I’ve been there. And let me tell you- I was raised in a family that was ALL about getting through sickness. You know, even if I was bleeding from both ears I’d be sent to school. But lifting weights with a cold is something I NEVER did.
- Once you’re recovered, test yourself and try one of the hardest workout programs: Arnold’s Blueprint to Mass.
If you look online, there are conflicting answers. Some people say it even helps you get over the cold faster. But let me tell you, lifting weights with a cold is one of the worst things you can do with your body.
#1 – You’ll Get Hurt
I read on one bodybuilding website, ‘You might find yourself even lifting more than usual!’, huh?
Never in my life even with the slightest cold have I been pulling off PRs. In fact, there was this time in September 2019 that I went to the gym right away in the morning- and turns out I was sick.
I thought I was just still tired- but my throat started clamping up as I was lifting. I could barely bench 20 lbs under my usual numbers.
That means for my usual 8 reps of incline bench- I was failing the reps nearly 20 lbs lower than what I usually do.
Whatever website is saying ‘you’ll lift more when you’re sick’- has obviously never lifted when they’re actually ‘sick’.
Lifting weights with a cold drains ALL the energy out of you, and makes it really hard to stay focused.
I don’t know if this guy was talking about ‘sick’ as in ‘sick of work’ or ‘sick of school’- but for this post, I’m talking about sick with an actual viral/bacterial infection.
With Your Depleted Energy, You Will Fail a Rep and Hurt Yourself
There are many exercises where it’s hard to get injured. You know what I mean?
Bicep curls, eh- you probably will be fine. Ab crunches- hard to hurt yourself.
But when you’re doing barbell squats, or overhead presses- this is where things get bloody.
You see- when you’re sick- your body is constantly waging war against the virus/bacteria in you. This is what people don’t understand.
This isn’t a constant war where your body ‘slowly’ overcomes the enemy. It’s like a real life warzone, random things happen unexpectedly.
This means at a moment’s notice while you are doing your overhead press, your immune system can be overwhelmed and send off the SOS signal.
What do I mean by this? Let’s say your T-cells and B-Cells start dying, the dendritic cell sees this and runs back to the lymph node screaming ‘HELP!!!’.
Instantly, your body is going to start getting an even higher fever. You’re going to become more tired, more hungry. INSTANTLY. This doesn’t come with a warning.
If you are mid overhead press and this happens, you have the chance of dropping these heavy hundreds of pounds right on your skull and actually dying.
#2 – You’ll Lift Less Weight Anyways- It’s Not a Good Workout Lifting Weights With a Cold
Sure, there’s a saying. ‘The only bad workout is the one you never did’. But let’s be realistic here, you aren’t going to be hitting new PRs when sick.
It’s just not possible. Your body enters this state of almost delirium and it’s hard to concentrate or focus. Lifting weights with a cold is just basically like weight-lifting without actually trying.
There’s not really a point of doing this workout if you’re doing weight that ultimately isn’t really going to tear down your muscles that much.
That’s the entire reason in bodybuilding there’s this concept of progressive overload. You keep increasing the weight so your muscles get torn apart and grow back bigger every day.
That’s the whole problem, when you’re doing this weight that is so much lower and less reps- it’s not really doing a whole lot.
Sure, it’ll probably give some muscle growth at the end of the day- but really minuscule amounts that would not make a difference. And you might even be hurting your gains, which brings us to my next point.
#3 – Your Muscle Will Grow Better Resting Anyways
Your muscle doesn’t grow in the gym. It grows when you’re sleeping.
Doing this low energy workout is bad. Lifting weights with a cold might actually harm your gains, when you could just take a rest day and be better off.
First of all, as I mentioned above, doing this workout will put on basically minimal muscle gains.
But- if you instead take this day to rest, and maybe even dirty bulk, you’ll see more muscle growth. Sitting in the gym barely trekking by lifting weights with a cold just doesn’t cut it.
You could take an extra rest day and get better muscle growth- and a better immune system response. Which brings us to my next point.
#4 – You’ll Beat The Cold Faster If You Stay Home. Therefore Getting More Muscle
So, the longer you’re sick, the more your workouts are impeded.
If you go to the gym and don’t rest properly- you’ll stay sick longer. This means more days that your workouts are ruined and impeded.
