Two Workouts in One Day: Is it OK to exercise 2x per day?

Written by Dr. Dave Hopper, M.S.(C)

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Fact Checked

Two-A-Day Workouts

If you played sports at a higher level,

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In high school, college or even did it professionally then you’ve probably heard the term:


This refers to doing two workouts in one day.

For some, this is a dreaded thing.


For sick gym rats and athletes like us….


If you’ve done athletics professionally as I have, then you know,

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It’s the life;

  • Exercise of some form 4-8 hours a day
  • Eat basically non-stop
  • Naps every day
  • And women well….easy 😉

But now;

You may not be that serious athlete anymore.

If you’re in college or out, chances are, you’re sitting for 4-8 hours a day, not exercising.

Instead of naps, you’re probably slamming a third or fourth cup of coffee to stay awake.

And women….

Women don’t exactly flock to students and desk jockeys so….

But, at least you can still eat healthy!

Can you still do two workouts in one day though…

Or even three??


Is the simple answer.

But, I’m not about simple answers.

Here’s what this article is all about:

  • Can Your Body Handle Two-a-Days?
  • How to Safely do Multiple Exercise Sessions in a Day

Can Your Body Handle Two-A-Day Workouts

Can Your Body Handle Two-A-Day Workouts?

Everyone wants to know how far they can push.

If I lift this much more will I grow bigger muscles?

If I add in extra workouts and extra days will I get bigger muscles?

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That answer is different for everyone.

I know, I know.

Lamest non-answer ever.


Every person has different levels of stressors throughout the day.

Work, life, money, kids, girlfriend/wife, parents, sports, etc.


Every one of us handles those stressors differently.

This makes it really tough to make a blanket statement like…

“Yes, everyone is capable of doing two-a-day workouts”


“Yes, everyone will grow bigger muscles if they hit the gym hard today”

That being said;

There are some strong indicators to guide you.

Such as:

  • Heart Rate Variability (HRV)
  • Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE)
  • Sleep
  • Exercise History
  • And of course, Modalities are HUGE factor

Hear Rate Variability (HRV):

My last article was a deep dive into HRV, check it out for further explanation.

HRV is arguably the most important biometric for you to know about your health.

It tells you how well your body is doing overall.

HRV literally is the millisecond variations between each heartbeat.

That’s right, your heart beat is not in perfect rhythm!

What this gives you is objective insight as to how well recovered you are and how capable of taking on a large task such as a workout your body is.

You will find it is shockingly in line with your subjective feelings too…

A perfect Segway to RPE…

Rate of Perceived Excretion (RPE):

RPE is a subjective measure of how fatigued you are.

Typically, this is on a 1-10 scale, but you may also see it as a 6-20 scale

The 1-10 scale is pretty straight forward;

If you feel like a 1, you’re probably dead.

Or close to it.

If you feel like a 10,

You feel like you can take on the world!!

Mentally and physically.

The 6-20 scale is a little confusing, but is made to give you an estimated heart rate.

In this case, if you feel like a 15

Then we could estimate your heart rate is about 150 beats per minute.

And if you’re feeling like a 1 on this scale, you’re definitely dead.

….Stick to the 1-10 scale.

And use it for your overall fatigue feeling, not just your estimated heart rate.

The problem I find overall with subjective measures is, well…

It’s really easy to lie to yourself when you want to do something.

Objective measures like HRV won’t lie to you.



Sleep cannot be overlooked!

Sleep is the most important thing you can do for overall health.

That is high quality, sufficient duration sleep.

When you sleep the proper amount of time your body needs and access the deep stages of sleep;

Your body does the repairs needed!

If you don’t get the sleep you need, well to put it simply;

You’ll feel and look like shit.

Most of us require somewhere between 6-10 hours of sleep.

In my previous article on “Resting to Grow Big Muscles”, I got into sleep hygiene and all those things you can do to improve sleep.

Check it out!

Essentially, if you wake up feeling good, you’re probably doing good all around.


If you tossed and turned and wake up feeling like shit. Take it easy.

A quick indicator to know if you got into a quality parasympathetic, deep sleep is….

Did you have an erection this morning?

If not, you probably also don’t feel awesome.

If your buddy is standing proud in the morning, chances are you got into some deep sleep…

At least for that final cycle of the night.

