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.
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
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
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)
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.
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?
it is a long rambling story I will share at some point BUT Im SO FINALLY READY to get back to traditional workouts with weights
and I KNOW Im ready as I read this and think OH YES!!! ID LOVE LOVE LOVE THAT FEELING AGAIN.
This totally makes my day!!!! Please feel free to call, text, or email your rambling story as I would love to hear it!
When I saw your name in the article, I squealed and did a Buddy the Elf – I know her!!! Great article explained thouriighly and on point. We should all enjoy the after burn while eating monster mix!
OMG that is so cool!!! YEAH!!! Thank you Angela 🙂 xoxoxo
This was so interesting and thanks for sharing. I did know a little bit on after burn but not much so this was really informative. I appreciate it!
You are welcome! Although, as far as I can tell, you mix up your workouts quite nicely and I’m sure you are generating quite a bit of fire with what you are already doing!
First congrats on being interviewed by Women’s running—that is too cool!!! And yes I’ve known about this afterburn for a while but haven’t used these techniques so thank you for providing them! I will be focusing more on pushing at the end of my workout!!
You are the perfect candidate to start doing this Nellie as you are in your first two years of running! Try it and let me know what you think, if you see results after a few weeks, etc.
So those M&Ms I eat after a long run are actually a good thing? See, I knew I had good instincts! 😛
Love the afterburn (it’s a great reason to run in the morning) and love that you were interviewed about it for Women’s Running!!!
Always trust those instincts 🙂 Thank you Wendy!
For months now, I have been sprinting for the last 2 minutes of most of my runs…. I guess I have been taking advantage of #afterburn all along without knowing it. That article would have been much better with your pics in it!!
Good for you!!! And thank you for saying that…maybe someday… 🙂
Love seeing you in Women’s Running! Yay for after-burn. We could all use a bit more of that, right? And totally stealing this for after my run today!
Steal away!! It makes me so happy that you’re back to running!!
Congrats on the interview- that is so awesome!! I have a feeling you’ll be in there, photo shoot and all one of these days. 🙂 Awesome info, too. I completely agree about that bit of sugar post workout being used for effectively by the body.
Whew! I’m so happy you agree with that little bit of a sugar boost!! Thanks Laura 🙂
I just read this piece in Women’s Running last night – great job, Allie! I love fast finish runs and strength training. I wonder if strides and hill sprints boost afterburn? And the afterburn makes me feel less guilty about my tendency to have some dark chocolate right after a hard workout.
That is GREAT! I’m so glad. I’m thinking strides are usually during a workout so maybe not quite an “after burn” effect but hill repeats for sure if tacked onto the end of a run or strength session.
I also love my dark chocolate 🙂
Totally loved seeing your name as I flipped through my issue! I like fast finishes and definitely something sweet post run!
Fantastic! Thanks so much Lauren!
Good on the interview:) It’s a privilege to know and interact with a published Star!
In response: thoughts on AfterBurn-
EPOC, yes, I remember that from Phys of Ex in my studies at University back in another lifetime! Very controversial today, accepted overwhelmingly back then; but it doesn’t change the reality that it really works and is a cornerstone of fitness and metabolic adaptation. I always Urged my clients to experience it to truly get a handle on weight management.
The Naysayers are the scientists shackled to their labs and (self labelled) weight loss experts motivated by easy money; neither of which have experienced ‘post O2 consumption’.
My training is only up to 6Xwk most recently; but I notice EPOC’s effect most notably in the Tempo sessions, either biking or running, swimming is another matter since it’s in a nearly 0 gravity environment. I’m really looking forward to the truly anaerobic interval sessions later this summer; but my frail body is not strong enough yet (I loathe injuries!). Anaerobic threshold training will have to suffice for now.
Which will you add to your workout?
I typically do weight training after swimming, they rather go hand in hand to further stimulate and adapt the specific musculature. That’s what I did on swim team, and that’s what I had my swimmers do when I coached. If it’s good enough for Michael Phelps, it’s good enough for me! Free Ex are great too; in sets of 10, I try to do 100 push ups each day (there, now that I’ve written so, I have not choice but to hit the goal, I like this digital accountability:))
What would be your go-to sweet treat after a hard effort?
If it was a Long distance session, I’ll have a copious amount of animal protein with carbs since I’m depleted (more like a small dinner), followed by glucose. If I just did AT, I’ll just opt for the glucose mixed with a more digestible protein component.
Fage 2% Yogurt [I can’t find full fat:(] with 1/2 banana, Dole Pineapple chunks, 2-3 Deglet-Noor dates, a liberal amount of Kirkland Trail mix (Pnuts,M&Ms,Raisins,Almonds,Cahsews); all drenched in delicious Strawberry Kefir by Lifeway. I’ll sprinkle this with Vanilla Whey protein powder. All this is available at Costco (of course!).
If I might take the liberty of adding: these replenishing meals are always followed with a nap, be it 10 minutes or 45, it depends how intense the session was, how trashed I am. I always train in the morning and usually done by 10am, it’s just too easy to make excuses as the day progresses!
My thought is always: What can I do to recuperate faster so my HR is 42 (totally rested for me) by next morning? Massages are nice!!!!!!!!!!!!
I just wanted to put my feeding into context, I’m curious if other people do this?
Thanks for such a thoughtful response!! I’m still working on getting some “after burn” effect with swimming. Like you said, weights afterward is probably the best option.
Everything tastes better drenched in greek yogurt!!
Now you are “digitally accountable” for those push-ups so I hope you did them today 🙂
I so wish I could nap after my hardest training days but I do get regular massages. It’s a must!
My husband just read a recommendation (for mass/bodybuilding oriented workouts) to eat 20 gummy bears after a workout. He thought that was a pretty hefty sugar jolt but here I am seeing another recommendation for a sugar boost again. Interesting!
I’m not so much recommending it as a way to boost fitness but more like if you’re going to have a *little* something sweet, directly after a hard effort workout is probably the best time to do it. I’m also intrigued that it was suggested to eat 20 gummy bears. I’m guessing that’s for a 190-200 pound male? Otherwise, that is definitely a hefty sugar jolt!
Congrats Allie! You impress me as always!!
Very informative post. Love it!
Thanks so much Brittany. You are pretty impressive yourself 🙂
Yes! This is the theory behind Orangetheory fitness and I loved their workouts! I’ve got to say I’m usually pretty lazy after a run and don’t want to do those strength exercises. I need to try and fit them in!!
I wish I could take an Orangetheory class!!! It sounds a lot easier then thinking of how to incorporate these on my own and really push. Maybe someday I will get to try it out!