Let’s face it, weight loss is not a walk in the park.
From battling the sedentary office life to attending social events with not-so-healthy food choices, it can seem like it takes tons of effort to tip the scale one pound.
But what if it were as easy as a morning walk in the park and an intense evening workout? Doubling up on daily workout sessions can take weight loss endeavors to the next level.
As a trained nutrition and fitness expert, I was wary of this method sounding too good to be true so I collected the science and studies on how to workout twice a day for weight loss.
Working out twice per day can up the speed of weight loss when done properly and in combination with a balanced diet. The key is burning calories higher than what’s consumed. To effectively workout twice a day for weight loss, it’s essential to mix up the type and intensity of exercise while making sure to take time to rest between workouts.
Let’s double down and dive into everything you need to know to workout twice a day for weight loss.
Benefits of Working Out Twice a Day
Think about generally active and healthy individuals in your life.
They naturally seem to be active twice per day.
There’s a reason why the healthiest cities and the ones with the lowest rates for obesity are the ones where people have access to outdoor commutes to and from work, or access to walking or hiking.
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Frequent physical activity has extensive research suggesting a plethora of benefits including the weight loss aspect but also aiding in sleep, stress, mood, energy, and decreases the risk of disease.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), activity shows both short term and long term benefits. Right after a good sweat sesh, brain health and mood gets a boost. This includes reduced stress and more clear and sharp thinking. So if you’re working out twice a day, you’ll be reaping these benefits twice a day!
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Current physical activity guidelines are that adults hit one of these targets:
At least 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) to 300 minutes (5 hours) of moderate-intensity exercise per week such as brisk walking, biking, light tennis, or heavy cleaning.
75 minutes (1 hours and 15 minutes) to 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) of vigorous-intensity exercise per week such as hiking, jogging, biking fast, organized sports.
An equivalent combination of the two.
When working out more often, it’s easier to hit these targets. For instance if you do a brisk 15 minute walk every morning and evening, you’re already at 3 hours and 30 minutes for the week.
Related Article: Burning More Calories Than You Eat: How To Do It Properly
TWICE PER DAY IS BETTER FOR BUSY SCHEDULES
Let’s face it, overcoming obstacles to working out can be tough.
When you throw in work, family, and social time (if you even get there), it can seem close to impossible to prioritize an hour long gym workout.
Splitting a workout into two shorter sessions for the day can make it easier to squeeze in activity for the day. It can also help increase motivation.
Studies show that when you set smaller, more frequent habit changes, you’re more likely to stick to them.
Working out twice per day can also be helpful for keeping us sharp when we’re working from home or have long days. Studies show that 15 minute exercise sessions can enhance cognitive processing and increase productivity.
If you have a busy schedule, an at-home workout is also an excellent way to save on time.
TWICE PER DAY CAN LEAD TO EXTRA CALORIE BURN
When you workout twice per day, you’ll burn more calories.
For estimates of how many calories are burned in 30 minute intervals for people of three different weights, check out this Harvard Health blog. Or this American Council on Exercise (ACE) physical activity calculator, based on your personal factors: Physical Activity Calorie Burn.
It’s also important to consider the exercise intensity and length of the workout. When it comes to weight loss, research suggests that our bodies respond better to intensity of exercise. Which is why methods such as high-intensity interval training (HIIT)
are getting so much attention.
But intense exercise such as HIIT can be dangerous to do every day, and even more at risk to do twice a day. Aim to have up to one of the daily workouts at or near maximum effort.
Related Article: How To Lose 5lbs In A Month (The Healthy Way)
Weight Loss Comes Down to Calorie Balance
Before understanding how to workout twice a day for weight loss, it’s helpful to know how calories and metabolism work. If you’d rather just get to the workouts, feel free to skip ahead to the Twice a Day Workout Plan.
At a basic level, a calorie is the measure of how much energy our bodies need to function, including heart rate, breathing, cell and organ function, daily movement, and workouts. This is called the basal metabolic rate (BMR).
BASAL METABOLIC RATE (BMR)
Different factors impact this base calorie burn including:
Body size: if you’re taller and have a larger body mass, you’ll generally need more energy to move around.
Muscle mass: muscle can help burn more calories than fat mass.
Sex: men typically have less body fat and more muscle than women, which can lead to more calories burned.
