For most people, just getting in one workout is an accomplishment. But a few “crazy” people try to squeeze in a double regularly — in light of all the research on recovery, we have to wonder: Is this safe?
We know you make the most gains from your workout when you rest — that’s when your muscles rebuild and grow stronger. Plus, you need to recover so you can give every workout your all, physically and mentally.
But what if you want to workout twice in one day, or it fits best in your schedule to hit cycle class Tuesday night and yoga Wednesday morning? Usually, that’s OK. That’s right: You don’t need to wait 24 hours (or more) between workouts.
While overtraining can happen and typically leads to injuries, if you have a well-rounded fitness regimen, you probably don’t need to worry.
“If you are used to only one thing and then do that thing again, you have a higher risk of overtraining,” explains Jonathan Ross, spokesperson for the American Council on Exercise and author of “Abs Revealed.” “But, if you’re training a different component of fitness in a successive work out, there is very little harm for most people.”
SAFE WAYS TO TRAIN TWICE IN 24 HOURS
Here is how you can train more than once a day and keep it safe, depending on your preferred mode of sweat:
If you strength train: Alternate upper- and lower-body workouts, or lift light weights quickly one day, then heavy weights slowly the next.
If you do cardio: After a hard workout, do at least one (if not two) easy ones. So if you do a speed workout one day, follow it with a recovery run. Or if you run, bike the next time, and vice-versa.
If you love variety: Keep it up. Alternate cardio and strength. Or run, do yoga, lift weights, swim and take Pilates.
WHAT ABOUT TWO-A-DAYS?
If you think hitting the gym twice or more daily is the way to the six-pack of your dreams, you may want to rethink that plan. “Most people who do two-a-days consecutively are killing themselves to work harder — they’re trying to rip themselves into shape — but the reality is your body doesn’t change that much from a single workout,” Ross says. “It’s a massive challenge that’s beyond what the body is expected to adapt to, and it doesn’t give increased benefit, but negative results: soreness, potential injury and a lack of motivation.”
If you think you are able to give both workouts, day-in and day-out your all, “You need to approach it intelligently,” says exercise physiologist Tom Holland, author of “Beat the Gym.” “Maybe the morning is cardio and the afternoon is strength, and the next day the morning is Pilates and the afternoon is swimming.” Once again, variety is the key.
OTHER THINGS TO KEEP IN MIND
How often you work out is only one part of this puzzle. Your nutrition, hydration, sleep and stress levels all factor in, too. “The body is a system. You don’t exercise in isolation from the other factors in your lives,” Ross says.
Remember that exercise is a form of stress — and for most of us, that means it’s only adding stress to our lives. So if you are stressed and didn’t sleep well or eat well, and then exercise hard, you could get injured or sick because of a compromised immune system, says Ross, adding, “Not everything has to be perfect, but if multiple factors are compromised, a challenging workout is not a good idea to throw into the mix.”