The Loaded Question
To answer the question “can working out twice a day give you twice the results?” you have to understand that this is only part of the equation. There are at least two factors we have to address to answer this properly.
First, you have to define success. What is your goal? Is weight loss your goal? Is getting more physically fit what you want? Is building more muscle your focus? Are you trying to improve performance? Before you can develop an effective plan, you have to establish a clear goal.
Once you’ve determined your goal, you can decide what you need to do to reach it. Two workouts a day may be two cardios a day, two conditioning workouts a day, two strength routines a day, or a mix of various workouts. Whatever you choose to do, you can’t be successful unless there is a definite plan designed to get you a specific result.
The other crucial factor in this equation is food. Exercise only represents calories going out and muscle breaking down from weight training. Food (calories going in), on the other hand, is a big determining factor in whether you will see your hard work show up on the scale or in muscular hypertrophy (increased lean mass).
It really doesn’t matter if you run an extra three miles a day if you eat an extra 300 calories a day, unless weight loss isn’t your goal. And it doesn’t matter if you do two weight routines a day if you neglect to feed your body the nutrients it needs to rebuild and repair the muscle you are working so hard to break down in the gym.
How It Works
Let’s pretend you promise not to change your diet and stick to the same exact caloric budget you are currently on. Of course, you can’t test this theory accurately if you aren’t absolutely sure how many calories you are currently consuming. In addition, let’s assume your goal is weight loss and toning (since that is the most common fitness goal). Now that we have that covered, I can answer the question.
When I talk about doing “two-a-days,” normally I am talking about cardio. That doesn’t mean you can’t lift weights twice a day, but most people don’t have time to split up their weight training routine like that. So for this topic, we’ll just assume working out twice a day means getting an additional cardio in each day.
The concept behind the method is to burn more calories and fat to boost weight loss results. Again, this only works if you aren’t replacing those calories with food. Two-a-days are supposed to help people reach their goal faster. The bigger the investment, the greater the reward.
Pros And Cons
The pro is obvious. The more you work out, the more fit you will get. However, there is a long list of cons.
The first major con is the effect of extra calories on your metabolism. Unfortunately, the more you work out, the more you want to eat, thanks to your faster metabolism. If you aren’t watching calories carefully, your body will trick you into eating more (by increasing your appetite) to replace those extra calories burned. So, if you work out more, it is even more important to keep a close watch on your food intake.
The other major con is that your perceived effort doesn’t always match your reward. In other words, the extra workout often gives you the feeling you can afford to cheat more on your diet since you work out so much. Unfortunately, you can easily replace the calories burned (and then some!) and actually push back your progress instead of getting ahead.
Another con is that working out a lot can take a toll on your body. If you are running twice a day, your knees and feet will begin to hate you. For this reason, I suggest mixing your cardio up to decrease the chance of injury due to repetitive behavior. Cross training will help your body recover from one type of exercise (like running) while you do a totally different motion (like elliptical).
Lastly, not everyone has the time to invest in two-a-days. While it can be effective, working out twice as much may not be very realistic. You have to weigh the cost. Is reaching your goals important enough to miss family time or affect your work? Maybe you can swing it just for a limited time to help you reach a goal. Either way, it’s not something anyone should do long-term.
Two-a-days are great to do for a short period of time to boost results or to get back on track. However, if you really want to be fit, your maintenance program should have a healthy balance.
Fit Or Flop
If you watch your caloric intake and your workouts are well planned to help you reach your goals, working out twice a day can definitely give you much faster results–maybe not twice the results, but it can definitely help enough to call this method a Fit, not a Flop!
American College of Sports Medicine recommends the following exercise program for weight management.
Frequency: 5-7 days a week
Intensity Goal: 50-75 percent of heart rate reserve (resting heart rate minus your maximum heart rate)
Duration: Bouts to 45-60 minutes daily. Multiple daily bouts can be performed for 10 minutes or longer.
Type: Aerobics exercise targeting large muscle groups. Resistance exercise is recommended to supplement aerobics activity.