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July 04, 2021 9 min read

Bodybuilders, fitness pros, and personal trainers do it… but, is working out twice per day right for you?

We’re breaking down all the pros and cons of working out twice per day as well as some best tips for doing it safely.  That way, you can get on the same level as the fitness icons out there.

To help you crush your fitness goals, here’s everything you need to know about working out twice per day!

Man training with weight in studio

Pros of Two-a-Day Workouts

The pros of working out twice per day are simple:

You build muscle mass and burn body fat faster.  Plain and simple, if you want to see results sooner, then simply start working out twice per day.

What makes working out twice per day so effective?  It comes down to two things:

  1. Increased training volume
  2. Prolonged excess post-exercise energy consumption (EPOC)

Training volume is a measurement of the total amount of weight that you lift during a lifting session.  It works like this…. sets x reps x weight = total volume.  Run this equation for each exercise you do.  Then, add the total from all your exercises together to get yourself a measure of your total volume lifted that day.

When you spend more time each day working out, then there’s more of an opportunity to increase your total training volume for a single day.  With a higher training volume, you build more muscle mass faster.

Second, working out twice per day can increase your excess post-exercise energy consumption (EPOC).  Think of EPOC the way that you think of a car… After driving a long trip, the car stays warm for a certain period of time even once you’ve stopped driving.  Your body works the same way: Even when you finish a workout, your metabolism stays running high.  A higher metabolism helps you burn more body fat and build stronger muscles.

So, if you work out once per day in the morning, then your metabolism stays elevated the entire rest of the morning and afternoon.  Then, if you work out again in the evening, your metabolism gets boosted and stays lifted overnight.  As a result, your metabolism remains high for a longer amount of time and you’ll burn more calories and build more muscle.

Moreover, the pro of working out twice per day comes down to speeding up the amount of time that it takes to see results.  But, it isn’t all good news.  Working out twice per day also comes with its own set of cons.

Cons of Two-a-Day Workouts

Like all things in this world, too much of a good thing is a bad thing.  And, exercise is no exception. The biggest con or risk that you take by working out twice per day is overtraining. Overtraining simply means to exercise beyond the means of your body and mind. 

What is considered overtraining is different for everyone because each person on earth has a different body with its own unique capacities.  However, there are some common signs of overtraining that are generally consistent among people including:

  • Rapid weight loss
  • Physical and/or mental burnout
  • Body aches and pains
  • Insomnia or trouble sleeping
  • Immune and nervous system problems

The first common symptom of overtraining is losing a lot of weight in a very short amount of time.  While this may at first seem like a good thing, there are several dangers associated with losing too much too quickly including malnutrition, a slower metabolism, and muscle loss.  

Muscle loss can be particularly frustrating because, while you may think you're losing body fat, odds are that it's actually muscle.  That's because you need extra calories to maintain and gain muscles.  And, with overtraining, you’re most likely burning off any excess calories.  As a result, you experience muscle loss, not fat loss.

Next, you might experience burnout.  It's probably obvious that overexercising can take a toll on you physically. But, it's less well known that it can cause serious  mental turmoil

Studies show that, while exercise is an excellent mood-booster, overexercising has the opposite effect on your brain. This effect is called burnout and it’s associated with higher levels of stress, depression, and anxiety.

Third, overtraining can lead to serious body aches and pains.  When the energy burned from your daily workouts far exceeds the energy you take in from food, your body can start to ache.  By aches, we're talking muscle aches, joint aches, and headaches just to name a few.

Fourth, overexercising commonly leads to insomnia.  When your body is under too much exercise-related stress, it overproduces the stress hormone, cortisol.  At the same time, it stops producing the sleep hormone, melatonin.  So, you'll feel tired but won't be able to sleep because the stress hormone keeps you awake and the sleep hormone doesn’t kick in.

Lastly, overtraining can lead to a compromised immune system and/or nervous system.  One thing that you'll often notice in people who over-exercise is that they get sick very easily.  There are several potential reasons for this with the most likely being due to a depletion of essential nutrients that are supposed to protect the body.  

Also, over-exercising can cause the nervous system to kick into overdrive, also known as your body’s fight-or-flight response.  This kind of response causes your heart rate to spike.  Side effects of a high heart rate include higher stress levels, lightheadedness, and fainting just to name a few. 

Tips for How to Workout Twice Per Day

To help boost the pros and minimize the cons of working out twice per day, follow these helpful tips:

AM and PM Workouts

While it is technically safe to workout twice per day, that's only true if you get enough rest in between your two workouts. Every time you workout, your muscles need an ample amount of time to recover.  That recovery time is when muscle growth is stimulated.  If you don't give your body this essential time, you could cause damage to your existing muscles.

So, do your first workout in the morning and your second workout at night.  That way, you ensure that you're getting enough rest in-between each session to allow for muscle growth.  Also, we suggest that you eat plenty of food in-between your workouts.  Especially lots of protein and carbohydrates. 

Split Up Your Workouts

One of the best ways to prevent overuse injuries from working out twice per day is to split up your workouts.  There are a couple of different ways to do this including:

  1. Doing cardio for one session and strength training for the other
  2. Working out different body parts for each session
  3. Doing one highly intense workout and one lighter intense workout

First off, you could do a cardio session in the morning and then a strength training session later in the day.  Ideally, you wouldn't do either cardio or weight lifting in both the morning or evening as it could lead to a plateau in your fitness progress, boredom, or an overuse injury.

