Wake Up To The Power Of One
The Law of Maximizing Input
We all want to get the absolute most out of our training sessions. Why work harder than you have to in order to achieve your peak performance and goals? As per the Law of Compound Gains, no workout is wasted. However, it goes without saying that every time you put in work, you should get those gains (if not more) right back. This is the Law of Maximizing Input.
“Most of us never run far enough on their first wind to know they have a second.” — William James
Wouldn’t it be nice if our body kept burning fuel after a workout as if we were still working out? Welcome to the phenomenon of EPOC, aka. Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption. As the saying goes, work smarter, not harder… But here at Dryworld, we want to do both.
When you think about EPOC, think of a car engine. After a drive, it stays warm and maybe even turns on a fan to cool down to where it was at pre-drive. Our bodies do the same, burning fuel with a boosted metabolism to return to a pre-workout state. So, after a really intense workout, your body will demand more oxygen to return to normal, which actually keeps your metabolism kicked into overdrive while it does so.
Here’s the bad news. Not every workout will let you achieve EPOC afterburn. What you’re looking for is intensity. If you do it right, you don’t have to put in hours at the gym — You’ll be getting the same gains or more from a 20-minute workout if you’ve pushed hard enough. That’s where exercises like HIIT or AMRAP come in.
Learn More about HIIT and AMRAP below!
High-Intensity Interval Training became a massive fitness fad in the late 2010s, but unlike many health and fitness crazes, this workout style was worth the hype. Known for being efficient and for boosting metabolism, building muscle, increasing your heart health, boosting your V02 Max, and tearing through fat, HIIT is still one of the most effective styles of workouts out there — and it’s likely you’ve already done a HIIT workout whether you know it or not. Just 20 minutes of a motivated HIIT workout at home can be more effective than an entire hour at the gym.
HIIT training involves exercising at a high-intensity level, backed by a period of rest or active rest, before bursting into another exercise of high intensity. This compares to traditional workouts, which are considered steady-state exercises. You use a lower amount of intensity for a more extended period. As you might have guessed, steady state doesn’t give you the juice you need for EPOC. But HIIT does.
You should push to about 80 or 90% of your capacity when you’re in your high-intensity phase. You’re inching closer to your maximum heart rate and giving it everything you’ve got. Then, a blissful (and short) period of rest or active rest. In classes, you’ll often see this as aerobic exercise (high-intensity) trading off with resistance training (low-intensity). Runners have actually been doing HIIT for years with a run-walk training regime meant to build endurance.
When you want to talk about maximizing input, talk about HIIT. If you get that intensity up there, the EPOC afterburn can last up to 24 hours.
You can find plenty of free HIIT workouts on YouTube that will kick you into gear at home or in the gym.
P.S. If you’re wondering how to measure the percent capacity you’re working at, you might consider getting a fitness tracker. Here’s a blog post to help you determine if it would be a worthwhile purchase.
AMRAP workouts, which stands for As Many Rounds/Reps As Possible, are another great style of training that will lead you to EPOC. You often see this style at CrossFit gyms, and they can be very effective at increasing your burn and offering a measurement for your progress. Plus, they’re highly customizable to your fitness needs and level.
The premise of AMRAP is that you have a set circuit of exercises and a set timeframe (such as 20 minutes) during which you get through the circuit as many times as possible. You can do this with reps instead by setting a shorter time (such as 30s) and burning through as many reps of a particular exercise as possible.
It offers intensity, as the goal is to keep moving the entire time. This leads to that lovely space of EPOC when you’re done. AMRAP workouts also build muscular endurance, and you can get a lot out of them in a short amount of time. Plus, as your fitness journey progresses, you can revisit old workouts and compare your results!
Want the best of both worlds? It is possible to create a HIIT AMRAP and do it all in one. A favorite is the Kayla Itsines’ BBG program (also the founder of the Sweat App, which features mostly HIIT AMRAP-style workouts). Each gym day consists of two circuits built of four exercises each. The exercises vary between cardio, such as ten burpees or 15 squat jumps, and resistance training moves, like 15 dumbbell squat presses or 24 commandos. You do the first circuit as many times as possible in seven minutes (AMRAP!), rest for one minute, and then proceed to the second circuit for seven minutes, doing each for two rounds of the timer. It works out to less than 30 minutes total for a HIIT workout that will burn all day long.
Sending your body into the world of EPOC with either HIIT or AMRAP is a great way to beat an athletic plateau or incorporate something new into your gym regime. As we said, every minute put in should result in some kind of gain for you: Worker harder and smarter. Let’s make those workouts as effective as possible by aiming to achieve EPOC every time you train. This is the Law of Maximizing Input.
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