Fast Talk Episode 166: Effective Two-A-Day Workout Strategies

Hello Members!

We are quite interested to hear your reactions and questions about today’s Fast Talk Episode 166 with coach Neal Henderson:

Fast Talk Episode 166: 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.

This episode is one Chris and Trevor have been wanting to do for a long time, and so when member @gbianchi posted his Volume in Training topic earlier this year, it inspired us to get moving on it! (Thank you, @gbianchi!) @ryan jumped into that discussion along with @smashsquatch (and so did I).

Do you do two-a-days? What time of year and what intensity? Has Zwift or the past year’s pandemic made two-a-day workouts more or less convenient?

Let’s discuss.


Two-a-days (via a morning and afternoon commute) have been a thing for me for years—I just didn’t know exactly why they seemed to be effective at building form. Now, some recent science that we discuss in this episode is helping to explain why they work, and how. It’s nice to have that confirmation, of course, and it also will help inform how I integrate two-a-day commutes into the training plan more effectively, which I really like.

I was excited to hear a coach of the caliber of Neal Henderson explain how effective these rides are in practice, from the WorldTour level down to the amateur.

The fact that this new science also throws Trevor into a loop is an added bonus!


I enjoyed the episode, thanks.

Would it be correct to conclude that two-a-days have been shown to lead to similar adaptations as the continuous long ride, but they have not been directly compared to each other, thus the research isn’t clear if one strategy is more effective?

Any thoughts of a single ride structured with (1) Intensity at the start - 4X8 min threshold intervals followed by (2) two hours at endurance pace? How would that compare to the Two-a-day protocol you referenced in the podcast where these two workouts are separated by 4-6 hours?

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I was wondering that myself. I’m usually pretty time-crunched even on the weekends, so I was thinking instead of trying to find time for a 6hr, go hard for an hour, then roll right into a 2-3hr endurance block and call it a day… Was there any guidance on why waiting at least a couple of hours between sessions was important to get the benefit? Clearing lactate? Recovering just a bit so you are able to give it a decent effort?

The other thing I was wondering is… when talking two-a-days, the only talk was of hard + easy, not easy + easy. The challenge I have with that is I can’t really do hard more than 1-2 times a week and recover, but I have the time to do multiple 45-60min rides each day during the week. I wonder if you can also activate the calcineurin pathway by doing low torque work? I’ve personally found a similar leg feel and HR drift of a long ride when doing 1+ hr of low torque @ Fatmax. Is it possible that increasing the torque to tire the fast-twitch muscles can have a similar effect as long rides or two-a-days?

Also, the 6-8 hour window for optimal adaptations is just cruel. Clearly, it’s a sign that we were not designed as humans to work more than 6 hours a day…

Edit: I was thinking about this some more. Wasn’t most of what was discussed in this episode about lowering your VLAmax (calcineurin pathway)? What about the other benifits of z2 rides like bringing up your base to then eventually improve your VO2max with intervals (is that improved mitochrondrial density? Is that MCT1?)? Does a bunch of 45-60min z2 rides accomplish this or do you need longer?

Also, what about being able to sustain paces for longer (before that hr/pw drift)? Does that come through calcineurin pathway or something else?

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I liked this episode a lot, mostly because it jived well with what i already believed :).

Just like @smashsquatch i am also curious about whether the same gains can be achieved by two easy workouts as well as one easy / one hard, or if not, whether other things like high cadence work, low torque work or weight training as the first session can also get similar benefit.


Even before this episode I’ve been thinking about two a days just to increase my volume. I’m at 7-8 hours per week right now and it’s hard for me to get in those 3 hour rides. But, starting my day with a 45 minute sessions 3 or 4 days a week would push me into the 10-11 hour arena.


A couple of questions I had from this episode (1) what’s the shortest the gap can be between the 2 rides and (2) which I guess is linked to the first is what’s wrong with a cafe ride……?

I have done something similar with good results, 1 hour tempo, 1 hrs z2 then some hard efforts in last hour or so, 3-4 hr ride. What efforts I do , align to my goals or weakness or such

I tried this Sunday. Doing a hard set of intervals… and then a couple of hours easy afterward without a break… and I’d say the reason for the recommended time between is that it’s horrible to settle into a couple of hours of FATMAX after a really hard interval set.

I think the guidance for the two a day is to do hard first (likely to fatigue fast-twitch muscles)

I did a two-a-day experiment. In the morning, I rode 90 minutes (mostly endurance with a few efforts thrown in). In the late afternoon, I did 45 minutes of Z2 on the trainer.

The next day, my legs felt like I had done a 3 hour ride the day before rather than the 2h20 I did in total.

I can’t say what long term adaptations will be but I’m willing to keep it up 2-3 days per week for the extra volume.

I found the episode on two-a-days to be very insightful. A lot of focus on supplanting a longer ride with two shorter ones within a certain window. What I don’t think was clarified is the value (or detriment) of using two-a-days to add volume.

For example, if an athlete has a 60-minute high-intensity session on their plan during a weekday. Perhaps they have two hours available at the end of their workday. They could integrate that intensity session into a two-hour ride with additional endurance work either before or after which is probably the most common approach. Perhaps, however, that rider could leverage a lunch hour to complete the high-intensity session of one hour and come back after work to perform 2 hours of additional riding. Assuming that the athlete has built fitness commensurate with supporting that volume (high-volume athlete), is endurance the best use of those two hours? Or is there a better way to periodize that into a plan? Any thoughts/experience?

Been playing with the two a days a bit more.

A couple things I’ve noticed:

  1. Why not just extend your interval session rather than come back later for a second session? My experience? Fueling and HR. My HR is way up at the same power I could have done with just a couple hours of rest. And I just feel empty until I can get food in me (about 45-60min where I feel like I’ve caught up some)

  2. What about two easy in one day? I’ve found that if the first easy is at low torque (~50 cadence) then the second easy a couple hours later feels a lot more like I’ve already been on the bike a couple hours.

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I got very fit off two a day 45 min commutes 5 days a week. If I had to describe my old commute it’d be mostly endurance and tempo with a 5-6 min threshold / Vo2 max hill each way.

When I no longer had the commute my fitness dropped. I suppose it was a solid 90 mins of cycling 5 days a week then I’d mtn bike 2-3 hours on weekend. Had to replicate that in training without some discipline.

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Fully agree. I had the exact same commute and it did wonders for fitness over the winter months and into the spring. Maintaining that general weekly routine and adjusting as necessary on race or rest weeks made the whole training process super easy since it was built into the structure of the workdays.

It was indeed super easy. I’d always be joking with friends at events that I didn’t train. It was kind of true, it was built into a commute and I didn’t really have to think about it. It was just routine.