If you prefer not to do cardio every day, then you could work out different body parts in the morning and night.  For example, in the morning you could do lower body, and in the evening do upper body.  Focusing on one section of your body or body part for just one session of the day ensures that the muscles worked can fully recover.

Lastly, you could do a highly intense workout for one session and a lighter intensity one for the second session.  We suggest that you make your first workout the more intense of the two.  That way, you get the more challenging workout out of the way when you're still fresh in the morning.  And, your evening workout can be more soothing so that you can sleep better at night.

Eat Properly and Stay Hydrated

If you exercise at all, then you already know how important proper nutrition and hydration are.  However, it's even more important if you work out twice per day.

What you eat, how much you eat, and how much water you drink has a big impact on your exercise performance.  Proper nutrition fuels you with energy and helps your muscles recover.  Water re-hydrates your h2o-depleted body with essential electrolytes.  Without enough food and water, you're more likely to get both sick and injured from over-exercising. 

Therefore, ensure that you're getting enough healthy food and water.  Focus on your macronutrients - carbs, fats, and proteins - while continuously drinking water throughout the day.  

For a better idea of exactly how much you should eat and drink, we recommend speaking with a nutritionist.  They'll take into consideration your current physical condition, age, and how much you exercise to come up with an estimation of how much food and water you should have each day.

Rest and Recover

How much you sleep and the quality of your sleep has a big impact on your fitness levels.  Sleep impacts your exercise in several ways including:

  • Repairing your muscles
  • Re-energizing your body
  • Balancing hormones

Spending enough time in bed every night is particularly important for muscle recovery.  While it may seem counterintuitive, getting more sleep actually helps make your muscles grow stronger.  That's because your body goes into muscle protein synthesis as you sleep. 

Muscle protein synthesis is the complex process where your body repairs muscles that were broken down from exercise.  The process grows your muscles bigger and stronger than what they were before they were broken down.

On top of making sure that you sleep enough every day, you must take at least one full rest day per week.  Especially if you work out more than once per day.  That full day of rest will help you make up for any lost rest time that you accumulated throughout the week.  As a result, your energy levels will boost and you’ll feel more energized for your next workout. 

muscular man training outdoors with a resistance band

Full Week Two a Day Workout Plan

If you do decide to work out twice per day, consider following this two-a-day week-long workout plan.  It’s structured to boost the benefits of working out twice per day while minimizing the potential downsides.

However, keep in mind that everyone's body is different.  While this workout plan may work for you, it may not work for someone else and vice versa.  Therefore, be sure to listen to your body and don't ignore any potential signs that you may be overdoing things.  Give the plan a try but don’t be afraid to go back to your single-day training plan if need be.

Day 1: Upper body and High-Intensity Cardio

Start your first day of the week on a high note with a solid mix of upper body weight training and cardio.  For your upper body, you could train the entire section or isolate just the shoulders, back, or bis and tris.  For cardio, anything from running to spinning would be great.  Whichever is the higher intensity workout of the two you should do first.

Day 2: HIIT and Yoga

On day 2, we suggest kicking things off with some high-intensity interval training.  Throw together a mix-up of strength training and cardio intervals for a well-rounded workout.  Later in the day, relax and recover with some yoga.  Yoga is going to help create that lean bodybuilder-type physique.

Day 3: Lower body and Low-Intensity Cardio

Next up is lower body weight training with some low-intensity cardio.  For the lower body, you could do a full leg day or isolate a specific muscle group such as the glutes, quads, or hamstrings.  And, for cardio, something like a jog or bike ride will both get your heart rate up and ease your sore lower body muscles.

Day 4: Rest

Take it real easy on your rest day.  If you’re itching for some physical activity, we suggest going for a mild walk, bike ride, or doing some dynamic stretches.

Day 5: Upper Body and Yoga

Follow your rest day up with an intense upper body workout. Like on day 1, you can choose to work out your entire upper body or isolate a specific muscle group.  In the afternoon, keep things going with some yoga for flexibility.

Day 6: Upper or Lower body and HIIT

Go hard for your last big day of lifting with either an upper or lower body lifting session and some HIIT.  As your last big workout day of the week, try to make this one as intense as possible before getting back to resting.

Day 7: Yoga and Light Cardio

Close the week by treating your muscles right with some yoga and cardio.  If you think that we included too much yoga in this workout plan…

Well, consider the fact that Brad Pitt did yoga every other day of the week when he was at his biggest. So, if yoga worked for Brad, then it can certainly help you build big muscles too.

Final Thoughts

We’re all here to become our biggest, best selves by pushing our bodies to their absolute max.  And, one of the best ways to do that is to work out twice per day. If you do decide to go that route, we commend you for taking on the challenge, but also encourage you to take our tips.

Working out twice per day will take you to the next level.  All you need to do is make sure that you do it safely and you’ll be on your way to reaching your fitness goals.

Bonus tip:  Need a HIIT routine to add to your two-a-day workout schedule?  Use our full-body Tabata workout routine!