Ask Stew: Rules for Two-a-Day Workouts

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U.S. Marines with 2nd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, performs pullups during the physical fitness test portion of the 1st Marine Division (MARDIV) Super Squad Competition at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California, Aug. 27, 2018. (U.S. Marine Corps/Audrey M.C. Rampton)
(U.S. Marine Corps/Audrey M.C. Rampton)

Fitting workouts into your week is tough enough. Finding time twice a day is well -- twice as hard.

Sometimes when training for challenging events or selection programs, time in the saddle is required. Whether it is putting time on the bike, pool and running for a triathlete or putting in time becoming better at longer distance running and rucking, ocean swims with fins, or just getting stronger to handle the daily strain of specops selection, it has to get done.

Failure to put in the time preparing can often lead to failure to meet standards or get injured from typical overuse injuries. Here is a question from a young man who read a previously written article about two a days:

Hey Stew, Just read that great article on two-a-day routines and just had some quick questions. How many days a week are you doing two-a-days? I really like the three examples you gave and was wondering if you were taking a day off after three days and getting right back into it?

Well -- This is not a common week, but it is what we are doing now in a high volume cycle of our periodization cycle:

Monday 1 -- Upper body calisthenics, lift, with some interval runs and a swim cooldown.

Monday 2 -- 30 minute run for distance and a 30 minute swim for distance (with fins)

Tuesday 1 -- Lower Body Calisthenics, Lift, Interval Runs with some sprints, Short cooldown swim

Tuesday 2 -- 30 minute run with some goal pace .5 mile intervals and a 30 min swim -- no fins but fast sets of 100m until 30 minutes was complete.

Wednesday -- We only did one workout and made in a non-impact cardio day with upper body lift and calisthenics mixed for about an hour, then a cooldown swim focusing on technique, tread practice, and drownproofing drills.

Yes, it is smart to have a few days that are days off or normal workouts that also help the body heal from the impact of running as well.

Thursday the plan is to do what I call "mobility day," and this has become one of my favorite days of the week. I actually thought I was cheating myself at first, but it helps make Friday and Saturday workouts much better. Here is what we did:

Thursday 1 -- Mobility Day: Repeat 5 times Bike, elliptical, row, or swim 5 minutes Foam roll, stretch, or massage tool 5 minutes

We pick back up with a second workout of the day later in the afternoon on Thursday.

Thursday 2: 30 minute run for distance and a 30 minute swim for distance (with fins). This is basically the same as Monday. How far can you get in 30 minutes? Better than Monday?

Friday: It is upper body day again, but a mix of soft sand running in the morning. The basic Pull-ups/Push-ups/Sit-ups Pyramid with sets done for 5 minutes sets after 1 mile run sets of soft sand running.

The final two-a-day of the week is done in the afternoon, but we often make it easy or even cancel it depending on how everyone in the group is feeling. You have to listen to your body. Sometimes, less is more when you need to recover fully. On the schedule is another run and swim for 30 minutes each like Tuesday's #2 workout.

Saturday is usually the grand finale workout of the week where you can hit what you need to focus on the most with respect to miles running or swimming, speed on timed events, or load bearing activities in order to prepare for logs, boats, and rucking. There is not second workout today.

Take Sunday off with no activity other than stretching and normal chores around the house and yard.

Two-a-Day Rules

Some of my rules for making a two a day plan placed once or more into the week is to work the same body parts the same day.

So, an upper body lift would also have upper body calisthenics in the afternoon or cardio only like this week. Same goes for leg days. If a run and calisthenics are mixed together in the morning, a short lift in the afternoon for legs is a good placement. Swimming with fins on leg day is a good addition as well. However, when in doubt, take a rest day or add in a mobility if feeling drained.

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