Not all workouts treat your body the same! Especially when it comes to what happens to your body after the workout is over.
The period of time after your workout is complete is when your body will or will not experience Excess Post-exercise Oxygen Consumption or (EPOC), which simply means trying to return to normal. Some workouts, like high intensity interval training, give you greater EPOC, which leads to your body burning additional calories throughout the day when your workout is done. This is because high intensity exercises are anaerobic, meaning there will be multiple times where your body’s demand for oxygen will outlast its supply. Here is what is actually happening to your body after a high intensity workout:
Cooling Down: To put it simply, after any workout, your body has to work to return to homeostasis, or to its normal resting state. The higher intensity the workout, the harder your body has to work. This includes cooling your body temperature down. Immediately after your workout, your body temperature is still sky high.
Repairing Muscle Fibers - It is important to give each of your muscles some sort of break throughout each week, because as you are strength training, you are literally creating tiny tears in your muscle fibers. However, your body’s natural processes of repairing these tiny tears is what creates the strength in your muscles! After a high intensity workout, your body immediately goes to work to repair these tears, all the while it is trying to cool down.
Restoring Oxygen In Your Blood - So, you completed a high intensity workout and your body is in the process of cooling down, repairing your muscle tears, and it’s also restoring your oxygen levels in your blood! When you work out, your body has to work harder to keep your blood oxygen levels up. It helps keep you breathing properly and helps your body continue to work during exercise. The better shape you are in, the less strenuous this process is on your body and the higher your levels are. If you have ever worked out for the first time, or after taking a long break from exercising, part of the cause of this intense soreness is from your blood oxygen level being low when you worked out.
Replenishing Your Fuel Stores - The fact that you can even do mountain climbers, squats, bicep curls, shoulder presses and star jumps is because your muscles have energy stored in them! So after your high intensity workout, while your body is cooling down, repairing your muscle fibers, restoring your oxygen levels, it’s also trying to replenishing the energy, or glycogen, stored in your muscles! How it replaces this energy is the best part: it makes you STARVING! You will want to eat some carbohydrates to help your body refuel after your workout. A snack or meal that includes a lean protein and some complex carbohydrates is great for helping your muscles repair while they refuel.
High intensity intervals are not for everyone, but the added benefits like burning additional calories all day are immense. The next time you do a high intensity workout, remember this article, and you will appreciate all that your body is doing to recover!