Don’t Like the Drugs, But the Drugs Like Me

Today’s preworkout supplementation consisted of caffeine, creatine, and acetaminophen (also thank you Marilyn Manson for the title).

So I have a bit of a cold right now and I’m too stubborn to not train when I don’t completely feel like death. This is a personal choice, but not the best choice. If you really are knocking on heaven’s door you won’t be training at all plain and simple. If you are a bit sick and then go hard in the paint, congrats, you will have most likely made the illness worse than it was beforehand. Here is a list of things that I do when I’m not feeling the best to at least feel like I did something, or ways to make the training less severe.

Bundle up

When I feel like crap I like to dress in layers as a means to allow the body to stay warm and start taking them off as I get more and more warmed up through the session. Wearing sweats with shorts and a t shirt on underneath is always a solid choice for me. Also, you get to look like rocky is you are wearing all grey sweats while you do it.

Hydrate up

I find that pushing fluids always helps. If you get dehydrated from all of the various happy forms of drainage part of the fluid is robbed from your joints and this is going to make things feel even worse. Not to mention that dehydration is a stressor on the body (and you seem to have enough already in that department). Do yourself a favor and really push the fluids through the entire training and don’t be afraid to use some minerals to help with the electrolyte balance (I was recommended this by Adam Feit and really enjoy it.

Just warm up

Seriously this is the beginning and might even be the end of your workout. Mine always starts with a combination of ultra-light resistance (empty bar movements), jumping rope, hanging knee raises, and light dynamic stretching for usually 4-5 rounds before I will even put a plate on the bar. If you do this at least you will get the blood pumping and possibly even feel better. They don’t hand out medals for whoever warms up the fastest. Take your time and loosen up.

Go light

Next step slowly add weight to the bar and just keep moving. When squatting or benching I only take at most a 50 lbs. jump from one attempt to the next. Military press I take even smaller jumps of typically less than 40 lbs. jumps. Do a lot of warm up sets and see if you can get a bit in. If this is as far as the bus goes then hit a few light sets and get out. (Prilipen chart counts attempts that are only 55% of your max, I’m sure most of us can manage that even when we are gassed out or under the weather.)

Go for it

If everything is agreeing with you and it isn’t due to taking 4 scoops of pre workout might as well just hit a few heavy sets and go from there. I’m a fan of avoiding taking any of these sets to failure (much less near failure) since that is even more stressful to the body than just lifting heavy weights in the first place. Let Prilipen be your guide again and just get in some quality volume and go from there. Another factor here is ease in to using the Valsalva maneuver (holding your breath when doing heavy lifts). If you dive right in to the deep end you might just end up taking a dive right in to the dumbbell rack. Bring that intensity up slow set after set.

Avoid speed

Lord knows if I’m not a hundred percent I’m not going to do speed work, too much damn aggression when I’m lacking drive in the first place. I like the idea from Bert Soren (over at sorinex, great equipment check them out) where if your speed is too low based on Tendo measurements (tethered position transducer) then just work strength or volume instead of power. Jerry Martin at UConn has spoken about the same thing at conferences (get well soon Jerry).

Cool down

Maybe get in a bit more light bodybuilding work, but after that be sure to cool it down and stretch out a bit to get back to baseline. Sounds simple, but it is easy to skip if you are in a rush or feeling good. If you feel like crap take your time and make sure you aren’t going to be a sore mess the next day that also has a head cold.


Seriously eat, get calories in as soon as possible and quality ones at that. (If you have to ask what that means just take a moment and reflect on life (protein and carbs post workout)). Do this along with definitely hydrating and you will be on the road to recovery and feeling better.

Wash yourself

You just trained, your immune system is already fighting something off, so don’t be in your sweaty gross gym clothes that have also touched a wide number of surfaces that probably have who knows what other bacteria and viruses in them. The faster you clean up the better.

Get some sleep

You trained (or at least warmed up) you took care of yourself nutritionally so now go bed. Let your body repair itself and fight of the invaders while the rest of you is not watching mind numbing television or something else that is not as effective as just sleeping for health and recovery.

Wrap up

Well this is the basics of what I do when under the weather and still trying to train. Once again if you feel like death call it a day. No one hands out participation ribbons for the person that comes to the gym and pulls a Typhoid Mary on everyone there. But if you seem to be turning the corner or at least it is manageable this is a simple way to stair step as far as you can through your workout. If you have anything that you do while sick or otherwise just put a comment on the blog. Thanks again for taking the time to read this.


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