Now, let’s look at modalities as they will be the biggest factor.

Multiple Modalities in One Day:

Here’s a blanket statement I can comfortably make;

If doing workouts of different modalities and intensities in the same day, then EVERYONE is capable of doing two-a-days.

A modality is the type of exercise.

Like; weight lifting, running, biking, martial arts, yoga, etc.

If you plan to do weight lifting in the morning and then a restorative yoga class at night, that is no problem. Most everyone should be perfectly capable of handling that.

Where it gets sticky…

When you want to do two modalities of similar intensity, or even the same modality twice in the same day.

If you do weight lifting in the morning and you use a relatively high intensity, then doing a Vinyasa style yoga class at night may be a challenge. Because that is a higher intensity class and you’ll likely burn out…

Making injury more likely.

If you do weight lifting in the morning and weight lifting in the evening at the same intensity…

It’s the same story.


There is a smart way to train twice a day. It all comes to programming.

We’ll get there in a moment.

First, let’s talk about another large factor playing in.

EXPERIENCE. Or exercise history.

If you had been involved in sports and doing weight lifting for years on end and a lifting session and playing your sport in the same day is or was just another day for you, then you are well prepared for this.


If your new to weight lifting or exercises in general. Two-A-Day workouts will not be for you. At least not right now.

Similar, if you haven’t lifted for years.


Your exercise and sport history is just spotty.


You can reach a place where your body will be ready for two-a-day workouts. But that time would not be week one on a new program and possibly not even year one.

Now, Back to that programming.

For a moment, let’s pretend like this is a perfect world and cardio doesn’t exist.

In this perfect, no cardio world the only option for exercise is weight lifting.


Now, if you want to lift weights twice a day you’ll have to get a bit crafty.

Especially if you want to avoid injury.

Here’s the plan:

Morning workout:

  • Lift weights focused on a Chest routine

Afternoon/Evening workout

  • Lift weights focused on ANYTHING BUT chest

It’s really that simple, just do a split routine, assuring you’re not hitting the same muscle group twice in the same day.


If you did work chest in the morning and did hit it HARD.

Then likely, you won’t want to use the secondary muscle groups for chest exercises either.

So, leave out triceps and anterior deltoids too.


Back to the real world where there are plenty of other options to choose from for exercise.

Here are some guidelines to start with for the “Average Joe” attempting Two-A-Day workouts.

Assure ample rest between workouts

  • If workout one for the day is at 6am,
    • Then eat a good breakfast
    • Shower
    • Do something not physically taxing (work?)
    • Ideally eat again (see below)
    • Do an afternoon or evening workout 4-6pm…ish
    • Sleep

Sleep is where all the Growth Hormone comes out to play (1).

Assure proper nutrition

  • EAT Damnit!!! And Eat quality carbs damnit!!
  • Your body needs food to grow, repair & prepare
  • Every day you should eat high quality foods
    • Meaning those that are anti-inflammatory (Google it)
    • On days you train a Two-A-Day it is vital!
  • Eat a light snack about 30-60 minutes before your morning workout depending how you handle food.
  • Eat a full breakfast after
  • Eat a good-sized snack a couple hours after that and continue eating every 2-3 hours to keep your body in repair mode.
  • Get in your second workout and keep on eating!
  • Don’t avoid carbs, just choose good quality ones.
  • If your fat adapted, even better! But you still need carbs for glycogen, your muscles stored form of carbs.

Assure proper hydration

Assure proper hydration

  • Every day you should consume half your body weight in ounces of water.
    • For a 200lb male, that is 100 ounces of water
    • For every non-water drink you have, add 8-16 ounces
    • For every workout you do add 8-32 ounces (depends on intensity)
    • That’s a lot of water. But water is what makes up about 80% of our muscular composition!!

Vary the modalities of your workouts

  • If your morning workout is weight lifting
  • Have your afternoon workout be something else like:
    • Running, yoga, martial arts, hockey, etc.

As we talked about before, the same modality twice in the same day is for advanced exercisers/athletes.

Vary the intensities of your workouts

  • If your evening workout is going to be a competitive sport (hockey, jiu jitsu, boxing, etc.)
    • Then your morning weight lifting session should be of a lower intensity
    • This way you haven’t burnt yourself out completely for your sport later
    • And your less likely to get injured
  • However, if your evening event is more skill/technique focused and/or just a lower intensity exercise session
    • Then bust your balls in the morning session!

