T Nation

New Program = Run Down & Sick


I’m hoping you might be able to help me out. It seems that everytime I begin a new program (i.e.-change up my exercises, sets/reps) every 6-8 weeks, I get so run down, which leads me to be more susceptible to illness (cold/flu), especially this time of year. This in turn causes me to have to take a few days off from the gym, even though I just got started. It’s extremely frustrating.

I know everyone is different, and maybe my body just has a hard time dealing with the shock of a new program, but I wanted to see if others had similiar experiences and how they overcame it.


I am sick-at-home today, and I feel your pain.

In my case, I think I could handle it, until it snowed and I had to shovel on my “off” day.

SABmore, a few questions for you, even though I know you’re looking for answers not questions.

  • Have you optimized PWO nutrition; i.e., a P+C Surge (or Surge-type) drink and a whole-food P+C meal afterwards?

  • How’s your diet? Are you taking in sufficient carbs and protein for recovery? Are you getting in your healthy fats; i.e., your omega 3s & monos & saturated fat, each in roughly equal amounts and in sufficient quantity?

  • What’s your activity level like outside of the gym?

  • How much sleep do you get? Is it deep sleep, and do you feel refreshed and recharged upon waking?

  • How many days a week do you work out and for how long? What kind of workouts do you do?

  • Do you schedule a one-week break about every 8 weeks (or between programs) for healing, repair & recharging?

  • What is your age and sex?

  • Is your job stressful? Do you have other stressors in your life? Stress can be a result of work, personal relationships, chemical challenge or insult, illness or emotional fixations.

Along with giving some consideration to the above, I’d recommend a basic check-up with your doc, sharing what you did with us.

Worth looking at more closely (probably not with your traditional GP type doc who like to say you’re “fine” if you fall within normal ranges) would be cortisol and T levels via saliva testing. I particularly like ZRT’s operation, www.salivatest.com, because you don’t need a script from a doc and because results are looked at by a doc and because they’ll give you guidance on optimal ratios and ideal/optimal numbers. Unfortunately, a lot of lab reference ranges are skewed (don’t get me started, here), and you can still feel like shit with numbers that fall within “normal” reference ranges.

Using cortisol as an example, if it’s too low, you’ll have problems with recovery and energy. If it’s too high, you’ll have problems with immunity.

Re immunity, I’d recommend a good probiotic. Some probiotic strains (more than others) are specific to building/enhancing immunity. It’s worthy of research because immunity and gut integrity/function are strongly correlated. I’d also recommend that you start supplementing with an arabinogalactin.

Anyway, I wish you all the best. Start with the simplest things first to see if it gives you insight into what’s going on and how to fix your problem. If there are no easy, simple answers to your issues, you’ll have to dig deeper and expand your search.