When it comes to exercise, it can be hard enough to get to the gym once a day, let alone twice, but sometimes multiple workouts (also known as doubles) make sense. Wondering if working out twice a day might be for you? Consider the following.
If you’re an experienced endurance athlete, it might be beneficial to log the occasional second workout. If you’re training for an event like a marathon or triathlon, sometimes doubles are necessary. Logging two workouts a day will allow you to increase training volume and aerobic endurance, meaning you’ll be able to run, ride or swim longer before you get tired. And if you have a triathlon on your calendar, you’ll want to experiment with “brick workouts,” which are training sessions that include two back-to-back disciplines, like a swim-bike or a bike-run. Two-a-day workouts are especially important if you have a half or full IRONMAN on your calendar—you need to prepare your body for the rigors of a multi-hour, multisport race.
When to Double Up
Interval or speed workout days are another time when you might want to fit in a second session. If you log a tough interval workout in the morning (i.e. mile repeats on the track), consider going for an easy swim or slow jog later in the day. This can help flush waste products from your muscles, as well as speed the delivery of blood and nutrients, leading to faster recovery—essential when you have a goal race or event on the calendar.
Not Just for Elite Athletes
Even if you don’t consider yourself an athlete, doubles might have some health benefits. According to the American Heart Association, adults should get 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise (or 75 minutes of intense aerobic exercise) each week, plus a few strength-training sessions. Depending on your schedule, you might want to double up on workouts some days and take complete rest days on others. And while you may feel hardcore, logging multiple workouts in a day doesn’t have to be extreme: It can be as simple as bodyweight exercises in the morning and a power walk after work.
Sleep and Nutrition Are Even More Important
If you want to test the waters with multiple workouts, there are a few things you need to keep in mind. You should give yourself a minimum of four hours between workouts (although eight-plus is more ideal). With extra workouts, you’ll also need to be more mindful of your sleep and nutrition. On days when you log multiple sweat sessions, make sure you’re eating, drinking and sleeping enough. If you ignore the essentials, double workouts could lead to injury, overtraining or burnout.
Don’t Overdo It
You’ve probably heard the saying “listen to your body,” but when it comes to working out twice a day, it’s more important than ever. If you’ve never done doubles before, ease in slowly (think once a week, not every day), and if you experience pain or find yourself struggling to get through workouts, it might be time to cut back.
The final thing to ask yourself before you log a second workout is “why?” You want to make sure every run, ride, yoga class or weight lifting session has its purpose. If it works better for your schedule to squeeze in shorter sessions or you’re going through an intense training block, doubles might make sense. But conversely, working out twice a day can be a bit of a hassle (double showers, more laundry), and it may make you more prone to injury. Finding a schedule that works for you might take some trial and error, so be flexible if you decide to dive in.