Tuesday 24 April 2018

Shape Up: Twice the pain, twice the gain

Image posed. Photo: Getty Images
Image posed. Photo: Getty Images

Damien Maher

'A sense of urgency creates action." You may not be familiar with this saying but you will be familiar with cramming for an exam or rushing to get school uniforms before the start of a new school term for your children.

As deadlines approach, the sense of urgency and impending consequences creates action.

When summer holidays, weddings, photo shoots or forthcoming physique contests are approaching for our clients we need to first be able to clarify their goals. When you know that, the next question becomes what is the price that you are willing to pay to accomplish that goal?

The bigger the desire and emotional reason why a client wants something, the bigger the price they are willing to pay by increasing the number of times they train and changes they are willing to make to their current lifestyle.


When the deadline is approaching, a more radical training programme may be warranted. It is not uncommon for those with a big goal to decide to train twice a day.

This may raise a few eyebrows, as one of the many myths in the fitness industry is you cannot train two days in a row, never mind twice in one day!

Training methods can and should be manipulated to achieve the goal and once the coach alters the exercises, implements used, repetitions performed, and rest periods, injury can then be avoided.

Resistance training is like manual labour and so during the boom years it was not uncommon to see builders working seven days a week. Their bodies adapted to the stress placed upon them and they got stronger while their wages increased.

Health and fitness is not that much different. It is common for professional athletes to train twice a day to improve performance or to regain fitness in pre-season. If a client wants to gain strength and change size, twice-per-day training is the fastest way if they can afford the other precious commodity -- time.

In the morning you want to lift heavy weights for low repetitions of four to six that recruit higher threshold motor units.

In the afternoon or evening, you target the lower threshold motor units and focus on time-under-tension training. This means that the repetitions should be in the 12-15 range with the set lasting closer to a minute.

If you are focused on building muscle you should vary the exercises from the morning workout. Your goal is to create muscular damage so the body has to repair and rebuild thicker muscle fibres that need a bigger energy requirement to maintain.

There are different muscle fibres within your limbs. Some respond better to heavy weight and are known as fast twitch, while others may be slow twitch and respond better to longer periods of work. If you only choose one type, you will neglect the other fibres and not make gains as quickly.

In most cases, the same body part should be trained in both sessions.

You must leave four to six hours between workouts. This is critical. If you use a shorter time spread, such as two to three hours between sessions, you'll be too fatigued. You will not have had the time to recover and replace the energy or glycogen in your muscles from having a meal in between training sessions.

Another example of twice-a-day training is to do weights in the morning and high-intensity interval training in the evening. This could be sprints, rowing or circuit training.

By training twice a day you create more muscular damage, which requires more fuel to repair and maintain, but you also create a bigger deficit in the energy you burned versus what you consumed.

The length of each training session should be 20 minutes in the morning and 20 at night.

From there, you'd work up to an hour each session. You have to take about 11 weeks to get to two full-hour sessions per day.


An important thing to note is that for every 10 days of two-a-day training you have got to do a download period. This means that once you've completed these 10 days, only do five days with one session per day. Then you can go back to lifting twice per day.

The last note is that it is important you fuel your body with the right nutrients necessary to recover from training twice a day. Branch chain amino acids help prevent muscle breakdown during training and help maintain concentration to keep the quality of the training session high and prevent fatigue.

A post-workout shake should be taken straightaway afterwards as it is absorbed quicker; follow this with a solid meal an hour later.

The road of twice-a-day training is a lonely one that not many people want to venture down, but it's the road that brings the willing few to the top of the pyramid. It is tough at the top of the pyramid, but to the willing few it looks crowded at the bottom.


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