It’s Cold & Flu Season - Should I Work Out If I’m Sick?

No doubt you’ve had occasions when you’ve been sick with a cold yet still wanted to work out. Or perhaps you’ve had the flu and wondered how soon you can hit the gym. After all, It’s Cold & Flu Season. Should I Work Out If I’m Sick? Is a common question this time of year. In this article, we’ll tell you when it’s OK to train, what kind of workout you should do, and when it’s better just to get some rest. Let’s get started!

I Have A Cold - Can I Still Work Out?

It’s that time of year, and there’s a good chance you’ll experience a cold. In fact, on average adults experience 2-4 colds annually. The primary cause of the common cold is viruses that lead to inflammation in your nose and throat. Symptoms vary but typically include a stuffy nose, headache, sneezing, and a mild cough.(1)

Depending on the severity, a cold might lead to a couple of sick days. Since your body is pulling extra energy to combat cold symptoms, you typically feel weaker and more tired than usual. So, the question is, can I still work out?

Depending on your energy levels, you can do an abbreviated workout. If you usually spend 1-2 hours in the gym, plan on a quick 30-minute workout instead. Use moderate weights and moderate intensity. Go for higher reps, and as Rich advocated, chase the pump. 

You will need to drink plenty of water and may need extra rest between sets. For optimal hydration, mix in a 5% Nutrition Hydrate Stick packet with your water. You’ll also need more recovery days between workouts. Don’t forget your 5% Nutrition pre-workout, intra-workout, and post-workout arsenal.

When Is It Not OK To Train?

If you have a severe cold, with a heavy cough, severe congestion, fever, and/or stomach problems, forget it! Focus on getting as much rest as you can. If you have the flu, the same tip applies - forget it!(2)

How Soon Can I Get Back To It?

These illnesses can last a week or so, and no doubt you are eager to get back to your routine. How long should you wait? Even though you’re worried about losing mass, it’s a good idea to fully get over your illness before you return to your full routine. That’s also why you’ll want to use an abbreviated routine when you can, as you begin to lose mass and strength after 5 days of inactivity.(3)

Tips To Getting Better Faster

Getting better faster begins with rest, plenty of fluids, and the OTC cold medication of your choice. From there, adding 5% Nutrition Core Vitamin C 1000 to your program is a good idea. As well, make sure you keep up with your diet so you get a full spectrum of health-promoting nutrients. Otherwise, you’ll simply need to wait your cold/flu out. 


Colds and the flu are not much fun, but if you focus on rest, drinking plenty of fluids, the OTC meds of your choice, and 5% Core Vitamin C 1000, you can get through it quickly. And, depending on the severity, you can still get in an abbreviated, moderate-intensity version of your workouts. Don’t forget your 5% workout supplementation and don’t let a cold take you out of the game!


  1. Heikkinen, T., & Järvinen, A. (2003). The common cold. Lancet (London, England), 361(9351), 51–59.
  2. Börjesson, M., Arvidsson, D., Rensburg, C. J. V., & Schwellnus, M. (2017). Return to Play After Infectious Disease. Return to Play in Football: An Evidence-based Approach, 755–769.
  3. Wall, B. T., Dirks, M. L., Snijders, T., Senden, J. M., Dolmans, J., & van Loon, L. J. (2014). Substantial skeletal muscle loss occurs during only 5 days of disuse. Acta physiologica (Oxford, England), 210(3), 600–611.
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