Whether you’re training for a sport like powerlifting or bodybuilding or just trying to fit two workouts per week into your busy schedule, you may be wondering if it’s possible to train the legs two days in a row.
So, can you train legs two days in a row? You can train legs two days in a row as long as you’re smart about your exercise selection and don’t train at high intensities on both days. You’ll also need to make sure you’re recovering properly in between workouts.
In this article, I’ll dive into some research studies that analyze whether or not it’s safe to train the legs two days in a row. I’ll also discuss the benefits and drawbacks of doing so, the reasons why it does or doesn’t make sense, and factors to consider when structuring a workout for training the legs on back-to-back days.
At the end, I’ll also provide a sample workout plan for training the legs two days in a row.
Training Legs 2 Days In A Row: What Does The Science Say?
Researchers from the University of Porto in Portugal set out to prove whether or not there are differences in strength and body composition when training on consecutive days vs non-consecutive days.
The subjects were divided into two groups. Each group followed the same full-body training program, but one group trained on consecutive days and the other group trained on non-consecutive days.
Increases in leg press strength were similar across both groups. Both groups also saw increases in muscle size, with the group that trained on consecutive days producing slightly larger increases.
These results suggest that you don’t need to wait more than 24 hours to train the same muscle group in order to get stronger or improve your physique.
Another study conducted by researchers in Singapore showed similar results. A group of recreational male lifters was divided into two, with one group training on back-to-back days and the other group resting for 48-72 hours before training again. There were no significant differences in strength or hypertrophy between the two groups.
One can conclude from these findings that how much total rest you get within a 7-day period is more important than resting for one or more days in between each workout.
Want to get advice on programming, technique, or competing? Speak with one of our coaches.
Reasons To Train Legs 2 Days in A Row
As much as you may prefer to have a day or two of rest in between your leg workouts, that’s not always feasible. Depending on your goals and what you’re training for, you may also have to train the legs two days in a row to make you a stronger athlete in your sport.
Let’s review the reasons why you may wish to train the legs two days in a row.
1. You Have A Busy Schedule
Most of us have families, social lives, and work or school that can all take time away from the gym. Having a packed calendar may mean that you can only work out two days a week, and those days may fall on back-to-back days.
During times like these, it’s okay to train the legs two days in a row as long as you’re carefully monitoring your training intensity and doing different exercises each time you go to the gym.
2. You’re Used To A High-Frequency Squat Program
If you’ve run a high-frequency squat program in the past, you likely already know what it takes to manage your fatigue and be able to train your legs effectively every time you go to the gym.
It’ll be much easier for you to train the legs two days in a row than someone who’s only used to following an upper/lower split or who usually only lifts weights two days per week on non-consecutive days.
3. You Do Crossfit Or Olympic Weightlifting
Olympic weightlifters squat multiple days per week, which requires them to work the legs on back-to-back days. Similarly, CrossFitters do squatting-type movements in the majority of WODs.
If you participate in either sport, you’ll have to train the legs two days in a row due to the nature of your programming.
4. You Have A Good Recovery Routine
In general, leg workouts tend to be more tiring because you’re working a higher number of large muscle groups in the body. As such, training the legs two days in a row requires proper recovery so you can manage your fatigue effectively.
Eating enough calories, getting enough sleep, and finding ways to manage stress in your daily life can all go a long way towards making it easier for you to train your legs on consecutive days.
5. You Need To Bring Up Your Squat Strength
If your squat is weak in relation to your other lifts, increasing your squat frequency and training the legs two days in a row can help you improve your squat strength.
You may wish to do different types of squat variations on each day — for example, doing traditional back squats one day and pause squats the next day — but training the legs more often can help you break through a squat plateau.
Reasons Not To Train Legs 2 Days In A Row
1. You’re Under-Recovered or Have a Lower Body Injury
If you are extremely sore and can barely walk the day after a workout, you should avoid doing more leg exercises the following day. Engaging in some light cardio or active recovery would be better to flush the soreness out of your legs.
