When you first hear the fitness term “two-a-day,” you might immediately think of professional athletes. After all, most people find it hard to make time for one workout a day, let alone two.
However, this doesn’t mean two-a-day workouts should be written off entirely. If you know how to implement them into your schedule and have specific training goals in mind, training twice a day can provide several different health and performance benefits.
You might be thinking, “what if I can’t make it to the gym twice a day?” There’s no cause for concern. Unless you’re an elite athlete training with a specific goal in mind, training twice a day (or even working out every day) isn’t necessary to see progress.
Why might you want to workout twice a day? It depends on the goals you have. These goals could be as simple as increasing your activity throughout the day, improving your physical performance, reducing body fat, or building more lean muscle.
In this article, we’ll discuss the benefits and why training twice a day could be the right fit for you.
The benefits of training twice a day include (but aren’t limited to):
- Increased daily physical activity
- Improved physical performance
- Increased training volume and improved muscle growth
Increased Daily Physical Activity
It’s no secret that increasing your daily activity means that you’re also increasing your energy output, which requires your body to burn more calories, resulting in weight loss.
Getting enough exercise in your daily routine is important for several reasons. Think of regular movement as medicine for your body. Getting enough movement every day has shown to help control blood sugar, improve weight loss, lower cholesterol, improve memory, enhance the immune system, and reduce stress[*].
Increased Physical Performance
There are many ways in which two-a-days help improve your performance. As we mentioned before, increasing your daily activity increases your energy expenditure, allowing you to improve your health and help with weight loss.
If you’re looking to improve your overall body composition (reducing fat and building muscle), two-a-days can help. You see, working out twice a day increases protein synthesis. It makes sense, right? You’re using and breaking down your muscles more frequently, which means your body will naturally build them up again.
Not only can two-a-days improve your overall body composition, but they can also increase the intensity of your workouts. By splitting up your exercise routine into two different times, you can conserve your energy and increase the intensity and productivity of your workouts.
Increased Training Volume and Muscle Growth
More weight training volume typically equals more muscle (as long as you’re recovering properly and in a caloric surplus). Increasing your training volume can also help you break through plateaus. What is training volume, exactly? It’s your total workload per exercise, workout, and week.
You can easily calculate it by multiplying the sets x reps x load.
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With all the benefits of working out twice a day, are there any drawbacks? Short answer, yes, there are some. The most apparent issue with training twice a day is the possibility of overtraining. Think about it. Double the exercise means double the stress on your body. When you’re not getting enough rest or allowing your body to recover, your chances of overtraining increase[*].
How do you know if you’re overtraining?
There are several different indications that you’re overtraining. Some to pay attention to are:
- Elevated morning pulse
- Inability to complete workouts
- Feeling unmotivated
- Lacking energy
- Increased susceptibility to colds and other illnesses
- Loss of appetite
- Decrease in performance
The more experienced you are with training, the easier it will be to listen to your body and what variables need to change.
If you’ve been training seriously for a minimum of 6 months and want to kick your routine up a notch, training twice a day could be an option for you. But how do you start? Here are a few guidelines you’ll want to stick to:
- Allow enough time between workouts
- Plan your training accordingly
- Prioritize nutrition and hydration
- Get more sleep
- Start slow
1. Allow Enough Time Between Workouts
Training twice a day doesn’t mean you can train one hour, rest, and then head back to the gym in two hours. You’ll want at least 6 hours to separate your workouts. For example, if your first workout of the day ends at 8:00 am, try not to start your next workout until 2:00 pm. Your rest time should also vary depending on the intensity of your workouts. The more intense your workouts are, the more time you’ll want to leave between sessions.
2. Plan Your Training Accordingly
Wondering what type of workouts you should be doing and when? When it comes to cardio twice a day or weight training twice a day, there are a few factors to pay attention to. Both the length and intensity of your workout play an important role in what time of day you should train. If you have more strenuous training planned that day, make sure to program that workout for the morning. The same goes for longer workouts. Longer workouts should be performed in the morning with shorter workouts scheduled for the afternoon.
3. Prioritize Nutrition and Hydration
Nutrition and hydration are critical components in fueling your body and helping you recover. Making sure your body gets the proper nutrients post-workout helps your body decrease muscle breakdown, increase muscle growth, restore glycogen stores and enhance recovery. Lack of adequate calories and hydration can almost guarantee an uncomfortable road toward overtraining.
4. Get More Sleep
More and more research has surfaced on how important sleep is for your cognitive and physical health. One study showed that longer sleep had improved the speed, accuracy and reaction times of basketball players[*]. Unfortunately, this means that less sleep can hurt your mental and physical performance.
5. Start Slow
If you’re looking to add two-a-days to your training routine, start small. Don’t start with more than two days in a row of multiple workouts. More advanced athletes can get away with more two-a-days as their bodies are more likely to adapt.
The beautiful thing about working out two times a day is that there is plenty of variety to choose from when it comes to training. You can add cardio and strength work, heavy training, yoga, etc. Some examples of good two-a-day workouts include:
- Heavy resistance training in the AM; low-intensity yoga in the PM
- Strength training in the morning, low-intensity cycling in the PM
- CrossFit or HIIT in the AM, steady-state jogging on the treadmill in the PM
If you decide to try two-a-days, make sure to start slow. Add one two-a-day to your week at a time and see how your training and recovery are affected by it. Paying attention to how your body handles increased physical output is key to staying on top of recovery. Like anything else, your body will need time to adjust.