In some boutique fitness circles, choosing to take a "double," aka two back-to-back workout classes in one day, is something to aspire to. It sounds tiring, but instead of cooling down after a 45-minute indoor cycling class, people clip right back in, and take another. Sometimes the workout playlists are so good that people want to go back for more, or sometimes people think that doubling up will somehow lead to fast-tracked results.
But it's a common misconception that working out twice as much will lead to twice the physiological results, says Ben Lauder-Dykes, NASM certified personal trainer at Fhitting Room, a HIIT studio in New York City. Of course, professional athletes who are conditioning for specific skills or competitions may separate their workouts in order to increase their training volume. But for the average person, this "more is more" strategy can backfire and contribute to overuse injuries or exhaustion. So, you could be self-sabotaging by doing two-a-day workouts, he says.
In reality, your body needs time to recover from the physiological stress of one exercise session before you can head into the next one, Lauder-Dykes says. "Although you're putting in more and more effort, your body is pulling the rug out from underneath you and sabotaging that effort," he says. You might find that you feel less alert or your muscles fatigue faster during your second workout, which cause you to slip up and injure yourself. "[I'm] always trying to find like some sort of balance as to how much effort you put in versus how much you're gonna get out from that," he says.
If you are looking for strategies to increase your output during your regular workouts, there are certainly ways to amp up without just doubling the workout. For example, if you're trying to maximize your cardio workouts, you might consider adding high-intensity intervals to increase the physical demand on your body in less time, Lauder-Dykes says. Or, if you're strength-training, you could experiment with compound movements that work multiple muscle groups, he says. "You can still do the same amount of time per session, but you could always do a bit more, push a bit harder, do that one extra rep, lift a little bit more weight, stand from the squat faster," he says.
And look, while it's probably not in your best interest to double up your workouts, that doesn't mean you can't find small ways to be active throughout your day. According to the most recent Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, even short (less than 10 minutes) increments of exercise throughout the day count toward your weekly exercise. So, while double-dipping your indoor cycling class might seem like the best way to get moving, it'd behoove you to find gentler, more sustainable ways to increase activity. In other words, work smarter, not just harder.