Two-a-Day Workout Plans for Fitness and Weight Loss

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When it comes to exercise, there are so many ways to schedule it that it can be confusing when you start setting up a workout program.

If you think of the guidelines, which suggest you do cardio at least 5 days a week, strength training all your muscle groups at least 2 times a week, and stretching after every workout, it seems like you need hours a day just to fit it all in.

While there are a number of ways to get around this issue, one you may not have considered is working out twice a day.

While it's not something you want to do for the long-term, two-a-day workouts have a variety of benefits.

You can fit in all your workouts, get double the afterburn, burn more calories, and just maybe bust through that stubborn weight loss plateau.

The Advantages and Disadvantages of Two-A-Day Workouts

In her article, "The Pros and Cons of Working Out Twice a Day," expert Laura Williams mentions the obvious benefits: You're working out more, which means you're burning more calories and protecting your body from things like heart disease and obesity.

Another benefit is that you can increase your performance. By splitting your workouts, you can implement more training volume, which means you can reach your goals more quickly.

That may be good for an athlete or someone who competes, but this type of training isn't just for the pros. Regular exercisers can implement this format in a variety of ways, giving you more options for how you work out.

The Advantages

Short bouts of exercise have been proven to be just as effective, if not more so, than one long continuous workout. Not only that, when you work out twice a day you get twice the afterburn, the calories you burn after your workout as your body works to bring you back to your pre-exercise state.

More benefits include:

  • More exercise time - The more time you spend working out, the more calories you burn overall and, if your goal is to lose weight, that's to your benefit.
  • You can fit in more types of exercise - There are plenty of ways to set up two-a-day workouts, as you'll see below, but one advantage is doing different types of training throughout the day. You may do cardio in the morning and then strength training later in the day, for example.
  • Losing those last few pounds - While two-a-days might not be something you want to do all the time, they can be great for a couple of weeks to help you lose those last few stubborn pounds.
  • Generating more energy- Sometimes, an afternoon or evening workout session, whether it's cardio, strength, or flexibility, can boost your energy if you're flagging by the end of the day.

The Disadvantages

Of course, two-a-day workouts do have some drawbacks depending on the workouts you're doing and how hard you're working. Just some to keep in mind include:

  • Overtraining - If you do too much intense exercise more than once a day, you risk overtraining, burnout, and even injury.
  • Fatigue - Most of us have a certain circadian rhythm, feeling more energetic in some parts of the day than others. If you're trying to implement an extra workout, you may find it hard to get up the energy after already working out once.
  • The sweat factor - Depending on what you're doing, two-a-day workouts involve changing into workout clothes, warming up, doing the workout, cooling down, sweating, etc. That may be a lot to experience twice a day.
  • Increased appetite - Of course, one thing that can happen when you work out more is that you may want to eat more. Your body does need fuel for all that exercise, but you may need to keep an eye on your diet when you add more exercise time.

Tips for Better Workouts

The real keys for safe, effective two-a-day workouts are, first, the types of workouts you choose and, second, making sure you have some recovery days in there to allow your body to rest, heal, and grow stronger.

  • Try the more intense workouts in the morning - If you're doing something hard, such as high intensity interval training, try doing that workout first and a less intense workout later in the day.
  • Give yourself plenty of time between workouts - Give yourself several hours between workouts and make sure you eat right to give your body the energy it needs.
  • Hydrate - Another way to combat fatigue and keep your body fueled is to make sure you drink enough water throughout the day. If your workouts are intense, you may even want to try a sports drink to keep your electrolytes in balance.
  • Start simple - If you've never done two-a-days, ease into it. You might stick with your usual morning cardio or strength routine and then do something short and easy later in the day to allow your body to get used to working out more.
  • Schedule your rest days - You don't necessarily want to workout twice a day every single day, that gives your body no time for rest. Try scheduling a rest day or a light workout in between your two-a-day workouts.
  • Look for signs you're overdoing it - If you feel tired or your performance is flagging, that may be a sign you're doing too much. If that's the case, give yourself some time off to allow your body to recover.

