While most of us have trouble getting to the gym once a day, others are a little more intense in their athletic pursuits. But is working out twice a day safe? Or should we all be doing double-time at the gym? We checked in with fitness pros for their take on the two-a-day phenomenon. The consensus? Working out twice a day is fine—for some people—but not essential. According to Jackie Wilson, a personal trainer and founder of NOVA Fitness in New York City, “While two-a-days can be beneficial, it is not necessary or needed for most people to achieve their goals.” He tells us that while it’s not something he recommends to all of his clients, “it is a method that I use for short time periods with advanced clients or those who are training for a specific event.” Read on for more pros and cons of doubling the time you spend sweating.
What Are the Pros of Working Out Twice a Day?
1. You Might Be in Better Shape
Working out twice a day improves your overall performance. Why? The more you work out, the faster your muscles will grow, and the better your endurance will become. As long as your two-a-days are set up correctly (more on that later), it can help you reach your fitness goals a lot faster, which is why they’re often used by athletes and those training for races and such.
2. Your Metabolism Might Speed Up
While genetics and certain medical conditions (like thyroid issues) do play an important role in determining metabolism, there actually are steps you can take to optimize yours, like diet and exercise. Per Samantha Cassetty, RD, “Exercise accounts for up to 30 percent of the calories you burn, and if your exercise involves strength training, that extra muscle mass will give you a small but meaningful metabolic boost.” And yes, that means you’ll probably lose weight faster (as long as you’re eating a balanced, sensible diet).
What Are the Cons of Working Out Twice a Day?
1. You Might Be More Prone to Injury
Per Wilson, “this type of training is not without its risks.” The biggest concern, he tells us, “is the potential increase in the risk of injury. Increased activity means that you could overdo it and injure yourself due to overtraining.” This is especially true if you don’t balance higher-intensity workouts with lower-intensity ones, or if you skimp on recovery or sleep.
2. You Might Get Burned Out
You know that saying, “too much of a good thing?” Yeah, that applies here. Hitting the gym twice a day might feel great at first, but it also comes with an increased risk of feeling bored or burnt out. That, in turn, can cause you to abandon your workout routing altogether. According to SoulCycle instructor Victoria Brown, working out twice a day isn’t sustainable, unless you’re a professional athlete or someone who works out for a living (like a fitness instructor). “I think it's safe to do every once in a while, but not something people should think they need to do often. I personally wouldn’t recommend two-a-days to my clients, because while they may find short-term success in terms of whatever goals they are working to achieve, it’s not a habit that’s sustainable over time,” she tells us.
How Can You Do Two-a-Days the Healthy Way?
1. Stay Hydrated
The Mayo Clinic suggests the average woman drink around 2.7 liters of fluid per day. If you’re working out twice a day, that minimum goes way up. Staying hydrated is absolutely essential to staying safe before, during and after workouts. From setting hydration goals to eating water-filled foods, here are seven tips for sipping more H20 throughout the day.
2. Schedule Your Workouts Strategically
When it comes to hitting the gym twice in a day, it’s counterproductive to book two high-intensity, heart-pumping classes. According to Wilson, “Allowing your body time to properly recover is essential to preventing overuse injuries.” He tells us that one way to allow this recovery to happen is to break up the types of workouts you’re doing during each training sessions. “For example, some clients will do a resistance-based workout in the morning and come back in the evening for a cardio or conditioning session (or vice versa). Resistance and cardio movements challenge the body in different ways, so your body does undergo the same stress during the different workouts.” Celebrity trainer (she’s getting Shakira ready for the Super Bowl) and founder of AKT Anna Kaiser tells us that working out twice a day is fine, if both workouts are not so intense. “If the first workout is intense then the second workout should be something lighter such as yoga to avoid too much stress on the body.” Her suggestion? If you’re going the two-a-day route, do cardio in the morning and strength at night, or break your hour workout into two, 30-minute workouts. “It's just as effective,” she says.
3. Ease Yourself into It
If you’re not currently working out consistently, don’t expect to hop right into two-a-days without feeling sorer than you thought was possible. Instead, start small and work your way up. Soon enough you’ll be so used to it that you’ll almost forget about a time when you didn’t have to do laundry twice a week just for workout clothes.
4. Mix Up Your Routine
Spin class is awesome; we love it. But do we want to do it twice a day, every day, for the rest of our lives? Not a chance. That’s why variety is so important for people who exercise consistently. Trying a different machine at the gym or a new class is a great way to mix up your routine, so you don’t get bored.
5. Be Kind to Yourself
In the same vein of easing into two-a-days, don’t be too hard on yourself. If you miss a couple days in a row, that’s OK. It’s great that you’re making a commitment to your health, and you should recognize that (and be proud of it). Cut yourself some slack and keep it up.
Easy Ways to Get More Exercise Throughout the Day (Without Doing Two-a-Days)
1. Walk More
Walking is, like, the easiest exercise. It’s also super simple to incorporate more of it into your day. If you drive to work, choose a parking spot furthest away from your building’s entrance. If you commute via train or subway, get off a few stops early and finish your trip on foot. Taking the stairs instead of the elevator is another way to up your step count. Plus, stairs never break down.
2. Turn Your Binge-Watching Habit into a Mini Workout
Apply a drinking game mind-set to your next Netflix marathon—with bodyweight exercises instead of shots. For example, if you’re watching Veep, do ten squats every time a character delivers an insult that would make you cry. Or if you’re more of a Law and Order: SVU gal, do 15 crunches every time you wish you could be as strong as Olivia Benson.
3. Think Outside the Gym Box
Just because you aren’t wearing sneakers doesn’t mean you aren’t getting fit. For example, cooking a (healthy) meal for 45 minutes burns 100 calories. Sure, that’s not as many as you’d burn during a bootcamp class, but when you combine that with playing with your kids for 25 minutes, chasing your dog around for 30 minutes and styling your hair for 35 minutes (all of which burn 100 calories), it adds up.