How Long Do You Burn Calories After a Workout?

How long do you burn calories after a workout? It depends on the intensity and duration of your workout, as well as your weight and body composition. But in general, you can expect to continue burning calories for several hours after you finish exercising.


Exercise is known to be beneficial for physical and mental health, but many people are unaware of how long they continue to burn calories after their workout. Understanding the post-exercise energy expenditure can help you better strategize when it comes to your exercise routine and dietary choices.

When you exercise, your body uses energy and consequently generates heat. This increases your body temperature, putting additional homeostatic stress on the body--requiring it to work further in order to return itself back to pre-exercise levels. This is referred to as post-exercise thermogenesis (PET), and it requires having an excess number of calories present, resulting in an increased calorie expenditure for a certain period of time after fintishing exercise.

Although absolute values will depend on different factors such as age, gender, intensity of the workout as well as genetics; research has shown that the net effect of PET can have a major impact on one’s metabolism for up to 48-72 hours post exercise.

What is the Afterburn Effect?

The “afterburn effect” refers to the fact that, when you work out vigorously, your body continues to burn calories at a higher rate for an extended period of time after the workout has ended. This means that your body is burning more energy and calories post-exercise than it would at rest. The afterburn effect is sometimes called EPOC (Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption).

Your body has to work hard during exercise in order to restore itself back to its pre-workout state. This increased energy expenditure contributes to the afterburn effect. The degree of the afterburn varies depending on many factors, including age, fitness level, duration of exercise and intensity. Generally speaking, more intense workouts tend to produce longer-lasting and higher intensity afterburn effects than less intense workouts.

In addition, the fat burning benefits of vigorous exercise are further enhanced by what experts call “afterburner workouts” – short intervals or bouts of intense activities followed by a period of lower intensity activity or rest. These high intensity activities can be done with or without weights depending on your personal preference or fitness level. Afterburner workouts are thought to boost metabolism and help burn even more calories post exercise than traditional steady-state cardio exercises like jogging or cycling at a steady pace.

How Long Does the Afterburn Effect Last?

The afterburn effect, also known as excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC), is a short-term metabolic change that occurs after exercise. Generally, the more intense the exercise and the longer it is performed, the greater the EPOC response. This response is seen as an increase in metabolism that can last up to 48 hours after exercise.

How long this effect lasts depends on a variety of factors, including the intensity of your workout, how hard you are pushing yourself during each set and rep, and what type of exercises you are doing. Both cardio and resistance training can provide an afterburn effect due to their different energy systems used during training.

When performing cardiovascular exercises such as jogging or biking, your body will work aerobically at low intensity for longer periods of time and with less rest between sets. This means that the body will be producing less lactic acid or no lactic acid at all, which allows for increased oxygen uptake to create more energy within cells. The result is an overall increase in metabolism which will continue to burn calories for up to 48 hours after exercise has ended.

On the other hand, resistance training works by breaking down tissues in order to stimulate muscle growth or maintenance — usually done through high-intensity movements such as squats or bench presses with heavier weights. Immediately burning more calories but also triggering an increased base metabolism due to an increased resting energy expenditure through hormones released during recovery periods between sets — such as testosterone — these previously stressed muscle fibers require significantly more energy over longer periods of time in order to recover fully — resulting in an intensified afterburn effect compared with aerobic exercises. This sustained EPOC response ends when tissue restoration reaches completion; typically between 24–48 hours post workout depending on its intensity and duration.

Factors That Affect the Duration of the Afterburn Effect

A number of factors can affect how long you burn calories after a workout, known as the afterburn effect. The intensity of the exercise, the type of exercise, and the duration of the workout can all impact how long you continue to burn calories after the activity is done. Let’s look closer at how these factors can affect the duration of the afterburn effect.

Type of Exercise

The type of exercise you perform during a workout will greatly affect how long the afterburn effect lasts. The type of exercise doesn’t necessarily refer to the intensity, but rather the duration, method and muscle group used. High-intensity interval training (HIIT) has been proven to provide an enhanced afterburn effect compared to lower-intensity workouts that require longer periods of exertion. According to a study published in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, HIIT workouts can produce up to nine times more fat burning than steady-state cardio sessions.

The exercises you choose should also target multiple muscle groups at once in order to create the most metabolic disturbance, which can result in greater calorie expenditure during the workout and a longer period of post-exercise metabolism. Compound moves — such as squats, deadlifts and pushups — will provide greater calorie burn due to the additional muscle recruitment that increases cardiovascular demand as well as caloric expenditure over traditional isolation exercises like bicep curls or tricep extensions.

Intensity of Exercise

The intensity of exercise plays a major role in the duration of the afterburn effect. The higher the intensity and effort, the longer your body will burn extra calories after exercise. High-intensity interval training (HIIT) has been found to have the greatest effect on post-exercise calorie burning. HIIT combines intense bursts of activity with brief rest or recovery sessions at varying levels, which can increase fat burning and caloric expenditure long after your workout is finished. More traditional aerobic exercises such as running, cycling and swimming can also increase your calorie burn for up to 24 hours afterwards. Muscular strength exercises are also important in causing an afterburn effect, although studies have shown that they may not generate as prolonged a period of calorie burn as aerobic activities do.

Duration of Exercise

One of the key factors that will affect how long the afterburn effect lasts is the duration of your exercise. Longer workouts will generally lead to a greater number of calories being burned after your workout as well as increased metabolism. While different activities can lead to greater changes in metabolism, most laboratory studies have found that EPOC increases with more lengthy workouts, especially if they are more intense. For instance, a 30-minute aerobic exercise session performed at an intensity of 80% VO2 max create a larger afterburn effect than one half as long at only 50-60% intensity. As such, if you want to get the greatest metabolic boost from your workout, then it’s best to choose longer sessions at higher intensities.

How to Maximize the Afterburn Effect

Understanding the concept of the afterburn effect and taking the appropriate steps can help you to maximize the efficiency and efficacy of your workout. The afterburn effect is a measurement of how many calories you burn after your workout. This type of exercise can be especially beneficial for individuals who are looking to lose weight because it means that even after their initial workout, they will continue to burn additional calories.

There are several factors that play into how long your body will continue to burn calories post-workout, such as resistance training, interval training, and intensity. Resistance training is the most effective way to increase the number of calories burned in shorter increments; it involves quickly alternating between sets of exercises and resting periods. Interval training is a similar method but requires longer intervals for cardio along with resistance-training exercises. In order for these methods to be truly effective, however, intensity should remain high during each set or interval in order for metabolic rate—and overall caloric burn—to remain consistently elevated throughout your entire workout.

Additionally, consuming lean proteins (like lean ground beef or turkey) and complex carbohydrates (like brown rice or oats) as part of your post-workout meal can play a significant role in boosting protein synthesis and promoting calorie burning. Finally, sufficient rest periods can also yield approximately twenty percent more EPOC (Excess Postexercise Oxygen Consumption). Proper hydration through drinking water during the day aids in transporting nutrients throughout the body while increasing metabolism rates so that even without having an active workout routine, cells stay ready and primed for burning fat through increased metabolic processes.


Overall, the duration of post-exercise calorie burning is relative to the intensity and type of workout that you completed. Factors including body composition, fitness level, and diet play a huge role in the recovery process and calorie burning window.

To make the most out of your workouts, plan adequate rest days between workouts and make sure to fuel with nourishing foods before and after you complete a sweat session. It’s important not to forget nutrition when trying to reap the full benefits of exercise by taking advantage of post-workout calorie burning window.

Finally, take an active rest day as it’s important to listen to your body’s needs for physical activity and relaxations time throughout your fitness journey.

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