Exercise and oxygen consumption are directly linked. To meet the demands of increasing exercise intensity, your body must use more oxygen to produce energy. Exercise research labs often use oxygen consumption to determine how many calories are being burned in a workout.

After performing certain exercises, your body uses a larger amount of oxygen than before your workout to restore the body to normal levels. This enhanced oxygen consumption, known as excess post-oxygen consumption or EPOC, results in a higher overall calorie burn after exercise. According to MetabolicEffect.com, EPOC increases your metabolism for up to 48 hours after a workout.


EPOC Exercise

Movements that recruit multiple large muscle groups initiate the EPOC effect after exercise. Targeting these large muscle groups, which include the chest, quads, hamstrings and entire back, through compound movements cause a higher metabolic demand on the body. Exercises that include the entire body and require heavier amounts of resistance are best to stimulate this metabolic response.

Bench Press

The bench press targets pectoral muscles, triceps, deltoids and the upper back muscles. The bench press uses a flat, incline or decline bench to focus on different areas of the pectoral muscles. Benefits of the bench press include the use of many muscle groups to stabilize the resistance during the movement to stimulate the body into EPOC.


Sprinting provides another training method for initiating EPOC. Sprinting places high demands on the entire body to perform with increased emphasis on the quadriceps, hamstrings, core, and gluteal muscles. A sample sprint exercise involves running as fast as possible for 20 to 30 yards then resting for 30 seconds and repeating.


The deadlift incorporates many muscle groups like the quads, hamstrings, glutes, lower back, lats, rhomboids, trapezius and forearms. To execute the deadlift, stand behind a barbell with your feet hip-width apart. Bend the knees and grab the bar using a shoulder-width distance. Keep your shoulders back and chest up throughout the movement and lift the bar until you are standing straight.



Werner and Sharon Hoeger’s book “Principles and Labs for Fitness and Wellness” states that 1 liter of oxygen consumed burns five calories. Using this value in conjunction with the MET scale can help you determine how many calories you are burning when you’re workout out.


METS, or metabolic equivalents, are used in exercise prescription to dictate intensity levels. Common MET levels are 3 METs for walking slowly, 6 METS for biking at 10 to 12 mph and 8 METS for jogging at 5 mph. One MET is equal to a relative oxygen consumption of 3.5 mL/kg/min.



To determine how many you are burning, multiply the MET value by 3.5. Multiply this by your bodyweight in kilograms to get the amount of milliliters of oxygen you’re consuming per minute. Divide this by 1,000 to get the number of liters per minute you are consuming. Multiply by 5 to get the number of calories per minute you are burning. Multiply by the number of minutes you have worked out to determine how many calories you burned in a single exercise bout.



If you weighed 200 pounds, biked at 10 to 12 mph, or 6 METS, for 30 minutes, your calculation would look like this: 6 X 3.5 X (200/2.2) / 1000 X 5 kcal X 30 = 286.4 kcal burned in that particular workout




This information is credited to the Livestrong Foundation. More can be read at www.livestrong.com .