DISCOVER THE ADVANTAGES AND CHALLENGES OF MULTIPLE DAILY WORKOUTS, AND HOW TO ACE THEM.
Athletes, particularly cyclists, often live by the mantra, “more is always better.” The thought is simple: push harder, ride faster, and conquer steeper terrains to improve. In the same vein, a rising trend suggests doubling up on daily workouts might optimize metabolism and overall performance.
Consider this: A 2019 research in the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology highlighted the potential benefits of two daily workouts for our mitochondria – the energy-providing units of our cells. Further, a 2022 study in The Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness revealed that training twice a day can lead to superior muscle gains than a single session.
However, the “more is always better” rule has its limits. Striking the right balance between advancing your fitness goals and allowing adequate recovery is essential. To guide you, fitness gurus outline the advantages and drawbacks of twice-a-day workouts and share insights for maximizing benefits without risking burnout.
What does “Working Out Twice a Day” really mean?
First, let’s get one thing straight about the term “working out.” It isn’t about taking a morning bike ride and then walking your pup later. While any extra movement is good, a true workout is one that pushes you harder than a 4 on a 1 to 10 scale, says Garret Seacat from Absolute Endurance. This intensity measurement is called rate of perceived exertion (RPE), with 1 being couch-level effort and 10 being an all-out dash.
When we talk about cycling workouts, heart rate can be a clear sign of intensity. Fitness expert Katie Pierson of Girl Bike Love advises that a workout should mostly be in the moderate-intensity zone, meaning 64-76% of your max heart rate. If it’s below that, it might be too relaxed to count as a real workout.
Also, workout length matters. Ideally, you should go for 30 minutes with moderate intensity. However, if you’re going intense, even 15 to 20 minutes can do the trick.
Benefits of Two-a-Day Workouts
Doubling down on your cycling sessions can increase training benefits minus the tiredness of a longer, single stint, points out Seacat.
Think about it: dividing a 60-minute ride into two halves lets you focus on specific techniques, like improving speed or mastering single-leg pedaling, in the first half, and then working on stamina or speed bursts in the next half. Handling workouts in 30-minute slots can also feel more doable both mentally and physically than a stretched out session.
And don’t feel boxed in! Your two workouts don’t have to both be cycling. You can mix it up with activities like weight lifting, yoga, jogging, or even swimming. Diverse workouts can keep things exciting and fresh, Seacat observes. This freshness can keep monotony at bay, encouraging you to stick to your regimen.
By incorporating strength training in one of your sessions, you can address weaker muscle areas. If your core and back muscles are lagging, for instance, it might be tough to keep a proper cycling posture. Strengthening these areas can pave the way for a better cycling form. Plus, it’s often simpler to slot in strength training when you’re already in the workout groove that day.
Double the Workout, Double the Benefits
In 2019, the Journal of Applied Physiology showcased an intriguing finding. Men who trained twice a day—comprising an endurance cycling stint followed by a HIIT session, with a two-hour gap—thrice a week for three weeks showed significant improvement in their mitochondrial efficiency. On the other hand, men who worked out once daily for six days a week, with the endurance training at night and HIIT the next morning, didn’t show the same benefits.
What’s the takeaway? Doubling up on your workouts could enhance your body’s capability to generate adenosine triphosphate (ATP)—the main energy source for cells. Simply put, the better your mitochondria work, the more energy you produce, helping you push harder and longer in your fitness endeavors.
More Than Just Muscle Power
There’s more to multiple daily workouts than just energy production. According to Seacat, training twice in a day could enhance your muscle’s capacity to store and utilize glycogen, the energy-rich form of carbohydrates. He notes, “Exercising before you’re fully recovered might nudge your body to rely more on fat as its primary energy source.” Plus, scattering short, intense workouts throughout the day, even if they’re just 10 minutes long, can significantly uplift your metabolic health, as supported by various studies.
