Get access to everything we publish when you sign up for Outside+.
You want to shed some pounds and build muscle to boost your performance. The first thought that comes to mind is, Do I start two-a-days and possibly hit the gym twice a day? Athletes’ workout more than twice a day. The human body is capable of doing more than one sweat session a day if you really want it to.
But the question is—is it worth it? You have to first answer this: What’s your goal? That will help steer you in the right direction. Once you know your goal, then you can dig into how many workouts are really safe for your body.
Many health experts suggest adults participate in at least 30 minutes of activity a day. According to Health.gov adults should do 2 hours, 30 minutes of moderate activities a week, or 75 minutes of rigorous activity per week. Some suggest more because people are less active and glued to a desk most hours of the day.
So the question shouldn’t be how many workouts a day or week are safe—because people do it all the time. The question is, What’s the safest way to work out if you want to work out more than once a day? Again, it all depends on your goal. Once you have your goal, you can map out how to get there.
Professional triathlete Bree Wee suggests, “Working out more than once a day is a huge endurance and fitness booster. It can be safe for almost all fitness levels as long as you don’t have pre-existing injuries or other health concerns.”
Dr. Brad Thomas, founding partner at Beach Cities Orthopedics & Sports Medicine, says, “Your typical athlete runs four times per week, plus two or three cross-training workouts to emphasize flexibility and strength.”
So working out six to seven days a week and mixing up intensities is safe for the body. If you’re looking to double that number, be careful about when you start. “The biggest not-so-secret ‘secret’ is to start slow. While motivation may be high and you begin to feel benefits paying off, you have to exercise patience and self-control,” explains Wee. “Another word of caution is to back up big days with recovery or rest days. I’m talking slow your roll, as you may be feeling super pumped that you tackled more in a single day than most do all week!”
Tips to keep in mind if you begin to implement a double-day workout routine:
- Ensure you have an adequate protein and refueling plan in place.
- Carry your hydration everywhere; keep your protein drink in a hydroflask or cooler so you can have it within 30 minutes of your workout.
- Prep meals to avoid mindless snacking or the urge to grab not-so-healthy foods when you get home at night.
- Slowly add mileage and intensity to your workouts.
- Spend time doing dynamic stretching, yoga and/or Pilates.
- Take time to foam roll and/or get a massage to help repair your muscles faster.
- Don’t push through pain.
Your first workout of the day should be more challenging. Don’t focus on your second workout during your first one. Tackle the first, recover, and then think about your second one. “Your second workout is best to have slower paced, maybe with a friend, and think of it as money in the bank or bonus miles,” suggests Wee. “Sometimes doubling the stress can do more harm than good, while sometimes going easier for your second workout can actually aid in recovery as it flushes blood and moves around lactic acid from your first workout.”
Listen to your body. Some days you’ll need to back off. It’s better to give your body some rest to avoid injury.