CrossFit vs F45 vs Orange Theory – Which one is right for you?

The fitness industry is continually changing. From Jane Fonda aerobics videos, to bodybuilding, to 6 pack abs. Now the big thing is all about functional training. Focusing on exercises that will make your body functional for your everyday movements. 

Today there are 3 big movements leading the way in functional training. CrossFit, F45 and OrangeTheory. All 3 have the foundation of functional training but there’s a lot of differences outside of the core functional training principle. 

CrossFit, F45 & OrangeTheory explained

CrossFit

CrossFit workouts can be very competitive as workout results such as weight lifted or time it takes to complete a workout can be posted online. If you do the workouts at a CrossFit Box Gym the people there can be quite competitive and these workouts can be very intense. 

Each day there’s a Workout of the Day commonly known as a WOD among crossfitters. And every day has a different workout. You won’t be doing the same workout you did today every day, or every week, or possibly ever.

Read Also: What is a Metcon Workout & 5 Conditioning Workouts for Beginners

Crossfit circuit

The variety of exercises is limitless. Aside from the basic functional exercise of squats, push ups, and running that everyone should know in CrossFit. Some of the exercises most people might not know how to do when starting CrossFit are their olympic lifts. Such as deadlifts, cleans, and snatches. To learn the benefits of olympic lifting check out Four Reasons To Olympic Lift.

You can do CrossFit workouts in a gym or you can do them at home. If you have a barbell and some weights you can do most CrossFit workouts. Add a pull up bar and you’re good to go! 

If you don’t have any equipment you can still do certain CrossFit workouts. You can view some of these workouts in a past article No Equipment CrossFit Workouts You Can do at Home.

The article has 33 different workouts you can do so you can go a good few months without having to repeat any of the workouts listed. 

If you went to a CrossFit gym you’ll be paying anywhere in the range of $100-$200/month depending on where you live and how good the gym is. They do provide other pricing options based on how often you come in for a workout. You can see some of those options at How Much Is CrossFit A Month? Costs and Gym Prices.

Related: Why is CrossFit so expensive? 

So how do you determine how good a CrossFit gym is? Usually a gym with a lot of members is a good sign that the gym is good. But there are more important factors when deciding the right gym for you. 

Most important are the coaches. 

Good coaches means you’ll learn how to perform each exercise better than if you did it yourself, which lowers your risk of injury. Bad coaches means you won’t properly learn how to perform every exercise which increases your risk of injury. 

You can learn more on how to determine if a gym is good for you by reviewing a past article 6 Tips To Help You Choose A Good CrossFit Box.

Coaching is most important but the other 5 are good factors also.  

Read Also: Best Starter CrossFit WOD's for Seniors

F45

F45 workouts are 45 minute high-intensity, interval training (HIIT) workouts focused on functional movements. The format of the workout is working for 45 seconds and then a break for 15 seconds.

The gym is surrounded by tv’s demonstrating the exercises so it’s easy to follow along. This is a great feature for anyone new to the gym. 

You’ll be performing the typical exercises you’ll see people doing at a regular gym such as running, biking, push ups, squats, lunges etc. 

You don't need to bring any equipment to a F45 class. 

Read Also: Calisthenics Warm Up Exercises to Prepare you for your Workout

If you went to a F45 gym you’ll be paying in the $60/week range depending on where you live and how good the gym is. Some locations also give deep discounts if you pay for several months up front. 

Orange Theory

OrangeTheory workouts are intense workouts focused on getting your heart rate up. You’re given a heart rate monitor and you’re trying to get in their orange heart rate zone for a certain amount of time every workout. Your heart rate zone is up on a monitor and shows how you rank compared to all the other class participants. 

Each day every OrangeTheory around the world has the same workout. These workouts were designed by the OrangeTheory team head office to give to all locations. 

The key exercises you’ll be doing are running and rowing. But OrangeTheory isn’t only about cardio, you’ll also be doing a variety of dumbbell exercises such as squats, lunges, and rows. 

You don't need to bring any equipment to an OrangeTheory class, they provide the heart rate monitors. 

If you go to an OrangeTheory gym  you’ll be paying around $150/month. They also offer lower priced alternatives if you only want to go a certain number of times per month.  

Read Also: Best Starter CrossFit WODs for Seniors

What is the difference between CrossFit, F45 and OrangeTheory

The biggest advantage CrossFit has over F45 and OrangeTheory is how you can build your strength with the strength training in CrossFit. You can put some serious weight on a barbell and lift weights that you won’t be lifting with the other 2 workouts. And when it comes to functional training being able to lift heavy loads is very important.

