Ok, it’s finally time to wrap up the discussion of two a day training. First a quick recap for both summary and SEO reasons. In Part 1 I talked about some of the potential benefits (and drawbacks) of training twice a day. Then in Part 2 I talked about some general concepts relating to training twice a day in the weight room. Then I took a break to spam you about my new Rapid Fat Loss Handbook/Guide to Flexible Dieting e-book bundle which you should totally go buy now. That was followed by my realization that my new little Extreme Rapid Fat Loss Handbook should be made for sale by itself, which it is. Then, delaying this even further, I made a few short announcements including the one that dogs…are…AWESOME!
I recaptured the plot at this point and, in Part 3 of the actual article series, I looked at how bodybuilders might approach two-per-day training in the weight room. I even gave sample workouts which is a totally huge thing for me since I usually can’t be bothered. That was followed by a final piece of sales spam about a new Ultimate Diet 2.0/Stubborn Fat Solution e-book bundle (including the newly written UD2 Addendum that I will absolutely NOT sell you unless you already bought the UD2, so stop asking for exceptions).
And today, finally, I will finish this damn series by looking at how powerlifters (and to a lesser degree Olympic lifters) might go about training twice-per-day in the weight room. And just so people won’t whine and beg in the comments, I’ll add on a short section about how some different types of performance athletes often apply these concepts.
Heavy and Light/Light and Heavy
One quick recap for this part of the series. In Part 2 and again Part 3 I talked about how, unless you are inhuman or Bulgarian (or both), you will most likely be best served by having one of your two daily workouts lighter and one heavier. For bodybuilders that meant one thing but for strength/power athletes the meaning is a bit different. I defined Heavy previously as what most would consider maximal effort (ME) or maximal strength work so sets of 5’s and lower with 85% of max or higher in terms of intensity. Light in this context includes repetition effort (RE) work or like 8’s and up along with dynamic effort (DE) work if you do it at all.
Note: And I failed to mention this before but DE work here is true DE work, not using chains or bands to overload the movement through the range of motion. In recent years, the banded/chained DE work is really approaching ME work in terms of effort (it’s maximal over the full range even if the weight on the bar is light) and wouldn’t count as ‘light’ work in this schema.
I’ll mention again that, while there is some variability, my experience is that good strength/power athletes tend to do best with the lighter workout in the morning and the heavier in the evening. This is NOT universal and don’t hear me saying that it is but as a generality this is true. Sucky strength/power athletes can often go heavy first thing but since their ‘heavy’ is often about the same weight as what good athletes warm-up with it doesn’t matter so much.
What ends up happening is that the light morning workout sort of ‘tunes’ or ‘potentiates’ the evening workout. The key of course is not to wreck yourself in the morning workout so that you’re not exhausted in the evening. You go in, do a short RE/DE workout to get your system clicking (cue blah blah about central nervous system function and go Google ‘post-activation potentiation’ so you can argue about this online) and then you can wreck it in the evening.
The workout EXAMPLES I’m going to give are going to assume that pattern . If you’re the opposite and do the best in the morning, just reverse the workouts and don’t get too hung up on it. This isn’t actually rocket science.
Two-Per-Day Training for Olympic Lifters
I make NO claim to being much of an OL coach. I’ve worked with a few people, have competent technique and know enough about the training patterns to write some ignorant stuff. As I noted before, it’s a fairly common pattern in the modern era for OL’ers to do multiple workouts per day. In the heyday of insane training and drug use, all the workouts were heavy. Non Bulgarian humans do better with one lighter and one heavier workout and, as above, the lighter workout is typically done in the morning.
Specifics can vary but a typical morning workout would be lighter, higher repetition sets (so 75-85% maybe for sets of maybe triples) and frequently the power movements (power clean, power snatch), pulls and light squats are done. The key as always is to get warmed up, get your groove on (especially for snatch) so that you can kill it in the evening.
