Most people think about exercising in terms of how many times they work out per week, but for some fitness fanatics, too much is never enough.
“Two-a-days” aren’t for everyone, but there are potential benefits — as well as some drawbacks — in working out twice in 24 hours.
Here are 10 surprising facts you should know about exercising twice in one day before doubling up on your workouts.
1. Two-A-Days Can Be Safe
Some people assume exercising twice a day must be bad or unsafe, but this isn’t necessary the case if done correctly. According to John Mandrola MD, “two-a-day workouts can be especially useful, and if used wisely, might lead to safer more effective training.” For example, your first workout can focus muscle building and strength training, while your second can simply involve jogging or cardio.
2. Rest Is Important
If you’re working out multiple times per day, getting enough rest is essential. Give yourself some time between your workouts (some experts suggest waiting between four and six hours between your exercise sessions), and rest your muscle groups between days.
Make sure you take at least one day completely off each week, if not two or more. And listen to your body: If you notice that you are growing too fatigued and sore over time, or that you aren’t performing like you used to, you may need to increase your rest time.
3. Do Intense Workouts First
If you’re doing both high-intensity (like HIIT or strength training) and low-intensity exercises (like “regular” cardio), you should do the higher intensity work in your first session. It will be easier for you to give it your all when you have the most energy, while a lighter, more endurance-based exercise will be more manageable later on in the day.
4. Nutrition Is Critical
If you’re going to get the benefits of working out twice a day without wearing yourself out, you absolutely must focus on eating right. Proper nutrition will help your body to heal and repair itself. Experts recommend eating a relatively large meal with both complex and simple carbs, as well as plenty of protein, immediately after your first workout; eat a similar meal prior to your second workout.
5. Spread Out Your Exercise Routine (And Rest)
Some workout schedules that suggest exercising twice in one day focus on different areas of the body and increasing the numbers of rest days.
For example, here’s one schedule that might work for you:
- Monday AM: Lower body
- Monday PM: Upper body
- Tuesday: Rest
- Wednesday AM: Upper body
- Wednesday PM: Lower body
- Thursday: Rest
- Friday AM: Lower body
- Friday PM: Upper body
- Saturday and Sunday: Rest or cardio
6. You Need Sleep, And Lots Of It
Sleep is always important for athletes, but if you’re working out twice a day, you really need to catch your zs. Getting enough sleep can make a huge difference when it comes to seeing results vs. burning out, so get to bed an hour or two earlier than you usually would when you have two-a-day coming up.
7. You Have To Go Slow
If you’re just starting working out twice a day, make sure that you constantly listen to your body. It’s not a great idea to suddenly jump into two-a-days by trying to run 5 miles in the morning and another 10 in the evening. The key is to work up to your big workouts.
8. Balance Is Everything
While it may be tempting to make both of your workouts super intense (and to therefore see exponential results), this is probably not the healthiest or most sustainable approach. Try mixing in exercises that are complementary in their regimes; mix weight-lifting with jogging, or swimming with yoga. This mix-and-match method can help prevent burnout and boredom.
9. You Can’t Do It Forever
Working out twice a day can be great for bursting through a plateau, but it can be very difficult on your body (not to mention, your social life!) if you do it indefinitely. Experts recommend to follow a two-a-day programs for no more than two weeks in a row, and making sure that you give yourself at least one week before you try another session of two-a-days.
10. Watch For Over-Training
When you’re pushing yourself to your limit, you begin to see real changes, and this is one of the real benefits of working out twice a day. The problem with pushing your limits, of course, is that you also flirt with over-training and injury. Pay close attention to how you feel, both emotionally and mentally. If you’re feeling tired, hurt, bored, discouraged or fatigued, this may be a sign that you should scale things back or change up your routine.
How many times a day should you work out? The answer to this question is very dependent on the individual and their goals. If you are an elite athlete training for an event, twice a day day may be realistic and effective. If you’re just exercising to maintain your health, then working out twice a day may neither be helpful or necessary.
Furthermore, exercise increases hunger, which means exercising twice a day may, in fact, become counterproductive to weight loss efforts if you’re constantly firing up your appetite. Another potential drawback is adrenal insufficiency, a rare but life-threatening condition that can result from overtraining.
Is working out twice a day right for you? Remember, your workout routine should be tailored specifically to you and your particular fitness needs, which means two-a-days may be great for some and not for others. Consult with a healthcare professional before taking on any new fitness regime.
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