Why OrangeTheory Might Not Help You Reach Your Goals
Hey there, Coach Kasey is here with you today, and I want to talk about setting up your workouts to most efficiently and effectively achieve your goals.
If you’ve been reading my blog or following my Instagram for a while, you know that I often talk about how strength training is the best thing ever.
Strength training is amazing for your physical health, mental health, and for your bangin’ bod.
During a recent conversation about how incredible strength training is, I mentioned that I have an “argument” against OrangeTheory Fitness, a high-intensity group fitness class.
To be clear, I'm not solely against OTF, but it works as our scapegoat here.
I will start by saying if OrangeTheory (or a similar group circuit-training type class) is keeping you active and moving when nothing else seems to fit your fancy…
OR if you’re attending classes a few times a month, for the sake of some fun cardio and being cognizant of how it fits into your training and recovery efforts...
Then, by ALL means, keep it up.
BUT if you’re looking for a long-term program to help you build muscle (get TONED) and/or optimize your workouts without killing yourself…
OTF (or similar) is not your best option.
1. The Style
With OTF and other similar workouts, there is only one training style, one energy system used by your body, and zero periodization.
Periodization is planned manipulation of training variables such as loads, sets, and reps. It’s used to maximize adaptations (aka build muscle and keep improving) and prevent overtraining.
OrangeTheory and other similar classes mainly focus on metabolic training. While that’s not inherently bad, if it’s the only type of training you do, you’re missing out on other forms of training and energy systems, such as neurological or hypertrophy training.
Any program can include metabolic training, but it should be periodized or blended appropriately with other training styles.
And if we’re being completely honest, I think many of these group classes just end up being another form of cardio (not a solid form of strength training).
2. No Quality Control
It’s simply not possible for trainers to spend a decent amount of time with you to ensure your form is correct and your strength increases over time when you’re in this type of group training environment.
We all spend most of our time sitting and have subpar posture (I’ll bet you even sat up straighter as you read this!)
Pair that with these high-intensity circuit classes, and you’ll be solidifying crappy movement patterns — especially as you get increasingly exhausted during the class.
It’s really hard to focus on your form when...
- You were never taught differently
- You’re primarily focused on getting to the next station and/or not dying
In this kind of environment where you’re focusing more on effort than form, and there’s nobody around to notice and help you make corrections, you’re increasing the chances of injury.
3. No Progressive Overload
Different exercises, rest periods, and circuits keep these classes fun and engaging.
But, any sense of building a strength or muscular foundation to then improve upon over time is pretty impossible to achieve when things are constantly changing, and there’s no structure to the programming.
To keep building muscle and getting stronger, you need to induce progressive overload. Whether that’s through increased reps, weight, or tension, you must be working to achieve progressive overload to keep building. This is also what’s going to prevent you from plateauing.
4. These Classes Aren’t Plateau Proof
Speaking of plateauing. . . your body is smart!
Even if your goal is just general weight loss and you couldn’t care less about building muscle (although you really should, in my opinion), you’ll eventually adapt to the cardio and metabolic demands of the workout and plateau.
With a structured strength training program, you can adjust the intensity of your exercises or increase the volume (either by adding reps or weight) to continue to progress and work with adaptations. In other words, you’ll make more gains. Yay!
But, with OTF and other similar workouts, you’re confined to the class plan. Boo!
5. The Stress
High-intensity classes like the ones at OTF are very stressful on your body.
If you’re already a stressed-out individual (from work, relationships, a restrictive diet, etc.), then adding 4-5 highly stressful classes into the mix is a recipe for disaster.
By disaster, I mean:
- Down-regulated thyroid and metabolism
- The inability to recover
- Higher risk of injury
- Poor sleep
- Excessive fatigue
- Increased irritability
All of this will do nothing but thwart your fat loss and muscle-building efforts. You’ll end up feeling more frustrated and likely more stressed out too.
All of this is to say...
If you're finding yourself frustrated by the lack of progress you're seeing from running yourself into the ground with high-intensity circuit classes...
That's to be expected.
After years of coaching over 1,000 people on their health and fitness journeys, one of the most important lessons I continue to teach is:
Do more structured strength training.
And the runner up:
Just because a workout leaves you feeling dead doesn't mean it was effective.
Of course, your body will feel tired by the time you’ve finished a quality workout, but you shouldn’t feel dead. There’s a big difference between working hard and working yourself into the ground. In fact, you should have more energy as you’re leaving the gym than you did when you walked in!
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Check out our programs and 1:1 coaching options to finally end the diet restriction, second-guessing, and running yourself into the ground with your workouts.
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