Should you train when you are sick? Well, it depends. In this audio, I discuss the scenarios where you MAY still be able to continue training and situations where it’s not smart (but how to hedge against losing time by not weight lifting while sick)
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Hi everybody, welcome back. It’s Brad again from BradNewton.TV. Should you work out when you’re sick, when you’re not well? Well, I thought this would be the perfect time to do this audio, because I myself have not been well the past two weeks. This is actually the first video, and/or audio that I’ve shot in two weeks because I just haven’t had the gusto to get in front of a camera, or behind the mic, because I’ve been so nasally, and I’ve been coughing, and I’ve had congestion, and so forth. I thought I’d talk about this, because this is important.
Now, back in the day when I was sick, I would still go to the gym and train. I’d still go and lift weights, I’d still go and do a bunch of cardio, and I found that from my experience doing that, that it took much longer for me to get through the sickness, right? For me to recover. I’ve since learned, and by the way, it’s harder to practise this than just kind of knowing this intuitively. We’ve all heard that we should rest, and we should listen to our bodies, and that kind of thing when we’re not well. But it’s much harder to do, especially if you’re listening to this, and you’ve been training for a while, because you’ve already built that habit around going to the gym five, six days a week. Then you get sick, but then you’re compelled to still go and continue your training.
Now, a lot of people think that it’s going to be detrimental to them if they don’t train while they’re sick, and have one or two weeks off training, and then it’s going to be detrimental to their progress, and so forth. But, I’m here to tell you right now that after having almost two weeks off training, which is the longest I’ve had in a long time. I don’t often get very sick. I had tonsillitis, and so I don’t know often … In fact, last time I had tonsillitis was, gosh, back in high school, right? I rarely get sick, but then it’s much more rare for me to get tonsillitis.
That meant the last two weeks, I’ve only been to the gym like twice, right? That was literally in the last four days, I went to the gym. Pretty much had a week and a half off training, and I went back to the gym after a week and a half off training, and I found that my strength did not drop. I didn’t not lose any strength, in any of the major lifts that I normally do. Like the squat, and the dead … Not the deadlift, the squat, the bench press, and the overhead press, and a few other lifts as well like accessory movements. I actually increased my strength just a little bit. I’m not sure why, but I didn’t lose any strength.
If you’re fearful of taking time off training because you’re going to lose strength, then I know from my personal experience, I didn’t lose any strength, and that was a week and a half of no training, and being sick. When I say sick, I mean having tonne … I felt like I had razor blades in my throat, and having aches and pains in my muscles, and having a lot of congestion in my nose. I actually still feel like I have congestion in my throat, and in my chest a little bit. But I’m 95% back on track. That’s why I’m able to do this audio.
In terms of whether you’ll make gains, whether you’ll make muscular gains, I doubt it. If you’re sick, your body’s priority is not to build muscle. Building muscle, you know, muscle for the body is actually maintenance. It’s high maintenance. The body will only keep muscle that it actually functionally needs. The body, when you’re sick, the body’s priority is to fight the illness, is to fight the infection. When you’re breaking down muscle in the gym while you’re sick, that rebuilding process is just going to take much longer, and it’s not going to be efficient, because your body doesn’t give a shit about gains when you have tonsillitis, or when you have some other illness. It just doesn’t care.
I think from my experience of somebody who’s trained through an illness, and most recently had taken time off training due to illness, my best advice is to listen, literally just give it up. Not forever, but I mean just don’t train, as in don’t lift weights for the period of time where you’re most sick.
Now, in saying that, it’s not necessarily a blanket rule. When I was sick for a good two weeks, I didn’t lift weights, I didn’t train as I normally would for a week and a half, but I had 20 minute cardio sessions three or four times. Just very light, 20, 30 minute cardio. Just literally just walking around the block. Not even going to the gym, just walking around where I love, just to get some fresh air, just to get the blood flow going.
On top of that, I kept my nutrition the same. A lot of people think, “Oh, I can’t go to the gym and train. It’s a waste of time.” Look, listen to me, you might still be able to do a little bit of cardio if you’re not well, if you have the flu, if you’re sneezing and coughing, then you may still be able to just do some light cardio. There’s nothing wrong with that. If you are in bed and you can’t get out of bed because you are in so much … You just have so much fever, and you got the sweats, then clearly you’re not going to be doing anything.
But if you have the energy to get out of bed, but you don’t have the energy to lift weights, then you can still do a little bit of cardio, and that’s what I was doing. I wasn’t lifting weights for a week and a half. As I mentioned with the nutrition, just because you’re sick, and you can’t lift weights, and you can’t stick to your training programme, this doesn’t mean to say you can’t stick to your nutrition plan as well, right? You can still follow that to a certain point. There might be times where you might be sick, and you can’t be bothered meal planning, and that kind of stuff. Fair enough. But let those few days go. It’s not the end of the … Literally, we always talk about our body transformation as being a journey. It’s only two or three days. You’re going to forget about these two or three days in 12 months from now, so why worry about them now? Just let that go.
Then when you pass the most significant part of your illness, then start to get your nutrition back on track again. Even if you’re not training in the gym, and then when you’re 80% recovered or whatever it is, go to the gym and do some light weights. Don’t do 85% one rep max, 90%, really heavy dead lifting when you haven’t 100% recovered. I mean, just start off doing light weights. Then when you’re 100% back on track, then get back into it again.
That’s pretty much it. Yeah, that’s pretty much it. That’s where I … That’s my stance on it. If you have any questions about it, just reach out to me. That’s pretty much all there is to whether you should work out when you’re sick or not. You might be able to, but look, at the end of the day, it’s just best to get some rest, you know? For the first time I’ve actually taken my own advice on this. I’m 95% back on track, and I still have a bit of congestion. Yeah, if you have any questions, reach out to me. Brad at BradNewton.TV. Thanks for listening, and speak to you soon.