Age: as you get older, muscle mass tends to decrease, resulting in slower metabolism (calorie burn).
There are also other factors that contribute to calorie usage such as individual genetics, gut bacteria, and hormones.
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In addition to your basal metabolic rate, there are other factors that determine daily calorie burn. This includes the energy it takes your body to break down food you eat and use it as energy, called food thermogenesis.
Then there’s the daily activities and movement you do, including if you’re active at work or home. For instance, if your job requires you to walk frequently, such as with a mailman or construction worker, you’ll be burning a lot more calories. At home activities such as cooking and cleaning can increase calorie burn.
Then stacked on top of the above calorie burners comes physical fitness or workouts. According to the American Council on Exercise (ACE), physical activity is the second largest factor contributing to daily calorie requirements.
Calorie burn deepens on the frequency, intensity, and duration of a workout. So when weight loss is a goal, regular and frequent physical activity is the most effective way to increase total calorie burn.
AMOUNT OF ACTIVITY FOR WEIGHT LOSS
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), calorie balance and the amount of fitness needed to maintain or lose weight can be very individual. Some people need to be more active than others to maintain or reach a healthy weight. But they created some general guidelines for the amount of exercise needed to either maintain weight or lose weight:
If you’re not used to exercising, work your way up to 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity. An example would be 30 minutes per day, for five days per week.
In order to lose weight, you’ll need increased physical activity in addition to diet changes — more on this to come.
Related Article: Take a look at the best Leg Day Workouts For Weight Loss, which includes 10 must-do exercises.
How to Workout Twice a Day Safely and Effectively
Too much of the intense stuff can leave you fatigued and depleted and actually have opposite results of what you’re aiming for.
Excessive or repetitive workouts can lead to injury which could stop you from working out until you heal.
Too much cardio can lead to muscle breakdown ultimately leading to a reduced metabolism and making it more difficult to lose weight.
Follow these tips to make sure your workout is safe and effective.
CHANGE UP INTENSITY
When you’re working out twice a day, it’s important to mix up the intensity so you don’t harm, injure, or stress your body.
Intense exercise such as high-intensity interval training (HIIT) should not be done everyday.
This is because when you’re going at your max effort, or close to it, your body kicks into an anaerobic state. Basically your body is deprived of free oxygen so it will rely on other energy storage including glucose then fat. This is an excellent method for quick and effective fat burn but tough on the body.
Health authority, Precision Nutrition, explains that HIIT and intense physical exercise put your body into a stressed “crisis” mode which can elevate stress hormones. Too many stress hormones over time have been suggested to decrease immunity.
To stay safe, aim to do intense exercise such as HIIT no more than two to four times per week. When you’re working out twice a day, consider making one workout at max capacity and another at a low to moderate level. For instance, maybe go for an intense run in the morning, then yoga in the evening.
ADEQUATE WARM-UP AND REST TIME
Any workout should include a warm-up. Going straight into a workout when your muscles aren’t warm can lead to injury and poor form. It also helps prepare your mind to make sure that you give the workout everything you got.
There are ways that weighted and bodyweight exercises can be done on an everyday basis without taxing the body too much. Focus on less volume and intensity of workouts and change the type of exercise you do (cardio versus weighted). This way, you’re still exercising without overtraining the same muscle groups. Aim to give yourself at least six hours between workouts.
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Twice a Day Weight Loss Workout Plan
These are examples of how you can structure your twice a day workouts for weight loss. As always, listen carefully to your body and what feels like a push but not overdoing it.
This can be helpful if you’re training for a marathon or simply don’t have the time to go for a longer cardio session and want to split it into two.
Workout #1: 15-20 minute brisk walk or jog.
Workout #2: 15-20 minutes running sprints or at home exercises such as jump rope.
Try An All-Cardio Workout on Fitbod.
Since strength training can be tough on the body, aim to use lighter weights when you do it twice per day. Or heavier weights for one workout then lighter body weight movements such as yoga for the second. You can also focus on different muscle groups such as arms in the morning and legs in the evening.
Try An All-Strength Workout on Fitbod.
CARDIO AND STRENGTH
This is one of the best ways to mix up the type and intensity of your workouts. You’ll work muscles and get in heart benefiting and calorie burning cardio.
Workout #1: 15-20 minutes of cardio HIIT.
