Should You Workout When You’re Sick?

Should you workout when you’re sick? I figured I would post this today because I’ve been fighting flu symptoms all weekend. Not cool! I started feeling it after my arm workout Friday morning and I could tell my body was fighting something. Several folks around me at work and the gym have been getting the flu lately. I usually don’t get sick and at worst, I’ll get nicked with it but I’m usually able to fight it off. Figure all the vitamins, aminos, and antioxidants I take would ward off this evil. This time my body had to fight a little harder. The good thing is I normally don’t train with weights on the weekends but I usually do cardio on Saturday mornings. This was not a good weekend to get sick because the wife and I both had taken Monday (today) off and we had several outdoors activities planned for the weekend, which we still did (hiking and canoeing). I wanted to be as active as possible yet without overdoing it (and of course I didn’t want to ruin our weekend).

So Friday night when I felt the flu trying to creep its way in I started medicating by taking extra vitamin C, drinking plenty of fluids, eating good and also taking over the counter medicines to for fever and flu symptoms that night. I wasn’t letting this stuff get me! And fortunately I had already trained that morning. I did this Saturday and Sunday night as well. And as I stated, I still went about our scheduled weekend activities, just with a little less energy and nose blowing. The real question popped up today as to whether I should do my regular back workout since I’m still not 100%. We all hate missing workouts for any reason! I decided to go in and train back but used lighter weights, went for more reps and used a lot less intensity than normal. That actually made me feel better and I still walked away with a pretty decent pump. Below are some easy to follow tips on whether you should workout when you’re sick, and what type of workout you should do if you’re feeling under the weather but you’re still able to train.

Working Out When You’re Sick Tips

1) First, determine what type of sickness you have. Working out hard can lower your immune system and the last thing you want to do is trigger the sickness even more by training.

2) Obviously you shouldn’t take any medications before a workout as this could be dangerous and counterproductive. But you should take something to relieve whatever symptoms you’re having at night so that you can sleep well. Quality rest is one of the key antidotes for healing and getting better.

3) Keep your food and fluid intake high.

4) Given that its not something serious, if you feel like getting out and doing some sort of light activity, such as taking a walk, do it. This may help you get better sooner.

5) The biggest question for people like us is ‘when can I start lifting weights again?’ Again, this depends on the severity of the sickness you have. Many people will probably recommend not working out at all for several days. I’m not a health professional so I’m certainly not recommending that you should train while you’re sick. But for us hardcore gym rats, staying away from the gym any longer than we absolutely have to might make us even more sick! So for me, I do less volume, lighter weights, more reps, and I train with less intensity. It’s just enough to get a good pump.

Funny thing is last week I posted my ‘Sick Back Workout’ which was a hardcore back workout that almost made me puke! Today, I’m posting a really ‘sick’ back workout! So here’s the ‘Jason’s Sick’ back workout I did today to use as an example.

Barbell Rows: 4 sets x 12 reps

Lat Pulldowns: 4 sets x 12 reps

Hammer Strength High Rows: 4 sets x 15 reps

Hammer Strength Low Rows: 4 sets x 15 reps

This may look like a typical back workout but keep in mind my intensity level was a lot less than normal. I also didn’t rest as much between sets because I wasn’t going anywhere near failure and I was using lighter weights. I also hit a little calves and light cardio after I trained back. I was in and out of the gym in about 45 minutes and felt a lot better afterwards. Even though I feel better now, I’ll probably do the same type of workout for chest tomorrow. Hopefully I’ll be full speed by Wednesday because that’s leg day.

Train with Passion,

Jason Stallworth



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