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Discussion: Training While Sick

This topic is beaten to death a lot but I feel like it’s still something that is overly confusing for some reason.

So let’s discuss, when you’re training and you inevitably get sick what do you do?

The overwhelming majority of the time I go train, but I make changes as needed.

For example: you’ve got a cough, no fever, you’re not contagious and it’s all sinus related.
You can still train, you probably can’t do sets of 20 breathing squats, but you can still do some moderate triples.

Scale back the volume a bit, decrease the load or subtract movements out. You still got some training in, you’ve kept from sitting on your ass but most importantly you didn’t push yourself too far.

If you’ve got diarrhea and can’t keep anything inside you then sure, don’t go train heavy, but maybe you can do some treadmill walking and some banded blood work movements.

What if you’re on antibiotics? Depending on the type, don’t train heavy or hard as certain antibiotics can increase the risk of tendon rupture.
Got a head ache? Suck it up and train ( neural disorders potentially excluded, IDK I’m not a Dr )

Any other strategies you use?

I try to always ask myself “to what end?”, if I’m 22 weeks out and sick is taking a day off going to kill or ruin my life? What if I’m 2 weeks out?

Since I started training seriously the only time I skipped workouts due to being sick was when I had the flu. I used to get it every year but I started taking lots of vitamin D and I haven’t even had a cold since. I had gastroenteritis a couple years ago and I still trained, but only because I lift in my basement. I had to run to the bathroom on several occasions. My training sucked too, I steadily got weaker but I figured if I didn’t train it would be even worse. In the past, when I had a cold sometimes I would actually feel better once I was warmed up.

Maybe I’m more on the hard-headed side when it comes to stuff like this, but unless you feel like absolute shit (like the flu) I would still try to do lift. If it’s not going well then cut it short, reduce volume and so on, if you can still perform then go for it but be careful not to beat yourself up too much. I remember the last time I got the flu, one of my kids got it first and I stayed home with him and went to squat. I felt like I was starting to catch something but no big deal, yet. I think my top set was more or less as planned but I was real tired after, I did a couple more sets and felt significant worse after each and had to stop there. Next thing you know, I had the flu too.

So one other issue is that if your body is fighting something then training will take away resources from fighting the infection, but at the same time you don’t know how severe it’s going to be and how training will actually affect it.

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I train part time at home. So when im sick…i can still train. I dont usually get sick enough for it to affect things. But the odd time i do, i will take some time off.


Us geared guys cant do this on lower days. hahaha

Hard headed is fine as long as you know your limits and your body. For beginners it’s sometimes hard to know where to back off, but then again if you never push too hard you will also never find out where that limit is anyhow.

Good stuff.

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Me either. However if my recovery has already been feeling like shit and then I start feeling like shit you got to step on the brakes a bit or take a slower road.

True enough. On those occasions i sometimes will do extra cardio and less lifting. Plus having onions and garlic through the day help too.

I trained while sick tonight. Couldn’t breath without eating vicks vapor throat things.

What ever, it’s cool. PR of 565. Going to feel it tomorrow, but wasn’t sure I’d have spotters or feel better tomorrow. So my question of “to what end” tonight was answered with:

  1. if i feel bad I can just do light stuff and go home
  2. I might not feel better tomorrow then what?
  3. if I die, I die.

The rule of thumb I’ve heard and follow is, “above the neck, OK, below the neck, no go.” I.e., stuffy head and runny nose? No problem, go train. But if you have chest congestion, chills, achey body - not only can you sit it out, but you’re likely impeding your immune system’s ability to fight off whatever it is.

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Not bad advice. Probably a safe bet with that motto.

What about gonorrhea? Asking for a friend.