Effective Two-A-Day Workout Strategies, with Neal Henderson

Can cycling twice in one day produce the same benefits as one long ride? Do "two-a-days" yield adaptations you can't get any other way? We explore.

bicycle commuter

If you’ve ever been a competitive runner, swimmer, cross-country skier, or rower, you might be familiar with the concept of two-a-days—individual workouts separated by hours within a single day, most typically one in the morning and another in the afternoon.

In cycling, two-a-days have not had as much traction. However, that’s starting to change. The science is new, but many coaches, including our guest Neal Henderson, director of sport science at Wahoo Fitness, have been putting two-a-days into practice for years, with a lot of success.

It brings up two big questions: Are two-a-days as effective as one single long ride at generating adaptations? That is, can they serve as a substitute? The other, in some ways more interesting question, is whether two-a-days have benefits that you can’t get any other way—for example, through glycogen depletion.

Again, the science is rapidly evolving, and today we’ll refer to new research that opens the door to a new line of thinking. And we’ll also talk extensively with Henderson and a host of others about the practical ramifications of two-a-days.

Our other guests include WorldTour rider Petr Vakoc, racer and coach Jen Sharp, gravel racer Ted King, physiologist Jared Berg, and pro mountain biker Payson McElveen.

Let’s make you fast.

References

  1. Seiler S, Haugen O, Kuffel E. Autonomic Recovery after Exercise in Trained Athletes. Medicine Sci Sports Exerc 2007;39:1366–73. https://doi.org/10.1249/mss.0b013e318060f17d.
  2. Scharhag J, Meyer T, Gabriel HHW, Schlick B, Faude O, Kindermann W, et al. Does prolonged cycling of moderate intensity affect immune cell function? Brit J Sport Med 2005;39:171. https://doi.org/10.1136/bjsm.2004.013060.
  3. Ijichi T, Hasegawa Y, Morishima T, Kurihara T, Hamaoka T, Goto K. Effect of sprint training: Training once daily versus twice every second day. Eur J Sport Sci 2014;15:143–50. https://doi.org/10.1080/17461391.2014.932849.
  4. C. T, D. B, K. L, J. M, G. B. Effects of acute and chronic exercise on sarcolemmal MCT1 and MCT4 contents in human skeletal muscles: current status. Am J Physiology-Regulatory Integr Comp Physiology 2012;302:R1-14. https://doi.org/10.1152/ajpregu.00250.2011.
  5. Almquist NW, Ellefsen S, Sandbakk Ø, Rønnestad BR. Effects of including sprints during prolonged cycling on hormonal and muscular responses and recovery in elite cyclists. Scand J Med Sci Spor 2021;31:529–41. https://doi.org/10.1111/sms.13865.
  6. Lane SC, Camera DM, Lassiter DG, Areta JL, Bird SR, Yeo WK, et al. Effects of sleeping with reduced carbohydrate availability on acute training responses. J Appl Physiol 2015;119:643–55. https://doi.org/10.1152/japplphysiol.00857.2014.
  7. Andrade-Souza VA, Ghiarone T, Sansonio A, Silva KAS, Tomazini F, Arcoverde L, et al. Exercise twice-a-day potentiates markers of mitochondrial biogenesis in men. Biorxiv 2019:547489. https://doi.org/10.1101/547489.
  8. Andrade‐Souza VA, Ghiarone T, Sansonio A, Silva KAS, Tomazini F, Arcoverde L, et al. Exercise twice‐a‐day potentiates markers of mitochondrial biogenesis in men. Faseb J 2020;34:1602–19. https://doi.org/10.1096/fj.201901207rr.
  9. Nielsen J, Holmberg H, Schrøder HD, Saltin B, Ørtenblad N. Human skeletal muscle glycogen utilization in exhaustive exercise: role of subcellular localization and fibre type. J Physiology 2011;589:2871–85. https://doi.org/10.1113/jphysiol.2010.204487.
  10. Duhamel TA, Green HJ, Perco JG, Ouyang J. Metabolic and sarcoplasmic reticulum Ca2+ cycling responses in human muscle 4 days following prolonged exercise. Can J Physiol Pharm 2005;83:643–55. https://doi.org/10.1139/y05-049.
  11. Abbiss CR, Laursen PB. Models to Explain Fatigue during Prolonged Endurance Cycling. Sports Med 2005;35:865–98. https://doi.org/10.2165/00007256-200535100-00004.
  12. Green HJ, Duhamel TA, Smith IC, Rich SM, Thomas MM, Ouyang J, et al. Muscle fatigue and excitation–contraction coupling responses following a session of prolonged cycling. Acta Physiol 2011;203:441–55. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1748-1716.2011.02335.x.
  13. Green HJ, Duhamel TA, Smith IC, Rich SM, Thomas MM, Ouyang J, et al. Muscle metabolic, enzymatic and transporter responses to a session of prolonged cycling. Eur J Appl Physiol 2011;111:827–37. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00421-010-1709-y.
  14. Hansen EA, Jensen K, Pedersen PK. Performance following prolonged sub-maximal cycling at optimal versus freely chosen pedal rate. Eur J Appl Physiol 2006;98:227–33. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00421-006-0266-x.
  15. Garcia-Roves PM, Huss J, Holloszy JO. Role of calcineurin in exercise-induced mitochondrial biogenesis. Am J Physiol-Endoc M 2006;290:E1172–9. https://doi.org/10.1152/ajpendo.00633.2005.
  16. Yeo WK, Paton CD, Garnham AP, Burke LM, Carey AL, Hawley JA. Skeletal muscle adaptation and performance responses to once a day versus twice every second day endurance training regimens. J Appl Physiol 2008;105:1462–70. https://doi.org/10.1152/japplphysiol.90882.2008.
  17. Hansen AK, Fischer C, Plomgaard P, Andersen JL, Saltin B, Pedersen BK. Skeletal muscle adaptation: training twice every second day versus training once daily. Scand J Med Sci Spor 2005;15:65–6. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1600-0838.2005.00443_2x.
  18. Bonen A. The expression of lactate transporters (MCT1 and MCT4) in heart and muscle. Eur J Appl Physiol 2001;86:6–11. https://doi.org/10.1007/s004210100516.
  19. Laursen PB. Training for intense exercise performance: high‐intensity or high‐volume training? Scand J Med Sci Spor 2010;20:1–10. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1600-0838.2010.01184.x.
  20. Hvid LG, Gejl K, Bech RD, Nygaard T, Jensen K, Frandsen U, et al. Transient impairments in single muscle fibre contractile function after prolonged cycling in elite endurance athletes. Acta Physiol 2013;208:265–73. https://doi.org/10.1111/apha.12095.
  21. Ghiarone T, Andrade-Souza VA, Learsi SK, Tomazini F, Ataide-Silva T, Sansonio A, et al. Twice-a-day training improves mitochondrial efficiency, but not mitochondrial biogenesis, compared with once-daily training. J Appl Physiol 2019;127:713–25. https://doi.org/10.1152/japplphysiol.00060.2019.
  22. Fernström M, Bakkman L, Tonkonogi M, Shabalina IG, Rozhdestvenskaya Z, Mattsson CM, et al. Reduced efficiency, but increased fat oxidation, in mitochondria from human skeletal muscle after 24-h ultraendurance exercise. J Appl Physiol 2007;102:1844–9. https://doi.org/10.1152/japplphysiol.01173.2006.

Episode Transcript

This content is for Listener, Library, and Forum members only.
Listener Membership is FREE. Please join now.
Log In Join Now