Training When You’re Ill

Tissues and throat sweets in hand, I decided to go to the gym today.

I am ill; it’s either a really bad cold or a mild case of flu, but I still thought the gym would be a good idea. I always do. I can’t help it. And I don’t actually think the gym is all that bad an idea if you are ill. You just have to go about it the right way.

Don’t be an idiot
You just have to be aware that you won’t be as strong, or as energetic. Testing your one rep max probably isn’t a good idea, nor is 10 rounds of HIIT doing treadmill sprints – especially when you can’t actually breathe properly. You won’t be able to hit any PBs or go for a 2 hour session when you’re feeling under the weather.

Focus on form
Working at around 70% is proably your best bet. Focus on your form and getting in as many good reps as you can, but without fully exerting yourself because, let’s face it, your body isn’t up to that. If you have a cold, too, remember that breathing¬†will be pretty hard. So don’t go balls to the wall because you’ll probably end up on the floor…

Be realistic
Some exercises (deadlifts, squats, pull ups, etc) require a lot of strength from mutiple muscles and parts of your body. Don’t be silly: choose exercises that don’t require as much from you, but will still benefit you. Train biceps and triceps, or do some lighter shoulder and chest work so that you’re not using your whole body.

When it feels like enough, it’s time to go
I did around 40-50 minutes today, and then finished with loads of stretching and foam rolling, and that was perfect for me. If you start to feel too lethargic, or generally that you’d rather be in bed than in the gym, then it’s probably time to leave. Your body is pretty devoid of energy when you have something like a cold, so make sure you listen to it when it doesn’t want to go anymore!

It’s arguablly more important to fuel your body when your ill than on a normal day when you’re feeling fine and fresh. You need to replenish your energy stores and get some micronutirnets in too so that you’re giving your body all it needs to fight back against that illness.

While I definitely wouldn’t recommend training when you’re super ill, I personally like getting in a quick workout when I have a cold to get my body moving. I’m not someone who likes to spend the whole day at home feeling sorry for themselves, so going to the gym and training (sensibly) is something I like to do when I have a cold. Although, with that being said, I plan to spend the rest of this afternoon in bed…


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