While I’m loving most things about London, I am not loving the fact that I’ve already been sick twice since I’ve been here. I guess the colder weather, greater use of public transport and more time spent with my niece – who always seems to have a cold! – is not good for my health.
I started coming down with something on Friday, and I think I had one of the worst night’s sleep in history. I actually slept on the floor with no blankets for two hours! Rob is going to be working every single day for the next 15 weeks, and I ruined our last full day together yesterday by coming down with a hardcore fever and swollen glands.
Because I was so sick, I wasn’t planning on working out today, but I went to the gym nevertheless – purely to spot Rob like the good training partner that I am.
In the past, I had a tendency to push myself through my workouts no matter how sick I felt. Unless I was keeled over vomiting, I would still maintain my regular exercise regime. As I grew older and wiser, I learnt to listen to my body and take a break if I wasn’t feeling 100 per cent.
Although I had not planned to work out today, I felt surprisingly okay once we arrived at the gym. I ended up doing a gentle, light chest workout of only 12 sets, and getting the blood flowing actually made me feel better.
What is important to remember is that it is okay to miss a workout. It’s fine to take a day, a week or a month off if that is what your body needs. Most people tend to stress out if they miss a workout, worrying that all their hard work will be reversed. Some people are even afraid to take a rest day – I went for two years without taking a single day off!
It is so, so important that you take regular rest days to let your body recover. If you’re lifting weights, I’d recommend at least two rest days per week. Your body will only grow while it rests, and it is also very important that you fuel your body correctly during these days off.
Cardio vs weights
Those who struggle to take full rest days also tend to do too much cardio. Cardiovascular exercise is very different to resistance training, but you still don’t need to do it every day. Last week I trained a young girl, teaching her all the basic compound lifts. She is the type of girl that goes to the gym five days a week, yet had never lifted weights before. At the end of our session, she said she did not feel as though she had sweat enough.
I sweat more during 10 minutes of intense cardio than I do during most of my weight sessions, except for legs. Just because you sweat buckets on the treadmill does not mean that it is more beneficial than resistance training, and it’s hard getting that message across.
Some days I barely sweat at all, even when I’m pushing myself to the absolute limit. This is because weight training involves a lot more time resting, where your body can return to a normal, calm state.
But I had exactly the same thoughts when I first started lifting. I never thought I was getting a good enough workout, or burning enough calories, and I always felt I had to finish off with cardio just so I could leave the gym dripping in sweat. I promise that if you give it time, you will learn to push yourself while lifting weights in new ways – and you will feel as though you’re doing your body a greater service than pounding it out on the treadmill.
As if I needed another reason to hate cardio… I normally only do one 10 minute interval session on the treadmill per week, but I was feeling adventurous last week and decided to do 10 minutes on the stationary bike. For something that is supposed to be low impact, that bike seriously messed me up! My knee is still in so much pain five days later that I’m still struggling to sleep because of it (another reason I had to sleep on the floor!). Needless to say, I learnt my lesson and will stay where I belong – in the weight room!
Do you train when you’re sick? Do you feel as though cardio gives you a better workout than lifting?