If you just take a rest day and stay home, you’ll be able to recover faster and get back to working hard in the gym and making true muscle gains.
If you keep trying to ‘prove a point’ by lifting weights with a cold- it’s only going to set you back as you are overall losing days that you are utilizing ‘progressive overload’ in.
To make this clearer, let me explain it a little better:
If you workout while sick, it delays the recovery. This means for 3-4 days you’re having really bad workouts.
If you take a rest day, you can boost your recovery. This means in 2 days you can get back to the tough workouts.
Overall, staying home gives you the advantage of getting back into the gym better than ever before.
#5 – You’ll Get Others Sick
Don’t be that guy at the gym that gets others sick.
In fact, there’s one guy that gave everybody in my gym whooping cough, including me. That was a horrible point of my life.
Sure, the cold isn’t so bad- but the coughing after every set that I had to deal with for the next 3 months was. Sure it’s a cough that didn’t really spread anything as I wasn’t sick anymore- but the actual pain of it sucked.
I’d go up and start doing some heavy squats, 225lbs for 8 reps, and start having a coughing fit as I hit parallel on the squat.
Let me tell you: when you’re lifting weights with a cold, a coughing fit is the LAST thing you want.
Part of bodybuilding is working as a team. Working out with a buddy as I did in my 8 hour arm workout, or just spotting your buddy in the gym to help him get those personal records.
Don’t get others sick and make them suffer, stay home.
#6 – It Can Get You Banned From Your Gym!
Many gyms actually have policies against working out when you’re sick.
Because of the recent COVID-19 pandemic, many gyms have instated new rules that make it so you can’t come in with a fever/cough/sore-throat/you name it.
Lifting weights with a cold is one of those reasons you could get your membership revoked permanently.
You probably like your gym a lot and know a lot of people there. Don’t get banned from it- stay home!
#7 – In The Long Run- It Doesn’t Matter If You Stay Home
Bodybuilding is a marathon, NOT a race! Sure, don’t use this line as an excuse to skip every other day in the gym.
But let’s be real here- skipping a workout because of cold won’t suddenly cause your muscle to disappear.
I mean how often do you get sick a year? Maybe 12-20 times, those missed workouts really won’t change much in terms of your physique.
And that will bring me to my next point, you can actually mitigate this loss!
#8 – You Can Just Move Your Rest Days Around
If you’re really that concerned about your potential muscle loss, just move your rest days around.
Instead of lifting weights with a cold, just swap the days around. So instead of resting Thursday, workout Thursday when you’re better. Does that make sense?
So let’s say you fall sick on a Monday. You also take off Tuesday due to the cold. And let’s assume your rest day is Thursday and Sunday. Just workout on those days now to make up for the two days you missed.
Then go back to your regular schedule once you get everything figured out.
The fact is, with bodybuilding, it’s a sport that is hard to fit into many people’s schedules. You just gotta make it happen, you’ll have to move around things time-to-time to fit it in.
You can’t always get to every workout, things happen. It’s up to you to rearrange and move things around so you can get it in.
And this means overall, your muscle gains shouldn’t be impacted.
#9 – You’ll Feel Tired The Entire Workout
There’s a reason many people don’t go to school or work when they’re sick.
Sure, we can pretend that it’s so ‘they don’t spread it’- but many people are selfish and don’t care about others.
But truthfully, when you’re sick, you feel tired and just horrible. It just puts you in this mood that makes you not even want to leave the house or go anywhere.
So- there’s not a point in going to the gym. Lifting weights with a cold is stupid. You won’t even feel happy doing it.
#10 – You Aren’t Losing Gains If You Skip
Many people think if they get sick and don’t workout their muscle basically disappears.
Let’s be real here- it’s not going to happen. In fact, all gyms in my area were shut down for 3 months and I barely lost any muscle until around the 2.5-month mark.
Skipping this one or two workouts isn’t going to ruin you. Just stay home, and be happy. Lifting weights with a cold is NOT the move!
Summary of 10 Reasons Why Lifting Weights With A Cold is Bad
Look, there’s nothing good about lifting weights with a cold. You’ll hurt yourself, feel bad during the workout, not push as much weight, and even lose muscle.
It’s purely better to just take a break and rest at home. Eat well and sleep good.