Pros and Cons of Exercising Twice a Day

Doing some kind of physical activity is necessary for our well-being and overall health. For most of us, working out once a day is usually sufficient. Exercising twice a day is generally relegated to athletes who are training for some specific competition or sport. Most of us have trouble taking out time for exercising once in a day, leave alone taking out enough time to exercise twice in a day. But this does not mean that we should dismiss the concept of exercising twice a day altogether. Working out twice a day has some benefits, such as fewer periods of inactivity along with some potential performance gains. However, at the same time, there are some drawbacks as well that you need to take into account, including the risk of overtraining and the risk of injury. Here are some of the pros and cons of exercising twice a day.

Pros of Exercising Twice a Day

One of the most obvious and biggest benefits of working out twice a day is that you are able to log in more activity than you would if you were only exercising once a day.(1,2,3) If you are logging in more exercising time, you are also reducing your sedentary time.(4) According to a study published in 2017 in the International Journal of Obesity, having more sedentary time is linked with a greater risk of coronary heart disease. The study also found that spending more time sedentary is responsible for an increased waist circumference as well.(5)

Exercising twice a day can also boost your overall performance. This can be helpful if you are training for an event or competition. In such cases, seeking the help of a coach or trainer about how to add more workouts to your routine is recommended.

Exercising twice a day also helps focus your efforts on your performance goals, and having a trainer or coach ensures that the possible disadvantages of overtraining and getting injured are monitored and managed appropriately.

Training twice in the same day can boost accelerated muscle growth and help you gain muscle strength as well. Training volume is especially essential for fitness goals.

Training several times a day allows you to include more volume of activity, thus increasing protein synthesis in the body, boosting your metabolic capacity, and increasing the anabolic output as well.(6,7,8)

While exercising twice a day, it is essential to have an understanding of the recommended guidelines for physical activity before you start to add on additional workouts to your once-a-day routine. According to the recommendations of the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, adults should get at least 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity every week.(9) This means that an adult should be getting around 30 minutes of exercise five times a week to meet these guidelines.

However, most health experts agree that exercising for more than such suggested minimum guidelines is effective for weight reduction and calorie burn. If you are working with a doctor to develop a weight management plan, your doctor may recommend that you do at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise every day.(10)

If your ultimate goal is to lose weight, you should talk to your doctor about what type of exercising plan you should be looking at. Your doctor can also make certain nutrition and exercise recommendations to make sure that you are working towards your goal weight while keeping your overall well-being and health in mind.(11)

At the same time, if your primary focus is weightlifting, increasing the number of times you exercise in a day does not seem to make much of a difference, and there are no additional benefits that can be linked with exercising twice a day.

If you are worried about overtraining with weightlifting, you should think about breaking down your usual workout routine into two equal sessions to be done once in the morning and once in the evening.

According to a 2007 study carried out by the University of Oklahoma and done on national-level male weightlifters, there are no additional benefits observed by increasing the daily training frequency.(12) However, the study did observe that there was an increase in neuromuscular activation activity and isometric knee-extension strength in the group of weightlifters who were training twice a day.

The results of this study support the idea that dividing your workout routine into two sessions can help decrease the risk of overtraining and fatigue.

Cons of Exercising Twice a Day

The primary problem with twice a day exercising is that the increased training can put you at a significantly higher risk for overtraining. According to the American College of Sports Medicine, overtraining and overreaching in your exercising routine can usually be characterized by the following symptoms:(13)

  • Persistent fatigue
  • Persistent muscle soreness or stiffness
  • Nagging injuries
  • Irritability
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Realizing that you are no longer enjoying your workout routine

Remember that exercise is a form of physical stress on the body. Even though this type of physical stress helps stimulate physical adaptations to promote and support overall good health, overdoing it or adding too much of stress at once can prove to be problematic for your health.

Too much exercise can tax your neuromuscular system and dramatically increase the possibility for injury while also disrupting your sleeping patterns, suppressing the immune system, and you are more likely to experience the symptoms mentioned above if you do not take the time to rest and recover appropriately from your workout routine.(14,15)

Conclusion

Exercising twice a day has both advantages and disadvantages. It is essential that you think about your own needs and motivations and use that as a baseline. You can determine what is the best training and conditioning routine for your individual situation without overdoing it. You can also discuss with your doctor about what an optimal number of workouts and the intensity levels should look like at your level.

