If pros are using two-a-day training, should you?
April 26, 2022 by Melissa Witmer in Opinion with 0 comments
While training twice per day is not going to be a practical option for most players most of the time, it can be a valid option for those with the time, desire, and scheduling flexibility to make it work.
Why Consider Two-a-Days?
Training twice per day can be a valid way to get more training volume into your week while also allowing time for recovery and adaptation.
If you’re currently in the habit of doing training sessions that are more than 90 minutes, splitting your current training session into two parts will likely allow you to perform at a higher intensity and get more adaptation from the training you’re already doing.
One of the most compelling reasons for twice a day training would be taking advantage of the short supercompensation curve with regard to cardiovascular adaptation. This may be most relevant in the preseason as folks are gearing up for tryouts and early tournaments.
The How: The Type of Sessions
Effective planning for two-a-days is a little more complicated than simply doubling your training sessions. And as mentioned above, you’re going to get the most benefit from adding in either things with a cardiovascular focus or some speed, power, or agility work that is best done at low volumes and while you are feeling fresh.
If you are doing workouts twice per day, especially if you are transitioning from once a day sessions, you need these sessions to be short. I would recommend less than an hour including warmup. You can even go as short as 30 minutes if you’re doing something like a warm up and some agility work.
Why bother? If these sessions are so short, is it really worth it?
Yes, they are worth it. Remember, your body does not care how much time you spend in a given training session, it will simply respond, recover, and adapt to the training stimuli it is given. As an ultimate player, at least some of the training stimulus will be focused on powerful movements like jumping, sprinting, and agility drills which do not require a lot of time. In fact, these activities quickly give you diminishing returns at higher volume.
Even if all you do is split a compound session that involves speed work, lifting, and conditioning into two sessions, you will see positive benefits. Two sessions gives you an additional round of warmups. For those of us at desk jobs, you’ll likely feel better overall with two sessions per day where you have a reason to go through a full range of motion in your movement patterns than you would with one single longer session.
Incorporating Strength Training Sessions
Obviously, you’re going to be doing things other than cardiovascular training. For everything other than cardio, try to minimize interference by using different muscle groups or different fiber recruitment profiles. For example, a power-focused session early in the day could be followed by a low volume conditioning session in the evening because the first session is placing a priority on fast twitch muscles and neuromuscular training while the conditioning session is more strength endurance-focused. But a strength endurance strength session followed by a conditioning session later in the day will be more challenging to recover from, especially if you have an additional session of conditioning or SAQ work planned for the following day.
In general, strength training sessions will need a longer recovery window. You’ll want at least 48 hours between strength sessions using the same muscle groups. But you can do two sessions of strength training in a row if you are doing upper/lower body splits or push/pull splits. An upper/lower split allows more complete recovery of the legs, especially when we are doing other training activities.
You likely are already resting 48 hours between leg days. In a two-a-day protocol you may consider putting even more time between leg sessions if you can. Still, the idea with shorter sessions is that your legs will recover from the morning session before you get to the evening sessions.
You don’t need to shorten your strength training sessions on a two-a-day protocol, but you might find yourself getting more efficient and more focused, allowing you to get in and out of the gym in less than an hour.
An added benefit of having a morning session will be that the warm up for the second session of the day may not need to be as long, either.
Ordering Your Two-a-Day Sessions
This protocol is already logistically challenging for most, so whatever order works best for you can be fine. I prefer doing my strength training in the afternoon or evening and my SAQ and conditioning in the afternoon or morning.
The most important thing is that you allow 4-6 hours between sessions. Take time to eat something and have time for digestion. Allow for physical and mental rest.
Adjusting to new routines: When you first start two-a-day sessions, it will feel unfamiliar. This may show up as fatigue related to adjusting for morning workouts or training at different times of the day. These adjustments will resolve themselves pretty quickly as your body gets used to a new routine.
Prioritize recovery: Remember the point of this protocol is to recover between sessions so that each session remains high quality. If you’re going to commit to this type of training, you will also need to commit to recovery. Consider nutrition that supports recovery and create time for more sleep. It’s not uncommon for hard training professional athletes to sleep close to 12 hours a day. You may find yourself wanting an afternoon nap. If you can take one, go for it!
Be okay with bailing out: If you get into a training session and you feel that you have not recovered adequately, give yourself permission to bail out of the training session. You cannot force adaptation and recovery; you can only create situations that allow for it to happen. I recommend making this decision after a warm-up and trying the first set of whatever you’re doing. This will teach you the difference between feeling tired and actually having the type of fatigue that interferes with performance. Even now, with all of my experience, I sometimes think I am too tired for a workout but it goes well. Or I think I feel recovered and it doesn’t. Pay attention to not only how you feel, but also what your body is producing in the workout on a given day.
Cycle on and off: In the UAP Strength and Conditioning program, we have one deloading week of lower volume about every four weeks. The same can apply here. Take at least one week off per month from the two-a-day protocol, or consider cycling two weeks on, then one week off.
As with all things, pay attention to how your body feels over the long term. If adaptation stalls, or if your legs feel too heavy too often, it could be a sign that you are doing too much too soon. This could indicate that you need your sessions to be shorter or that you need fewer training sessions overall during the week.
Ready to Go
Hopefully this post has given you some inspiration and permission to try something new. As mentioned, this protocol is not a good fit for everyone.
Is it a good fit for you? I’d love to hear your thoughts and questions in the comments!
If you’re looking for some short speed, agility, and conditioning sessions to put into the mix with this two-a-day protocol, I recommend our free six week speed agility and conditioning program. Each session is less than 30 minutes. This program can be done on its own or with cautious addition to your current UAP training in a two a day program if you reduce some of your other training volume to make room for it.
If you’re looking for a practical and effective once-a-day program, we welcome you to get started with The Ultimate Athlete Project.