AM Workout Example:
Power snatch: 3-6X3 at 75-80% (this could also be from a box, or the hang or whatever)
Power clean + Power Jerk: 3-4X1+1 (1 clean, 1 jerk) at 75-80%
Clean grip pulls: 3X3 to 5X5 at 75-85%
Squats (front or back): 3X3 to 5X5 at 75%
And you might top that off with core or RDL or whatever. It depends hugely on the philosophy of the coach, the athlete’s strengths and weaknesses, etc. For the most part, if you’re an OL’er you need a coach and shouldn’t be taking advice from my dumb ass on this topic.
PM Workout Example:
Full Snatch: 6X1-2@85-90% (or go to max if you’re in that type of system)
Competition Clean and Jerk: 3-4X1+1@85-90% (or go to max if you’re in that type of system)
Back squat: 3-6X1-2 at 90%+ or 3X3 to 5X5 heavy if the athlete does better with reps.
Again the above is going to be massively variable depending on the philosophy, athlete, coach, etc. The above are really general examples and it can go a lot of different ways. Some OL’ers have snatch focus and clean focus days and you might do the morning workout as power snatch, snatch pull, front squat in the morning followed by full snatch, snatches from the hang or box and back squats in the evening. Clean and jerk day would be done similarly with lighter, broken or power movements in the AM followed by full closer to competition movements in the evening.
Two-Per-Day Training for Powerlifters
Powerlifters tend to follow fairly standard training patterns and I’m going to assume a basic upper/lower (or Squat/Bench/Deadlift/Assistance Upper) scheme for this. Deadlifts become a problem sometimes since there are different schools of thought about them ranging from training them heavily infrequently to lightly a lot. If you’re tied into one of the systems like Sheiko or whatever where you train all competition movements in every workout, just make adjustments accordingly.
AM Lower Body: Light
Competition squat (DE): 12X2@60% or something in that range.
Deadlift: (DE): 6X1 at 60% (possibly every other week depending)
Leg Press or assistance leg work (RE): 3-4X8-20 (whatever) with sets stopped 1-2 reps from failure
Leg curl or a second hamstring/glute exercise: 3-4X8-20 with sets stopped 1-2 reps from failure
Calves: 3-4X8-20 with sets stopped 1-2 reps from failure
Core work: Whatever
PM: Lower Body: Heavy
Squat or assistance exercise (ME): 3-5 sets of 3-5 reps at 85% and up with a long rest.
Leg press or secondary leg work: 3-4 sets of 6-8
Leg curl or secondary hamstring/glute work (RDL/pullthrough/etc.): 3-4 sets of 6-8
Calves: 3-4 sets of 6-8
Your choice of competition squat or assistance exercise for ME work is up to you, strengths/weaknesses and your personal philosophy of training. Until I write the comprehensive 50 part series on exercise selection you’ll have to work it out for yourself.
If you’re on more of an old Coan style split with a Squat, Bench, Deadlift and assistance day, you set it up pretty much the same but the days are a little bit more focused.
AM Squat Day: Light
Competition squat or front squat or something: 3-6X3@80% to 5X5@75% (keep this snappy)
Leg extension or Leg Press: 3-4X8-20 with sets stopped 1-2 reps from failure
Leg curl or another glute/hamstring exercise: 3-4X8-20Calves: 3-4X8-20
PM Squat Day: Heavy
Competition squat: ME work or cycling if you’re on a long-term program, just progress this day as per your normal training cycle.
Leg curl, RDL, Pull Thru, Etc: 3-4X6-8 or 5X5 Heavy
Secondary quad exercise as needed (leg press, leg extension): 3-4X6-8 or 5X5
Calf Raise: 3-4X6-8 or 5X5
AM Bench Day: Light
Competition Bench: 3-6X3@80% to 5X5@75 (keep this snappy)
Midback exercise: 3-4X8-20 with sets stopped 1-2 reps from failure (get your pump on)
Lateral raises: 2-3X8-20 with sets stopped 1-2 reps from failure (get your pump on)
Biceps/Triceps: 1-2X8-20 with sets stopped 1-2 reps from failure (get your pump on)
PM Bench Day: Heavy
Paused competition bench or weak point exercise: ME work or cycling if you’re on a long-term program, just progress this day as per your normal training cycle.
