what is an afterburn

What Is An Afterburn? All You Need To Know When You Have It.

Perhaps you have felt tired or deprived of oxygen after a strenuous workout, whether it is weight-lifting at the gym or going out for a long, intense run. What this refers to is afterburn, which is appropriately-named for the effects that it gives to the individual themselves. You might like the feeling, or maybe you do not- all the same, it happens whether you like it or not.

That said, just what is an afterburn? We are here to help you out! Learn more in this article on just what it is, as well as get some of your other frequently-asked questions from us. Soon enough, you will know what an afterburn is, as well as figure out how to recover from it afterwards. With that said, let us get started!


What is an afterburn?

Also known as “excess post-exercise oxygen consumption” (EPOC) or “oxygen debt,” an afterburn refers to the increased rate of oxygen intake after an intense workout or activity as means of counteracting the oxygen deficit in the body. In other words, the body is trying to replenish the oxygen lost from aerobic or anaerobic activities such as running or weight-lifting.

This process happens by replenishing fuel stores, hormone balancing, repairing cellular features, and so forth. In more specific detail, aspects such as phosphate and ATP are replaced in the process, and lactic acid is oxidized, i.e. get rid of. Body temperature is regulated as well, as means of cooling down after a warm, sweaty workout.

How does it feel to have an afterburn?

Considering that afterburn occurs after you finish working out, it comes as no surprise that you will feel tired, perhaps even fatigued. Since oxygen has been depleted from your body, you will more likely than not feel short of breath, and thereby breathing heavily from all of the energy exerted in the process.

In addition, your body might feel sore: depending on which workout you performed, you might feel it in the arms, chest, back, core muscles, or legs. This so-called “burn” that you feel is, as a result, the product of having an afterburn from the physical activity.

Is afterburn dangerous?

Not at all! In fact, an afterburn is your body’s way of counteracting what could otherwise be dangerous by-products associated from exercise. Without your body feeling fatigued or sore, you would not be able to remain healthy in the long run. By getting rid of the lactic acid and replenishing oxygen into your system, you can be rest-assured that you will not end up cramping up nor feeling out of breath over the long term, respectively.

In shorter terms, an afterburn is essential in order to keep you safe and healthy, so that you can continue to do the same thing over a long period of time, namely, running!

What are some health benefits to an afterburn?

Besides combatting well-known health issues such as obesity, an afterburn can also help reduce diabetes and improve your cardiovascular system. It especially makes the heart stronger since it needs to pump harder in order to get more oxygen into the body after being depleted of it during the workout.

That said, if the incentive of getting fit and looking good while you do it is not enough, then the long-term health benefits should be sufficient to get you started on exercise!

What are some ways to recover from an afterburn?

The afterburn is a natural process that the body undergoes after a tiring, strenuous exercise. With that said, there is really nothing you can do to avoid getting afterburn later on. In essence, it will take time for your body to recover and get back into resting state, so it is necessary to be patient and just let your body do its thing.

However, although you cannot control for afterburn, you can do some things in order to help yourself recover faster than normal. Stretching afterwards, along with keeping your muscles relaxed and calm, are some strategies you can consider doing for the sake of not only recovering more quickly, but also preventing your body from becoming super sore and stiff the following day. After all, it is worth a shot!

For more questions answered on the afterburn, check out this video: 

What are some quick exercises to achieve the afterburn effect?

While long-distance running can help you achieve the afterburn effect, it does so at a slow pace. If you are looking to get an afterburn quickly, then doing short, intense bursts of high-energy workouts can be the way to go.

Also known as freeletics, high intensity interval training (HIIT) lasts usually no more than 30 minutes while at the same time gives you the amount of sweating and fatigue associated with longer, moderately-intense workouts. With that said, we have found a HIIT exercise that you can choose to do to get an afterburn. What makes it even better is that it can be done in only a few short minutes, whether between office breaks or during your day off! Here it is to get you started:

Circuit training workout (taken from Dr. Axe)

Perform the following three exercise moves back-to-back according these reps: Start by doing 10 reps of each, then repeat the cycle doing 15 reps of each, then repeat the cycle doing 20 reps of each. Don’t take any breaks until after you’ve gone through all three sets.

  • Burpees
  • Moutain Climbers
  • Jumping Jacks

(In place of these 3 moves, you could also try performing fast alternating lunges, push-ups or kettlebell swings.)

After you’ve completed these three sets, do a form of steady-state cardio for about three minutes. This can mean jogging, running in place, hopping on an exercise bike, etc. You want to be working at about half of your ability.

You can also add pushups, squats, and jumping jacks into the workout for more of a challenge, if you want!


An afterburn is a desirable bodily effect that helps your body recover after a long, strenuous workout. By working with it to achieve hormone balance and restored oxygen reserves, you can be sure to have a fit and healthy body.

Happy workout!

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