Is Going To Orange Theory Once A Week Enough? (Explained)

Going to Orangetheory Fitness is a proven way to improve your health and shred extra pounds from your love handles. However, what happens if you’re a busy guy or gal and you have just one day per week to train? Today I will explain if going to orange theory once a week is enough, based on your fitness goals.

In general, doing orange theory fitness once a week is better than nothing. People who don’t have time for more frequent exercise still get the health benefits of doing just one high-intensity workout every seven days. However, it can take 6-12 months to see significant results.

I will also show you some interesting studies that explain the advantages of doing high-intensity interval training like orange theory fitness, even if it’s only one day a week.

Is Orange Theory Once A Week Worth It?

Stating a fitness regime to get into tip-top shape takes a lot of time and dedication. This can be difficult, especially if you’re wearing many hats during the day.

Many of us juggle one or more jobs, have family responsibilities, and have early-morning or late-night clients. Needless to say, it’s hard to combine that with consistent exercise.

One of the ways you can get into shape is by doing orange theory fitness, which is a combination of strength and cardiorespiratory fitness. Each workout delivers a mix of running/walking, rowing, and functional resistance training using TRX and weights.

However, what happens if you only have one day per week?

Overall, doing orange theory once a week is worth it because you can still improve your health, body composition, and performance. Studies have shown that doing resistance training once or twice per week delivers muscle strength gains similar to 3 days per week training.

What Happens If You Only Do OTF Once A Week?

One of my clients is a busy software developer who spends most of her days behind the desk. When she sign up for my training, she told me she only have one day per week to train.

Six months later, Frances was in the best shape of her life.

In other words, going to orange theory fitness one day per week it is worth it but you need to accept it will be a long road. You also need to have realistic expectations about the results you want.

Can You Lose Weight Going To Orange Theory Once A Week?

In general, you can lose weight by going to the orange theory once a week because fat loss depends on energy deficit only. Reducing food intake and creating a negative energy balance can lead to losing weight, regardless of how often you exercise.

Learn more: Click here to learn more about the “orange theory diet plan” for weight loss.

This happens regardless if you’re doing orange theory once a week or four times a week (as they recommend).

Dr. Willemijn AM. van Gemert from the University Medical Centre in Utrecht documented the effects of weight loss after doing diet alone versus exercise alone.

  • The exercise group was training for 4 hours per week using a combination of resistance training and endurance.
  • The diet group did not exercise, instead, they have prescribed a caloric restriction diet of around 3500 kcal per week (which equals to 500 calorie deficit per day).

See the graph below.

As you can see, 16 weeks of creating a 500 kcal energy deficit per day lead to similar changes in body weight and body composition (van Gemert et al. 2015).

NOTE: You can learn more about how effective is to do a “500 calorie deficit” per day in my article here.

Of course, the study also highlights the additional benefits of doing strength training more frequently like preservation of lean mass, better physical fitness, and improved hormonal profile.

Orange Theory Once A Week Benefits

Here are the benefits of doing orange theory fitness once a week.

  • Better aerobic fitness – a study published by the Khon Kaen University in Thailand documented that moderate-intensity training once a week for 12 weeks was enough to increase aerobic fitness in sedentary young men.
  • Improved strength gains – According to Taaffe et al, Doing resistance training once a week not only improves muscle strength and neuromuscular performance in older adults but also achieves similar strength gains to people who exercise 3 days per week (source).
  • Safe time – Foley et al show no significant differences between doing the high-intensity progressive gym-based exercise once a week versus twice a week (source).

How To Make Orange Theory Once A Week More Effective?

Naturally, doing OTF once a week is below the required levels of exercise for health. According to the ACSM guidance, you should be active at least 5 days per week.

“All healthy adults aged 18–65 yr should participate in moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity for a minimum of 30 min on five days per week, or vigorous-intensity aerobic activity for a minimum of 20 min on three days per week.” (ACSM).

The good news is that you can make your once-a-week wokrouts much more effective, without compromising on your time.

These helpful tips and lifestyle habits may overcome the ‘lack of time’ excuse for not exercising and positively influence someone in being more active.

How to make the orange theory once-a-week workout more effective? You can make your orange theory workouts more effective by adding some light physical activity during the week that doesn’t interfere with your schedule.

Stretching, choosing stairs instead of elevators, or walking with the dog are all viable ways to burn extra calories on top of your once-a-week workout.

Here are some examples.

  • Park further from the office to walk longer. If you live in a big metropolitan city, you may consider taking a city train instead of a car.
  • Ride a bicycle instead of driving the car, especially during the nice summer weather.
  • Take stairs instead of the elevator, especially if you work or live in a building with multiple floors.
  • Take a brisk walk during your lunchtime, either after or before your meal.
  • Wake up 10 minutes earlier in the morning and do a quick bodyweight exercise routine.
  • Use resistance bands or light dumbbells to further challenge your body during your home workouts.
  • When coming to orange theory, always try to progressively challenge yourself. This can be measured in the form of calories burned or the number of splat points you achieved.

I’ve written an in-depth article about different ways to use orange theory “splat points” for health and weight loss, which I recommend you read.


As a whole, doing orange theory fitness once a week is enough to improve your strength, reduce excess body fat and improve exercise performance.

To make the once-a-week workout more effective without compromising on your time you can add low-hanging fruit daily activities that can increase metabolic rate, without scheduling extra time for sport or exercise.

Michal Sieroslawski

Michal is an exercise physiologist (MSc), nutrition coach, Ashtanga teacher, and fitness blogger. He shares his successes and failures to help busy men and women squash down 20, 50, or even 100 pounds of fat without leaving their home.

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