Working out at 70 percent to 80 percent of your maximum heart rate will deliver the greatest EPOC effect, says Gonzalez, and high-intensity interval training (HIIT) is one of the best ways to get your heart beating. HIIT alternates between short, intense anaerobic exercises, such as sprints, with less-intense recovery periods. A 2:1 work-to-rest ratio has been found to create the best results, with workouts ranging from four to 30 minutes.
“In today’s busy world, not a lot of people have 60 to 120 minutes to work out at a steady, slow pace,” says Gonzalez. But these quick, efficient workouts make it easy to fit in a workout.
When time is of the essence, Tabata workouts can get the job done in just four minutes flat. Pick an exercise (running, biking, jumping rope, box jumps, mountain climbers, push-ups, you name it) and alternate between 20 seconds of all-out work and 10 seconds of rest, repeating for eight rounds. A recent study out of the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse found Tabata-style workouts can burn a whopping 15 calories per minute, and the workout meets or exceeds fitness industry guidelines for improving cardio fitness and modifying body composition.
As an alternative to interval training, circuit training (moving from one exercise to the next with no rest in between) will give you a similar effect, Gonzalez says.
It’s important to note that your body will take longer to recover from super high-intensity workouts, so you shouldn’t do this kind of training daily. Yoga, stretching, foam rolling, light cardio or any other activity that increases blood flow and aids in circulation will help aid recovery (that means vegging out in front of the TV doesn’t count).
“We only get stronger when we recover,” Gonzalez says, and it can take 24 to 48 hours to fully recover from a high intensity workout.