While I was concocting the doubles routine for the 90X book Tony asked, somewhat rhetorically, “does it really do you any good to train longer than an hour or so?” He was hesitant about adding a doubles segment to something so intense and it was a good question. For most situations you can’t benefit much from training more than an hour a day at all out intensity. In almost every case you can come up doing one workout well is far more effective than compromising two workouts. And if workout one is hard enough than compromising workout two is inevitable. So why did we do it?
There are, basically, two scenarios where adding a second workout can be beneficial. Both have caveats attached to them. One is to improve your body’s ability to utilize stored fat for fuel. The second is to train for specifically for an endurance sport. Since 90x is designed to train for endurance sports (it’s better used as an off-season conditioning program) we added it for the former.
While we were designing 90X I was running groups of our members through various programs using our existing workout programs: Power 90, Pour Half Hour, Slim in 6, Slim Series, and a few other odds and ends. During these “test groups” we found a scenario where most of our members, at one point or another, could benefit from a phase of training designed around improving fat mobilization. But keep in mind that they earned it by maxing the regular program the first time. For most people, adding doubles to the X won’t be beneficial until you’ve gotten so good at it that you adapt very quickly. So most people don’t need doubles. They should be earned by plateauing on a program first.
It’s the type of training a lot of highly trained athletes will try when they need to lose weight. It’s done by, essentially, adding an aerobic workout (low intensity consistant output that’s always under one’s AT) to a training program. This session is best done after a period of fasting (such as in the morning) when the body is low on stored glycogen. There are other ways to accomplish this as well. Cyclists will often do intense sessions sans nutrition to force the issue. While effective it’s a bit more dangerous. Our version is easier and safer. The only danger is that some muscle mass will be compromised unless the diet is perfect. Doing doulbles one must always be willing to lose a little size for a trade off of building a better engine for more intense training later.
For myself, I’m doing it for sports specific training. All of my objectives are in the endurance realm. If I don’t ride, run, or climb than I won’t have the specific strength to do these things no matter how strong my engine is. In theory, I should only do X in the off-season. But my seasons are weird, and different each year. Right now I need build some aerobic base and I can’t run, hence the virtual Giro. And while I’ll certainly compromise some strength gains by adding this I need some long days to get ready for long days. One thing about training an hour intensely is that it doesn’t get you ready for doing 12-24 or more straight hours of intensity. And that’s what I’m ultimately training for.
pic: Romney learning the art of drafting on stage 2 of our “giro”.