Hopefully you are at the point in your training career when you have A) been strength training consistently, B) have recorded your progress in a log, and C) have taken notes on how you feel during that time. The more data you have on subjective feelings and objective progress, the more you can discern whether or not certain events (like binge drinking, not eating enough, staying up all night studying, or participating in the horizontal rambas) have effected your training. You will have learned the difference between regular pain and injury pain (the former can be trained through smartly, the latter should be rehabbed). Now start paying attention to the difference between “not feeling well” and being sick.
“Not feeling well” means you have the sniffles, like a cold. Being sick means you have some kind of bacterial or viral infection. Sometimes you will “not feel well” and it will be the beginning stages of infection — again, you need to learn the difference. It should be pretty clear; having a runny nose, congested sinuses, and a sore throat is different than general fatigue, alternating hot and cold spells, swollen lymph nodes, and general and reverberating body pain. There are many examples of “not feeling well” and infection, but you should know the difference because you’re a fucking adult. The point is that having the “tough guy mentality” in some cases makes you stupid.
Need proof? Here. In any case, tough guys are just stupid people trying to make up for their stupidity with perceived machismo. Eventually they’ll fail (e.g. Debo in the movie Friday).
If you have some kind of infection, whether it be viral or bacterial, your immune system is now hampered with a systemic stress. Bacterial infections can be helped along with antibiotics, yet there isn’t any help against viruses. You’ll just have to wait it out and treat the symptoms. We already know that training, especially the bigger lifts that use the most muscle mass (squat, deadlift, cleans, etc.), produces a systemic stress on the body. That systemic stress is needed in order to get stronger. However, when you have an infection you’re body is already straining to reduce a systemic stress. If you add more stress to it via training (whether it be from lifting or conditioning), you’re going to exacerbate the problem with the additional stress.
Look at it this way: if you only have 100 credits that can be spent on recovery (reducing inflammation, healing things, etc.) and a typical workout will require 75 credits to recover from, and you are experiencing an infection that has already depleted 110 credits, you don’t have any credits to use for training, and you increase your defecit. The system is in a weakened state, and then you weaken it significantly more by asking it to do more when it can barely do less. It’s like a nation being trillions of dollars in debt, and then continuing to spend billions of dollars to try and make money — it doesn’t make any fucking sense.
What can you do if you feel that you’re getting sick? I don’t get sick often, but if I feel anything that would indicate a lack of supreme health, stuffy nose or otherwise, I pound water and vitamins. I feel that it has helped me stave off some minor stuff in the past. What if you’re having symptoms of an infection? Obviously don’t go to the gym. We already clarified that it’s stupid because it can fuck you up to the point of hindering progress longer than the original infection would have. While you’re sick, do your best to hydrate and get as much protein in. You’ll have fat and glycogen to use if needed, but you should still try and get protein in. If you have a hard time keeping food down, then do your best. Depending on what you’re infected with, you may feel better the next day. This is not the time to fucking train. I’ve done this in the past and AC just did it the other day (even mildly gloating about it in the PR Friday comments), and now he’s worse off. I suggest getting two days of good food intake before attempting a training session. If anything you’d get a surplus of calories and protein in the days when you can finally eat.
When you resume training, you probably shouldn’t “resume it as normal”. You’ve just been in a systemic deficit; why would you think you can train as if nothing happened? Instead, a very intelligent progression would be doing a light-to-medium workout, a medium/moderate workout, then a heavy workout with days of rest in between. It’s intelligent because it’s patient; it doesn’t do too much too soon. Post-infection training is not the time to start back up on a volume day; just get a light workout in. If you feel great and think you can do more, than swallow your pride (your annoying fucking pride) and hold yourself back. It’s always better to be safe than sorry with training and programming.
I’m not suggesting that you sit out every time you aren’t feeling super. But you do need to be in tune with your body. If you’re thinking the cough is more than a cough, ratchet the workout back or wait till the next day. You now understand that not feeling well and infection are two different things. You know that shit will get worse if you try and train while infected (and you shouldn’t be going to a place where you can infect other people anyway, you dickhead). You know that you can try and manage the sickness by hydrating, getting protein in, and some over-the-counter symptom helpers. You know a pretty good guideline that requires two days of feeling and eating well before training, and you also know that you should slowly progress your training (or your systemic stress) back up to pre-infection levels to optimally resume training. All I can do is tell you this shit. It’s up to you to recognize and react like a smart person instead of a stupid person.