Obvious Fact:  It takes longer to recover from high intensity exercise then it does from low-moderate intensities (2).

No marathon workouts!

  • Both exercise sessions should be an hour or less
    • Exercising for more than an hour is BAD FOR MUSCLES
      • Study
  • The exception would be if one of the exercise sessions was an hour of light/skill related work, then 30-40 minutes of actual exercise.

Don’t Skip the Cool Down!

  • Be certain you are doing the following at the end of your workouts:
    • Stretching (at least the muscles worked)
    • Foam rolling or other forms of self-myofascial release

Do Prehabilitation

  • Prehabilitation is the idea of doing rehabilitation type exercises to assure you don’t get injured.
    • This is especially important for athletes…And desk jockeys.
    • When you repeat the same motions very often, your body gets “stuck” in patterns and this eventually leads to overuse type injuries.
    • Doing prehabilitation type exercises will combat this.
  • Example; Desk Jockey:
    • Often forward head and forward, rounded shoulders
      • Doing exercises like the following would be very helpful:
        • Face Pulls
        • Chin Retractions
        • Rear Delt Flys
        • Underhand Rows
        • High Row with Underhand Grip
    • This will keep you well balanced and injury free!

For those of you who have had years of experience with Two (or three or four) – A – Day Training sessions you can probably play by a different set of rules.

Of course,

Take these guidelines with a grain of salt if you’ve let yourself become deconditioned since your athletic career.

Experienced Guidelines:

Hydration is KEY!

  • Please refer to the above guidelines for hydration
    • And possibly even step it up

Nutrition is HUGE!

  • Please refer to the above guidelines
    • And possibly even more food is necessary

Rest is a BIG Deal, But….

  • Ample rest is still key to recovery, but experienced athletes recover faster.
    • Use heart rate variability, muscle soreness and mental preparation as indicators for being well rested.
      • Push it hard when all signs say go!
    • DO take naps when able, especially if you’re doing Two-A-Days regularly.

Modalities can repeat, vary Intensity!

  • As a former pro fighter, my days would often look like this:
    • Wake early, eat, ift weights (moderate intensity)
    • Eat
    • Morning technique practice (low intensity)
    • Eat & Nap
    • Eat
    • Afternoon Sport Specific Conditioning (super high intensity) or Yoga (moderate intensity)
    • Eat and rest
    • Evening Live Sparring (super high intensity)
    • Eat and go to sleep

As I said earlier, this is the life!

But, as you can see; Although doing the same modalities twice in the same day, the intensity was varied between them and there was plenty of rest!

  • Don’t be afraid to lift weights twice in the same day
    • Just vary the intensity of your sessions
    • Vary the purpose too
      • I always looked at my morning lifting session as a “Base Building/Rehabilitation/Prehabilitation” session, and the afternoon lifting session was “sport specific” conditioning
  • If your tossing in a third workout though…
    • Assure it is a different modality completely

Don’t Skip the Cool Down!

  • Be certain you are doing the following at the end of your workouts, just as the above guys were:
    • Stretching (at least the muscles worked)
    • Foam rolling or other forms of self-myofascial release

Do Prehabilitation

  • See above guidelines

If you have other questions, like does what modality first matter? Or high intensity first matter?

The answer is no.

Do what feels best for you.

This 2017 Study found that there is no difference in performance regardless if the session is in the first or second workout of the day (3).

That’s basically it.

Now start doing Two-A-Days today!

Or when you feel ready….

Happy Lifting.

Dr. Dave


1. Physiology ofgrowth hormone secretion during sleep.

Van Cauter E, Plat L. J Pediatr. 1996 May;128(5 Pt 2):S32-7.

2. Exerciseintensity independently modulates thermal behavior during exercise recovery, but not during exercise. Vargas NT, Chapman CL, Johnson BD, Gathercole R, Schlader ZJ. J Appl Physiol (1985). 2019 Jan 17

3. The effect of session order on the physiological, neuromuscular, and endocrine responses to maximal speed and weight trainingsessionsover a 24-h period. Johnston M, Johnston J, Cook CJ, Costley L, Kilgallon M, Kilduff LP.

J Sci Med Sport. 2017 May;20(5):502-506

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