So you signed up to compete in a marathon or triathlon over the summer. Or, you agreed to join your buddy’s 3-on-3 basketball team in the fall. Or, your friend is having a pool party blow out in just a few weeks. The point is, you’re not in shape for any of it. You’ve got to ramp up your fitness and/or weight loss in a hurry. Two-a-day workouts are an extremely effective tactic. However, they can leave you so depleted that you can’t stick with the workout for any meaningful period of time. But, through a smart combination of cardio and strength training workouts you can sustain your results over a reasonable period of time to achieve ambitious goals. Separate your workout pairings by 5-7 hours (a typical workday) and pick a proper pairing.
Cardio Pairings – When you engage in cardio, you’re not only working your heart and lungs; you’re also engaging your lower body muscles. But that doesn’t mean you can’t still work lower body on cardio days. Keep in mind that most cardio involves your fast-twitch muscle fibers, the ones associated with quick action or bursts of speed. Your slow-twitch muscles get involved in endurance operations. Keep your cardio moderate (no more than 2 or, at most, 3 miles) and then engage in a low-impact strength activity like power yoga, slow swimming, or low-weight/high-rep weight training (focusing on upper body).
Weight Training Pairings – Most experienced gym rats know to divide weight training into upper body and lower body days (or other isolated muscle groups). The same holds true for two-a-days. However, if you’re not matching your weight training with cardio, you’ll need to work the whole body in such a manner that you don’t over-exert muscles and set yourself up for injury. So, instead, think of isometric and plyometric sets as a proper pairing to traditional weight training. With isometric exercises, you’re typically using your own body weight and tensing a set of muscles against a constant challenge. A good example is holding yourself in push up or plank position. Your body weight provides the challenge (as does gravity) but your core muscles and shoulders are engaged in holding the body stable. With plyometric you’re engaging muscles in an explosive movement like a jump. Again your body weight is the challenge, not an added weight load. These are both excellent complements to more vigorous or strenuous exercise.
Time Pairings – Let’s say you’ve only got 20 minutes in the morning and 30 minutes at night to put together a solid workout. In these cases, you’ve got to pick one workout to maximize results in a combo workout that incorporates weight training, cardio, and perhaps also plyometrics. Then, use the other workout for an isometric or low-impact cardio set depending on your goals (strength goals should pursue isometrics, weight-loss should consider cardio or alternating days of isometrics and cardio).