Likewise, if you have a lower body injury, you should avoid training the legs two days in a row. While you can try to work around your injury and do whatever exercises you can (under the guidance of a doctor or physical therapist), training the legs on consecutive days may exacerbate your injury or prolong your healing time.
Should your lower body muscles be sore after doing squats? Get our expert opinion in Quads Sore After Squats: Is This Good Or Bad? and Hamstrings Sore After Squats: Is This Good Or Bad?
2. You’re New to Lifting Weights
Even though beginners can recover faster in between workouts than more experienced lifters, training legs two days in a row isn’t a good idea for someone new to lifting weights.
You have to get your body into the habit of training consistently first before you try to train the same muscle groups on consecutive days. Not allowing your legs enough time to rest before you train them again and trying to do too much volume before your body is ready for it can lead to injuries or cause you to resent your workouts.
3. You’re a Runner Who’s Training for a Race
If you’re a runner and you’re training for a race, you may want to avoid doing any leg strengthening exercises on consecutive days.
You wouldn’t want to do a long run after you’ve just done two lower body resistance training days in a row. You need your legs to be fresh so you can easily hit your desired mileage.
Curious if running is beneficial for powerlifters? Check out Powerlifting And Running: Should You Incorporate Both?
Pros & Cons of Working Out Your Legs 2 Days In A Row
As with most training strategies and methodologies, training the legs two days in a row has its positives and negatives. Let’s discuss the pros and cons of doing leg workouts on back-to-back days.
1. It Can Help You Feel Better if Your Legs Are Sore
I mentioned above that you shouldn’t train the legs two days in a row if you’re very sore. But if the soreness is manageable, doing some light squats, deadlifts, or other leg accessories can help you feel better since it will promote blood flow to the affected areas.
2. You Don’t Have To Sacrifice Training Frequency When You’re Busy
You may have previously avoided training the legs two days in a row when you’re busy with other responsibilities because you believed you needed at least one full rest day in between each workout.
But as I discussed in the research review above, studies show that it is possible to train the same muscle group with only 24 hours of rest without negative consequences.
So if you have an upcoming vacation, you’re swamped at work, or you have family obligations and can only make it to the gym on two consecutive days of the week, you can safely and effectively train legs on both days.
3. It Lengthens the Window of Protein Synthesis
Protein synthesis refers to the process through which your muscle fibers repair and grow by producing protein. After a resistance training workout, it can stay elevated for up to 24 hours but starts to decline after 36 hours.
Doing leg workouts on back-to-back days extends that window of protein synthesis, which not only produces a muscle pump that lasts for a longer period of time but also helps improve your body’s ability to build muscle.
1. You Won’t Be Able To Train to Failure
Training close to failure on every set isn’t feasible when you’re training the legs two days in a row. Your body won’t be able to recover within 24 hours, which can negatively affect your second leg workout.
Even training at 90-95% of your 1RMs is exhausting and can prevent muscle growth or cause injuries if it’s done too often.
I discuss more drawbacks to training to failure in the article Do Powerlifters Train To Failure? (Not Often, Here’s Why).
2. It’s Not an Effective Long-Term Training Strategy
Unless you compete in a sport where you have to do squats or other leg-heavy movements on consecutive days, you shouldn’t implement training the legs two days in a row as a long-term training strategy.
As you get stronger, you’ll likely notice that you can’t recover enough after just 24 hours to have an effective leg workout the next day, even if you’re monitoring your training intensity and otherwise recovering properly outside of the gym.
3. Performance May Initially Decrease While Your Body Adapt
Until you get used to a new training routine, you may initially notice a decrease in performance on the second day of training when you train the legs two days in a row.
Your body will adapt after a couple of weeks, but those first few leg workouts on consecutive days will likely be challenging.
Tips on How To Structure Your Back-To-Back Leg Workouts
When devising a workout plan to train the legs two days in a row, there are some guidelines you should follow to ensure you’re getting the most out of both workouts.