Types of Two-A-Day Workout Plans

There are so many ways to split workouts, there's almost no limit to what you can do. Below you'll find just a few options for two-a-day workouts.

Two-A-Day Cardio Routine

This type of training is often what runners do to prepare for half-marathons or full marathons. They might go out for a run in the morning and then do another run later in the day to build up endurance and mileage.

For the average person, multiple cardio sessions have a different purpose. You may simply want to break up your cardio because you don't have time for a full 30 minutes or an hour.

In that case, you may want to do shorter bouts of exercise, 10 to 20 minutes three or so times a day. The American College of Sports Medicine suggests that this approach to cardio may help reduce fatigue and boredom, all while allowing you to get the benefits of cardio.

Just make sure you're not doing several bouts of very intense exercise, as that can lead to overtraining and injury.

Sample Two-A-Day Cardio Workout

If you walk, run or do some other cardio activity, you can simply split your workout into two different sessions. Below is one option of how to do two different cardio workouts in one day without overdoing it.

More 10 minute workouts.

Two-A-Day Strength Training

This is often the choice of bodybuilders or athletes looking to increase strength and size, but regular exercisers can also benefit from this type of training as long as you're working different muscle groups.

Probably the easiest way to split your workouts is by doing upper body during one workout and lower body in the next. You might do lower body in the morning since that's often more taxing than upper body workouts.

Sample Two-A-Day Strength Training Plan

In this plan, you'll do split workouts two times a week with at least one day of rest in between. The last workout is a circuit workout that combines both cardio and strength so you have something completely different than the other workouts.

Again, doing this for a week or two is fine, but you don't want to overdo it on the two-a-day workouts.

Day 1

Day 2

Rest or Light Cardio

Day 3

Cardio. Some options:

Day 4

Day 5

Recovery workout - Yoga, stretching, or foam roller

Day 6

Cardio and Strength Circuit Challenge

Day 7

Rest or light activity

Two-A-Day Strength and Cardio for Fitness and Weight Loss

This is probably the most accessible plan for the average person looking to lose weight, get fit, and build strength and endurance without overdoing it. Because there are a variety of workouts, some intense and others light, you work on multiple areas of fitness while allowing your body to recover each day.

Day 1

Workout 1 - High Intensity Cardio

For your first workout, you'll do a short, intense cardio circuit workout. After a warm-up, you'll do a series of exercises, one after the other, each one for 30 seconds. Completing one circuit, including the warm-up, will take you a little more than 10 minutes.

You can complete another circuit for a longer workout or, if you want to do something a little different, do your second circuit just before Workout Two, which is your upper body workout.

Precautions

See your doctor if you have any medical conditions and skip or modify any exercise that doesn't feel good.

Time/RepsExercise
5 minWarm-up - Warm up with light cardio exercises like marching in place, step touches, jogging in place, etc.
30 secMountain Climbers - In a plank position, on the hands and toes, run the knees in and out as fast as you can.
30 secPlyo Lunges - In a lunge position, one leg forward and one leg back in a staggered stance, lower into a squat. Jump up and switch legs in the air to land with the other leg forward.
30 secLong Jumps - With feet together, squat as low as you can and then jump as for forward as you can, landing with both feet, knees bent. Walk back to start and repeat.
30 secFroggy Jumps - Squat to the floor, touching both hands to the floor. In an explosive movement, jump as high as you can, clicking the heels together in the air. Land with soft knees and repeat.
30 secHigh Knee Jogs - Jog in place, bringing the knees as high as you can.
30 secJumping Jacks - Jump the feet out while circling the arms overhead. Jump back in and repeat.
30 secBurpees - Squat and place your hands on the floor. Jump or step the feet back into a plank, do a pushup (optional), then jump the feet back in and stand up.
30 secSpeed Skaters - Leap to the right as far as you can, landing on the right foot and swinging the left foot behind you. Jump to the left, doing the same thing and continue alternating sides.
30 secHeel Digs - Start with feet together and jump, landing on the right foot with the left heel on the floor in front of you. Jump again as high as you can, switch feet and land on the right heel.
30 secSki Abs - In a plank position on the hands and toes, jump the knees in towards the outside of the right elbow. Jump back and repeat on the other side.
30 secBurpee Squats - In a plank position, jump the feet in and stand in a very low squat, taking the arms straight up. Don't stand all the way up. Put the hands down, jump the feet back and repeat.
 Total Workout Time: 10.5 Minutes

