There aren't many situations where two isn't better
than one (just use your imagination). With hypertrophy training,
the same is true... if you use the right approach.
Can't find a summer job and are ambitious enough to hit the
gym twice a day? Then this article will show you a few ways to go
about it. As a bonus, I'll toss in a sample program utilizing many
of the methods discussed.
Let's get to it!
Rule #1: Train in the AM and PM
When working out twice daily, workouts should be separated by a
minimum of six hours in order to get maximum benefit from each
In other words, don't perform your first workout at 2PM and try
to hit your second at 4PM. It's better to train in the morning and
then again in the afternoon or early evening.
Rule #2: Perform the more demanding workout at the time of day in
which you feel the best
This is a very relative rule, but it's one you have to consider
when hitting the gym twice in one day. It's relative in that some
people "feel better" when working out in the afternoon and some
"feel better" when training in the morning.
The demanding nature of a particular workout, rep range, etc.
can be relative, too. One person may breeze through a 12x4 session
and struggle with the metabolic demands of the 8-12 rep range. And
once again, the complete opposite may also be true for another
In short, choose the workout that you view as more demanding and
perform it at the time of day in which you generally feel the best.
Rule #3: Utilize a split routine
Full body and upper/lower splits are great tools and have their
place, but neither are ideal for a two-a-day program. The volume
would be insane and your body would break down, so don't even try
it, bub. (You've been warned!)
When going with twice daily workouts, it's better to use broader
splits. I recommend pairing two muscle groups together as shown
Pair 1: Chest/Back
Pair 2: Hip-Dominant Legs/Shoulders
Pair 3: Arms
Pair 4: Quad-Dominant Legs/Calves
The above pairings follow one of two rules. The pairing is
either a) a set of antagonistic upper body muscles, or b) a large
muscle group paired with a smaller one.
Large muscle groups which will require big, demanding movements
(i.e. the squat and deadlift for quad and hip-dominant leg work)
are paired with smaller muscle groups that require smaller, less
Rule #4: Never train the same muscle group twice in one day with
the same set/rep scheme
If training a muscle twice in one day, different skeletal muscle
components need to be targeted via differing stimuli/rep ranges.
Training arms with sets of 10 in the AM and then again in the PM
isn't productive as it'll only interfere with recovery from the
Four Approaches to Two-a-Day Training
Now that we've got the preliminaries out of the way, let's take a
look at a few approaches to two-a-day training.
Approach #1: Mix It Up
Many training programs call for the use of differing rep ranges
within the same training phase in order to hit a given muscle group
with varying stimuli over the course of a week. Usually there's a
"heavy" day which calls for a lot of sets with only a few reps per
set (i.e. 12x4), and then a "lighter" day in which less sets are
performed, but the number of reps per set is increased (i.e. 5x12).
Well, a great way to approach two-a-day training is to mimic
this heavy/light protocol, but within the same day as
opposed to the same week. For example, using the "Mix It Up"
approach, your AM session could be your heavy workout and then your
PM session your light workout.
Here's how I'd set it up over the course of a week:
Monday AM: Chest/Back (12x4)
Monday PM: Chest/Back (4x12)
Tuesday AM: Hip-Dominant Legs/Shoulders (12x4)
Tuesday PM: Hip-Dominant Legs/Shoulders (4x12)
Thursday AM: Arms (12x4)
Thursday PM: Arms (4x12)
Friday AM: Quad-Dominant Legs/Calves (12x4)
Friday PM: Quad-Dominant Legs/Calves (4x12)
Again, keep rule number two in mind when selecting which rep range
to use during in the AM and PM sessions. If you'd rather train
heavy in the PM, go for it.
Also, supersetting the last two sets of the 4x12 workouts with
an isolation movement is a good idea. For example, if performing
bench presses, superset the last two sets with flyes. If
performing shoulder military presses, superset the last two sets
with lateral raises.
Because this approach is very demanding, I wouldn't use it for more
than two weeks at a time.
Approach #2: Pump up the Volume
Another approach to two-a-day training is to pump up the weekly
volume by training different muscle groups in the AM and PM. For
example, if you typically train in the fashion below, you'd be able
to blow through your normal weekly volume in only two days by
training twice daily.
I'd recommend the following for a two-a-day program based on the
"Pump up the Volume" approach:
Day 1 AM: Chest/Back
Day 1 PM: Hams/Shoulders
Day 2 AM: Arms
Day 2 PM: Quad-Dominant Legs/Calves
Day 3: OFF
And then the sequence would be repeated, taking a day off every
Once again, because of the high volume, I wouldn't use this
approach for more than two weeks at a time.
Approach #3: Quality Over Quantity
With the "Quality Over Quantity" approach, workload per session is
cut in half by only training one muscle group per workout. This is
a great approach to keep the CNS fresh, promote better workouts,
and increase nutrient partitioning to each individual muscle.
Here's how I'd set it up:
Day 1 AM: Chest
Day 1 PM: Back
Day 2 AM: Hams
Day 2 PM: Shoulders
Day 3 AM: Biceps
Day 3 PM: Triceps
Day 4 AM: Quad-Dominant Legs
Day 4 PM: Calves
Day 5: OFF
Then the sequence would be repeated, taking a day off every fifth
day. If I were able to hit the gym twice a day on a regular basis,
the majority of my training would be set up like this. Nothing
leaves you feeling better than a 20-minute workout.
Approach #4: Specialization
With this approach, two-a-days are only used to target one or two
lagging body parts that you'd like to bring up to par. A two-a-day
specialization routine for arms could be set up like
Thursday AM: Arms (12x4)
Thursday PM: Arms (4x12)
Friday: Quad-Dominant Legs/Calves
The Double Trouble Hypertrophy Program
If you're able to train twice daily on a regular basis, the below
is an awesome 12-week training block that's sure to yield
spectacular hypertrophy and strength gains.
Week 1-2: Mix It Up approach, as outlined
Week 3: Deload. Low volume, 3x10
Week 4-5: Pump up the Volume approach. Heavy/average volume,
Week 6-7: Quality Over Quantity approach. Light/high volume,
Week 8-9: Quality Over Quantity. Light/low volume, 4x10
Week 10-11: Mix it Up
Week 12: Deload. Low volume, 3x10
The first two weeks follow the "Mix It Up" protocol outlined above.
Week three is a transition/deloading week in which less than normal
volume is performed (train each muscle group once a week with 3
sets of 10; there are no double sessions during this week).
Weeks four and five adhere to the "Pump up the Volume" approach
utilizing a "heavy" set/rep scheme with average volume (6x4 is the
scheme of choice here). Weeks six and seven switch over to the
"Quality Over Quantity" approach with a light set/rep scheme and
high volume (8 sets of 10 are in order during these weeks).
The next two weeks continue with "Quality Over Quantity" but
with a moderate volume set/rep scheme (4x10). Each workout during
these two weeks will take less than 15 minutes to complete.
"Mix it Up" is repeated during weeks ten and eleven, and the
training block is completed with another
deloading/supercompensation week at 3 sets of 10 per muscle
Two-a-days are an effective way of getting fast results in a
short amount of time. That said, additional stimulation in and of
itself isn't what's going to get you there. There are
plenty of ways to screw it up, belittle your efforts, and overtrain
— success is dependant on the right approach. And with
the info presented here, you now have a few approaches to choose
If you've got the time and ambition to give Double Trouble
Hypertrophy a go (and get some good nutrition in you), I'm
confident you'll see immense gains in size and strength over
the course of the 12-week program. Try it!