It seems that this time of year is when people tend to get sick. You're not more exposed to bacteria now compared to any other time of the year, but for some reason, winter just seems to be that lovely season where people are coming down with all sorts of crap. Unless you're a nurse who has been exposed to bacteria 24/7 and now has an immune system with supernatural abilities, you're bound to get something.
And coming down with something is the absolute worst. Not because you ache, or have a headache and runny nose, but rather, it seems that you're unable to go to the gym and you run the risk of losing all that hard-earned lean muscle.
Are you really unable to go to the gym, though?
Determining Where You're At
Now I can say this because I often catch myself being a huge baby when it comes to being sick, but I can almost guarantee that 80% (relatively random number) of those who get sick fall into the trap and convince themselves they're done for a few days. Think about the last time you were sick. Job and other responsibilities aside, did you check out once you realized you were sick? Or did you keep chugging along?
You've got to figure out where you're at.
Make a Decision
Do you have a runny nose, a stuffy head, and feel a little weak? Doesn't matter. You have a goal to reach. A body fat number to achieve, a weight to push, a purpose to fulfill.
Are you vomiting, shivering all over, and have joints that ache so bad you just want to scream? Might want to stay at home and rest. If anything, maybe take a nice walk with a hot mug of tea.
Either way, don't make it as bad as Michael Scott does when he has a run-in with his George Foreman Grill...
How to Train While Sick
So you've made the decision to push on. Good. The question is though, how are you supposed to train while you're sick?
Moderation is key.
A study done on exercise and respiratory tract infections shows that intense exercise causes immunosuppression, while moderate exercise actually improves immune function. So, moderate exercise is the answer, and weight training is perfect for this!
Weight training intensity is easily adjustable with the change of many different variables such as rest between sets, volume (changes in reps and sets), as well as weights used. To keep things simple, I like to just lengthen my rest periods and lift as much weight as I can at the time. That way I make sure I'm working as hard as I can at the moment, but still giving my body the time it needs to recover.
If you want to get some cardio in, I recommend just going for a nice incline walk on a treadmill for 15 minutes or so. Since you're sick it's going to be difficult enough to breathe. No need to make it more miserable.
Recuperating goes far beyond exercise, though. There's so much more you need to be doing to ensure you're 100% in no time.
What Else You Should Do
There are plenty of things you know you need to be doing while sick such as drinking plenty of fluids, getting your vitamin C, and taking whatever voodoo mama juju (your mother) says is the cure for everything.
I'm sure when you're sick, you're taking plenty of pills and antibiotics for you and I both, because that's easy. What's not easy, is winding down and getting some shut eye. I'm talking about real, relaxing, deep sleep.
Here are some things you can do to ensure you sleep like a little bebe:
1. Dark and Quiet
Make sure your environment has some black-out shades and it's so quiet you can hear a pin drop.
Have a consistent bed time. Making it sporadic will affect your sleep negatively. It's like your nutrition while working towards a goal. If your caloric intake changes significantly each day, your gainz (whether weight loss or muscle gain) will be poorly affected.
3. No surfing, brah
Stay off your phone and tv. No screens within an hour of bedtime. Read a book or something and get smarterer in order to become the smarterest.
4. Avoid caffeine
This is a no brainer. Anything with stimulants is going to keep your from winding down at bed time.
5. Get AT LEAST 7 hours of sleep
There's all this hoopla about not sleeping because you're missing out on opportunity to work and such. Guess what, when you're tired you do crappy work and take steps backward. You need to be sleeping for a THIRD of your life.
Bring It In
Ok team, here are the take aways:
1. Once you figure out if you can push through a training session, go to the gym.
2. When you're there, lift some serious weight and take plenty of rest in between.
3. Sleep like you've never slept before.
Next time you're sick, follow this guide. You'll recover quicker, and feel like less of a wuss.
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