Rachael Finch is an Australian model, television host, former Miss Universe Australia and a contestant on Dancing With the Stars Australia. She's also an avid wellness advocate as a certified trainer and health coach and as the creator of Body by Finch, an online health and fitness platform.
These days, most of us struggle to find the time for just one workout throughout the day, let alone getting it done twice. What’s that saying… "Double or nothing"? So, if you manage to squeeze in your 6 a.m. boxing session, why then would you go back for round two and what benefit will it have on your body?
There’s a reason why professional athletes can be found in the gym lifting weights in the morning and out in the field finessing skills in the afternoon, for example. Their programs are tailored to optimize energy and produce the best possible outcome in their performance. It’s their job. Specific sessions planned at either end of the day means a greater increase in muscle mass, power, aerobic ability, and overall skill. And like the elite, you too can adopt a similar approach in your training by breaking up your day with 2 sweaty sessions to reach your goals faster. But before you jump in with back-to-back kickboxing and Zumba classes, there are a few things to consider. Ahead, the 5 things to think about before committing to twice a day workouts.
Keep safety first.
While exercise, in general, provides the body with a stack of beautiful benefits, over-doing it can have reverse effects. Exercise is a form of stress on the body and loading up too much can result in a lowered immune system, injury, inflammation, disturbed sleep patterns, loss of motivation and more. There really can be too much of a good thing! None of that sounds like something I want in my calendar, so if you want to embrace the double sweat sessions, you’ll need to ensure you’re smart about your approach.
Think about what’s on your plate.
Supporting your body during multiple training sessions with adequate nutrition is crucial if you want to avoid burn-out and promote muscle growth and repair. Depending on your exercise intensity, ensure you’re eating enough calories to fuel your body through each session and beyond. Aim to eat a balance of all macronutrients at each meal including complex carbohydrates like sweet potato, bananas and brown rice, essential fats including avocado and nuts, good quality protein like grass-fed beef (vegans can include ingredients like beans and legumes as their protein source), and ensure you’re eating plenty of vegetables and fruit! I like to fill my plate with veggies first and always choose a variety of colors to help my body get everything it needs.
Prioritize rest and relaxation.
It may sound obvious but resting enough between workouts will be the only way your body can keep up with the regime. Recovery time varies from person to person and your specific experience level, but as a general rule of thumb it's a good idea to space your workouts at least six hours apart. Workouts too close together could result in injury. For high-intensity workouts, plan to leave even more time in between. Seven to eight hours is a suitable amount of time to stagger your workouts, and remember that adequate sleep is crucial—it's when your body goes into recovery mode.
Structure your workouts.
Splitting your sessions by the training type, intensity levels, or specific muscle groups will help produce the fitness goals you’re after. Keep in mind everyone is different, so you need to do what works for you and your goals. If you’re splitting by the training type, you may choose to work on your strength in the AM and cardio in the AM. Place the session you want to give more attention to at the start of the day when your body is fresh. For example, you may be training for a marathon so your long-distance run may come first. For intensity level splits, place workouts that require more energy output at the start of the day and those that require less towards the end of the day to maximize efforts. You may also like to break up your workouts by training different body parts—as an example, in the morning you could train the lower body and abdominals and in the afternoon focus on the upper body.
If you’re new to the twice-a-day thing, you’ll want to ensure you’re taking baby steps and gradually working your way up. Don’t be shy to lower the overall intensity of your workouts to prevent burn-out in the beginning. When you feel more confident, increase the workload. If you experience any pain or injury, please seek advice from your medical professional and as always, listen to your body… if you can only fit in a walk tomorrow, don’t fret, it’s better than nothing.