Should I work out when I’m sick?

Should I work out when I'm sick?

Yesterday I woke up feeling like crap.  I didn’t the typical cold symptoms, but my stomach felt nauseous and I was lethargic and low energy.  Clearly, I could tell I was coming down with something.  Even worse, it was leg day, which as you know sucks all the energy out of you even if when you have more energy than an adolescent rabbit in mating season!  So the combination of feeling nauseous and it being leg day made me not look forward to my workout.  You can view this workout by clicking here.

So I take my pre-workout as usual, and instead of getting amped for the gym like normal, nothing really changed.  Driving to the gym I was feeling pretty bad and just hoping to be able to get the workout over with.  My warmup for legs is usually a quick ride on the exercise bike to loosen up the legs.  As I was about a minute into cycling, my stomach was feeling even more nauseous, enough to where I though I might lose my cookies.  So I continue pedaling slow and start my first set of leg extensions.

I use leg extensions to pre-exhaust my legs.  This particular workout had extra emphasis on leg extensions, with a total of 100 reps.  So I look at the workout as I am feeling like I’m going to puke and realize I have 100 reps ahead of my on the very first exercise, I realize that I am probably not going to end up finishing this workout.  Instead of going balls to the wall like I always do, I did the reps slower and more precise, and took more time between sets.

I made it through leg extensions, and it was on to the next exercise of leg press and landmine squats. After I slowly completed that exercise, it was time to do some machine squats.  Finally, I started getting some energy as I no longer felt like I was going to puke.  Though I had to take more rest than normal, the rest of the workout of squats, hams and calves went pretty good.

Moral of the story is that it would of been so much easier for me to just skip the gym.  Honestly, a couple more hours of sleep probably would of done me good.  However, I would also have to live with the guilt of skipping the gym.  I would of also had to make that up on the weekend, which I really do not want to do.  My girlfriend is coming over this weekend and I would rather be having fun with her than making up for a lost leg day.  I was very happy that I ended up going to the gym, though I do not recommend going in my situation of having an upset stomach.

Over my 25+ years of workout experience, here is my outline of when you should exercise when you are sick:


  • Have a fever of 100 degrees or higher
  • Are puking or feel like you are going to puke
  • Have the flu or major flu like symptoms
  • Feel like you are knocking on death’s door


  • Have a typical cold
  • Any sickness that doesn’t make you feel like you are going to die
  • You are debating going to the gym (If you are debating, you should GO!)
  • You aren’t about to die
  • Just get to the gym fucker!

Many times when you workout while you are sick, you will actually end up feeling better afterward.  The exercise will help clear out your nasal passages, and often speed up the recovery time of your sickness.  Out of my 25 years, I think there have been a few times that I have ended up feeling worse after going to the gym when I was sick.  Every other time I have gone when I was sick, I have ended up feeling either the same or better!  Not only that, but you get the satisfaction of getting another exercise session done and not skipping the gym.  Hey, if you think there is a chance you can make it to the gym when you are sick, get going my friend!

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