Orange Zone: Another Fitness Gimmick??

If you’ve shown any interest in fitness services or products while surfing the internet, chances are your social media feeds are now full of advertisements for the “new” or “best” [insert fitness fad here].  And they’re quite compelling.  The writers of these ads are so good they even make me feel like I’ve been doing it wrong and need their help, (despite 25 years making a living in this industry, four degrees in exercise science, and 11 fitness/performance certifications…).

Fitness fads come, and go.  I’ve seen a lot!  Lately, I’ve been seeing another one that promotes special workout programs that get you “training in the orange zone.”  This is referring to training at a heart rate above 84% of your maximum so that your metabolism remains elevated after the exercise session is over, (essentially, you accumulate so much metabolism byproduct—acid—during an intense workout that your body has to work harder for the next 4 to 24 hours to process it and recover, which will burn even more fat over that period of time than if you hadn’t built up those byproducts).

This sounds really “science-y” and cool.  It’s like next-level exercise programming, right?

Well, no.  It’s not.  It’s just good marketing…

“Excess post-exercise oxygen consumption” (EPOC), the elevated metabolism after exercise, is simply your body’s way of cooling down and recovering after a tough workout.  It’s as common to exercise as sweat.

You’ve probably felt the “burn” in your muscles and an increased breathing rate from tough exercise, or a steep hike, or even walking up a flight of stairs.  That’s lactic acid building in your system.  It’s the byproduct of the extra “quick” energy needed to power your muscles in that moment.  When your muscles produce this acid, it has to be processed and removed for normal health, which requires work from your body, and hence an elevated metabolism.

EPOC is the “science-y” term we exercise nerds use for this temporary elevated metabolism.  And though your metabolism can be elevated for as much as 24 hours after a workout, EPOC metabolism is relatively small compared to your metabolism during the workout.  It’s good to have for some extra fat burn, but it’s not the ‘make or break’ part of exercise.  Of course, these marketers make it sound like it’s THE crucial part, and you can only get fitness results if you buy their gym membership or product, which comes with “EPOC.”  It’s like the old Ginsu knife infomercials… “but wait, there’s more!  We’ll give you EPOC when you buy now!!…” Haha!

Training in the “Orange Zone” isn’t that special or unique, as the marketers would have you believe.  The fact is, if you train at any descent intensity at all, (85% of max or above), you’re going to have EPOC!  And anyone can know if they’re in the orange zone by assessing their “feeling of intensity” during exercise.

Research has very reliably demonstrated that you can know your intensity accurately by rating it on a 1 to 10 scale of “perceived exertion”.  If you’re training at a “feeling” of 7 or more, you’re in the orange zone.  Boom!  You’re going to have EPOC; your going to have an elevated metabolism!  And it didn’t cost you a new membership at a gym that specializes in the “Orange You-Know-What…”

At Athlon, a good portion of our group training session is spent in the Orange Zone.  However, that’s not what’s special about our group training sessions.  Orange zone training is only concerned with a small portion of the skills necessary for human movement and hence the benefit of doing exercise sessions.  Generally, to produce EPOC you only need to focus on cardiovascular conditioning, stamina training, and strength training; three of the ten human movement skills (less than 1/3).  Do you really want to invest time and money and get back less than one-third of the benefit you should be getting?  I think that’s a bad investment strategy.

Missing in an “orange-zone-focused-workout” are Power, Speed, Accuracy, Balance, Coordination, Agility, and Flexibility.  To move like an athlete, (and hence, have the body of an athlete), one needs all ten movement skills trained and improved.  That’s what Athlon’s Elite Fitness Group Training program is all about.  It’s truly the most comprehensive fitness program I’ve ever come across.  But I’m a little biased, of course.  So you shouldn’t just take my word for it.  Come try it for yourself in a two-session FREE trial.

If you’re ready to start getting the other 70% of benefit from your regular exercise program, give us a call or request a free, no-obligation consultation to discuss it further here and then try it for FREE.

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