A man stretching his leg outdoors before he works out twice a day.

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The Pros and Cons of Working Out Twice a Day—and How to Do It Without Burning Out

Two-a-day workouts can be safe and effective if you follow a few pro tips.

By Sarah KleinMay 13, 2024


More isn’t always better: Too much coffee can give you the jitters, too much sleep can leave you groggy, and sometimes too much exercise—like working out twice a day—can actually hurt.

Generally, adults should aim for at least two strength-training sessions and 150–300 minutes of moderate-intensity cardio or 75–150 minutes of vigorous-intensity cardio spread throughout each week, according to the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. (You can think of that as 30–60 minutes of moderate-intensity activity a day, five days a week.) There are perks of going beyond that 300-minute mark, but up to a point: Overtraining can lead to fatigue and injury if you’re not careful.

That limit is different for everyone—which is why ramping up your fitness routine, or trying an exercise plan that calls for more frequent sweat sessions, might leave you wondering if working out twice a day is safe or even worthwhile. Here are the potential benefits and possible risks to consider, plus how to stay safe if you decide double sessions are worth it for you.

Is Working Out Twice a Day Safe?

We know this isn’t the most satisfying answer, but, plain and simple: It depends. “[Working out twice a day] can be safe under certain conditions,” says Dr. Charlotte Weidenbach, a Peloton instructor. “However, it largely depends on factors such as fitness level, overall health, intensity, and recovery time between sessions.”

It also depends on the intensity of your workouts. If you’re going hard twice a day, you risk overtraining, injury, and burnout (more on that below), she says. But two lower-intensity efforts—like a slow yoga session and a long walk—can absolutely be safe. “The safety of working out twice a day is endangered when we’re talking about two intense sessions,” Dr. Charlotte says.

Benefits of Two-a-Day Workouts

If done carefully—and with a balance of intensity and plenty of rest—working out twice a day can deliver the following:

  • Faster fitness gains: It’s logical to think the more you train, the more you gain. “You’re basically doubling your workouts, so you can reach goals like getting into cardio shape or building muscle faster,” says Cassandra A. Lee, MD, chief of the division of sports medicine at UC Davis Health. It’s why collegiate athletes often have two-a-days during their pre-seasons, Dr. Lee says, or why action movie stars spend hours (and hours!) in the gym preparing for roles. 

  • Lower perceived effort: A small 2022 Frontiers in Psychology study on 23 resistance-trained women found the biggest differences between one and two workout sessions a day were mental: One longer session was seen as more uncomfortable and effortful than two shorter workouts. Even still, all but one participant still preferred one longer workout over two shorter ones, so think about which method you gravitate toward. If a single longer sweat sesh feels more appealing, feel free to stick with it—but if two shorter sessions sound more enjoyable, try it out. You might be less likely to burn out on exercise and, therefore, more likely to stick with it.

  • Fat loss: You’ll burn more calories exercising twice a day, which may help you reach or maintain a personal goal weight, Dr. Charlotte says. (But you’ll also need to eat more to fuel all that activity, Dr. Lee says, so you’ll have to pay careful attention to nutrition, whether or not weight loss is a goal for you—more on that below!)

  • Opportunity for varied workouts: If you only do one workout a day and you’re focused on a goal like long-distance running, you might not make time for a thorough stretching session, a mobility routine, or cross-training like cycling or swimming. But two-a-day workouts allow you to target different muscle groups or modalities in each session, Dr. Charlotte says. This variation can help prevent overuse injuries caused by repetitive motions in people who only do the same workout or sport, Dr. Lee adds.

Drawbacks of Two-a-Day Workouts

With all that in mind, working out twice a day isn’t for everyone. “Overtraining and increased risk of injury are concerns associated with working out twice a day,” Dr. Charlotte says, mainly due to the fact that you might not be giving yourself enough time to rest and recover. Here are a couple of other potential cons associated with two-a-day workouts:

  • Stalled fitness gains: When you exercise, you create teeny tears in your muscles that your body rebuilds stronger than before, leading to improvements in muscle strength and size, according to the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM). Without enough downtime, you won’t see the progress you’re looking for.

  • Extra mental and physical stress: Skimping on recovery “leads to overtraining syndrome, which appears as fatigue, decreased performance, and increased risk of injury,” Dr. Charlotte says, adding that “constantly high stress hormones when overtraining can lead to decreased immune function and mental burnout.” You could feel noticeably stressed or anxious, tired during the day, sore all the time, or unable to hit previous fitness benchmarks (like your usual 8-minute mile pace), Dr. Lee says.

That means it’s key to find your personal sweet spot when exercising twice a day: “There is a fine line between a healthy, high-frequency training schedule and overtraining,” Dr. Charlotte says. “We want those stress hormones during a workout in order to become better, but we need to give the body time to rest after to balance it out.”

So, Should You Work Out Twice a Day?

The benefits of working out twice a day certainly sound appealing, but you’ll need to consider how the potential drawbacks might affect you individually. Already feeling fatigue, burnout, or stress? This might not be the time for two-a-days, Dr. Charlotte says. And anyone recovering from an injury, surgery, or illness should wait until they’re fully cleared for intense exercise, Dr. Lee says.