Workout 2 -Upper Body Training

With your cardio out of the way (unless you decide to do the cardio circuit as a warm-up for your workout), this routine focuses on the upper body, giving the lower body a rest.

This is a straightforward routine in which you'll do two or more exercises for each muscle group, doing each for three sets of 12 reps. These moves will be immediately followed by a 'Toast' exercise, a move designed to target the same muscle group with no rest to increase the intensity and the calorie burn.

Use enough weight that you can only complete 12 reps. The heavier you go, the more rest you may need between sets.

Precautions

See your doctor if you have any medical conditions and skip or modify any exercises that cause pain or discomfort.

Equipment

Various weighted dumbbells, resistance band, a bench or chair.

ExercisesTime/Reps/Sets
Warm up - Warm up with light cardio or light versions of each exercise.5 minutes
Chest Press - Lying on a bench or floor, hold weights straight up over the chest. Bend the elbows into a chest press, bringing the elbows just past torso level (arms like a goal post). Press the weights up and repeat for 12 reps. Rest 20-60 seconds between sets.3 x 12 reps
Chest Flies - Lying on a bench or floor, hold weights straight up over the chest with palms facing in. Keeping a slight bend in the elbows, lower the weights out to the sides to torso level. Squeeze the chest to bring the weights back to start and repeat for 12 reps, resting 20-60 seconds between sets.3 x 12 reps
Toast Move: Pushups - In a pushup position, on the knees or toes, lower into a pushup until the chest hits the floor, or as low as you can go. Complete all three sets, resting only briefly between sets.

Set 1: 12 reps
Set 2: 10 reps
Set 3: 8 reps

Dumbbell Row - Hold a heavy weight in the right hand and tip from the hips, back flat and resting your left elbow on your left thigh for support. Bend the elbow, pulling it up to the torso and back down again for 12 reps. Switch sides and repeat for three sets. You won't need much rest since you're alternating arms.3 x 12 reps

Reverse Flies - Stand and hold weights, tipping from the hips so that the back is flat, the palms face each other. Keeping a slight bend in the arms, squeeze the shoulder blades to lift the elbows straight up to torso level (lead with the elbows). Lower and repeat. Rest 20-60 seconds between reps.

