We know – for some, this seems like a crazy idea. Finding the time to work out once a day can sometimes be hard enough with a full schedule of work and maybe children.
Unfortunately, this article isn’t for those struggle to find time to work out once a day (or four times a week minimum). Instead, it’s geared towards those who work a normal 9-5 schedule and can fit in a lifting session or cardio workout most days of the week, and have a solid workout routine for a certain goal.
Picture this: if the morning is your best time to work out, you’re probably getting up at 4am, eating breakfast at 4.30am, getting to the gym for 5am and leaving around 7am. That’s an early start and a long workout. It’s just as bad in the afternoon after work when you finish at 5pm, get to the gym for 5.30pm and workout until 7.30pm, when you can finally go home and eat dinner at 8pm.
There has to be a better way? Well, there just might be for some of us.
Split Up Your Workouts
You probably saw this coming after the title. It might seem like a simple solution, but this actually requires a bit of finesse to do correctly. While there are a tonne of athletes that work out twice in one day, we’ll focus on the everyday person that simply wants to build muscle or lose fat with weight lifting and cardio.
When deciding how you want to work out twice a day, it’s important to figure out your goals, whether they focus around fat loss or muscle/strength building (better known as cutting and bulking).
We’ll start with cutting. When you’re doing an intense lifting session, complete with compound movements using heavy weights and isolation workouts with supersets and drop sets, the last thing you want to do is 30 more minutes of incline treadmill walking. You can actually split these two workouts up throughout the day.
The first way to do this is weights in the morning and cardio in the afternoon. Most prefer to lift on an empty stomach with some caffeine, and do a HIIT (high-intensity interval training) workout in the afternoon after eating a carbohydrate-based meal.
The other option for splitting up your workouts for fat loss does have some benefits. While some are extremely against fasted cardio in the morning, some recommend it for fat loss, and here’s why…
After a good night’s sleep, glycogen (stored carbohydrates used for energy) should be at its lowest reserves, especially when you’re in a daily calorie deficit. This is important as once the body runs out of glycogen, it resorts to burning stored body fat and muscle mass for fuel.
You might be thinking, ‘I don’t want to burn my muscle when I do fasted cardio, I bulked for six months to finally grow an inch on my calves’! There’s a very simple solution to this problem – amino acids.
Specifically leucine, the main amino acid found in protein to stimulate muscle-protein synthesis and also prevent muscle breakdown (also known as catabolism). This is why many take leucine 30 minutes before a cardio session in order to prioritise fat loss and limit muscle loss.
We recommend this supplement stack for boosted fat loss and limited muscle loss:
- 2-3g HMB (a metabolite of leucine that’s 10-20 times more potent for preventing muscle catabolism).
- 200-400mg caffeine (for energy, as being deprived of carbohydrates and having to get to the gym first thing in the morning isn’t easy).
- 300-500mg green tea extract (as EGCG, one of the main ingredients, is able to boost metabolism slightly, along with being the most potent antioxidant in green tea).
As for the lifting, in the afternoon, our natural testosterone to cortisol ratio is at its best (lowest cortisol and highest testosterone), which will result in a more alert, energetic, and stronger workout.
Also, lifting after work will give you plenty of opportunities to time your food correctly so you feel carbed up and ready, instead of sluggish in the gym.
Watch out for doing HIIT workouts and leg day in the same day – after a hard sprinting or stair-climbing session, your legs will need a good 24 hours at least to recover. If you do a hard leg session one morning and try to do a heavy lifting routine in the evening, you could put yourself at risk of possible injuries and will likely result in a significant loss of strength.
Take Home Message
Those who spend hours and hours in the gym with no energy towards the end, splitting up cardio and lifting into two separate sessions in one day might be the solution. While you can do it whichever way works best for you, it has to be said that cardio in the morning and lifting in the afternoon has unique benefits.
Fasted cardio in the morning with a smart supplement stack could be your answer for sustainable fat loss without the muscle catabolism. Not to mention the higher energy levels and power output when training in the afternoon/evening.
If all this sounds good to you, don’t be afraid to try it one day a week and if your schedule permits/you actually enjoy it, there’s no reason to not split up all your workout days like this!