Your doctor may also refer you to a sports medicine primary care physician whose primary focus is to help people improve their physical performance, boost their overall health, maintain their physical activity, and also prevent injury.

Remember that there is no guarantee that you will start building muscle or burning fat at a faster rate if you start following a twice a day exercise plan, especially if you are a beginner. Getting help from a trainer or a coach is also a good idea to understand how much you should be pushing your body.

References:

  1. Hausenblas, H.A. and Downs, D.S., 2002. How much is too much? The development and validation of the exercise dependence scale. Psychology and health, 17(4), pp.387-404.
  2. Gerche, A.L. and Heidbuchel, H., 2014. Can intensive exercise harm the heart? You can get too much of a good thing. Circulation, 130(12), pp.992-1002.
  3. Paradis, K.F., Cooke, L.M., Martin, L.J. and Hall, C.R., 2013. Too much of a good thing? Examining the relationship between passion for exercise and exercise dependence. Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 14(4), pp.493-500.
  4. Hamilton, M.T., Healy, G.N., Dunstan, D.W., Zderic, T.W. and Owen, N., 2008. Too little exercise and too much sitting: inactivity physiology and the need for new recommendations on sedentary behavior. Current cardiovascular risk reports, 2(4), p.292.
  5. Tigbe, W.W., Granat, M.H., Sattar, N. and Lean, M.E., 2017. Time spent in sedentary posture is associated with waist circumference and cardiovascular risk. International journal of obesity, 41(5), pp.689-696.
  6. Chesley, A., MacDougall, J.D., Tarnopolsky, M.A., Atkinson, S.A. and Smith, K., 1992. Changes in human muscle protein synthesis after resistance exercise. Journal of applied physiology, 73(4), pp.1383-1388.
  7. Phillips, S.M., Tipton, K.D., Aarsland, A.S.L.E., Wolf, S.E. and Wolfe, R.R., 1997. Mixed muscle protein synthesis and breakdown after resistance exercise in humans.
  8. American journal of physiology-endocrinology and metabolism, 273(1), pp.E99-E107.
  9. Yarasheski, K.E., Zachwieja, J.J. and Bier, D.M., 1993. Acute effects of resistance exercise on muscle protein synthesis rate in young and elderly men and women. American Journal of Physiology-Endocrinology And Metabolism, 265(2), pp.E210-E214.
  10. Health.gov. 2020. [online] Available at: <https://health.gov/sites/default/files/2019-09/Physical_Activity_Guidelines_2nd_edition.pdf> [Accessed 30 December 2020].
  11. Serdula, M.K., Mokdad, A.H., Williamson, D.F., Galuska, D.A., Mendlein, J.M. and Heath, G.W., 1999. Prevalence of attempting weight loss and strategies for controlling weight. Jama, 282(14), pp.1353-1358.
  12. Lowry, R., Galuska, D.A., Fulton, J.E., Wechsler, H., Kann, L. and Collins, J.L., 2000. Physical activity, food choice, and weight management goals and practices among US college students. American journal of preventive medicine, 18(1), pp.18-27.
  13. Hartman, M.J., Clark, B., Bemben, D.A., Kilgore, J.L. and Bemben, M.G., 2007. Comparisons between twice-daily and once-daily training sessions in male weight lifters.
  14. International journal of sports physiology and performance, 2(2), pp.159-169.
  15. Roy, B.A., 2015. Overreaching/overtraining: more is not always better. ACSM’s Health & Fitness Journal, 19(2), pp.4-5.
  16. Lehmann, M.J., Lormes, W., Opitz-Gress, A., Steinacker, J.M., Netzer, N., Foster, C. and Gastmann, U., 1997. Training and overtraining: an overview and experimental results in endurance sports. Journal of sports medicine and physical fitness, 37(1), pp.7-17.
  17. Fry, R.W., Morton, A.R. and Keast, D., 1991. Overtraining in athletes. Sports Medicine, 12(1), pp.32-65.

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