To most people, working out twice a day might seem impossible. It can be hard enough to get out the door once, let alone twice! Exercising twice a day (sometimes referred to as doubles) isn’t for everyone, but it can make sense in some circumstances. If you’re curious about two-a-day workouts, keep reading.
If You’re a Highly Trained Athlete, Doubles Can Be a Smart Choice
If you participate in endurance sports like running, cycling, or swimming, it might make sense to train twice a day. Specifically, if you’re training for a long event such as a marathon, running doubles will allow you to increase your training volume and aerobic endurance. That’s important because the more endurance you have, the faster and longer you can run.
Working out twice in one day may also positively affect the way your body adapts to training, helping you become fitter in a shorter amount of time. Many endurance athletes will do a short workout a few hours after a hard effort. For example, if you run a tough interval workout in the morning, jogging a few easy miles later in the day can help bring blood and nutrients to your muscles, facilitating recovery. For runners who log many miles, doubles allow them to fit in the desired mileage, without every run being super long.
...and it Might Make Sense If You’re A Regular Joe
But what if watching on TV is the closest you’ll ever get to the Olympics? Working out twice in one day still might be beneficial. The American Heart Association recommends that adults get 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise (or 75 minutes of intense aerobic exercise) each week, plus two strength training sessions. Most people can fit in that in by exercising once a day, however, depending on your schedule, it might be easier to double up some days. For example, you might find it preferable to log a strength training session in the morning and follow it up with an evening bike ride. As you can see in that case, working out twice a day doesn’t have to equal extreme exercise!
Recovery is Key
If you begin working out twice a day, pay special attention to timing. Your body needs at least a few hours in between workouts. Aim for 4-6 hours, but 10-12 is even better. And keep in mind that not every day should include double workouts. Some days should only involve one workout -- or none at all.
With extra exercise, you’ll also need to log more sleep and pay more attention to fueling. Plan for an early bedtime and include a hearty snack to balance out the energy you’ll be expending. Taking care of yourself goes a long way in staying healthy and injury-free!
Be Alert for Signs of Overtraining and Burnout
The most important thing to keep in mind when it comes to working out twice a day, is knowing your limits. If you’re new to “doubles” you should ease into them slowly. If you experience extreme fatigue, aches and pains, or start feeling “blah” about exercise, it might be time to cut back.
Before you attempt working out twice a day, make sure you’re doing it for the right reasons. If it’s easier for you to fit in 2 x 20 minute workouts each day (vs. one longer session) or you’re training for an endurance event, you may reap the benefits. But if you’re prone to injury or don’t want some of the hassles (like extra laundry!), working out just once a day can be plenty.
Megan is a writer, RRCA certified running coach, and new mom living and training in rural upstate New York. She competed in DIII track and cross-country at Wesleyan University and now focuses on the half-marathon and marathon distance.
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