In the two decades I’ve been communicating with strength trainers I’ve picked up a lot of anecdotal information. It’s natural in any field to notice trends and phenomenon that keep repeating but haven’t necessarily been proven by rigorous study.
One of the things that occurs frequently are variations of this: “I started training again and was making great progress but I got sick with a cold or flu and had to quit for awhile.” I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard that. It’s hundreds, I’m sure.
Right now we are in what pharmaceutical marketers call ‘cough and cold season’ and the above phrase is making the rounds again. I have a hypothesis on this and it might help you this year. When we lift weights we seriously tax our bodies and they have to recover from the depletion. If we train too often we can dig a pretty deep hole and one of the things that is compromised is our immune system.
Let’s say our immune system is normally at a level of ten on a scale of one to ten. By overtraining we drive it down to a six. There are always germs around that we successfully fight off, but at a level six immunity we are more susceptible and a cold or flu can take hold of us.
Hey, I know it’s called cough and cold season because so many people are sick, not because so many people are in the gym – but it also stands to reason that fatiguing your body’s ability to fight back would explain why so many trainees report it after beginning training. Has it happened to you? I know I’ve done it more than once over the years.
My point is I think we should pay very close attention to cold symptoms and at the first sign of a tickle in the throat or a stuffy nose we should stop training and make sure our immune systems have the opportunity to fully recover and fight with everything they have. At the least it could mean the difference between a minor cold or developing full-blown cold.