When to use two-a-day workouts?

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  • #10651

    Hey guys,

    So I’m moving along with my training towards my Cassin Ridge climb in May of 2019. I have been using the book along with the 6-month mountaineering plan to create an extended 58 week training period. I have currently completed an 8 week transition period and am starting week 6 of my base period. My base period is slated to be 42 weeks long followed by a specific period and taper period. I started my transition period at around 4.5-5 hours per week and have worked my way up in volume to 12.5 hours per week currently.

    My question is: At what point would you start using a two-a-day training schedule for aerobic workouts. As I have increased volume my aerobic sessions are getting to the point of all being 1.5 to 2 hours in length with an even longer run on the weekend and a 3.5 to 4 hour hike after the long run. Lately, I feel as though I’m hitting a wall. Breaking past the 11hr/week mark has been rather difficult. Adding in the increased fatigue from the meximum strength days, I feel like I’m carrying more fatigue then in weeks past. At what point would you consider breaking the aerobic running sessions into an AM and PM session. For example, a 1.5 run becomes and AM 45 min run and a PM 45 min run. Would this be beneficial at all?

    Here is an example of my current training week; Keep in mind my week starts on Wed and ends on Tues due to work conflicts and days off.

    Start of week
    Wednesday: Maximum Strength 70 min
    Thursday: Zone 3 Weighted box steps 90 min
    Friday: Rec/zone 1 run 90 min
    Saturday: Max Strength 70 min
    Sunday: Zone 2 run 120 min
    Monday: Zone 2 Hike 3.5-4 hrs 3000′ min elevation gain
    Tuesday: Climbing 50 min and zone 1 run 40 min

    I’m still trying to get the hang of all this structured training and I would appreciate any advice and feedback you have. I’m not sure some of the time what I’m doing and I’m trying my best to combine this website with the TFTNA book, the TFTNA log book, and the 6 month mountaineering plan.

    Thanks again for all your continued help!!


  • Inactive
    Anonymous on #10661


    Two-a-days can be helpful when trying to accumulate more volume but I think you should try some things before that:

    Include one rest day/week

    Include more modulation between days. You need some light days and some heavy days through the week. All you days have a pretty high load in them.

    Include light recovery weeks every 2-3.

    Reduce the intensity of some more of your aerobic workouts from Z2 down to Z1.

    All the things you are saying indicate you are training close to your maximum sustainable load. Not allowing adequate recovery will eventually derail your progress.


    Anonymous on #10683

    Just to second what Scott J said, if you include a rest day and more modulation, then over the long-term, you’ll be able to eventually train more (if you have the time). Trying to increase the load week after week after week will eventually blow you up.

    I’ve blown myself up many times, and one complete rest day every seven to ten days has been a huge help. Think of it as a way to take almost two months off per year without losing any fitness. (1 day per week = 52 days per year)

    s.luedtke on #10706

    @scott Johnston and @scott semple

    Thank you so much for your advice. I might be misunderstanding things that I have read so I’ll try and clarify some in the hopes that you guys can set me straight.

    1. I’ve been following the training log book from tftna and doing 3 building weeks followed by a recovery week, is this ok?

    2. I was under the impression that I needed to do as much training as close to aet as possible since I’m aerobically deficient, is this correct or do I need more zone 1?

    3. Does the 50 min climbing day not count as a rest day for my legs at least? I’m having trouble figuring out how to fit in 12.8 hours per week with a full time job. Any help on reorganization would be great!

    Thanks in advance for all the help!


    Anonymous on #10708

    1. You need to figure out what works for you. 3:1 work:recovery weeks is one method. I use 2:1. There are very few training maxims written in stone, largely because individual variation is a huge factor. If 3:1 is working for you, great. If not, try 2:1.

    2a. The volume of zone 2 training again depends on individual variation. If you have ADS, then zone 2 probably feels pretty easy. For pros, zone 2 feels damn hard because it’s so fast.

    2b. Don’t be afraid to go slower. Zone 1 is valid, valuable work too. It sounds like your bumping into the life constraints that are specific to you. As Scott suggested, trade some zone 2 for more zone 1.

    3a. Sure, it may be a rest for your legs, but it’s not a rest for your mind. Chronic training is a (welcome) form of chronic stress. Complete breaks are key. I also think that there are systems that we can’t measure or perceive that need these complete rest periods to recharge. Take a couple complete rest days, and then see how it affects the training that follows. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

    As an ex-alpine climber myself, I’ve noticed something: the headspace that makes alpine climbers successful often makes them shitty athletes.

    The all-or-nothing, drive-myself-into-the-dirt, I-can-take-the-pain attitude is good to have when you need it (on the goal climb or in key moments of a race). But outside of that, bringing that attitude to your training on a daily basis will make you LESS FIT in the long-term, not more.

    The aerobic dirt naps that alpine-climber-wanna-be-athletes inflict on themselves wastes a huge amount of training time and effort.

    I’ve done this myself so much it’s embarrassing. I’d be a lot fitter today if I had played the last five years a lot smarter. Don’t make the same mistake.

    Training makes you weak. Rest makes you strong.

    Anonymous on #10765

    As answers to your questions above:

    1) Three build weeks followed by a recovery week seems to work well for most folks. The recovery week is focused on getting you recovered so you can throw down again for the next 3 building weeks. I normally cut volume around 50% in the recovery week for those thatI coach. Make sure you come out of the week itching to go.

