Should You Ever Work Out Twice In One Day?

By , SparkPeople Blogger
Many days, it can be hard to find the motivation to workout at all, much less two times. For most, it's difficult to imagine structuring your day so that you get sweaty more than once. Surprisingly, though, it's a strategy that's not exclusively reserved for elite athletes. Whether you only have time for a few short workouts, you really like the program you're doing or you're training for a big event, there are a variety of reasons someone might exercise more than once a day.
We often hear that giving the body time for adequate rest is so important, and it is. But does this mean that multiple daily workouts sets you up for physical and mental burnout, or can there be a healthy place for them in your exercise routine? Experts seem to be divided. While some say there are valid reasons for exercising twice a day, others say you're better off training hard once a day and then moving on to other things. Which is right?

Twice a Day is A-Okay

In the interest of full disclosure, I'm someone who does two workouts a day at least a few days a week. With four kids and a lot of responsibilities, I don't have time for longer workouts most of the time so dividing it up has allowed me to fit a full routine into my schedule. I'm up most days by 5 a.m. to do a 30-minute strength or cardio workout, depending on the day. If I have time later, I'll take a 30-minute walk during soccer practice or do a Vinyasa yoga class. I try to make sure only one of the workouts is intense so that I'm not overdoing it, but my goal is to get around 60 minutes of activity most days of the week.
If the idea of working out more than once a day is bringing back "two-a-day" flashbacks from your high school sports days, think of this a little differently. Two workouts in a day doesn't mean two, one-hour workouts where you finish drenched in sweat. It can be anything that gets your body moving and challenges your muscles. Whether you're a seasoned exerciser or just starting out, two workouts in a day can be a manageable option for your routine.
For example, if you're new to exercise and endurance is low, shorter workouts can allow you to accumulate fitness minutes throughout the day while slowly improving your fitness level. You might not be able to complete a 30-minute workout right now, but perhaps doing two, 15-minute workouts is something you can manage. Then, as you become fitter, you might find you can move for longer periods of time without needing to divide up the workout.
Alternatively, if you find your energy level dips at certain times of the day, adding another workout might keep you from making another run to Starbucks. I'm not a coffee drinker, so I need a boost of energy in the morning to get me going. The same goes for late afternoon and early evening when I start feeling sluggish. Scheduling my workouts at these times of day gives me the extra oomph I need to make it until bedtime.
Increased training volume does increase the risk of overtraining, so it's important to structure two daily workouts carefully—even if you're not a competitive athlete training for your next IRONMAN. Adequate rest, rehydrating and properly fueling in between workouts becomes even more important when you take on multiple exercise sessions in one day's time. Keeping these precautions in mind, there can be a place for multiple daily workouts in a balanced and healthy exercise routine.

2-A-Day? No Way!

Personal trainer and co-owner of LIFT Fitness Lucas Zarlengo, on the other hand, sees no reason to squeeze two workouts into a 24-hour period. Zarlengo believes that two workouts in a day does not give the body enough time to rest and recover, which ends up impeding progress in the long run. "Muscle development or conditioning of the body from a single workout occurs over 48 to 72 hours, during the post-workout breakdown of the muscle fibers and the subsequent repair process," he explains. "The repair (healing) process of the micro-tears in the muscle is what people notice as the soreness post workout, especially the next day. This is known as delayed onset muscle soreness, or DOMS, [and] the process starts immediately, although its main effects occur in the 24 to 48 hours range." This is why the body needs time to repair, which it's not given when someone does another workout in the same day. Ultimately, a lack of adequate repair time can lead to overtraining and lack of results. 
Zarlengo also cautions that fatigue becomes an issue when you're doing more than one strenuous workout a day, which ultimately can lead to injury. "Once someone is fatigued, proper form becomes more difficult. The poor form will result in more strain on the joints, as they are more likely to lean the wrong way or move the wrong way while struggling to do anything more." Even if the damage is minor and not noticeable at the time, Zarlengo says that it can easily accumulate, resulting in a more significant injury when the body isn't given time to heal.
Although the need for 24 to 48 hours of rest refers primarily to weight training, Zarlengo says that the same principle applies to cardiovascular exercises, such as running. "The basic point is the body needs time to repair from every workout," he cautions. "When something is done without at least the day or two in between, it becomes difficult for the body to do the necessary repair, which results in damage or at least not progress being made."