3 x 12 reps
Toast Move: High Rows with Band - Wrap a band around a sturdy object in front of you, scoot back and hold handles in both hands with arms straight out at shoulder level, palms face down. Squeeze the shoulder blades and pull the arms back to torso level (arms should be bent to 90 degrees, parallel to the floor). Release just halfway, pull the elbows back to torso level again and then release. That's one rep.16 x 1.5 reps
Overhead Press - Stand with feet hip-width apart, weights straight up overhead. Lower the weights, bending the elbows into goal posts, weights at ear-level. Press back up and repeat, resting for 20-60 seconds between sets.3 x 12 reps
Lateral Raises - Stand, feet hip-width apart, weights at your sides. Keeping a slight bend in the elbows, lift the arms straight up and out to the sides to shoulder level. Lower and repeat, resting for 20-60 seconds between sets.3 x 12 reps
Toast Move - Shoulder Circles - Hold weights and start with the hands next to the thighs. Take the weights back, up to shoulder level, circling them all the way to the front of the thighs. Repeat for 10 reps, then reverse and do 10 reps circling towards the back.Set 1: 10 reps forward
Set 2: 10 reps Back
Biceps Curls - Stand with feet hip-width apart and hold weights in front of the thighs. Bend the elbows and curl the weights up and down for 12 reps. Rest 20-60 seconds between sets.3 x 12 reps
Concentration Curls - Sit on a bench and hold a weight in the right hand, elbow on the inside of the right thigh. Using thigh as leverage as you bend the elbow, curling the weight up. Complete all reps and switch sides. You may not need as much rest since you're alternating sides.3 x 12 reps
Toast Move - Crazy 8 Hammer Curls - Hold weights with the palms facing in and do eight biceps curls, stopping halfway up. For the next eight reps, start at the top and lower only halfway. For the last eight reps, curl all the way up and down.1 set, 24 reps
Triceps Extensions - Sit and hold a heavy weight in both hands. Take the weight straight up overhead and bend the elbows, taking the weight behind you. Squeeze the triceps to pull the weight back up and repeat for 12 reps, resting for 20-60 seconds between sets.3 x 12 reps
Triceps Kickbacks - Stand and hold weights in both hands. Tip from the hips until the back is flat and parallel to the floor and pull the elbows up next to the torso. Keeping elbows static, extend the weights straight behind you. Lower and repeat for 12 reps, resting 20-60 seconds between sets.3 x 12 reps
Toast Move - Triceps Pushups - Get into a pushup position, hands close together and on the knees or toes. Bend the elbows and lower into a pushup. Your hands should be under the ribcage so that your arms skim the body, targeting the triceps. Press up and repeat.16 reps

 

Day 2

Total Body Stretch

Day 3

Workout 1 - Steady State Cardio

Choose any activity you like—running, walking, cycling, or any cardio machine and work at a moderate intensity for 20 or more minutes.

Workout 2 - Lower Body Training

After a steady cardio workout, your legs should feel fresh and ready to go for this lower body workout. This routine includes four circuits, each with three different exercises for the lower body. Do one exercise after the other for each circuit, rest and then repeat.

For a shorter workout, do just one circuit of the exercises.

Precautions

See your doctor if you have any medical issues and skip or modify moves that bother you.

Equipment

Various weighted dumbbells, resistance band, a step or staircase, an exercise ball.

ExerciseReps/Sets
Warm up - Warm up with at least 5 minutes of light cardio or warm up versions of each exercise. 
Circuit 1:
Squats
- Hold weights in each hand, feet hip-width apart. Bend the knees and send the hips back into a squat, going as low as you can. Push into the heels to stand up and repeat.
16 reps
Deadlifts - With feet hip-width apart, weights in front of the thighs, tip from the hips and, keeping the back flat and shoulders back, lower the weights as far as you can, skimming the legs. Keep a slight bend in the knees (don't squat). Stand up and repeat.16 reps
Lunges - In a staggered stance, right foot forward and left foot back, bend the knees into a lunge until both knees are at about 90-degree angles. Press back up and repeat for 16 reps before switching sides.16 reps on each side
Repeat 
Circuit 2:
Walking Lunges - Hold weights and step forward into a lunge, bringing both knees to 90-degree angles. Bring the back foot forward and then keep going, taking that foot forward into a lunge. Continue across the room, alternating lunges.
16 reps
Side Step Squats - Loop a resistance band under both feet and hold onto the handles so that there's constant tension on the band. Step to the right and lower into a squat, again keeping tension on the band. Step the left foot in and continue stepping and squatting across the room. When you get to the end, go back the other way.16 reps

One Legged Deadlifts - Holding one dumbbell, take the right leg just behind you, resting on the toe. Keeping the weight in the left leg and a slight bend in the knee, tip from the hips and keep the back flat as you lower the weight to the floor, skimming the leg. Squeeze the glutes to come back up and repeat for 16 reps on bother sides.

