Working Out Twice a Day

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Sergeant competes in leg press during ironman competition.
Sgt. Jacob McLaughlin, a heavy equipment operator from Davison, Mich., powers through the leg press event during Contingency Operating Base Adder's ironman competition in Iraq, July 4, 2009. (Sgt. Mark Miranda/4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division)

One of my favorite things to do is to work out in the a.m. and p.m. I find often due to my schedule that a tough workout needs to be split into two different workouts in the same day.

Here is the question: 

"I would like to know if when I work out in the morning at home, on the days I work out, could I do some more workout routines at the office? By doing more exercises at the office after my initial workout, does this hamper the rebuilding of the torn muscle fibers that occur from the first workout? Do my muscles need all the time they can get to recover from each workout? Any info would be greatly appreciated!"

I have found over the years, this type of split routine works well to burn additional calories in the day and help speed up the metabolism in the evening when it naturally tends to slow down. There are some rules to the two-a-day workout, however:

1. Recovery is important

You have to be creative if you do a two-a-day routine. You either should split your cardio exercise from your weights or PT exercises, or do a combination of cardio/stretching and PT in the morning and weights in the evening. If you do exercises like push-ups and bench presses in the same day, either do them together in the same workout or be careful not to do morning push-ups and evening bench presses for too many weeks in succession.

Once a week, it is OK to push your body this way and basically do two chest workouts in the same day, but take at least two days off from repeating those exercises again. And do your pushups in the morning and bench in the evening since bench-press weights will be more stressful on your muscle fibers if lifting heavy weights. You are right; you need to recover.

2. Leg PT is different

I would do leg workouts only once a day, though I would not count a run or bike not as a leg workout but as a cardio workout. So on leg days, I like to do the PT or weights first, then work out the lactic acid produced by a jog, bike or elliptical glide later in the day if you must split the workouts in two.

3. Morning workout meal

If you are doing cardio in the morning, it is important to drink water before exercise. If you are lifting weights, doing challenging PT or pushing the speed of your run and doing intervals or speed workouts, you may want to have fruit or a sport drink before running, just to boost your glycogen levels. In high-intensity workouts, you may feel dizzy, nauseated or weak when you run low on your immediate energy source -- glycogen. After your morning workout, replenish your glycogen levels with fruits like bananas, strawberries, apples, etc. Also protein should be consumed in the post-workout meal to help rebuild the muscles and speed recovery.

Here are a few examples of workouts that can be split during the day:

Two-a-day workouts

Full-body day option split

A.M. workout (cardio/leg PT) * Repeat four times Bike 5:00

Max squats in 1:00

Lunges 25/leg

Max crunches 1:00

Repeat 10 times Jumping jacks 10

Push-ups 10

P.M. workout (weights/PT) * Repeat three times Bench press 15 reps

Pull-ups max reps

Biceps curls 10, 15

Military 10, 15

Triceps extension 10, 15

Crunches 50

Lightweight shoulder workout five pounds (read "The Best Shoulder Workout" article)

Upper-body day option split

AM workout

* Repeat five times Warmup with crunches (read "Resting with Crunches" article)

Run/PT

Run 5:00

Push-ups 10-20

Crunches 20

PM workout

Push-ups max in 2:00 (do knee push-ups if you have to)

Rest 2:00

Sit-ups max in 2:00 (or crunches)

Rest 2:00

Pull-ups max

Dumbbells and weight machines: (heavy, light weight like 15- or 20-pound dumbbells for 10, 15 reps)

Biceps curls 10, 15

Military 10, 15

Hammer curls 10, 15

Triceps extension 10, 15

Bench press 10, 15

Pulldowns 10, 10

Typical cardio/PT option

A.M. workout (cardio/abs)

Warmup with crunches (read "Resting with Crunches" article)

Run, bike/elliptical glide 30:00

P.M. workout

Circuit routine

Weight circuit three times

Bench press 25

Triceps extension 20

Push-ups 10

Sit-ups 1:00

Military press 20

Crunches 50

Ab workout two times

Regular crunch 50

Right elbow to left knee 50

Left elbow to right knee 50

Reverse crunch 50

Double crunch 50 (read "Resting with Crunches" article)

These are just some of the many ways to split up your routine into a challenging two-a-day workout plan that will get you in great shape and help you lose weight by jump-starting your metabolism a second time in the day.

Stew Smith is a former Navy SEAL and fitness author certified as a Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) with the National Strength and Conditioning Association. Visit his Fitness eBook store if you’re looking to start a workout program to create a healthy lifestyle. Send your fitness questions to stew@stewsmith.com.

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