Training While Sick

Training or thinking of training while sick.  (4 minute read)

1. How to recognise that you are sick using Heart Rate and other "tests".

2. How to address illness with basic science open to the public.

3. Training considerations while sick.

4. Returning to training.

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'Just sweat it out of you.' - Old School Mindset.


Training is something that a lot of us now consider a necessity in our daily lives. Due to not only its benefits for our health but training also has a strong social pull when it comes to making friends or being part of a community. That is what we find is truly addictive for clients. Form of identity and feelings of belonging. 

But what happens when its that time of year and every Tom, Dic and Harry is spluttering all over you?

Should you train while sick?

What kind of training should you do when in doubt?


The Signs

Everyone knows the signs of when they are getting a little under the weather.

1. Cold sweats

2. Chills 

3. Tickle in the throat. 

4. Low on energy. 

5. Sleeping more than usual. 


So how do you firstly "test" if your body is fighting an infection?

The first thing to acknowledge is that you're sick because somewhere along the chain of recovery something was missing. Let's say it was general recovery so first thing is sleep a minimum of 8 hours a day. Bed at a regular time.

A) Heart Rate

The first thing to check is your heart rate first thing in the morning. (its best you do this on a weekly basis if your not sick)

Here you find your resting Heartrate. If you find your hearrate deviates by more (+5 beats) over normal and your not feeling 100% first thing in the monring. Then your body is fighting an infection. 


B) Doctor

its the most obvious one but youd be surprised how many clients and even athletes ive had to drag to the doctors for a check up.


C) Bloods

Its a great time of the year to get these done. Its always good to check-in and see what is going on inside. See what your white blood cell count is and enquire about ferritin levels. 

Compare these to say the start of summer when sunlight is a little more prominent and your body is used to "regular enough temperatures" (you'll only understand the sarcasm if you are from Ireland) and in a low-stress level. 


Training while sick.

Training wise. LOWER the volume. Start off with movement work and do this. Check out some of our general warm up here for a few ideas. 

Work on mobility to increase range of motion in areas of the body where you struggle with movement restrictions. 

Some light single leg and single limb work may also be included. Even 2-3 sets of 12 of moderate weight split squats or single arm overhead pressing. If you are sore the next day after this you’ve done too much. Think of it as activation work. 


Returning to training post illness

Intensity wise you will need to get back up to the weights you where lifting fairly sharply. Meaning if that you were bench pressing 40kg for sets of 5 then you will want to be lifting in around 5% of that of the first few days of retiring to training. 


However, if your training plan says 4 sets of 5 at 40kg then lower this to 2 sets in week 1. Let the central nervous system rebuild. Then assess how you get on the rest of the week and in week 2 return to somewhat normal. 

Assistance work and conditioning. Lower it all down. Again the volume should be moderate here. 

Conditioning-wise keep stress levels low with some aerobic work.

Try something like  and E.M.O.M (every minute on the minute)

30 seconds work 30 seconds rest @60-70% for 4 sets of:


Ring rows

Reverse Lunges 

Hollow hold. 


Once you feel like you are returning to normal and eating patterns have resumed while stress levels have lowered then go by feel. Communicate with your coach. But don’t take it on yourself to make these decisions yourself. Communicate with your coach. 

Also if it's taking you longer to return to normal training than 10 days you might have returned to early or you need to contact your doctor and reassess. 

Plan, test, reflect, learn. 

Finally, eat better food, sleep better and consider some micronutrients like Vitamin C, Vitamin D and Probiotics for gut health. 

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Larry Brady