If you’re new to fitness, build up some experience with one workout a day before jumping into a second, Dr. Charlotte adds. Anyone with a previous injury or an underlying health condition should always talk to a doctor before making a major change in their workout routine. And if your daily life is already physically demanding—maybe you work in construction or have young kids to chase—you might be getting plenty of activity already, she says.

But if you’re generally healthy, moderately active and experienced with exercise, and curious about what two-a-days might feel like, you can likely safely try working out twice a day, especially if you follow the suggestions below.

Tips for Working Out Twice a Day

So you decided to try two-a-day workouts (and your healthcare provider is on board!). The following expert-approved tips can help you do so safely, effectively, and without burning out or injuring yourself:

1. Get Plenty of Sleep

Getting enough rest—usually seven to nine hours a night for adults—is crucial, especially if you’re exercising frequently. Adding two more hours of sleep a night to your schedule (up to nine hours) has the power to improve athletic performance and boost recovery, according to a 2020 review published in the International Journal of Sports Medicine.

2. Eat for Recovery

Generally, aim for 20–25 grams of muscle-building protein (and some carbs for fuel) within an hour or so after completing a workout, NASM suggests.

You might want to speak with your doctor or a registered dietitian for additional guidance, Dr. Charlotte says, noting that “the help of a professional for individual needs can be a game-changer.” They’ll help you balance not just your protein and carb intake but fat too, Dr. Lee says, which is crucial for long-lasting energy.

3. Vary Your Workouts

“Incorporate different types of workouts in each session to avoid overloading specific muscle groups,” Dr. Charlotte recommends. For example, maybe you do an upper-body workout in the morning and go for a run or take a cycling class in the afternoon, rather than a lower-body workout the same day you already planned to run or ride, she says.

You could also do a lower-body strength workout in the morning and an upper-body strength workout in the afternoon or evening, Dr. Lee says, as long as you don’t do the same exact thing the next day. “You don’t want to over-extend the same muscle groups within the same 24-hour period,” she explains.

4. Watch for Signs of Overtraining

“Persistent fatigue, decreased performance, and mood changes” are red flags you may need to take a step back, Dr. Charlotte says. Fitness trackers or heart rate monitors can help clue you in to stats that could be concerning, such as a consistently slower-than-usual running pace or a higher-than-usual heart rate.  

5. Leave Time for Rest

Ideally, you’d wait six hours between two-a-day workouts and take one full day off a week, according to the National Library of Medicine. If that’s not possible, at least give yourself enough time to eat (and digest) and rehydrate, Dr. Lee says.

You can also focus some of your workouts on active recovery, such as walking, yoga, and stretching, Dr. Charlotte says. 

6. Stay Hydrated

Drink plenty of water consistently throughout each day if you’re committed to two-a-day workouts, Dr. Lee says, because “hydration starts the day before.” If you’re thirsty, you’re already at least a little dehydrated, she adds. Look for pale yellow urine to know you’re getting enough fluids.

It’s also smart to replenish your electrolytes if you see white salt marks from sweat on your workout clothes, Dr. Lee says. (It’s a sign you’re losing lots of sodium, among other important minerals, through your sweat.) Exercising in the hot sun or for longer than an hour or two could call for an electrolyte tap-off, too.

7. Ease Into It

Like with any change to your fitness routine, build up to two-a-days over time. You might start by working out twice a day on two days a week for a couple of weeks, Dr. Lee says. And if you normally work out for an hour, maybe your second session of the day is only an additional 30 minutes. Gradually increase the length of your second workout and/or how many days you double up while keeping in mind the signs of overtraining, she says.

8. Be Flexible

Listen to your body and be willing to adjust the workout plan accordingly,” Dr. Charlotte says. You might need to skip a workout or adjust your intensity or volume if you’re not feeling as recovered as you’d like, she says.

The Takeaway

Ultimately, working out twice a day “can be safe if it’s done correctly,” Dr. Lee says. As long as you have the go-ahead from a trusted medical professional and you’re feeling inspired, there’s no reason you can’t give it a try.

But remember it takes some serious fitness know-how to navigate the necessary rest, nutrition, and hydration for sustainable two-a-days, plus dedication to a balanced, varied workout program. If that sounds like a juggling act you’re not equipped for or interested in, you shouldn’t feel any pressure to work out twice each day.

This content is for informational and educational purposes only and does not constitute individualized advice. It is not intended to replace professional medical evaluation, diagnosis, or treatment. Seek the advice of your physician for questions you may have regarding your health or a medical condition. If you are having a medical emergency, call your physician or 911 immediately.


Featured Peloton Instructor

Peloton instructor Charlotte Weidenbach smiling and crossing her arms in a headshot-style photo. She is wearing a Peloton sports bra.

Charlotte Weidenbach

As a trained doctor, Charlotte knows that every time you work out, you're doing something good for you. Expect her classes to be full of power and positivity.


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