5 Tips for 2-a-Day Success

If you're going to do two workouts in a day, there are a few important things to keep in mind:
  1. Don't do the same kind of workout both times. For instance, you wouldn't want to do a long run in the morning and sprints in the evening. Instead, you could do a run in the morning and a strength training or yoga session later in the day.
  2. Put as much time as possible in between the workouts to give your body time to rest. Pilates at 8 a.m. followed by a spin class at 10 a.m. doesn't give you adequate time to recover. Your performance will likely suffer significantly in the second workout.
  3. Don't do two workouts a day, every day. If you're pressed for time, increase the intensity of the one workout instead of always doing two. We all need breaks now and then.
  4. Do the harder and longer workout first when you have the most energy.
  5. If you're new to exercise or just getting back into a regular routine, start slow. You might have the motivation for it, but if your body isn't ready you risk injury.
There isn't a right answer when deciding whether or not two workouts in a day is right for you. The decision depends on so many factors: your current fitness level, goals, kinds of workouts you're doing and how your body responds to the demands you're putting on it. If you do decide to work out twice a day, make sure it's not happening seven days a week, since your body needs time to rest and repair. If you're more tired or sore than usual, or if you notice a decline in performance, it's probably time to give your body a break. Tuning into what your body is telling you and how it's responding to what you do will ensure your fitness program progresses in a safe and effective way.

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1CRAZYDOG 7/14/2021
Thanks for the good information Report
CD26750174 4/30/2021
Okay Report
CKEYES1 2/20/2021
Once a day is enough for me Report
I do two a day, one intense 10am the other 7pm low intense Report
BONNIE1552 10/25/2020
Twice should be fine if you're doing shorter bits of exercise anyway. Report
CECELW 9/27/2020
i never thought about it Report
CD2693807 9/26/2020
interesting article and very interesting comments Report
NANASUEH 8/10/2020
thanks Report
Thanks for sharing this information. Report
Interesting! Report
I usually workout twice a day. During the day I do a harder 30-45 min workout with running and/or strength training and at night I do a long walk. Report
I often take a rigorous outside walk during the day along with going to a gym. These walks are for mental and spiritual purposes as will as physical and I never really considered them a workout. So I guess I often do two workouts a day - I just never thought of it that way. Report
I work out 2 times a day at least 4 times a week, but I have been exercising a long time! If I do yoga, strength training or cardio first in the morning then I do an alternative exercise later in the day! Not everyone has a free schedule to exercise all at once and its better to be active during the day. Report
Thanks for the info! Report
I pretty much do at least 2 workouts a day, sometimes 3 -- one is always at least 30 minutes of yoga, tai chi, or a stretching routine, usually done early in the day, one is either strength training or cardio during late morning or in the afternoon (although, I do substitute hard yard work or house work as one of those activities occasionally), and a third is again a light 30 minute either yoga, tai chi, stretching, etc to relax me before I go to bed. The strength training or cardio session usually is about 45-60 minutes, so really about 2 hours a day.

I am in my 60s, and some workouts are in the gym, others are at home with DVDs. When I was in my 30s, I hit the gym 3x a day--before work, during my lunch hour, and after work (to kill time until rush hour was over). On Saturdays, I attended dance sessions at local studio. Sunday was really my only day off. I was in the best shape of my life. I suffered no injuries, but also ate very healthy my whole life. But...yes, I will admit it was a bit obsessive. It just made me feel good (okay, and look good).