1. Train at Different Intensities
If you want to train your legs two days in a row, you should avoid training at a high intensity on both days. Training at 95% of your deadlift 1RM the day after you just trained at 95% of your back squat 1RM can result in a disappointing workout since your CNS won’t be recovered enough.
A good way to structure back-to-back leg workouts is to train at a high intensity the first day with low reps and higher weights and use the second day as a recovery day with lighter weights and higher reps.
2. Train Different Movements
Doing different exercises on each of your leg days will allow you to work your leg muscles in different ways, which can prevent you from getting bored or suffering from an overuse injury.
To keep some variety in your routine, you may wish to follow a routine similar to a bro split and train the quads and hamstrings on separate days. But if you want to make sure you’re hitting both muscles at least twice a week, you can do hamstring and quad exercises on both days and just vary your movements.
Examples of different leg exercises you can incorporate into your routine include:
- Back squats
- Front squats
- Bulgarian split squats
- Leg extensions (or a leg extension alternative)
- Leg press (or a leg press alternative)
- Lying hamstring curls (or a hamstring curl alternative)
- Romanian deadlifts
- Good mornings
Wondering if squats and deadlifts are enough for legs? Check out Are Squats And Deadlifts Enough For Legs? (Pros & Cons).
3. Increase Time Under Tension
When you’re trying to keep your training intensity relatively low but still want to increase muscle mass, you should spend more time under tension. Increasing your time under tension has been shown to induce hypertrophy even when lifting with as little as 30% of your 1RM.
You can increase your time under tension by either pausing at a certain point in the lift or executing a portion of the lift (typically the lowering phase, which is also called the eccentric part of the lift) to a count of 3-5 seconds.
Squat and deadlift variations you can do to increase your time under tension include:
Sample 2 Day In A Row Legs Program
Below is a leg training program that you can do on back-to-back days. Because leg days can be more difficult to recover from in general, you’ll notice that I only put a few accessory movements and kept their sets lower on the first day so you can hit the legs hard again on the second day.
Leg Workout Day One – High Intensity
- Back squat – 4 x 3 @ 85%
- Deadlift – 4 x 4 @ 75-80%
- Leg press – 2 x 8-10
- Lying hamstring curl – 2 x 10-12
Leg Workout Day Two – Low- to Moderate-Intensity
- Front squat – 4 x 8-10 @ 60% of your 1RM back squat
- Good mornings – 3 x 8-10
- Glute ham raise – 3 x 8-10
- Seated leg extension – 3 x 12-15
- Calf raises – 3 x 12-15
Other Leg Training Resources
- What Else Should I Do On Deadlift Day? (5 Examples)
- Can You Train Back and Legs On The Same Day?
- Can You Train Arms and Legs On The Same Day?
- Can You Train Chest and Legs On The Same Day?
- Can You Train Legs and Shoulders On The Same Day?
- How Do Powerlifters Train Legs? (3 Powerlifting Leg Workouts)
- Are Deadlifts Back or Legs? (What Day To Put Deadlifts On)
Wondering whether it’s best to deadlift and squat on the same day or do each lift on separate days? Check out the articles Deadlift Day After Squats: Should You Do It? and Can You Squat and Deadlift In The Same Workout?
By following a proper recovery routine, thoughtfully selecting your movements, and not training at a high intensity on both days, you can train the legs two days in a row. However, you should make sure you’re still taking at least 1-2 full rest days per week.
You may also notice an initial decrease in your performance on the second training day. But once your body adapts, you’ll be able to have effective workouts on both days. However, unless your daily schedule absolutely doesn’t allow it, I recommend only training the legs two days in a row for one or two training cycles to prevent injuries and burnout.
About The Author
Amanda Dvorak is a freelance writer and powerlifting enthusiast. Amanda played softball for 12 years and discovered her passion for fitness when she was in college. It wasn’t until she started CrossFit in 2015 that she became interested in powerlifting and realized how much she loves lifting heavy weights. In addition to powerlifting, Amanda also enjoys running and cycling.