OrangeTheory Heart Rate Zones: An Explainer

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One of the first things you notice when you get inside an OrangeTheory gym is the huge screen filled with names, numbers and different colors. What does all this mean?

Well, those are the heart rates of the people currently doing their workout. The different colors signify the different OrangeTheory heart rate zones. They are provided so you can better assess your performance, and so you can push yourself if you need to. 

The heart rate zones posted on the big screen for all to see can spark the competitive side in you to work a little harder. Also, it will help you know whether you are really hitting your max, or if you still have more in reserve. 

The heart rate zones come in different colors. Let us further discuss what they mean below. But first, let us tell you about how Orangetheory figures it out. 


OrangeTheory Heart Rate Monitors

The OrangeTheory workout is trending and many are loving it.

With this workout plan, you don’t just burn calories while working out. Your body continues to burn calories for up to 24-36 hours after working out. 

Who doesn’t love that?

They use high-intensity interval training to make that possible. That means their workouts are designed to raise your heart rate.

But you can’t just will your heart rate into overdrive. You need to push to your max level. That’s where the heart rate monitors come into play.

Upon entry, they’ll be handing you a heart rate monitor that you are to wear during the entire workout.

Your heart rate, along with many others, will be posted on the screen so you can easily monitor yourself.

No excuses now, huh?

Orangetheory Heart Rate Zones Explained

And so your one-hour workout session at OTF starts. Maybe you’re on the treadmill. Maybe you’re rocking the rowing machine.

At the start, most monitor colors are grey. After several minutes, some may have turned blue while others have turned green. 

What do those colors mean?

Well, each color will signify a different OrangeTheory heart rate zone.

The heart rate monitors help the computers identify which zone you belong. Thus the color of the window with your name on it. 

However, the heart rate monitor isn’t the only thing they need to provide accurate data. All new members will be required to fill out some paperwork. A few particulars like your age, gender, and weight will be needed. 

These all help the computer to compute your maximum heart rate. 

Your current heart rate will then be compared to your max heart rate and they’ll end up given you percentages. There are 5 different zones you can fall into. They are the gray zone, blue zone, green zone, orange zone, and red zone.

Let’s explain each.

Gray Zone

The gray zone gives a reading of 50% up to 60% of your max heart rate level. This zone is the most relaxed zone. This means you’re just starting with a very light exercise. It also could signify your recovery zone as you end the workout session. 

This is a very comfortable zone and your heart isn’t pushed to exert a lot of effort.

Blue Zone

The blue zone is for those who already have a reading of 61% to 70%. This zone is like a warm-up phase. It means you are already pushing yourself and getting there, but you still have plenty of room to spare. 

This is usually the zone when you’re warming up or cooling down. In this zone, you’re giving your heart a little push but you can, for example, have a normal conversation with others.

Green Zone

The green zone is where you start to sweat. This is producing a reading of 71% to 83%. Although this level could be challenging your body, you should be able to sustain this level fairly easily. 

You should also consider this as your base pace. This is what you should maintain for about 30 minutes of your workout. The body is already burning fats and carbohydrates at this level of output. 

Orange Zone

The orange zone is the fourth zone and would produce a reading of about 84% to 91%. This is the zone that you want to reach. When you reach this zone, your body will benefit strongly from the afterburn.

This is what OrangeTheory is all about!

In this zone, your body is short on oxygen so you may feel like catching your breath. You are working hard, but you’re not at your absolute max. 

When you reach this zone, you’ve stressed your body enough that it needs to recover even after the workout while you’re at home. That means you’ll be burning calories even after working out. You should target being in this zone for about 10 minutes.

You’ll start to earn splat points here!

Red Zone

The red zone puts out a reading of about 92% to 100%. This is what you reach when you’re giving absolutely everything to your workout. You’re burning your jet fuel, and you’re typically only trying to sustain this pace for 30 seconds to 1 minute.

Most only spend about 30 seconds to a minute in this zone. Some may get up to around 2 minutes in the red, during a pretty intense workout.

That said, not reaching the red zone doesn’t mean your workout is useless. Even if your zone only reached the green zone and stayed there, you still burn calories. 

As a beginner, you shouldn’t push your heart rate too much. You’ll improve with each session and it is best to consider your safety first. 

Your trainers will know that. So just enjoy the sweat in the beginning, and don’t think too much about the zones. As you progress, you’ll push further, but you’ll also have a good sense of your body’s limits.

No one expects you to reach the targeted red zone on your first day. The Heart Rate Zone screen is not a competition, though it may feel like that. The competition is with yourself, by pushing yourself further, the more you exercise. 

Why Am I Always in the Red Zone At OrangeTheory?

Do you find that you are constantly in the red zone, and getting loads of splat points every workout? It feels great, but it’s also possible there’s something wrong with the setup.

If you’re showing that you’re at 99% heart rate but you could still carry on a conversation at that level, there’s likely something wrong with the setup.

There are a few reasons why this can occur.


It’s possible that you’re in good shape for your age, as age plays a big part in the calculation.

Initial Setup Error

It’s also possible that your initial configuration got messed up and needs to be reset. Maybe your weight or height got input incorrectly (or maybe your body composition has changed since your initial setup).

Natural High Heart Rate

And it’s possible that your heart rate just naturally runs high.

Faulty Monitor

Your monitor may be faulty, or may not be placed in the correct location. Generally, the chest strap monitors are more accurate. Check your instructions and make sure you’re putting your monitor in the correct location on your body and that it is picking up your resting heart rate properly.

Final Thoughts

Orangetheory helps clients burn calories even after the sessions by doing high-intensity interval training. To help assess that, they use heart rate monitors and the OrangeTheory Fitness heart rate zone. 

There are 5 zones that are color-coded, namely gray, blue, green, orange, and red. The target is to reach the orange to red zone for maximum effect. However, staying in the lower zones will still let you burn calories.  

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Written by Kayla Young

Kayla is the founder of LuxeLuminous. She has worked professionally in the tanning industry for years. She has been interested in esthetics since childhood, and has tried every hair, skin, and makeup product ever produced (more or less).