I think part of it (or maybe a lot of it) is genetics. Every doctor I have had (even now, in my 60s) is amazed at how quickly I recover from illness, surgery, and the single broken bone that I have had (finger joint broken during a volleyball game-- surgeon at the time said I was the only patient he had that did not require surgery to repair as my joint mended in the then two month recovery period that the insurance company required before it would authorize surgery). So, would not recommend this for everyone, but hey, there are worse things to do if you have the free time. Report
Great article! Report
Depending on your goals, 2 a day can work. When preparing for a show or trying to hit a certain weight lost goal, I will do 45-60 minutes of cardio twice a day 2-3 times a week along with my weight training. 48-72 hours muscle recovery is definitely needed in order for the muscle to repair and grow. Report
Thanks for the information Report
I often do a run on the same day as I strength train or do yoga. I even sometimes (GASP) run twice a day. I think that one must be familiar with their body and know when to rest and make sure to recover, yes. But our bodies are meant to be active and I sit at a desk all day - sitting is much worse for me than moving and doing! So I make sure to fit in a little activity early in the day and later in the day. I think it's probably still not enough. As far as strength training - yes, that does require a bit more recovery! But again, it depends on the muscles that are being worked. I take at least one full rest day per week - sometimes more if I need it. Report
Great article. Thanks. Report
Twice a day? We should learn from children. They only exercise once a day. But then, it is ALL DAY LONG! Report
Great article!!! Report
Thank you. Report
Thank you Report
Unless you have a medical condition which precludes it, I see no problem w/working out twice. Report
I wholeheartedly think two workouts a day are a great idea. At 62 it important to stay in shape so I run/walk two miles in the morning which takes about 30 min and in the evening I'll do 30 min of whatever I'm in the mood for. Stretching challenges, ballet exercises, yes, I'm a guy, dance, yoga, etc. And every third day weight training for 45 min. Sunday I rest.The idea is to use common sense and listen to your body. Go for it! Report
If it is not too challenging, why not? But I wouldn't do 2 hard workouts in one day, I see no benefit and a risk of injury and exhaustion. Why would one do that?
On the other hand I always do 30 minutes of yoga and a 30-min run or a 50-min walk every day, before breakfast. I only move one of them to the evening when I really don't have the time. Report
Like the info Report
thanks Report
I take at least two walks a day plus strength training, and it works so much better for me this way. At least one of them is an hour long, the other a minimum of 30 min. Report
I would think that the wonder if 2 workouts a day would consider what type of workouts. I think that 2 strenuous workouts may not be good, but 1 harder workout and 1 easier workout or just movement would be alright. Report
I used to go for 2- 4 mile walks per day and didn't see a problem with it. In fact I was more toned and in better shape then than i am now and i weigh 25-30 pounds less now. I wore a size smaller than i do now though. Tempted some days to go back to it. Report
thanks Report
Good Article! Report
Of course you should work out twice in one day - if you are fairly sedentary. I have limited mobility with lots of health issues and if I tried to do a whole workout one time a day, I'd be unable to exercise at all. If I can break up my workout into 2-3 segments, then I can manage. I do try to do different workouts each day, like legs on one day, upper body the next, and abs or yoga the next, with walking every day. Report
It's well documented that Ancient humans often would tell Lions, "Hey, I already out ran one of you this morning! I'm now resting and recovering! You have to go chase down someone else." Report
Of course! Break it up into shorter increments! Report
Thanks Report
I get the concept of 2 workouts now, and see how it's both benefits and can hurt. If your new, it can be good, break up your workout if it's new to ease into things, or cardio the first round them yoga or stretching ect makes scense Report
I guess I have to reevaluate what I do cause I usually do ST 5-6 days a week and most are using the whole body. Report
thanks Report
I have just tried yoga this weekend and I have been considering adding it to my evening routine. I walk every morning and strength train two days a week. I think this might be a good idea for me. Report
thank you Report
thank you Report
Thx...good info! Report