Why Orange Theory Sucks For Body Composition

by | Oct 10, 2022

I hate to be the bearer of bad news but …

Your group fitness class will not change your body composition the way you want.

I know this ruffles some feathers so before you crucify me, allow me to explain.

First of all, we have to make sure we’re on the same page with the results we’re talking about.

Everyone has different goals. And context is kind of important.

So, when I say body composition improvements, I’m talking about looking leaner, building muscle, losing body fat, and getting more toned.

If your goal is to simply be healthy, you just want to stay consistent, you want to improve your cardio capacity, or you only care about the scale …

Then this message probably doesn’t apply to you.

Group classes are an amazing opportunity to join a community of like-minded people. They are great for accountability. They can help you show up consistently.

But they suck for the body composition changes that I mentioned above.

And this is coming from someone who used to teach group classes.

Let’s break down why …

Why group fitness classes aren’t great for body composition goals

First, let’s discuss weight loss.

Losing WEIGHT is very different from losing FAT.

Weight loss is mostly dictated by your nutrition.

Although activity helps, you can make some nutritional changes and pretty easily lose weight.

When it comes to targeting fat loss, that’s when activity plays a much bigger role.

Your body needs a reason to keep or build muscle.

That reason = eating enough protein and actually using / challenging your muscles.

This is where group fitness classes like OrangeTheory and F45 fall flat.

The fast-paced, interval style of exercise just doesn’t provide enough of a stimulus to elicit muscle growth or even potentially muscle maintenance.

It’s almost purely cardio based.

And the more you do it, the more efficient you become.

I know that OrangeTheory, in particular, really likes to push the whole calories burned number.

That’s largely irrelevant for body composition changes.

For weight loss? Sure, it can help, although not as much as you think.

Once again, weight loss is mostly driven by what you put in your mouth.

I’m sure it feels rewarding to see your pool of sweat on the floor after a group fitness class, but is it actually doing anything to improve your body?

Again, remember what we’re talking about here.

It’s not completely useless. If you are focused on cardiovascular health, accountability, and consistency … then those classes can be great.

But right now we’re talking about body composition.

So you work really hard for an hour to sweat a lot. And you continue to get more efficient at doing that cardio-based workout.

Keep in mind that if you are barely resting between sets and are using light weights at a very quick tempo … that’s not strength training.

That’s essentially cardio with weights.

As your body gets more efficient, you begin to burn less and less calories doing the same amount of work over time.

I cannot tell you how often I hear this complaint …

“I’m doing OTF 5 or 6 times per week and have been doing that consistently for YEARS. Why isn’t my body changing??!”

This is why.

You aren’t giving it a reason to change.

You’re simply giving it a reason to get better at OTF.

To be more efficient with calories.

You aren’t giving it a reason to maintain or build muscle.

One thing that gets overlooked when it comes to body composition changes is this …

You have to PUSH yourself and be intentional about building and maintaining muscle.

It’s not easy.

That means lifting heavy weights and getting close to failure.

True failure is when you can’t possibly complete another rep without your form breaking down.

Most people never reach that point.

And that’s only part 1.

Part 2 is where you progressively overload your muscles by doing more volume over time.

Which sends the signal to your body that hey … we need some bigger muscles.

For the most part, group classes just aren’t set up in a way where that is possible.

I’m sure there are exceptions to this rule and I’m sure I’m going to hear all about them.

But the body of evidence is pretty clear that the group class environment just isn’t conducive to truly changing body composition in that way.

That doesn’t make it wrong or useless.

It just is what it is.

As I’ve mentioned a number of times, there are still perfectly valid reasons to do group fitness.

The formula for getting leaner, stronger, more toned, etc. is pretty straight forward …

– Lift heavy with adequate rest to push yourself close to failure
– Progressive overload
– Eat in a slight deficit to lose fat or eat at maintenance / slight surplus to build muscle
– Eat enough protein (1g per 1lb of body weight is a good starting point)
– Walk to aid in fat loss, heart health, hormone health, stress management
– Cardio as you desire (although not required)

There are certainly some nuances that exist.

For example, with our POP Prime clients, we have our lead programmer, JK McLeod writing their training based on their Neurotype and life situation.

That way we can optimize their individual situation based on what they have access to and can realistically stay consistent with. Plus, having the nutrition and training work synergistically makes a huge difference with results.

It’s essentially going from good to great with progress.

Anyway, hopefully the group class people aren’t too butthurt from this reality.

And if you are … keep in mind, that’s a choice.

My objective is simply to inform so you can make the best decisions based on your goals.

Interested in 1:1 Coaching?

And let me know that you’re interested in the 1:1 signature coaching program.

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