Sharper Mental Focus
Training more often isn’t just about physical gains. Multiple studies suggest that splitting your workouts can provide a significant cognitive boost. Engaging in two distinct exercise sessions per day might just be the recipe for enhanced concentration and mental clarity. The increase in blood flow to the brain, coupled with the release of feel-good hormones, means not only will your muscles thank you, but your mind will too.
The Downside of Double Workout Days
Finding time for a single workout daily can be tough. Trying for two? That’s another story. Doubling up means packing extra gear, perhaps making another gym visit, and showering twice. This obviously requires a lot more time, something many of us already find in short supply. Though, for those struggling to fit in a full hour, splitting it into two half-hour sessions might be beneficial.
However, there’s more to consider than just logistics. From a physical standpoint, shorter breaks between workouts could hinder your progress. Your muscles might not get adequate recovery time, which could make your efforts less fruitful. Pierson points out the increased risk of injuries and the danger of overtraining when indulging in two-a-day workouts.
Consistent double workouts can also lead to persistent fatigue, even on days you’re supposed to be resting. It’s crucial to remain vigilant for signs of burnout and ensure you still have complete rest days in your routine.
For those prepping for long endurance events, like a century ride, there’s an added point. Extended, single-session workouts are essential for such training. While splitting regular workouts might work, remember to engage in at least one long session weekly.
How to Master the Art of Working Out Twice a Day
Embarking on a two-a-day workout routine? Before you dive in, it’s vital to have a solid base in both cycling and strength exercises. Seacat suggests, “Ensure you’ve had a year of consistent training to handle this advanced regimen.”
Considering a two-a-day challenge? Pierson advises starting slow. Begin with just one double session weekly. After an intense workout, opt for a lighter activity or a rest day. As you become accustomed, you can slowly add more double sessions to your week.
Seacat emphasizes, “For the majority, limiting two-a-day sessions to two or three times weekly ensures proper recovery and avoids overtraining.”
To maximize benefits from double workout days, keep in mind:
1. Balance Intensity Levels
Incorporate one high-intensity and one low-intensity session. For instance, pair a rigorous cycling sprint with a steady, longer ride or a gentle weightlifting session. Pierson points out, “This ensures you don’t compromise on quality.”
2. Prioritize Recovery Time
Space your sessions. Allow a gap of two to six hours between workouts. This break lets your body recharge and ensures better results than consecutive sessions or shorter breaks, says Seacat.
3. Optimize Your Breaks
For effective workouts, ensure a gap of two to six hours between them. This gap helps your body recharge, making your sessions more impactful than if done consecutively, as pointed out by Seacat.
4. Feed and Hydrate Properly
On days you’re exercising twice, your energy needs spike. Adequate food and water intake becomes vital. Neglecting this will lead to reduced energy during your second workout, according to Pierson. Moreover, your recovery is slowed down, affecting the quality of your workout.
Before each exercise session, consume a carb-heavy snack, but limit fats and proteins. As Ehsani, a sports dietetics specialist, suggests, target one gram of carbohydrate for every kilogram you weigh. For instance, a 150-pound (68 kilograms) cyclist should intake around 68 grams of carbs. This could be a mix of a banana and a Clif bar, giving roughly 71 grams in total.
For workouts lasting more than an hour, Ehsani advises an additional 30 to 60 grams of carbs via sports drinks, gels, or snacks. Post-workout, start your recovery process immediately, even before feeling hungry. Liquids like sports drinks, chocolate milk, or protein shakes are ideal. Between your two sessions, aim for 1 to 1.2 grams of carbs per kilogram of your weight every hour. Incorporate a protein source for muscle repair. Ehsani recommends around 20 grams of protein after your workout.
Prioritize Your Workouts
Deciding between cycling and strength training first? Reflect on your fitness aspirations. If enhancing cycling endurance is your aim, then cycle first, says Pierson. However, if building strength is the main objective, kick off with a strength session. Balance both by alternating the sequence if both are equally significant. The key is to start with what’s more crucial when your energy is at its peak.
Lastly, always heed your body’s signals. If it demands rest, honor it. If two sessions seem too taxing, it’s okay to scale down. After all, your body’s well-being is paramount.