The biggest disadvantage CrossFit has is there are more people who get injured doing CrossFit than F45 or Orangetheory. The main reason is inexperience of how to perform the exercise by the participant. If you’re not performing the exercises often enough you’ll need to decrease both the weights and intensity to master the movements to reduce your risk of injury. The Secret to Getting Better at CrossFit shares some basic but useful information on how to get good at all the movements. 

The biggest advantage F45 has over CrossFit and OrangeTheory is time. Because of the HIIT principle you can ramp up your intensity and get a good solid workout in only 45 minutes. This is great for people who always find the excuse they have no time to go to the gym. 

The biggest disadvantage F45 has is you can do these workouts in any gym. If you have a basic knowledge of HIIT and working out you can do the workouts on your own. It’s a workout more for beginners or people who don’t know what exercises to do when they’re at a gym. 

Read Also: CrossFit vs Bodybuilding - Understand the differences so you know the best fit for you

running

The biggest advantage OrangeTheory has over CrossFit and F45 is you can measure your intensity. Their heart rate monitors are great because you get instant feedback if you should push harder right now, or if you should go a little easier. This will make sure you’re getting a good quality workout every time. 

The biggest disadvantage OrangeTheory has is the majority of the intensity is in the cardio element of their workouts. When your focus is to get the heart rate continually in the Orange Heart Rate zone you’re likely not going to be able to lift as heavy or do as many reps. In other words, it’s going to be harder to build muscle and get stronger as the program lacks in strength training. 

CrossFit vs F45 & OrangeTheory, which workout is best for you?

All 3 of these workouts are great and serve their purpose. If you were able to incorporate all 3 of them you’ll be in incredible shape. But unless you have Hundreds of dollars every month for a gym membership that’s likely not going to happen. 

So how do you determine which workout is best when comparing OrangeTheory vs CrossFit & F45? There are so many factors when deciding which workout would be best. Your experience, budget, location, fitness goals, etc. But for the purpose of this article let’s simplify it and just use your age and your #1 fitness goal. 

Read Also: Optimize your Recovery with these Compression Tights

plank

If your #1 fitness goal is to lose some weight OrangeTheory is great. Their heart rate monitors will really push you and make sure you’re on track to reach your target heart rate for every workout. And they do provide enough resistance exercises to make sure you can still build some muscle which is critical when trying to lose weight. 

If your #1 fitness goal is to build muscle CrossFit is great. When comparing F45 and OrangeTheory vs Crossfit in this category CrossFit wins hands down. Because you will be carrying heavier loads with CrossFit building muscle will be a byproduct of lifting these heavier weights. F45 & Orange Theory only use dumbbells which can easily become too light as you progressively get stronger. Without proper strength training you can plateau quite easily as far as building your muscles and strength.  

Read Also: Calisthenics for Beginners (9 Key Workouts + More)

If your #1 fitness goal is to build endurance CrossFit is the way to go again. It’s the only 1 out of the 3 where you’ll be doing some type of endurance activity for longer than 5-10 minutes at a time. Certain workouts require a 5k or 10k run which will be sure to build your endurance. Here are some Endurance WODS to keep your endurance up that you won’t find at OrangeTheory or F45. 

If you’re overweight and your #1 fitness goal is to lose weight than F45 training would be your program. You might be wondering why OrangeTheory would be recommended to lose some weight, but not if you’re an overweight person. There are 3 main reasons. 

  1. Chances are you’re somewhat new or haven’t been going to the gym lately. F45 is more designed for these type of people.
  2. The shorter 45 minute workouts make it harder for you to have the excuse of you don’t have the time to workout.
  3. Getting your heart rate up into the Orange Zone for long periods of time isn’t safe if you’re new to exercise.

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For Specific Fitness Limitations

If your #1 fitness goal is just to get back into shape after pregnancy F45 training would be the right program for you. Getting your heart rate up in OrangeTheory’s orange zone or lifting the heavy weight required in some CrossFit workouts is never a good idea for someone coming off pregnancy. F45 is a nice middle ground with just enough of a cardio workout to get the heart rate up and just enough weights to get toned. 

If you’re in your 60’s or older F45 training is also the better program for you. It has the good mix of getting your heart rate up from OrangeTheory with some resistance training like CrossFit. Ultimately, F45 would be recommended because of safety for this age group. 

Read Also: Active Recovery WOD Is The Key To Optimizing Your CrossFit Programming

See the table below to summarize which workout is best based on your age and #1 fitness goal. 

crossfit vs OrangeTheory vs F45

Conclusion

There are a lot of good options for functional training and all have their place for a good training program. It ultimately depends what your main fitness goal is and what your body is capable of doing. But you can’t go wrong by choosing any of these 3 training programs.


Brent Rarama

Brent Rarama

"We all have the potential to be a self-made success story." Credentials ACE Certified Personal Trainer INFOFIT Group Fitness Certification Interests Sports Olympic Lifting Weight loss programs Researching different diets and exercises

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