These past few months many of us have been hindered by illness of some sort. Whether we’ve fallen ill after traveling, cooler weather, rainy weather, sick children/family, or you name it, we all know being sick just plain sucks. I know the last thing I want to do is prolong the time I feel under the weather, and that is true for any smart athlete.
Friend of Intrepid Justin Lascek from 70Big.com recently posted on why we shouldn’t train when we’re sick. Here’s a quick recap:
Understand the difference between not feeling well (feeling tired, having the sniffles or a cold) and being sick (bacterial or viral infection). In some cases not feeling well can be the early stages of the full blown infection and hopefully, as an adult, you’ve come to know the difference between the two and what the precursors “feel” like in your body.
The bottom line up front is don’t train when you’re sick, especially with heavy loads or at high intensity. Swallow your pride (not your tough pills) and don’t force yourself to train when you’re ill thinking you can tough through it, as this usually prolongs your recovery and oftentimes you’ll end up feeling worse after. “Why is this the case?,” you ask…well Justin puts it very well:
The bigger lifts that use the most muscle mass (squat, deadlift, cleans, etc.), produce a systemic stress on the body. That systemic stress is needed in order to get stronger. However, when you have an infection you’re body is already straining to reduce a systemic stress. If you add more stress to it via training (whether it be from lifting or conditioning), you’re going to exacerbate the problem with the additional stress.
Look at it this way: if you only have 100 credits that can be spent on recovery (reducing inflammation, healing things, etc.) and a typical workout will require 75 credits to recover from, and you are experiencing an infection that has already depleted 110 credits, you don’t have any credits to use for training, and you increase your deficit. The system is in a weakened state, and then you weaken it significantly more by asking it to do more when it can barely do less.
He offers a few tips to recover quicker and smarter from being sick like staying hydrated and eating plenty of protein (if you can hold food down). The day you start to feel better don’t rush back into the gym expecting to pick up where you left off in your training. I know you’re smarter than that, and Justin recommends getting 2 days of good food intake in before getting back to the gym (especially if you haven’t eaten much due to your illness). Also, ease your way back to the loads and intensities you were at before being sick. You’re first workout should be light-to-medium intensity and gradually ratchet up the intensity over the course of a few days planning rest days accordingly in between. Please be realistic in your self-assessments and don’t think this is an excuse to skip a workout every time you feel sluggish, tired, or sore. We’re putting more of an emphasis on strength training this month so be smart if you come down with something and don’t try to train through it. Oh and if you didn’t need another reason not to train sick, please be considerate and don’t be “that guy/girl” who infects everyone else at the gym. Not cool.
Overhead Squat 1-1-1-1-1
4 Rounds for time:
4 Push Jerks (50% 1RM)
12 Wall Balls