There are a few situations where you might feel compelled to exercise more than once a day. Maybe you’re preparing for a specific event (like a marathon or an obstacle race) and need to fit in as many training sessions as you can. Or perhaps you’ve been to a morning bootcamp but a friend wants you to come along for a run/Barre class/yoga session that night. Or maybe you’re just feeling extra motivated! Whatever the reason, there’s something about exercising twice a day that makes you feel like you’re a professional athlete training for the Olympics.
But is it actually a good idea for the average person to double up on their workouts? Could you actually be sabotaging your progress by increasing your risk of injury or burnout? We asked two PTs, Victoria Burdon from 98 Gym and Ben Lucas from Flow Athletic to give us the lowdown.
“Yes and no. I know saying ‘it depends’ doesn’t give a clear answer but you need to analyse your circumstances and reasoning to determine whether it’s appropriate for you. It depends on the workouts, your goals, and recovery. Often, the reason for training twice a day is out of guilt — from eating a full pack of Tim Tams the day before or not training for a couple of days. Whatever the case may be, you should never feel the need to train to make up for ‘bad’ behaviour. Exercise should not be a punishment, it’s a privilege and it should be something you do because you enjoy it!
If the sessions don’t interfere with your recovery time from the previous session, you should be okay. If you recover adequately from the first session (proper nutrition, hydration, etc.) and both sessions help you get to your goal or act as an active recovery, then, by all means, go ahead.
Without giving your body enough time to recover you will send your body further and further into a rut, which will keep you from making progress. One of the top pieces of advice I like to give is that you don’t get stronger in a workout, you get stronger in the recovery. If you steal this time for your body to recover and smash it with another session, you will likely not perform as well under fatigue—which can lead to bad form and injury—and you will exhaust yourself even further and delay recovery. Training twice a day can cause a mental battle as well, leading you to think your body needs to or bad things will happen if you don’t.
Like most things in regards to health and fitness, the answer depends entirely on your situation. Determine what your body needs and if you’re giving it enough time to recover. Working out twice a day can be fine on occasion or a couple of days a week but honestly, unless you are an elite athlete training for competition, it is likely unnecessary and not worth the risk. It’s not unhealthy per se, but it can lead to unhealthy habits and overtraining yourself to exhaustion. If you’re missing out on social events to get in that second session, I’d say it’s definitely not worth it.”
— Victoria Burdon, Personal Trainer at 98 Gym
“No, it’s not unhealthy at all to work out twice a day. You just need to structure your training in a way that you do not overtrain or get injures. I would suggest doing one cardio or strength session, followed by a yoga/ stretch or something that is lower intensity if you were to do a second session. That way, your body will be moving in different ways to avoid stress injuries. Also, keep in mind that if you have a high-stress job, you may want to consider more low-intensity workouts to avoid burnout.”
— Ben Lucas, Director, Co-founder and Trainer at Flow Athletic