Is Working Out Twice A Day Good For You Or A Recipe For Injury?
Ray Bass is the associate movement and wellness editor at mindbodygreen and a NASM-Certified Personal Trainer. She holds a degree in creative writing from the University of Pennsylvania, with honors in nonfiction.
Let's be real—finding the motivation to work out once a day can be a struggle. But if you're a super-active person (or have ever gotten into a serious workout groove), chances are you've thought about working out twice a day and wondered whether or not that would be safe. We usually think of "two-a-days" as something only pro athletes, Olympians, or even high school versions of ourselves do, but working out twice a day does have benefits. When done correctly, it can be a healthy addition of your workout regimen! Here's what you should know before you lace up your sneakers again.
The pros of working out twice a day.
Similar to working out once a day, getting in two sweat sessions does have physical and mental health benefits. For one, you'll spend less time sitting and more time moving, which is ideal given how sedentary our lives are. Working out twice a day can also be beneficial if you have a crazy or sporadic schedule (hello, parents) and can't get in 30 minutes of activity in one sitting—sometimes 15 minutes in the morning and 15 after work just makes more sense.
Another reason to work out twice a day, according to NYC-based personal trainer Lacee Lazoff, is if you're trying to lose weight or train for a specific event that requires multiple modalities, like a triathlon. But, she cautions, it's not for everyone. "There needs to be a solid 'why' regarding this approach," Lazoff says. "The thought that more is better on its own is not a solid 'why.' The biggest variable is intensity, which needs to be managed."
So in short, if your goal is to lose weight or train for a multi-sport race, two-a-days are one of the many tools that can help you hit your goals. That said, unless you have a busy schedule and are breaking up your workout into smaller, shorter sessions, you should definitely weigh the risks that come with working out twice a day.
The cons of working out twice a day.
As you can imagine, there are drawbacks to working out twice a day. Working out taxes the body, from your muscles to your energy levels, and not taking adequate time to recover between training sessions can lead to injury. "Working out twice a day when the intensity is high can lead to bigger issues, like adrenal fatigue, hormonal imbalances, and plateauing weight loss goals if the body doesn't have time to recover," Lazoff says. "It can also hinder a strength training plan because the body might not have time to properly rest and build muscle."
It’s also worth considering that too much too soon is never a smart idea. "A high-level athlete is likely to be able to handle the stresses of a double workout, where a novice could invite an overuse injury or unneeded fatigue by taking on too much at once."
Bottom line: If you work out too intensely, and do so twice a day, your body won't have enough time to properly recover. As a result, you increase your risk of getting an overtraining injury—and that can set you back several weeks.
Here's how to work out twice a day, the right way.
If you have your sights set on working out twice a day, there is a way to do it safely, but you have to be careful. Most trainers recommend that you don't do it too many days a week, especially at a high intensity. "You want to be cautious about the overall volume your body is handling through your workouts," says Nike master trainer Betina Gozo. "So you don't want to be doing two-a-days five days a week. Our bodies simply can’t handle that!"
But for days that you do work out twice daily, Gozo recommends varying the intensity and type of activity. "If you're doing a lift session in the morning, do a hot yoga or easy HIIT session that evening (and I mean easy—no crazy heavy weights, just enough to get your heart rate up), and the next day you rest. Your body needs time to recover."
Lazoff agrees, saying that a 30- to 40-minute weight training session in the morning could pair well with a light evening run or a short weight training session in the morning and a spin class at night. It's all about balancing the load—keeping your sessions balanced between cardio and strength, and push, pull, hinge, and squat movements.
Still determined to give two-a-days a shot? Just make sure you are easing into it. As our experts suggest, varying the type of workout and the difficulty of the workout is key to staying healthy and not overtaxing your body. So take time to adjust and time to rest—it's the best way to avoid getting hurt.
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