    2) If you are aerobically deficient then you can speed up the aerobic adaptation process by training close to your aerobic threshold as much as possible (top of Z2). Recovery from training in this zone you should be complete within 8-24 hours. If it you’re not able to do what you did yesterday again today you were training above the AeT. This is a good way to tell if you are training aerobically. But do take a rest day each week. This day should not involve training. It should involve recovery activities.

    3) Depending on how hard you are climbing, that climbing day may or may not act as a recovery activity. In general I would agree that it can be a great recovery activity. One of the pro runners I coach, Luke Nelson, uses gym climbing sessions for recovery. They serve that purpose well for him. If you feel better after that climbing and it seems to help your legs then you have your answer.

    It is a challenge to work a full time job and accumulate enough volume of this aerobic base work to nudge the AeT upward. That’s one of the reasons many people are drawn to high intensity workouts. They are time crunched and these 45 minute HIIT workouts make them feel like they are training. We’re trying to show an optimal way to train for these mountain events. It may not work for everyone. We see people making solid aerobic gains using our approach once they can hit 8+ hours/week of aerobic training. When they get over 12 hours of aerobic volume they really see improvement. Under 8 hour it will be tough to move the aerobic needle.

    As Mark Twight so aptly adapted Milt Friedman’s famous in our book: “There is no such thing as a free lunch”.


    hafjell on #10767

    We see people making solid aerobic gains using our approach once they can hit 8+ hours/week of aerobic training. When they get over 12 hours of aerobic volume they really see improvement. Under 8 hour it will be tough to move the aerobic needle.
    @ScottJohnston and others,
    How does 12 hours of aerobic volume look on a weekly schedule? In other words, over how many days is that divided and at what intensities? I’ll finish next month the beginner/intermediate skimo regimen and am very impressed with its logic and my gains. I’d love to try the advanced program, but just can’t understand how I could meet the time commitment with a job and two young kids. Kudos to those that figure a way. Thanks.

    Anonymous on #10773


    Sadly there will come an upper limit to the time anyone can spend training but this is certainly more true for no pro, working/family people. What we try to do with our more time restricted coaching clients is to give them a big weekend training day, when that will usually have a bigger block of time to sneak out for a few hours training. This concentration and even extend to doing two big back to back days on the weekend and smaller maintenance workouts mid week. We’ve even got folks who get up at 4AM to get training in while the family sleeps. It sure takes an understanding spouse.


    s.luedtke on #10777


    Thanks as always for both of your help. This is a wild and crazy world I’m navigating and everything is new to me!! Sometimes I feel like I’m making headway and then other times I feel like I’m drowning and don’t know what the heck I’m doing. I will say this has been the most committing thing I’ve ever done. I’ve never worked this hard, this consistently, when it comes to physical fitness. I’m definitely seeing results, but as the hours creep up I’m having more and more trouble keeping up and balancing everything. I typically do a big day on my days off which definitely helps with balancing the remaining hours this week. I think I’m gonna ditch the zone 3 since my Aet isn’t with 10% of my AnT. I would think this should reduce some fatigue build up from the harder workout. Looks like I’m back to the drawing board, but luckily I follow your advice and only plan 1, 2, or at most 3 weeks out.

    Thanks so much for everything you guys do. I’m sure I’ll be back with more questions soon.



    Anonymous on #10778

    @s.luedtke: Based on your posts in this thread, I’d say you’re well on your way. It doesn’t sound like you have to go back to the drawing board. If you can maintain that consistency, you’ll continue to see gains.

    Everyone has to deal with life constraints, so I wouldn’t get bummed about it. The difference between us and pros is that their constraints are (eventually) physiological. For the rest of us, life constraints are centered around other, (more?) important commitments.

    : Aside from what Scott J. suggested, it’s hard to make any specific recommendations because everyone’s constraints are different. However, here are a few questions to ask yourself that may help free up some time:

    • How far is your commute? Rather than drive, could you run to work? If it’s too far, could you drive part way, and then run the rest?
    • Do your kids have extracurricular activities that are scheduled at the same time? Could they be scheduled at the same time? While the kids are occupied, could you train in the same area? (If you train in the same area as their activities, then you won’t have to spend time driving elsewhere.)
    • Do you and your spouse kid-wrangle at the same time? Instead, could you alternate so that only one parent is on duty at a time?
    • How much TV do you watch? If you watched no TV at all, including after dark, how much training time would that give you? (Buy a headlamp if necessary.)
    • How long is your lunch hour? Could you eat a quick lunch and then take a nap in your car? (I realize you didn’t ask about recovery, but the more sleep you get, the better you’ll recover. The more you recover, the better the training effect.)

    In general, look for things that don’t add value. Cut them out and add training and recovery instead.

    As Scott J. mentioned, many athletes get up really early to get their training in. I did that for the first couple years, but I blew myself up. These days, cutting sleep is a last resort because it means I’ll eventually have to cut training to catch up.

    The upside to training super early is that it’s taken care of ahead of everything else. It’s a great stress reducer. The downside is that cutting sleep is kind of like doing a long road trip and cutting back on gas… It’ll work sometimes, but you have to plan ahead and be careful you don’t cut it too close. And do it all without a gas gauge…

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