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As a strongman competitor, Darren has pulled 50,000 lb trucks and dead lifted 805 lbs. As a competitive bodybuilder, he has won Provincial Super-heavyweight & Overall titles. As President & CEO of FREAK Fitness, he has coached his clients to hundreds of Novice, Provincial/State, National, and IFBB Pro titles. Having been involved in the sport of bodybuilding for over 20 years, Darren has his finger on the pulse of the local and international bodybuilding scenes, and will be keeping you informed through his column, “Freak Fitness."
Will Doubling Your Workouts Double Your Gains?
Twice-daily training, popularized by Arnold, has its proponents and detractors. Here’s what you need to know before taking the plunge.
In his prime, I think it’s fair to say that Arnold’s physique was unmatched. What invariably separated The Oak was his unmatched work ethic. During his bodybuilding career, Arnold was renowned for his twice-a-day training regimen, which he credited with allowing him to do twice as much work as his rivals.
No doubt, that also opens Arnold up to criticism, even today. Besides the high amount of volume he did for each muscle group, his twice-daily protocol allowed him to train each body part more frequently. Some of his training splits allowed him, in fact, to train a given muscle group three times a week. Imagine three leg workouts a week! It’s exhausting to even think about!
That much volume, when combined with that degree of frequency, rightfully suggests he may have been constantly overtraining. But because Arnold continued to improve over time, it was hard to argue with the results. He was, in fact, head and shoulders above his competition.
Arnold switched up his training split over time, but here’s a common split he followed:
Mon: Chest (a.m.), back (p.m.)
Tues: Delts (a.m.), arms (p.m.)
Wed: Quads (a.m.), hams (p.m.)
Thurs: Chest (a.m.), back (p.m.)
Fri: Delts (a.m.), arms (p.m.)
Sat: Quads (a.m.), hams (p.m.)
Each workout lasted 75 to 90 minutes with lots of volume, ranging from 24 to 30 sets each session.
ADAPTING THE TWO-A-DAY SPLIT
Arnold’s high-volume, high-frequency approach could be emulated by few today because it requires building up the stamina to do that much work daily. And in a perfect world, you’d be able to recover perfectly from each training session, not have a job, and be otherwise physically inactive. That’s just plain not likely.
But if you want to try twice-a-day training, you can take some tips from Arnold to make it work for you. One advantage to this type of training is that frequency may be a novel training stimulus that you haven’t tried before. Second, each workout is much shorter, and if you’re nutritionally prepared, you’ll get better workouts with muscle groups that normally come in the latter half of a long training session. In addition, given the greater frequency, you can do the second workout for each body part in fundamentally different ways than the first, allowing you to work a given muscle more completely.
Keep those workouts as short as possible as mental burnout can be much higher because you’ll undoubtedly feel like you’re in the gym all day. And because frequency is higher, reducing other training variables such as volume (the total amount of work you do for a given muscle group) and intensity may be appropriate.
What’s more, for this training style to work, it’s imperative that you ensure adequate sleep, minimal stress, optimal nutrition, and proper supplementation support. There’s very little room for error. You’re going to have to be committed to this.
Doing 12 grueling weekly workouts a week rather than six longer ones is going to take a toll on your body. But without question, take a day off if your body says it needs it. With that said, if you’re up for the challenge and have those recovery elements in place, I recommend you give Arnold’s training split a try.