Is the Afterburn Effect a Myth?


Back in January of 1996, Shawn Phillips wrote what I consider to be one of the biggest “game changing” articles in the history of fitness magazines:

“Pick Up the Pace! A High-Intensity Approach to Cutting Up.” 

The article was published in Muscle Media 2000 and really paved the way for a lot of the training methods used today.

Click Here for my "Yacht Bod" Article: How to get a slim & sophisticated physique that looks equally stunning in dress clothes or a swimsuit.

The HIIT concept for fat loss was a BIG deal back then.

Up until that point, the recommended approach to burning fat involved training for extended periods in a heart rate zone of 60% to 80% of your maximum heart rate.

60 minutes of slow cardio sessions weren’t uncommon.

Slow cardio worked for losing body fat (still does), but was this the most efficient way to get lean?

This new HIIT concept looked interesting for sure.

Here’s a brief summary of the workout he recommended:

  • Jog for 30 seconds.
  • Sprint for 30 seconds.
  • Alternate between jogging and sprinting for 4 minutes.
  • Do this workout 3 times per week (M-W-F).
  • Every 2-3 workouts increase the total time by one minute by adding one 30 second jog and one 30 second sprint.
  • By increasing the time every few workouts, you will eventually build up your HIIT workout to 15 minutes.

Note: These days Shawn Phillips is the founder/CEO of the premium protein shake company, Full Strength: The Cadillac Tesla P85D of meal replacement powders.

These 15 minute fat loss workouts were a foreign concept.

Compared to the 60 minute fat loss cardio sessions we were using back then, 15 minutes was nothing!

Burning fat by focusing on brief intense workouts was innovative.

Remember, this article came out in 1996.

10 months before the Tabata study was published and 6 years before the first CrossFit franchise was opened.

The idea of EPOC (Afterburn) was a new thing as well.

As Shawn wrote in his article:

“What I’m suggesting is that you forget about the calories burned readout on the Stairmaster or Lifecycle; if you practice HIIT training, the majority of calories burned will come after the workout!”

…and those of us who did HIIT back then, used traditional cardio-type exercises.

  • Weight lifting
  • was used to build muscle.

  • Cardio exercises were used to lose body fat.

Circuit training was an exception.

Circuit training was introduced in the 50’s as a way to keep the heart rate high, while lifting weights.

For the most part, the bodybuilding/fitness community avoided circuit training.

There were a couple of reasons for this:

  1. The cardiovascular system was the limiting factor on how much weight could be used for each exercise in a circuit.
  2. The weights used and intensity levels were too small to elicit gains in strength or muscle size.

Click Here for my "Yacht Bod" Article: How to get a slim & sophisticated physique that looks equally stunning in dress clothes or a swimsuit.

Then along comes Circuit Training 2.0:

Click Here to Continue…

Is the Afterburn Effect a Myth?