Should you work out when you’re sick?

My opinion on the question of whether or not you should work out when you’re sick goes against what most other people recommend.  I believe you definitely should work out when you’re sick, but bear with me here, I’ll explain my reason for saying this.


Short-Term Physical Gains -vs- Long-Term Mental Gains

There are two ways to look at the question of whether or not you should work out when you’re sick.

In the short-term, it would probably make more sense to just stay home and take it easy.  You need rest to get over whatever illness you’re suffering from, so it probably would be better to get some extra sleep and not stress your body even more.

What’s just one workout anyway?  Will it really make a difference if you just miss one day of working out?

Yes, it most certainly will make a difference if you just miss one day of working out!


The long-term reason for working out when you’re sick

Why is that one day in the gym so important?

Because most people don’t work out consistently!

Most people don’t work out hard enough!

Most people complain about overtraining as soon as they have to push themselves in the gym!

If you work out when you’re sick, you’re telling yourself:  “This is it!  I’m doing this!  Come hell or high water I’m going to achieve my goals!”

If you don’t work out when you’re sick, you’re telling yourself:  “Every time something comes along that I don’t feel like doing, I’m going to take a day off.  I don’t care about my goals, so I’ll just take whatever life gives me.”

You don’t go to the gym today, which is ok, because you’re sick . . . you’re not exactly in top form tomorrow, either, so you take another day off . . . you’re finally feeling better the day after that, but, you’re still not 100%, so you take a third day off, for good measure . . .

After missing three days in the gym, there’s no way you could make those workouts up and there are only two more days to work out in the week and you have been overtraining lately and rest is a good thing, so you might as well take the rest of the week off . . .


Before you know it, you’ve missed an entire week of training, BUT IT GETS EVEN WORSE!

The bad part about all of this is that you’re giving yourself permission to always take the easy way out of a difficult situation.

Let’s say that you are supposed to go on a run today, but you went out drinking last night and smoked a couple of cigars.

You feel like hell and aren’t exactly looking forward to hitting the road and running ten miles . . . so you don’t run today . . . and the next time you’re a little tired, you don’t go for a run, either . . . and the next time there’s a good movie in the theatres or a good show on TV, you take the day off, too . . .

What do you think you’ll do the next time someone asks you if you want to go out drinking, even though you damn well know that you have to run tomorrow?  If you know that you can just take the day off, you’ll go out, have fun and skip your roadwork the next day.


Don’t be stupid, but get your workout in

I am in no way saying that you should limp along and finish your daily run if you twist your knee and tear your meniscus, that would be stupid!

But, what I am saying is that you’re setting a dangerous precedent, if you take the day off every time you just don’t feel like working out.

If you lift weights, do your normal routine.  If that’s just not possible, then keep the same exercises and sets, but use ultra-light weights and get as many repetitions as possible.  Stick with 225, or 185 or even 135lbs on the bench press and just rep it out.

If you do calisthenics, like I do, then do the same total number of repetitions as usual, just understand if you have to break them into more sets.  If you usually do two sets of 10 pullups, for example, don’t be hard on yourself if you have to do four sets of five, instead.  Its even ok if you have to do ten sets of two reps or twenty sets of one rep — the important thing is that you’re maintaining discipline and building the mental strength to push through any obstacle that gets in your way!

That’s it for today, until next time, go out there and be awesome!


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