Ramping up your regime to two-a-day sessions seems like the next logical step if you’re looking to lose fat faster, or hit more muscle groups more times per week.
However (and this is a big however): one of the most important things to remember when it comes to fitness, fat loss, and health in general is that more doesn’t always equal better.
While working out more to get more results may seem like the right thing to do, the fact of the matter is that the body is an intricate biological machine, with reactions that aren’t always as straight forward as 1 + 1 = 2. And, unless you’re doing two workouts a day the right way, you can easily set yourself up for burnout, and even adrenal fatigue.
Let’s uncover why this is.
So, Should You Work Out Twice A Day?
The answer to this question isn’t a straightforward “yes” or “no,” simply because it depends on a few factors, such as what type of workouts you’re doing twice a day, as well as your fitness level and food intake.
For example, if we’re talking about doing high-intensity workouts (HIIT or heavy lifting) twice a day, my answer is usually going to be no. HIIT and heavy lifts not only put tremendous stress on your muscles, but also your entire metabolic and endocrine system. When done correctly and with enough recovery time, this pressure is beneficial, helping your energy systems work more efficiently to optimize fat burn and maximize endurance.
However, if these type of workouts are done too often (aka: twice a day) this stress can be too much, simply because there isn’t enough time allotted for recovery. Stress hormones can end up being released in large amounts for a longer period of time, leading to chronically elevated cortisol, while adrenaline and norepinephrine can also remain elevated and tax your adrenals. If this occurs for a long enough period of time, your nervous system can easily become overwhelmed, leading to extreme fatigue.
Now, if by asking “Should you work out twice a day” you mean should you do a HIIT workout in the morning, followed by walking or light jogging a mile or two or doing yoga in the evenings, I’ll say go for it! These latter two “workouts” are more focused on moving your body than pushing it to it’s limits, which always has a benefit. Just make sure you’re getting an adequate amount of calories from whole, nutrient-dense foods every day to support your movement levels, and be sure you have at least one recovery day.
Quality Over Quantity
So: if you’re not working out twice a day, what do you do to take things up a level?
One of my rules with fitness is to always focus on quality over quantity. While it goes for most things in life, it seriously applies here. Find ways to increase the quality of your sessions – add more weight, add in new movements and unique pieces of equipment (sandbags, tires, etc …), create a time challenge (or add more time). The key is to work during your sessions so that you are feeling it, even if that requires restructuring things a bit.
Also be sure to add in mobility and flexibility work to your sessions to reach your maximum potential and range of motion (you’d be surprised at how much mobility can help you, for example, squat deeper).
Are There Exceptions?
As with anything, there are exceptions to working out twice a day, although they’re usually limited to hardcore athletes. If you’ve been competing in a sport and your body has been conditioned (key words) to handle higher levels of workouts more often, then two-a-day’s could be okay for a short period of time. Of course, you’d want to consult with your coach first and always listen to your body before diving in.
If you’re not competing for sport and haven’t been doing intense workouts for a longer period of time (aka: you aren’t conditioned yet) twice a day workouts aren’t necessary, and may backfire, so focus on that quality over quantity rule!
The Bottom Line
• Quality over quantity is the most important thing to remember regarding workouts
• Doing two intense HIIT-style workouts or heavy strength workouts per day may be stressful on your body and result in burnout (unless you’re a high-level, conditioned athlete).
• Working out in the morning and going for a light walk/jog or doing yoga in the evening isn’t necessarily “working out” twice a day, so go for it!
• Increase the intensity of your workouts rather than adding extra workouts.