16 reps
Repeat 
Circuit 3:
Wide Squat - Stand with feet wide, toes out at an angle. Hold a heavy weight in both hands and lower into a squat, making sure the knees stay in line with the toes. Press into the heels to stand up and repeat.
16 reps
Step Ups - Using a step or the second step up on a staircase, hold weights in both hands and place the right foot on the step. Press into the heel to step up. Lower the left foot back to the floor, keeping the right foot on the step the entire time. Repeat for 16 reps and then switch sides.16 reps
Goblet Squat - Hold a weight or kettlebell in both hands with the feet wide. Bend the knees and send the hips back as you lower into a squat, weight at chest level and elbows aiming for the inner thighs. As you stand, press the weight overhead and rotate to the right. Repeat the move, rotating to the left. Continue alternating sides.16 reps
Repeat 
Circuit 4:
Criss Cross Outer Thigh - With your resistance band, lie down on the floor and loop the band under both feet. Take the feet straight up in the air, crisscrossing the band and pulling the handles down to increase tension on the band. With feet flexed open the feet out to either side, targeting the outer thighs. Repeat for 16 reps.
16 reps
Inner Thigh Ball Squeezes - Lie down and put the ball between your feet, taking the legs straight up in the air. Squeeze the ball and then let go just a bit, keeping tension on the ball.16 reps
Hamstring Rolls on the Ball - Lying down, put your heels on the ball and lift the hips. From that position, roll the ball in and out.16 reps
Repeat 

End with a lower body stretch.

Day 4

Rest or Light Activity

Day 5

Workout 1 - Moderate Intensity Cardio

Workout 2 - Yoga or stretching

Day 6

Cardio/Strength Circuit

For today's workout, you'll combine cardio and strength into one killer circuit workout, so you'll only do one workout today. This workout includes five segments, each with a cardio move, a total body strength move, an upper body move and a core exercise. You can go through the entire workout once for a short workout or repeat the circuit as many times as you like.

Do each move one after the other with no rest in between if you can.

Precautions

See your doctor if you have any medical issues and skip any moves that cause pain or discomfort.

Equipment

Various weighted dumbbells, an exercise ball, Gliding Disc or a towel if you have hardwood floors.

TimeExercise
5 minWarm-up - Warm up with light cardio exercises, gradually increasing the intensity to get your body ready for more intense exercises.
30 secSquat Jumps - With feet hip-width apart, lower into a squat trying to touch your toes to the floor. Jump as high as you can and land back into a squat, repeating for 30 seconds.
30 secSquat Press - Hold weights at shoulder level, feet shoulder-width apart. Squat and, as you stand up, press the weights overhead. Repeat for 30 seconds.
60 secOverhead Press/Upright Rows - Start with feet hip-width apart, weights over the shoulders with palms out. Press the weights up and down for 30 seconds. Lower the weights so that they're resting in front of the thighs, palms face the thighs. Bend the elbows and pull them up into a row, skimming the torso until the weights are at chest level. Lower and repeat for 30 seconds.
60 secWoodchops - With feet wide, hold a weight in both hands and squat. Twist to the left, bringing the dumbbell to the outside of the right leg. As you stand, swing the weight diagonally across your body so that the weight is up and to the left. Make sure you pivot on the right foot to avoid hurting the knee. Repeat for 30 seconds on each side.
30 secBurpees - Squat and put the hands on the floor next to the feet. Jump the feet back into a plank (or walk the feet back if you need a modification). Jump the feet back in, stand up and jump (optional). Repeat for 30 seconds.
30 secBear Crawls - Squat and put your hands on the floor. Walk the hands out until you're in a plank position. Do a pushup (optional), walk the hands back and stand up, repeating for 30 seconds.
30 secPushups - Get into a pushup position, hands wider than shoulders and resting on the knees (easier) or toes (harder). With back flat and abs in, bend the elbows into a pushup, going as low as you can. Push up and repeat for 30 seconds.
30 sec

Plank - Get into a plank position, resting on the elbows and toes and keeping the back flat and the abs in. If this is challenging, rest on the knees. Hold for 30 seconds without sagging or pushing the hips up.

