So last week was 1 RM week at my new gym - meaning we testing all our different lifts to see what our 1 rep max was. It was great - I finally got to see how my hard work was paying off and what my new limits were. I was super pumped. And then... I got sick. Awesome. Whether it was because I pushed myself too hard, touched a bacteria-infested doorknob, or it was just that time of season, who knows. So now, still wanting to get the most out of my left over 1 RM motivation, the question was - should I still work out if I'm feeling subpar? Read more to find out how I dealt and what an awesome company like Precision Nutrition has to say.
From Precision Nutrition. For full article see: http://www.precisionnutrition.com/working-out-when-sick-infographic
[Before you continue reading, remember that I am but a wise and humble personal trainer, not a M.D. and you should always check with your doctor when you have questions regarding your health and fitness regime!]
The first and obvious point is that every body, immune system and workout regime is different. You know your body better than anyone (while your doctor can also give his/her two cents), so its ultimately your call. But the infographic to the left shows some super helpful things to consider about working out when you're sick.
So, when my 5:45am alarm went off to decide whether I should hit the gym, my initial questions were this: - How well do I feel? - Am I worse than I was yesterday? - Will this workout make me feel better or worse? - Am I risking getting other people sick?
While I normally workout at a crossfit gym 4 - 5 days a week, I knew I couldn't maintain that routine with a dripping nose and gross cough. So I took it one day at a time.
In the end, I rated my cold a 4 out of 10, so I knew I wasn't completely incapacitated. I went 3 times (every other day) when I knew my symptoms weren't getting worse and I knew I didn't need to see a doctor. I focused on a nice light and easy warm up, performing exercises with body weight or an unloaded bar, and at a 50% pace of what I normally do. I did a nice long yoga-inspired stretch and stayed extra hydrated. One day I even went home and slept for another 4 hours after my workout (that was obviously the day I called in sick to work). I was also sure to clean off all the equipment I used and avoided close contact with anyone. And I felt ok the rest of the day - another important sign.
At the end of the week, I was happy I went, although I definitely felt more sore (from the workout, not the cold!) than usual. This is where extra stretching and ice/heat were my saviour.
Obviously the rules will change if you're new to exercise or are impacted by other health factors. If this is the case, powering through might do your more harm than good. It might be best to just go for a light walk (the outdoor air could help too) or a light yoga session. If at any point you feel it's not working for you, stop!
Remember to listen to your body and don't push it too hard. The gym will be there next week, but if you don't give yourself the rest you need, you could be out of commission for even longer.