Twice A Day Workout – Is It Better ?

If we observe high-performance athletes from different sports, they engage in two or more workout sessions per day. Multiple training sessions do have their physiological and performance benefits.

One of the reasons to engage in multiple sessions a day, is because of the high volume of training load. Athletes divide the training load into 2 or more sessions per day, to make sure that in each session they are able to maintain higher intensity, as intensity is inversely proportional to duration.

Possible benefits of split training volumes might include a more favourable anabolic environment and increased neuromuscular efficiency, which could decrease an athlete’s risk of unplanned overreaching or overtraining. Frequent training sessions followed by periods of recovery might allow for greater training intensity through maximal energy utilization and reduced fatigue during exercise.

But the studies are quite mixed when it comes to the effectiveness of multiple training sessions a day. Acc. to the studies, it’s good for competitive athletes to divide their training loads into two or more sessions per day. This hasn’t shown much benefits in terms of overall performance, but it’s a great way to avoid overtraining, and maintain proper training intensity.

  • A study, compared the physiological responses between twice-daily training sessions and once-daily training sessions with similar training volumes in national-level weight lifters. The study found no additional benefit to performing twice-daily training sessions as opposed to once-daily training sessions. But the training load is better divided into two sessions per day, in an attempt to reduce the risk of overtraining.
  • An earlier study, determined the effects of once vs. twice daily workouts with respect to changes in maximal aerobic power (VO2 max). Thirteen varsity track men were divided into two groups for participation in interval training, once (1/day) and twice (2/day). After 4 weeks of training, there was no change in VO2 max within either of the groups. The data suggest that training 2 times per day is not associated with improvements in VO2 max over training one time per day.
  • A study, investigated in ten female athletes during a “normal” intensive strength training period for 3-weeks (I) as well as during a separate second 3-week training period (II), when the same total training volume was distributed into two daily sessions.

The present results with female athletes suggest that the distribution of the volume of intensive strength training into smaller units, such as two daily sessions, may create more optimal conditions not only for muscular hypertrophy but by producing effective training stimuli especially for the nervous system. 

But what about the non-athlete population? Population group which is interested in hypertrophy and strength gain, fat loss & muscle gain. Are multiple training sessions equally beneficial for them?

Because for such a population group, maintain regular consistency in workout itself poses a challenge. Twice a day workout is something which majority of the population will either never be interested in, or they simply can’t manage the time.

Also, for hypertrophy for drug-free individuals. The studies are slightly in favour of twice-a-day training sessions. Also, if you are looking for a faster fat loss & lean muscle gain, and are dedicated enough with adequate time at hand to have consistent two sessions a day, for at least 3-4 days per week, then nothing like it.

For e.g. studies have shown that muscle hypertrophy follows a dose-response relationship, with increasingly greater gains achieved with higher training volumes.

A study, investigated the effects of training muscle groups once-versus twice-daily on functional adaptations in trained men. Participants were assigned to 1 of 2 experimental groups: 1 daily session per muscle group, where every muscle group was trained once a day or 2 daily sessions per muscle group, where every muscle group was trained twice.

Testing was conducted before intervention and after 8 weeks for maximal strength (1RM) and muscular endurance (60%1RM) for bench press and parallel back squat exercises, and muscle thickness (MT) of the biceps, triceps, vastus lateralis, quadriceps and pectoralis major. 

This study provided evidence that a twice-daily resistance training augments lower-body muscular strength; however, the daily frequency does not seem to have any additive effect on upper-body muscular strength, muscular endurance, and muscle hypertrophy in trained men.

No doubts, twice a day training session will add a good amount of volume in your workout plan. But, you have to be careful about certain aspects and keep in mind some important points:

  • Above everything else is adequate recovery. If you have the time and the energy to manage two workout sessions daily, then make sure you are able to adequately recover from them. As you will need adequate sleep and a great diet to balance these.

The other part of recovery is proper nutrition. Twice a day training demands more fuel due to higher volume, so make sure you aren’t on a large calorie deficit if you intend to do so.

  • If you are engaging in two workout sessions per day, they should be times properly, so that you are adequately recovered from the previous session, and are physically and mentally ready for the second session. Best would be a morning and evening session.
  • The most important part is workout design. Make sure that you do not plan two high intensity workout sessions in a single day. It would be better to have a strength training session and an endurance session, in a single day.

Even if you want to plan two weight training sessions, then one session should comprise of a major body part, with heavier lifts like chest, back, legs, shoulder; and the second session should be targeted at a single smaller muscle group, like biceps, triceps, calves etc.

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