found at Target of course) does the trick every time.

Now, you know that I’m talking about a small treat and not a piece of cheesecake or an ice cream sundae – save those for a special occasion, like the PR you’re going to achieve with your new found rocket fuel!

[Tweet “What is #afterburn and how do I get some? As seen in @womensrunning #train4life”]

You can find 8 MORE afterburn add-ons in the Jan/Feb edition ofWomen’s Running Magazine!


Thoughts on afterburn?

Which will you add to your workout?

What would be your go-to sweet treat after a hard effort?