Midback or Lat work: 3-4X6-8
Lateral raise: 3-4X6-8
Rotator cuff or whatever: 2-3X10-15
Deadlift day can get a little bit complicated as how often folks can deadlift tends to be pretty individual. Light deadlift workouts can be deadlifts, or folks with some OL background can do cleans or pulls. RDL’s are an OK light day movement although I’d probably prefer a handful of low reps sets (with the bar reset on every repetition to mimick competition pulling) in the deadlift. Heavy day is also a problem and not everyone can deadlift heavy (especially if they are squatting heavily) and not burn out. Heavy deadlifts on heavy day every other week is probably better for most. You can do a back extension or lighter DL’s every other week. Again, it all depends.
And that’s really it for powerlifters. Again if you’re on one of the schemes where you do all three movements at every workout, just work it out. Do squat, bench, deadlift, overhead press and some arms in the morning for light work and hit it heavily in the evening. Most of the Sheiko, Korte, Smolov types of programs already build in that kind of variety.
Two-Per-Day Training for Performance Athletes
I know I said I wasn’t really going to talk about this and I won’t in any detail but I can’t handle the bitching in the comments if I don’t so I want to at least touch on this. As I said back in Part 1 it was performance athletes, frequently endurance athletes and specifically those in highly technical sports that tended to find that multiple daily workouts were more valuable.
Of course, athletes with a lot of different things to train (think team athletes who need strength, power, speed, endurance, skill) have done this for years but they also tend to have more variety in the week and what they do doesn’t really fall into the concept of what I’m talking about here, training the same muscles, groups, movements at both workouts.
Endurance athletes, runners, were some of the first to find that adding a short second workout (usually an easy AM fasted run) helped them bring up volume, develop their endurance engine even further and reach a new level of performance without burning out. As mentioned, Kenyan runners take this further with 3-4 runs per day on a near daily basis.
I can’t tell you when swimmers started training twice daily but that has been an assumed part of high performance training for decades now. Cyclists, as mentioned haven’t really gotten on that approach due to the sheer length of their rides. It’s one thing for a runner to add 30 minutes of training when his longest run is 2 hours. A cyclist spending 4-6 hours in the saddle isn’t going to add more riding in the morning on top of that. It just isn’t part of the culture.
But what about other sports that are not pure weight room sports but have something else as their primary performance package (i.e. not Ol’ing and PL’ing where the training IS the sport). How do they structure it? Here are a few random examples to consider.
I’ve written a little bit about track cycling in the past and it’s important to recognize that it’s an odd little sport. It has a variety of different disciplines ranging from short sprint events (taking about 10 seconds to compete) to middle events (the individual kilo takes about 1 minute, the 4km time trial is about 4 minutes) to longer events (taking forever) and some athletes to crossover in what events they compete in. Pure sprinters tend to train as such and you see a huge focus on strength/power (some of which can be developed in the weight room and some of which can’t) along with technique, tactics, etc. on bike. The AIS Track Cycling sprint team is informative in this regard as they use a pattern where they do, most days:
AIS Track Cycling
AM: A 2-3 hour weight room workout. This includes pure strength work along with power and core work. This is cycled throughout the year as the focus changes from strength to power to power endurance.
PM: Bike work. This is mostly speed work along with standing starts (a massively high-force activity).
When the weight room is being emphasized, they don’t actually care that it wrecks the athletes for the bike. The goal is to get strong as hell and bike work is just to maintain technique (NOTE here that technique loss on a bike is not nearly as dangerous as with say, running or track sprinting). When the focus is on-bike they dial back the weight room work to maintenance/easier levels and the bike work becomes all out speed work.