Workout #2: 15-20 minutes of yoga or lighter bodyweight exercises.
Try a Cardio And Strength Workout on Fitbod.
Nutrition is Necessary
Both diet and physical activity are critical pieces of a weight loss puzzle. In general, we gain weight when we consume more calories through food and drinks and don’t move as much. The key to losing weight is to consume less calories than you burn.
BALANCE EXERCISE AND NUTRITION
According to research and health authorities such as Mayo Clinic, cutting calories promotes weight loss more effectively than increasing exercise. This is because for most people, it’s easier to lower calorie intake than to burn more calories through increased exercise. But when it comes to working out twice a day, you’ll be at an advantage of burning more!
As a general guideline, Mayo Clinic explains that since 3,500 excess calories translates to about one pound (0.45 kilograms) of body weight, you’ll need to create a deficit of about 3,500 calories in order to lose one pound.
The best way to do this is slow and steady. Break it down into about 500 calories per day. Depending how much calories you’re burning from your double workouts, you can also focus on some easy calorie reduction goals.
Not sure how many calories you’re burning? Try out a trusted app to do the work for you.
LIMIT PROCESSED FOODS
Limiting high-calorie foods with low-nutritional value can help reduce calories. One of the easiest ways to cut calories is by reducing or eliminating caloric beverages. This includes alcohol, juice, milk, and especially sugary drinks such as soda and sweetened coffee beverages. It’s also helpful to skip processed foods such as candy, chips, ice cream, cookies, and baked goods.
Swap high-calorie foods with lower calorie options to reduce calories without feeling deprived. For example, if you go out to eat, swap french fries for a side salad or fruit. When you’re at home, change up the chips for fresh popped popcorn or crunchy carrots.
Check out this article for more tips: Can Eating At Home Help You Lose Weight? (Yes, Here’s How)
REDUCE PORTION SIZE
Reduce portion sizes and you’ll instantly save on calories. One of the best ways to do this is to portion your food before you eat it. Serve what you’re going to eat on a plate rather than eating from the bag or snacking in the kitchen. Try using smaller plates which is a trick that helps you feel more mentally satisfied. Take your time when you eat and aim to be mindful when you munch.
DON’T GO TOO DRASTIC
If you go too drastic, such as with crash dieting or using unsafe fat burners, you’re most likely to regain the weight back, often within six months after stopping the diet. To get a long-lasting, healthy weight-loss edige, aim to focus on both nutrition and exercise.
Even if your goal is to lose weight, it’s essential to adequately fuel workouts. Nutrition provides energy, impacts strength, performance, and recovery. It also helps your body build muscle which can ultimately increase your metabolism and calorie burn.
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends fueling your body about one to four hours before a workout, depending on how well your body tolerates food. Aim to have a combination of protein and carbohydrates.
Some examples include:
Greek yogurt with berries
Oatmeal with low-fat milk
Apple or banana with peanut butter
Handful of nuts and dried fruit
After a workout, aim to get carbohydrates and protein to replenish glycogen (stored energy) and rebuild muscle. Research is vague as to when exactly to eat after a workout, but in general try to eat within one to two hours of exercise.
Post-workout meal examples:
Low-fat chocolate milk
Hard boiled egg with a piece of fruit
Turkey with whole grain wrap
Whole grain bread or crackers with hummus
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Working out twice a day can be an excellent way to work towards weight loss. An active lifestyle is one of the best ways to stay healthy and happy. Listen to your body and tune into what types and intensities of exercise make you feel your best.
If you’re new to exercise, always hit up your doctor to make sure you have the green light to get going. Start slower and work your way up to two workouts a day.
The key is to switch up the workouts and include a balance of cardio, strength, and stretching. Focus on working different muscles groups at different levels.
Not sure where to start? Let us do the “leg work” for you: Fitbod app
About The Author
Lisa is a registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN) with over 15 years of experience in nutrition, fitness, and mental health coaching and education. She studied Foods and Nutrition at San Diego State University and earned a Master of Science in Holistic Nutrition at Hawthorn University.
Having certifications and experience in group exercise, intuitive eating, coaching and psychotherapy, and digestive wellness, she’s enthusiastic about the relationship between the body and mind.
She’s dedicated to helping people understand how to implement healthy habit change, while gaining a deeper understanding of what makes them feel their personal best.