Daily Double Workouts

What happens when you train the same body part twice in one day?


Jason Mathias

Let's break a rule. One training tenet that seems sacrosanct is to allow at least two days before hitting the same body part again. Most bodybuilders more than double this minimal recommendation, and many work muscles only once weekly. Such splits allow for ample time for recovering and growth. But what happens if you hit the body part twice per day and then give it time to grow? As a short-term strategy, such rule breaking can boost growth and recharge your workouts.


When it comes to training frequency and style, there’s no rule that can’t be broken— on occasion. That caveat is the key because you can not only sometimes rep outside the box but also should, at least at the advanced level. For example, if you’ve stuck to eight to 12 reps per set for the past year, a workout filled with 50- to 100-rep endurance tests can shock complacent muscles. But if you do it day after day, your gains will likely stall. Break rules, but only occasionally.

This is especially true for doubling up on the same body part in a single day. Repeating regularly and intensely can generate the dreaded overtraining, stalling or reversing progress. We’re not talking about two distinct workouts on the same day for related body parts, such as quadriceps and hamstrings, or the same body part, such as back width and back thickness. Such double split training is sometimes employed by advanced bodybuilders for extended periods to great effect. Unlike those double splits, a daily double is a repeat, mere hours later, of the earlier workout, and this should be executed only occasionally. For example, hit shoulders twice per day per week for four weeks, but train them conventionally the rest of the year.

Chris Lund


Now for some daily double rules that you should never break.

1. Pump. Keep the reps in the 12-to-20 range, rest no more than 60 seconds between sets, and quit before failure. Research shows that training a muscle twice daily raises intramuscle glycogen, which can in turn stretch muscle cells, boost the muscle’s ability to assimilate nutrients, and increase your resting metabolism. Enhance this by focusing on blood volumization (higher reps, short rest, no failure) instead of strength (lower reps) or intensity (failure or beyond). Think of it this way: If you scrape your thigh, drawing blood, and then you scrape it again six hours later, you’ve disrupted and delayed recovery and likely worsened the wound—a net negative. But if you get your thigh massaged once and then again six hours later, the second session can increase the recuperative benefits of the first—a net positive. Daily double workouts should be pump-ups, not breakdowns. 

2. Repeat. Do the same exercises in both workouts—and only those exercises. Every exercise stresses a different collection of muscle fibers, and you want to work the same fibers in the second workout as you did in the first. That’s a crucial component of this training style. (Again, this is what distinguishes a daily double from a body- part double split.) You can, however, change the order of those exercises, and this is recommended to keep the second session fresh.

3. Reload. Separate the workouts by three to eight hours to allow enough time for your hormonal levels to moderate but not so much time that the second workout fails to enhance the first’s glycogen boost. You’ll need to schedule a daily double on a day with adequate free time. If you don’t want to trek to the gym twice a few hours apart, plot out two workouts you can do at home with your available equipment.

Because they can be worked with just dumbbells and a barbell, arms are a good candidate. Allow three to seven days to elapse before hitting that same body part again, and double up only occasionally.


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