To that they tack on 6-8 weeks of interval/speed endurance work before competitions. Speed on the bike is a combination of strength, power and leg speed and is hard to develop. Endurance is relatively easy and they do that at the end.
British Track Cycling
In recent years British track cycling has taken over the world and they approach things a bit differently. Changes in the competition schedule and rounds mandate a larger aerobic engine and the typical pattern for British track cyclists is this
AM: 1 Hour Easy Aerobic bike ride (build the aerobic engine, keep the athletes lean, most cyclists like riding)
PM: Track work and weight room work
That’s done perhaps 3-4 days/week with just aerobic recovery rides on the off days. I imagine they cycle the focus of the bike or weight room depending on the season but not a lot of information is available.
Let me make a quick note here which is that, so far as I can tell, track running sprinters NEVER do the above with weights in the morning and sprinting in the evening. Even a small amount of fatigue from lifting/jumping in a morning workout can have disastrous effects on sprint technique and injury risks (in a way that cycling does not). A tiny mis-step and you end a sprinting career. On the bike, that just doesn’t happen and that explains the difference.
Throwing training (and here I mean shotput, hammer, javelin) at least ala Bondarchuk (aruguably the best throwing coach in history) tends to follow a similar schema where the goal is throw and lift and throw and lift and throw and lift. The sport has minimal biomotor capacities and you need to practice throwing while developing incrementally greater levels of strength, power, etc. So AM you throw and then lift. PM you throw and then lift. And you do it again with changes in the weight of the implement, the weight movements and loading being used, etc.
My Speed Skating Schedule
I can’t tell you if the schedule that we used during my incarceration in Salt Lake City was typical or not but it was what my coach successfully used for a couple of decades. Speed skating is a weird-assed sport where it is actually difficult to develop a lot of aspects of performance (such as aerobic engine) on the ice; you have to do it with supplemental work. Recall from last time that we often didn’t have a long break between skating workouts (which had to be done under rested conditions) and conditioning workouts. So AM and PM aren’t quite accurate here and it’s more of a Workout 1/Workout 2. We also had a situation where we didn’t have ice for a big chunk of the year and that’s when we did dryland training.
Monday 1: Dryland training including drills, jumping, and endurance imitations. Wednesday 2: Weights (cycling from higher to lower reps)
Wednesday 1: Inline skate training: drills, starts, sprint laps, lap-on, lap-off Saturday 2: Endurance bike ride (daily focus: endurance) moving to intervals as we got closer in-season.
Friday 1: Dryland training including drills, jumping, and endurance imitations. Wednesday 2: Weights (cycling from higher to lower reps)
Saturday 1: Inline skate training: drills, starts, sprint laps, lap-on, lap-off Saturday 2: Endurance bike ride (daily focus: endurance) moving to intervals as we got closer in-season.
Monday 1: Drills, starts, sprint laps Monday 2: Weight room work
Wednesday 1: Drills, maybe starts, interval training Wednesday 2: Bike ride (endurance or intervals)
Thursday 1: Race prep or Short sprint workout. Thursday 2: Maintenance/power weights
Saturday 1: Time trials followed by laps or endurance lap workout Saturday 2: Endurance bike ride
Mind you there was a lot more going on with the focus of training changes throughout the season but this was our common schedule and you can see how the days were set up with a singular focus (sprint/strength/speed/power or endurance/speed endurance) to try to synch up the training stimuli.
And that’s it. I’m sure I could keep going endlessly and I’m also sure that people will wish I had but I think that covers the training concept of how to apply two-per-day training for both bodybuilding purposes alone with Olympic lifting and Powerlifting along with a bit of babble about performance sports. So get it done. Or something.
- Two a Day Training in the Weight Room Part 3
- Two a Day Training in the Weight Room Part 2
- Combining Metabolic and Tension Training – Q&A
- Combining Weight Training with Marathon/Century Training
- Two a Day Training in the Weight Room Part 1