30 secHigh Knee Jogs - Jog in place, bringing the knees up to hip level and pushing the arms overhead to add intensity. Repeat for 30 seconds.
30 secRear Lunge with Rows - Hold dumbbells and step back into a straight leg lunged with the right foot. Tip from the hips with the back flat and pull the elbows up into a row. Lower the weights, straighten and step back to start and repeat on the other side for 30 seconds.
30 secHigh Rows - Hold weights and tip from the hips, back flat and abs in. The weights should be hanging down directly below the shoulders with the palms facing the back of the room. Squeeze the shoulder blades and bend the elbows, pulling them up and out to the sides (knuckles should face the floor). Lower and repeat for 30 seconds.
60 secSide Plank with an Arm Sweep - Get into a side plank, resting on the left hand. Your feet can be stacked, one on top of the other, staggered—one in front of the other, or you can do the move with one knee on the floor for a modification. Take the right arm up and sweep it over and down under the body as though you're reaching towards the back of the room. Repeat for 30 seconds on each side.
30 secIce Breakers - From a wide squat position, come up on the toes or jump, circling the right arm around and down into a chop as you land. Jump up again, this time circling and chopping down with the left arm.
60 secSide Lunge with Triceps Extensions - Start with feet together and hold a weight in the left hand with the elbow bent, the weight at the chest. Step out to the right into a side lunge. The left leg should be straight, right knee bent with the hips back, both feet pointing forward. As you lunge, extend the left arm in a triceps extension. Complete 30 seconds on each side.
30 secDips - On a chair or bench, balance on your hands, feet straight out in front of you. Bend the elbows in a triceps dip, only going to about 90 degrees at your elbows. Press back up and repeat.
30 secSpiderman Plank - In a plank position, on the hands and toes and the back flat, bring the right knee in, touching it to the right elbow. Take the foot back and take the left knee out to the side towards the right elbow. Continue alternating knees for 30 seconds.
60 secLunge Jumps - Get into a lunge position, right leg forward and left leg back. Bend the knees into a lunge and then jump as high as you can. Land with soft knees. Do 30 seconds on the right and then left.
30 secPivot Squat with a Biceps Curl - Get into a wide stands and hold weights with palms facing in. Bend the knees in a squat and, as you press back up, curl the weights up in a hammer curl.
30 secBiceps Curls - Hold weights in front of the thighs, palms face out and curl the weights up and down.
30 secBall Exchange - Lie down and take the arms straight up and the legs as well, holding an exercise ball between the legs. Brace the abs and lower both the arms and legs down towards the floor. Bring them back and take the ball in your hands, lowering the arms and legs towards the floor again. Continue, exchanging the ball between the hands and feet for 30 seconds.
Total Workout Time: 17.5 minutes

Day 7

Rest

However you set up your 2-a-day workouts, pay attention to your energy level and performance. It can be hard on the body doing more than one workout, so ease into it and listen to your body.

Sources:

ACSM | News Releases. "ACSM Issues New Recommendations on Quantity and Quality of Exercise." http://www.acsm.org/about-acsm/media-room/news-releases/2011/08/01/acsm-issues-new-recommendations-on-quantity-and-quality-of-exercise.

Holmstrup M, Fairchild T, Keslacy S, Weinstock R, Kanaley J. Multiple short bouts of exercise over 12-h period reduce glucose excursions more than an energy-matched single bout of exercise. Metabolism. 2014;63(4):510-519. doi:10.1016/j.metabol.2013.12.006.

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