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The pros and cons of ‘double workouts’

Harper's Bazaar (UK) logo Harper's Bazaar (UK) 20/02/2019 Bridget March

Determined young woman riding elliptical bike in gym © Getty Determined young woman riding elliptical bike in gym With endless #fitspo filling our feeds, gyms running rolling motivational challenges, and technology making it easier to track our exercise progress, comes the trend for ‘double workouts’.

Often flanking our working days, but increasingly performed back-to-back too, there's been a steady increase in people doing twice daily sessions at many London studios, including Psycle, F45 and Equinox. Here we investigate the benefits, and potential repercussions, of the trend.

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A post shared by P S Y C L E (@psyclelondon) on Jan 25, 2019 at 1:06am PST

Equinox personal trainer David Warden confirms that members of Equinox are checking in more times than there are days in the year. “We have seen an increase in people training twice a day and, in some cases, even more. Double workouts are having a moment, and typically our members are splitting their workouts into two; strength training in the mornings and then a cardio or a restorative session in the evening.”

Generally speaking, this approach proves beneficial, according to Warden. “Training twice a day comes with benefits, as long as your programming is structured. The body adapts to the demands placed upon it, so getting a second training session in a single day makes your body that much more fit.”

Young fit woman stretching on exercise mat in gym. © Getty Young fit woman stretching on exercise mat in gym. However, the more extreme take on the trend comes with caution. Melissa Weldon, head trainer at Sweat It says, “Over the last few months there has been an increase in people wanting to do back-to-back sessions to accelerate their fitness results, but this can cause more harm than good. The reason being that you’re not allowing your body to recover properly, and this can cause injury and spike the release of the stress hormone, cortisol, which can hinder results.”

Weldon feels that everyday exercisers “would benefit a lot more from giving 100 per cent to one session than doing two half-hearted sessions,” plus, that’s also more productive when planning your day. She also warns: “When you train for longer than an hour, you can start to go into dehydration and break down muscle tissue if you haven’t adequately eaten before training.” She feels a 45-minute session is enough time “to complete a really effective workout to build muscle and strip fat” – if that’s your goal.

Even if you avoid doing back-to-back classes of the intense variety but want to fit in two workouts a day that are spaced out, Warden says to be mindful of overtraining. “Look out for lower energy levels, and if you find recovering from your workouts is becoming difficult or injuries begin to show... slow down. The answer is not to go harder here, it is simply to recover, repair and listen to your body.”

How to do the double workout right

© Getty If you are increasing your workouts to twice daily, be clever about it, Warden says. “Give enough time between the sessions; I would suggest morning and late afternoon or early evening. This gives you ample time to settle down before bed.

“I would also advise longer, more intense workouts in the mornings and shorter more restorative workouts in the evening. When it comes to recovery, make sure you have enough water and food to recover from the first workout and prepare well for the second, staggering meals throughout the day. Rest is extremely important, make sure you follow a sleep routine that gives you adequate sleep (seven to eight hours) and moderate your stress levels by using regeneration techniques like meditation.”

Weldon adds that if you are going to do two classes, make sure you are not hitting the same muscle groups consecutively, so you can include a balance of cardio, strength training and stretching over the course of a day. “For example, your first workout can focus on muscle building and strength training, while your second can simply involve jogging or cardio. I recommend training the same muscle group no more than twice a week, leaving at least 48 hours between each.”

© Getty

If you want more from your workout

If you’re struggling to find a class that makes you feel like you’ve done as much as you would have if you had done two, “then you need to try a class at Sweat It London,” Weldon suggests. It offers 50-minute high-intensity, treadmill-based classes that will leave you unable to do another session. Also try the high-intensity classes available at F45, Kobox, Barry’s Bootcamp and Another_Space.


If you crave more variety at studio classes

Alternatively, if you simply get bored easily, try single classes that fuse two types of practice: The 1Rebel Double Shot includes 30 minutes of Reshape, then 30 minutes of Ride. Heartcore’s Ride2Tone blends 30 minutes powerful ride, followed by a series of yoga and mat-based Pilates. Frame’s HIIT & Chill starts with a HIIT combination of speed, strength, plyometric and isometric movements all being driven by deep electronic music followed by a relaxing sound bath with conscious meditation.

If you want to accelerate recovery

If you’re working towards a specific goal and double workouts are suiting you, try complementing them with some recovery focussed treatments. Warden suggests compression therapy at Equinox St James. “The compression suit accelerates wellbeing by improving your circulation and lymphatic flow, increasing oxygen and nutrients to organs, and encouraging faster removal of metabolic products (salts, phosphates, excess substances) and also helps reduce inflammation and swelling in the body. It's a thoroughly detoxifying 30 minutes and accelerates recovery, which is vital if you're doing a double workout.” Also try: Full body Cryotherapy at KXU and Sports + Remedial Massage at TriYoga.

Gallery: 21 New Fitness Trends for 2019 [Men's Health UK]

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